Personalityrefers to individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking,feeling, and behaving. In other words, personality is the unique combination ofpatterns that influence behaviour, thought, motivation, and emotion in an individual.Personality traits can be defined as “dimensions of individual differences intendencies to show consistent patterns of thought, feeling, and actions”(McCrae & Costa, 1990).
Personality plays a major role in an individual’spropensity for risk-taking behaviour. In otherwords, it determines who is likely to engage in risk-taking behaviours.Individual differences and personality patterns influence how a risk situationis perceived (Trimpop, 1994) and whether the risk is appraised as a type ofbenefit, harm or threat (Lazarus, 1991). Furthermore, personality may determinewhether or not a person enjoys or dislikes the risk experience (Trimpop, 1994).Personality also plays a part in how a person reacts, selects and shapes theirenvironment to suit their particular disposition (Deckers, 2005).Risk-TakingBehaviour (RTB) has been conceptualized as a period of growing autonomy andemerging individualization from the family (Igra & Irwin, 1996).
Thedefinition of risk- taking is best conceptualized relative to a person’sdevelopmental context (Lerner & Tubman, 1991). Essentially, RTB is thevoluntary participation in behaviour that contains a significant degree ofrisk. According to Jessor & Jessor (1997), individuals purposely seek outrisk, as such behaviours permit them to; 1) take control over their lives; 2)express opposition to authority and conventional society; 3) deal with anxiety,frustration, inadequacy, and failure; 4) gain admission in peer group anddemonstrate identification with sub-culture; 5) confirm personal identity; 6)affirm maturity and mark a developmental transition into adulthood. Risky behaviours among young people arerelatively frequent, and has been consequently portrayed as a precursor ofproblematic behaviour (Jessor & Jessor, 1977), leading to self-destruction,psychological, social, and health compromising situations (Ingersoll & Orr,1989). However, risk taking has also been shownto be an important part of development into adulthood, particularly if it isgoal directed (Jessor, 1991); risk taking is not merely for sensation seeking,but it sometimes has aims on a personal level (Shapiro, Siegel, Scovill, &Hays,1998) or relational level (Engels & ter Bogt, 2001). A modestdegree of risk-taking in adolescence seems to be normative and associated withsome positive psychological characteristics (Shedler & Block, 1990).
Thestudy of adolescent risk-taking behaviour gained prominence in the 1980s, as itbecame increasingly evident that the majority of the morbidity and mortalitythat developed during adolescence and young adulthood was behavioural inorigin. The term Risk-Taking Behaviour (RTB) has been used to link,conceptually, a number of potentially health-damaging behaviours includingsubstance use (alcohol and drug use and abuse), risky sexual behaviour,reckless vehicle use, suicidal behaviour, extreme dieting or eating disorders,and delinquency. Engaging in risk-taking behaviour throughout life can berelated to a variety of negative short- and long-term physical and psychologicalconsequences. Thus, risky behaviours have been characterized as thosebehaviours that entail the possibility of subjective loss (Furby &Beyth-Maron, 1990). Irwin (1990) is of the opinion that risk-taking behavioursare those behaviours undertaken volitionally, whose outcomes or consequencesremain uncertain with the possibility of an identifiable negative healthoutcome.
Riskyand self-destructive behaviours involve the implementation of behaviouraloptions that place individuals at substantial risk of harm (Steinberg, 2008)and reflect the tendency to execute harmful behaviours without considering thenegative consequences that may occur (Horvath & Zuckerman, 1993). Whenpeople take risks, they engage in behaviours that could lead to negativeconsequences such as physical injury, social rejection, legal troubles, orfinancial losses.Background/Premise of the StudyFive Factor Model of Personality. TheFive Factor Model (FFM) of personality is one of the most popular descriptivemodels used to study personality traits (McCrae & John, 1992). The model isa hierarchical organization of personality traits in terms of five basicdimensions: 1) Openness to Experience, 2) Extraversion, 3) Neuroticism, 4)Agreeableness, and 5) Conscientiousness. It was established largely by factoranalysis studies of trait terms in natural language (Becker, 2005). The earlysuccess of the Big Five model was caused, among others, by Norman (1963), andby the seminal psycholexical project led by Goldberg (1981).
This made Costaand McCrae add the two factors Agreeableness and Conscientiousness to their ownmodel, until then, consisting of Neuroticism, Extraversion, and Openness toExperience (NEO). Thus, the NEO-PI came into existence to measure the FFMdimensions.Eachfactor is made up of intercorrelated traits known as personality facets whichmeasure the wide range of thoughts, behaviours, and actions.