Prof. Costa’s enduring interests are in the structure and measurement of personality and the Five-Factor Model of Personality and specifically, the NEO Inventories which he developed with Robert McCrae. The Five Factor Model: Personality is central to understanding the individual person, and it influences, to some degree, nearly all aspects of experience and functioning in everyday life. A major obstacle to progress in personality psychology for many decades was the inability of psychologists to agree on taxonomy of traits that would offer a comprehensive yet manageable set of trait constructs. Since 1983, Costa’s research has contributed to a worldwide consensus that the Five-Factor Model points to such taxonomy. The broad factors of Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness to Experience, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness appear to encompass most specific traits, and offer a framework for systematic literature reviews and research designs. Personality psychology has made striking advances and breakthroughs in the past two decades. Today there is a real science of personality psychology—an organized and growing body of knowledge—in the form of a generally accepted model of personality traits. These traits are rooted in biology, endure in adulthood, and influence an extraordinary range of psychological outcomes. My research is organized around the Five-Factor Model of personality (FFM) and broadly, the goals are to employ this comprehensive structural model of personality to investigate basic questions concerning aging and human development.
My other research interests include health psychology—Compliance and disease progression in AIDS, Alzheimer’s Disease, Predictors and Prognosis, Axis I and II mental disorders, and the neurobiology and molecular genetics of personality.
Honors and Awards
Elected to Society of Multivariate Experimental Psychology.
President, Division on Evaluation, Measurement and Statistics, Division 5 of the APA.
Arthur Staats Award Winner Address on Unifying Psychology at the 112th Annual APA Convention, Title of Lecture: FFM and the FFT:
Institute of Medicine of the National Academies Committee on Twins Study
Distinguished Contribution Award, Division 20 (Adult Development and Aging, APA)
Elected President of Association for Research in Personality
NIH Director’s Award
President, International Society for the Study of Individual Differences
Who’s Who in the World
American Men and Women of Science Elected to Academy of Behavioral Medicine and Research Fellow, Division 5 (Measurement, Evaluation and Statistics), American Psychological Association