Brief report: celebrity worshipers and the five-factor model of personality.
The Celebrity Attitude Scale (CAS) and the Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO PI-R) were administered to 329 persons living in northern and central England, as part of an ongoing effort to determine the personalities of celebrity worshipers. As predicted, both males and females who scored high on the CAS Intense-personal subscale (IP) also tended toward Neuroticism, as measured by the NEO PI-R, and both males and females who scored high on the CAS Entertainment-social (ES) subscale also tended toward Extraversion, as measured by the NEO PI-R. Results were discussed in light of previous research on celebrity worshipers.

Article Type:
Celebrities (Influence)
Celebrities (Psychological aspects)
Fans (Persons) (Psychological aspects)
Five-factor personality model (Research)
Extraversion (Research)
Maltby, John
McCutcheon, Lynn E.
Lowinger, Robert Jay
Pub Date:
Name: North American Journal of Psychology Publisher: North American Journal of Psychology Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Education; Psychology and mental health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2011 North American Journal of Psychology ISSN: 1527-7143
Date: June, 2011 Source Volume: 13 Source Issue: 2
Event Code: 310 Science & research
Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States
Accession Number:
Full Text:
In the second half of the twentieth century social critics observed that western societies were undergoing a seemingly unhealthy and pervasive trend: Real heroes were being replaced by celebrities--persons whose achievements amounted to little more than being able to sing, dance, and appear more photogenic than most (Boorstin, 1961; Fishwick, 1969). This trend continues, promoted first by radio and moving pictures, then by television and more modern technology. More recently, critics have decried a deliberate attempt on the part of television executives to create an entire society of celebrity worshipers, people who would follow the potentially harmful, uninformed advice sometimes offered by these dubious heroes, especially if it increased the sale of sponsored products (Bogart, 1980; Schickel, 1985).

The development and publication of the Celebrity Worship Scale (CWS) triggered a modest amount of research aimed at determining the attitudes, traits and behaviors of those who "worshiped" at least one celebrity (McCutcheon, Lange, & Houran, 2002). A factor analysis revealed three factors consisting of 23 items. This revision of the CWS became known as the Celebrity Attitude Scale (CAS; Maltby, Houran, Lange, Ashe, & McCutcheon, 2002; Maltby, McCutcheon, Ashe, & Houran, 2001).

The first factor or subscale was labeled "Entertainment-social (ES)," because its ten items implied that some persons are attracted to celebrities because they have entertainment value and they provide opportunities for conversation. Factor or subscale two was named the "Intense-personal (IP)" subscale because its nine items reflect a deeper, more intense involvement with one's favorite celebrity. Factor or subscale three, "Borderline-pathological, (Path)" consists of four items that, if agreed with, imply a problematic, parasocial relationship.

Subsequent research has shown that the first factor, ES, is relatively benign, but those who score high on subscales two and three (IP and Path) are likely to exhibit attitudes and behaviors that are problematic. For example, Maltby, Giles, Barber and McCutcheon (2005) found that female adolescents who scored high on CAS IP (but not ES) tended to have a poor body image. Maltby, Day, McCutcheon, Houran and Ashe (2005) found that celebrity worship for Intense-personal reasons was correlated with fantasy proneness, and celebrity worship for Borderline-pathological reasons was linked to both fantasy proneness and dissociation.

Maltby, Houran and McCutcheon (2003) found positive relationships between celebrity worship for Entertainment-social reasons and extraversion, one of the three dimensions of Eysenck's personality model (Eysenck & Eysenck, 1975). However, IP scores correlated positively with Eysenck's neuroticism traits, and Path scores correlated with Eysenckian psychoticism traits (Maltby, et al.). A study of coping with stress, general health and life satisfaction led to the conclusion that poor mental health was associated with high scores on CAS IP (Maltby, Day, McCutcheon, Gillett, Houran, & Ashe, 2004). In addition to finding that high CAS IP scores and high CAS Path scores predicted both depressive symptoms and higher anxiety, Maltby, McCutcheon, Ashe, and Houran (2001) also found an association between CAS ES and depressive symptoms.

The five-factor trait approach to the study of personality represents a modern synthesis of some of the most important traits commonly used to describe human beings (Costa & McCrae, 1992). The five-factor model and the scales based on it are "well-established and widely used" (Batey, Chamorro-Premuzic, & Furnham, 2009, p. 62).

The Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO PI-R; Costa & McCrae, 1992) measures the five-factor model of personality through five main domains (italicized), each subdivided into six facets or subscales (in brackets): (1) Neuroticism (Anxiety, Angry Hostility, Depression, Self-Consciousness, Impulsiveness and Vulnerability), (2) Extraversion (Warmth, Gregariousness, Assertiveness, Activity, Excitement Seeking, and Positive Emotions), (3) Openness (Fantasy, Aesthetics, Feelings, Actions, Ideas and Values), (4) Agreeableness (Trust, Straightforwardness, Altruism, Compliance, Modesty and Tender-Mindedness), and (5) Conscientiousness (Competence, Order, Dutifulness, Achievement Striving, Self-discipline and Deliberation). The NEO PI-R has enjoyed such widespread usage over the last two decades (e.g., Batey, et al., 2009; Chappelle, Novy, Sowin & Thompson, 2010) that we deemed it important to see what sort of "fit" we might find between it and the CAS.

Previous research has found relationships between CAS factor of Intense-personal (IP) with neuroticism (Maltby, et al., 2001; 2003; 2004) and fantasy proneness (Maltby et al., 2005); the CAS factor of Entertainment-social (ES) with extraversion (Maltby et al., 2003). We hypothesize that the same CAS factors would correlate with corresponding constructs of the NEO PI-R: CAS IP with NEO PI-R Neuroticism and Openness-Fantasy; CAS ES with NEO PI-R Extraversion.



The participants were 329 respondents (165 males, 164 females) between the ages of 18 and 62 years (Mean yrs. =33.67, SD=8.00) from a number of workplaces and community groups in Northern England and the Midlands. Among this sample the most often reported demographic was White (67%, n=220), married (45%, n=148), employed (45%, n=149), and leaving school with the equivalent of an education of at least '0' level/GCSE (32%, n=105), which approximates a high school education in the United States. No one refused to participate, but data were discarded from 18% (n =73) of the original 402 persons because they failed to complete the CAS and/or the NEO PI-R.


The Celebrity Attitude Scale (CAS: McCutcheon et al., 2002). This was originally a 34-item Likert-type scale called the Celebrity Worship Scale (since renamed) with "strongly agree" equal to 5 and "strongly disagree" equal to 1. Based on an analysis reported in Maltby, Houran, Lange, Ashe, & McCutcheon, (2002), among UK samples, three "subscales" were formed from 22 of the 23 items. Entertainment-social contained 10 items (e.g. 'My friends and I like to discuss what my favourite celebrity has done', item 5); Intense-personal contained nine items (e.g. 'I share with my favourite celebrity a special bond that cannot be described in words,' item 2); Borderline-pathological contained three items (e.g. 'If I were lucky enough to meet my favourite celebrity, and he/she asked me to do something illegal as a favour, I would probably do it,' item 22). Both the 22-item and the 23-item versions have been found to be reliable and valid measures (McCutcheon, Maltby, Houran, & Ashe, 2004).

The Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO PI-R). This measures the five-factor model of personality through five main scales described above: Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness. It is widely accepted for its good to excellent psychometric qualities (Costa & McCrae, 1992).


All participants filled out both measures in their workplaces or community groups. Participants were given as much time as needed to complete the measures, and no incentives were offered for participating.


Table 1 shows means and standard deviations of all the scales by gender; it also provides Cronbach alpha coefficients for each scale. T-tests showing gender differences in scale scores are also given in Table 1. No significant differences were found for gender on any of the scales, and all the scales demonstrated satisfactory reliability. Alpha coefficients and means for the CAS were comparable to those obtained in several previous studies (McCutcheon, et al., 2004).

Table 2 shows the Pearson product moment correlation coefficients computed between the three dimensions of celebrity worship (CAS) and the five-factor model of personality (NEO PI-R), including significant facets/subscales for each personality domain. Because of the large number of correlations computed, p values of .01 and .001 were used to indicate the significance of correlations.

First, consistent with our hypothesis and previous findings, CAS Entertainment-social scores were related to Extraversion among both males and females. Examination of the correlations with the facets/subscales of Extraversion suggests that excitement seeking is the only facet significantly linked to Entertainment-social scores among males and females. Second, also as predicted, scores on CAS Intensepersonal were strongly related to Neuroticism scores among both males and females; Furthermore, celebrity worship for intense personal reasons was related to all six facets of neuroticism. Our third hypothesis, that fantasy facet scores would be related to CAS Intense-personal scores, failed to reach significance, although "ideas," another of the Openness facets, did among males only. Celebrity worship for pathological reasons was not related to any of the five factors of personality.

