Honesty-humility factor of the HEXACO model of personality

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The Honesty-humility factor of the HEXACO model of personality measures individual differences in peoples' sincerity, fairness, greed avoidance, and modesty. It arose from cross-cultural lexical studies that showed a six-factor model of personality that was slightly different from, and more predictive than, the previously accepted and still widely used Big Five and Five-Factor models of personality. It has been shown to predict workplace delinquency, risk-taking behavior, vengefulness, creativity, and several other personality traits and life outcomes that are not accounted for by five-factor questionnaires.[citation needed]


Like the other facets of the HEXACO model, Honesty-Humility has four subscales:[1]

  • Sincerity - this subscale measures a person's (un)willingness to be manipulative or dishonest in their dealings with other people in order to achieve a desired outcome. High scorers are unwilling to be dishonest or manipulative towards others.
  • Fairness - this subscale measures (un)willingness to cheat or steal in order to get ahead, as well as people's tendency to use fraud, be corrupt, or take advantage of others. High scorers have integrity and behave in a manner that treats all parties fairly and equitably.
  • Greed Avoidance - this scale measures the value a person places on things like wealth, status, and expensive "toys". Low scorers wish to display their money and luxury, whereas high scorers are less concerned with obtaining wealth and status.
  • Modesty - this scale measures a person's beliefs about him/herself in relation to others—high scorers see themselves as "no better" than anyone else, whereas low scorers feel they deserve special treatment and more respect than others.

Each subscale contains items that measure both the trait and the opposite of the trait (e.g. the sincerity scale has items that measure both sincerity and insincerity, with insincerity scores being reverse coded). Each item is measured on a 5-point Likert scale (1=Strongly Disagree, 5= Strongly Agree). In the 100-item version of the HEXACO questionnaire, each subscale has 4 items, which are averaged together to get individual subset scores, that are then averaged together to get each facet score.


Kibeom Lee and Michael C. Ashton began development of the HEXACO model of personality structure in 2000, after cross-cultural research using the same lexical measures that gave us the Big Five began to show a sixth facet of personality. The addition of this sixth factor changed several of the existing factors of the Five-Factor Model. It also integrated several items that did not fit well with the five-factor model and provided further evidence for the idea of reciprocal and kin altruism.[2]

Relation to the Big Five and Five Factor Models[edit]

The Honesty-humility factor (and the HEXACO model in general) is only moderately correlated with the Big Five model of personality, but is highly correlated with the Agreeableness factor of the Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R), which is one of the factors of the Five-Factor model of personality. This correlation is mainly due to the Straightforwardness and Modesty subscales of the NEO-PI-R. However, forcing the NEO-PI-R to extract separate factors for Honesty and Agreeableness allows experimenters to better predict Social Adroitness and Self-Monitoring.[3]

Another study found that adding the HEXACO Honesty-humility factor to personality measures improves predictive validity for both self- and other-reports of personality, and that simply creating an honesty factor from the FFM measures improves predictive validity for some measures (mainly social adroitness and sexuality measures), but not all (e.g. materialism and delinquency), which indicates that the HEXACO model is a better measure of personality than either the Big Five or the FFM.[4]

Honesty-Humility as a predictor for other aspects of personality[edit]

Honesty-Humility has been shown to be positively associated with many desirable traits and negatively associated with many undesirable traits. Honesty-Humility is generally associated with pro-social behavior, treating people fairly and being unconcerned with self-promotion.[citation needed]

Antisocial behaviors and traits[edit]

Recent research has shown that the Honesty-Humility factor is strongly negatively correlated with the "Dark Triad" of personality (i.e. narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism).[5] These 3 traits in tandem describe a person who is self-centered, manipulative, and un-empathetic, someone willing to use or hurt others for personal gain. Conversely, a person who is high on Honesty-Humility is sincere and honest in their dealings with others, concerned with obtaining a fair outcome for all parties involved, unselfish, and modest.[citation needed]

Another study has shown that Honesty-Humility is significantly negatively correlated with displaced aggression and vengefulness. It is also negatively correlated with immediate or premeditated forms of reaction/revenge against a transgressor.[6] People who are high in Honesty-Humility are unlikely to exhibit displaced aggression or vengefulness or to immediately pick a fight or plan to "get even" with someone who has wronged them. Although forgiveness and tolerance are aspects of agreeableness, a reluctance to engage in anti-social and vengeful behaviors seems to be a hallmark of Honesty-Humility.[citation needed]

Political attitudes[edit]

In a similar vein, Honesty-Humility has been shown to be negatively correlated with Social Dominance Orientation (SDO). This effect is moderated by interest in politics, such that people who were high in Honesty-Humility and very interested in politics scored at half the levels on the SDO scale as compared to their low interest counterparts, Both groups, though, with high Honesty-Humility scores were below baseline on SDO.[7]

Risky behavior and sensation seeking[edit]

