Personality in its natural habitat: Manifestations and implicit folk theories of personality in daily life

Matthias R. Mehl, Samuel D. Gosling, James W. Pennebaker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

410 Scopus citations


To examine the expression of personality in its natural habitat, the authors tracked 96 participants over 2 days using the Electronically Activated Recorder (EAR), which samples snippets of ambient sounds in participants' immediate environments. Participants' Big Five scores were correlated with EAR-derived information on their daily social interactions, locations, activities, moods, and language use; these quotidian manifestations were generally consistent with the trait definitions and (except for Openness) often gender specific. To identify implicit folk theories about daily manifestations of personality, the authors correlated the EAR-derived information with impressions of participants based on their EAR sounds; judges' implicit folk theories were generally accurate (especially for Extraversion) and also partially gender specific. The findings point to the importance of naturalistic observation studies on how personality is expressed and perceived in the natural stream of everyday behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)862-877
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2006


  • Electronically Activated Recorder
  • Everyday behavior
  • Implicit folk theories
  • Naturalistic observation
  • Person perception
  • Personality expression
  • Personality judgment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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