The present study adds additional evidence to the growing body of work which suggests that a casual attachment to celebrities serves an entertainment function (Maltby, et al., 2004; McCutcheon, et al., 2002) especially for those who crave excitement. The relatively large correlations between the CAS Intense-personal scores with NEO PI-R Neuroticism and its facets which are consistent with the results of other studies (e.g. Maltby et al., 2001; 2003; 2004) suggest a darker side of celebrity worship, especially for those who experience a deeper, more intensely personal attachment to a celebrity. While it is not clear whether a cluster of neurotic traits predisposes one to become increasingly absorbed with celebrities or vice-versa, results of the present study provide ample reason for concern.


Batey, M., Chamorro-Premuzic, T., & Furnham, A. (2009). Intelligence and personality as predictors of divergent thinking: The role of general, fluid and crystallised intelligence. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 4, 60-69.

Bogart, L. (1980). Television news as entertainment. In P. H. Tannenbaum (Ed.), The entertainment functions of television (pp. 209-249). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Boorstin, D. J. (1961). The image. New York: Atheneum.

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Costa, P.T., & McCrae, R.R. (1992). Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO PI-R) and NEO Five-Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI) Professional Manual. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.

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Maltby, J., Day, L., McCutcheon, L. E., Gillett, R., Houran, J., & Ashe, D. D. (2004). Personality and coping: A context for examining celebrity worship and mental health. British Journal of Psychology, 95, 411-428.

Maltby, J., Day, L., McCutcheon, L. E., Houran, J., & Ashe, D. D. (2005). Extreme celebrity worship, fantasy proneness, and dissociation: Developing the measurement and understanding of celebrity worship within a clinical personality context. Personality and Individual Differences, 35, 273-283.

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John Maltby

University of Leicester

Lynn E. McCutcheon

Editor, NAJP

Robert Jay Lowinger

State University of New York College at Old Westbury

Author info: Correspondence should be sent to: Dr. John Maltby, School of Psychology, University of Leicester, 106 New Walk, Leicester, England LE1 7EA e-mail at
TABLE 1 Mean Scores (standard deviations) of all Scales by Gender,
Including Alpha Coefficients

Scale                                 Males (n=165)      Females

                            [alpha]     Mean (SD)       Mean (SD)

CAS Entertainment- social     .87      21.53 (04.3)    21.15 (02.8)
CAS Intense- personal         .88      19.94 (03.0)    20.57 (04.1)
CAS Pathological              .77       6.05 (00.4)     6.01 (00.1)
Neuroticism                   .92      81.52 (19.4)    79.14 (19.4)
Extraversion                  .91     110.84 (22.8)   108.43 (22.9)
Openness                      .93     106.39 (24.6)   103.49 (24.1)
Agreeableness                 .90     123.79 (23.5)   122.39 (22.6)
Conscientiousness             .93     109.21 (24.0)   112.52 (21.8)

Scale                          t

CAS Entertainment- social     .929
CAS Intense- personal       -1.431
CAS Pathological             1.258
Neuroticism                  1.112
Extraversion                  .956
Openness                     1.077
Agreeableness                 .552
Conscientiousness           -1.311

TABLE 2 Correlations between Celebrity Worship and Five-factor
Personality Scales

                           Males (n = 165)

Scales                CAS       CAS       CAS
                       ES        IP      Path

Neuroticism          .187      .392 **   -.041
Anxiety              .193      .286 **   -.059
Angry Hostility      .093      .305 **   -.027
Depression           .142      .330 **   -.087
Self-Consciousness   .174      .246 *    -.023
Impulsiveness        .116      .292 **    .073
Vulnerability        .083      .276 **   -.068
Extraversion         .227 *    .041      -.028
Excitement Seeking   .250 *    .132      -.037
Openness             .124      .185       .083
Ideas                .154      .206 *     .120
Agreeableness        .017     -.030       .035
Conscientiousness    .097      .094       .080

                           Females (n = 164)

Scales                 CAS        CAS       CAS
                        ES         IP      Path

Neuroticism           .000       .417 **   -.018
Anxiety              -.041       .278 **    .000
Angry Hostility      -.069       .402 **    .027
Depression            .028       .285 **   -.102
Self-Consciousness    .012       .307 **   -.109
Impulsiveness         .091       .318 **    .008
Vulnerability        -.023       .203 *     .005
Extraversion          .211 *    -.021      -.060
Excitement Seeking    .278 **   -.056      -.107
Openness             -.109       .048       .019
Ideas                 .047       .047      -.038
Agreeableness         .044       .127       .072
Conscientiousness    -.096       .150      -.100

Note: Only the 5 factors and those facets that show significant
correlations are shown here. A complete version of this table is
available from the authors. * p<.01 ; ** p<.001
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