Honesty-Humility has also been shown to be negatively correlated with Sensation Seeking and Risk Taking behaviors, as well as Thrill and Adventure Seeking, Experience Seeking, Boredom Susceptibility, and Disinhibiton.[8] This indicates that people high in Honesty-Humility are likely to be fairly reserved and level-headed individuals who do not take unnecessary risks, act on impulse or engage in dangerous or reckless behavior out of boredom.[citation needed]

Workplace behavior[edit]

Logically, Honesty-Humility is also strongly negatively correlated with workplace delinquency (e.g. stealing from your employer, vandalism, absenteeism, alcohol use at work). It is also strongly positively correlated with the Employee Integrity Index, which is a measure of attitudes about and admissions to theft.[9] People high in Honesty-Humility have strict, negative views about theft/thieves, and also report that they have stolen lesser amounts of money than their low Honesty-Humility counterparts. Additionally, Honesty-Humility predicts supervisor ratings of workplace performance, above and beyond ratings of the other five aspects of personality.[10] Notably, it is still a significant predictor of job performance when controlling for the effect of conscientiousness, which is typically the strongest predictor of job performance (although it was nonsignificant in this particular study, both before and after Honesty-Humility was added to the regression model).[citation needed]


Honesty-Humility also has a negative relationship with self-reported creativity; though, no relationship between creativity and Agreeableness was found. Previous research found a strong, negative correlation of the Agreeableness factor of the five-factor model of personality with creativity, however the HEXACO model of Agreeableness is a different construct. Additionally, there is a strong correlation between the NEO-PI-R facet of Agreeableness and the HEXACO facet of Honesty-Humility.[11]


Honesty-Humility is also related to the "Sexy Seven"[12] measures of Relationship Exclusivity (e.g. faithfulness vs. adulterous) and restricted Sociosexuality (willingness to engage in non-committed sexual acts). These findings indicate that people who score highly on the Honesty-humility measures value fidelity in their relationships and require emotional or psychological bonds to engage in sexual relationships. They are unlikely to cheat or exploit a sexual or romantic partner.[13]


  1. ^ Ashton, Michael C.; Lee, Kibeom; de Vries, Reinout E. (26 February 2014). "The HEXACO Honesty-Humility, Agreeableness, and Emotionality Factors". Personality and Social Psychology Review. 18 (2): 139–152. doi:10.1177/1088868314523838.
  2. ^ Ashton MC, Lee K (May 2007). "Empirical, theoretical, and practical advantages of the HEXACO model of personality structure". Pers Soc Psychol Rev. 11 (2): 150–66. doi:10.1177/1088868306294907. PMID 18453460.
  3. ^ Ashton MC, Lee K (October 2005). "Honesty-humility, the big five, and the five-factor model". J Pers. 73 (5): 1321–53. doi:10.1111/j.1467-6494.2005.00351.x. PMID 16138875.
  4. ^ Ashton MC, Lee K (2008). "The prediction of Honesty-Humility-related criteria by the HEXACO and Five-Factor models of personality". Journal of Research in Personality. 42 (5): 1216–1228. doi:10.1016/j.jrp.2008.03.006.
  5. ^ Lee, Kibeom; Ashton, Michael C. (May 2005). "Psychopathy, Machiavellianism, and Narcissism in the Five-Factor Model and the HEXACO model of personality structure". Personality and Individual Differences. 38 (7): 1571–1582. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2004.09.016.
  6. ^ Lee, K. & Ashton, M.C. (2012). Getting mad and getting even: Agreeableness and Honesty-Humility as predictors of revenge intentions. Personality and Individual Differences, 52, pp. 596-600.
  7. ^ Leone L, Chirumbolo A, Desimoni M (2012). "The impact of the HEXACO personality model in predicting socio-political attitudes: The moderating role of interest in politics". Personality and Individual Differences. 52 (3): 416–41. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2011.10.049.
  8. ^ de Vries, R.E., de Vries, A., & Feij, J.A. (2009). Sensation seeking, risk-taking, and the HEXACO model of personality. Personality and Individual Differences, 47, pp. 536-540.
  9. ^ Lee, K., Ashton, M.C., de Vries, R.E. (2005). Predicting workplace deliquency with the HEXACO and five-factor models of personality structure. Human Performance, 18(2), pp. 179-197.
  10. ^ Johnson, M.K., Rowatt, W. C., & Petrini, L. (2011). A new trait on the market: Honesty-Humility as a unique predictor of job performance ratings. Personality and Individual Differences, 50, pp. 857-862.
  11. ^ Silvia, P. J., Kaufman J.C., Reiter-Palmon, R., & Wigert, B. (2011). Cantankerous creativity: Honesty-Humility, Agreeableness, and the HEXACO structure of creative achievement. Personality and Individual Differences, 51, 687-689.
  12. ^ Schmitt, D. P., & Buss, D. M. (2000). Sexual dimensions of person description: Beyond or subsumed by the Big Five? Journal of Research in Personality, 34, 141–177.
  13. ^ Bourdage, J.S., Lee, K., Ashton, M.C., & Perry, A. (2007). Big Five and HEXACO model personality correlates of sexuality. Personality and Individual Differences, 43, pp. 1506-1516.

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