William Revelle

Professor of Psychology Department of Psychology Northwestern University Evanston, Illinois, USA 60208

Telephone: 847-491-7700 Office: 315 Swift Hall Email: revelle@northwestern.edu


William Revelle


Bill Revelle celebrates his father.

William Revelle



Northwestern University

  • Chairman, Department of Psychology 1987 - 1993, 1998-2001
  • Professor of Psychology 1984 - present
  • Associate Professor of Psychology 1979 -1984
  • Assistant Professor of Psychology 1973 - 1979

University of Michigan

  • Teaching Assistant, 1972-1973
  • Research Assistant, 1968-1970
United States Peace Corps Volunteer Sarawak, Malaysia September 1965-December 1967


The study of personality is the last refuge of the generalist in psychology. As such, my interests in personality theory include the biological basis of personality and motivation, psychometric theory, the structure of daily mood and models of attention and memory.

Recent work in the Personality, Motivation, and Cognition Laboratory has focused on the interactive effects of personality (e.g., impulsivity, trait anxiety) and situational determinants of motivation (e.g., time-of-day, caffeine, films, monetary incentives, exercise) as they combine to influence motivational states (energetic and tense arousal), and how these motivational states in turn affect cognitive processes (sustained attention, working-memory capacity, long-term memory) to determine cognitive performance. The long term goal is to develop a better understanding of how individual differences interact with situational moderators to affect efficient information processing.

Additional work in personality theory has focused on the personality characteristics associated with differential sensitivities to cues for reward and punishment. Current work is being done on the personality and situational determinants of affective state and dimensional analyses of affect.

Another continuing project is refining Synthetic Aperture Personality Assessment (SAPA) methodology. SAPA takes advantage of the web to administer small subsets of personality and ability items to different participants responding over the web. By appropriate design considerations, it is possible to synthetically combine these small subsets into very large correlation matrices suitable for psychometric analysis. This is an ongoing project that has collected data from somewhat more than 120,000 participants on about 400 different items. Examples of this work include an analysis of the structure of trust as well as the relationship between personality and cognition.

I am also working on the Personality Project , an attempt to bring information about current personality theory and research to the readers of the World Wide Web. Suggestions for additions to this project are very welcome.

Although for many years I have released program to research community by sharing Fortran (for mainframes) or Pascal(for Macs) code, I now am doing all my programming in R. Earlier computer programs that have been developed for research in personality and measurement were written in Pascal (using Lightspeed Pascal for MacIntosh computers) and were meant for ease of modification and use a set of standard units that have been found useful in the PMC lab. Source code as well as stand alone applications are still available by ftp.

More recently, I have become interested in using the statistical analysis package, R, as a powerful descriptive and analytical tool. As have many others faced with the problem of learning R, I have developed a short tutorial to help others. A shorter form of this tutorial is devoted to basic statistical procedures for doing personality research. I have converted many of my older programs into R and am now working on developing new techniques. Earlier programs now completely rewritten in R include ICLUST and VSS (Very Simple Structure). Newer programs include estimating omega, and convenient functions for working with Synthetic Aperture Personality Assessment (SAPA) data. The most recent version of my psych package may be downloaded from the depository at the personality-project, or the general CRAN repository at cran.R-project.org.

Recent Publications

  • Oehlberg, K. A., Revelle, W., and Mineka, S. (in press). Time-course of attention to negative stimuli: Negative affectivity, anxiety, or dysphoria. Emotion
  • Smillie, L. D., Cooper, A., Wilt, J., and Revelle, W. (in press). Do extraverts get more bang for the buck? refining the affective-reactivity hypothesis of extraversion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
  • Revelle, W. (2012). Integrating personality, cognition and emotion: Putting the dots together? In Eysenck, M. W., Fajkowska, M., and Maruszewski, T., editors, Personality, cognition and emotion. Warsaw Lectures in Personality and Social Psychology, chapter 9, pages 157-177. Eliot Werner Publications, New York
  • Revelle W., Condon D.M., and Wilt J. (2012) Caffeine. In: V.S. Ramachandran (ed.) The Encyclopedia of Human Behavior, vol. 1, pp. 423-429. Academic Press.
  • Saklofske D.H., Eysenck H.J., Eysenck S.B.G., Stelmack R.M., and Revelle W. (2012) ExtraversionÐ Introversion. In: V.S. Ramachandran (ed.) The Encyclopedia of Human Behavior, vol. 2, pp. 150- 159. Academic Press.
  • Swarat, S., Ortony, A., & Revelle, W. (2012). Activity matters: Understanding Student Interest in School Science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 49(4), 515-537.
  • Revelle, W., Wilt, J., & Condon, D. (2011). Individual differences and differential psychology: A brief history and prospect. In Chamorro- Premuzic, T., Furnham, A., and von Stumm, S., editors, Handbook of Individual Differences, chapter 1, pages 3Ð38. Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford
  • Schalet, B., Durbin, E., & Revelle, W. (2011). Multidimensional structure of the hypomanic personality scale. Psychological Assessment, 23(2):504-522
  • Wilt, J., Condon, D., and Revelle, W. (2011). Telemetrics and online data collection: Collecting data at a distance. In Laursen, B., Little, T. D., and Card, N., editors, Handbook of Developmental Research Methods, chapter 10, pages 163Ð180. Guilford Press, New York
  • Wilt, J., Oehlberg, K., & Revelle, W. (2011). Anxiety in personality. Personality and Individual Differences, 50(7):987-993
  • Revelle, W., Condon, D., & Wilt, J. (2011). Methodological advances in differential psychology. In Chamorro-Premuzic, T., Furnham, A., and von Stumm, S., editors, Handbook of Individual Differences, chapter 2, pages 39Ð73. Wiley-Blackwell
  • Revelle, W., Wilt, J., & Rosenthal, A. (2010) Individual differences in cognition: New methods for examining the personality-cognition link. in Aleksandra Gruszka, Gerald Matthews, and Blazej Szymura (editors): Handbook of Individual Differences in Cognition: Attention, Memory and Executive Control (pdf of draft)
  • Revelle, W. & Scherer, K.R. (2010) Personality and emotion. In the Oxford Companion to the Affective Sciences, Oxford University Press. (pdf of draft)
  • Revelle, W. & Zinbarg, R.E. (2009) Coefficients alpha, beta, omega and the glb: comments on Sijtsma. Psychometrika. 74, 1, 145-154 (pdf)
  • Wilt, J. & Revelle, W. (2009) Extraversion. In Mark Leary and Rick Hoyle (Editors). Hndbook of Individual Differences in Social Behavior. Guilford. p 27-45. (pdf of final draft).
  • Revelle, W. (2009) Personality structure and measurement: the contributions of Raymond Cattell, British Journal of Psychology, 100, 253-257. (pdf)
  • Revelle, W. & Oehlberg, K. (2008) Integrating experimental and observational personality research--the contributions of Hans Eysenck. Journal of Personality. 76, 6, 1387-1414(pdf of draft)
  • Revelle, W. (2009/2010). psych: Procedures for Personality and Psychological Research. R package version 1.0-91. http://personality-project.org/r, http://personality-project.org/r/psych.manual.pdf (This is the most recent release to CRAN.)
  • Revelle, W. (2009/1010) An overview of the psych pacakge. (A vignette for the psych package). http://personality-project.org/r/overview.pdf.
  • Revelle, W. (2009/2010) Using the psych package to generate and test Structural Equation Models. (A vignette for the psych package) http://personality-project.org/r/psych_for_sem.pdf.
  • Evans, A. M. & Revelle, W. (2008) Survey and behavioral measurements of interpersonal trust. Journal of Research in Personality. (preprint)
  • Revelle, W. & Wilt, J. (2008) Personality is more than reinforcement sensitivity. European Journal of Personality, 22, 5, 407-409.
  • Revelle, W. (2008) Association for Research in Personality: the home for psychological generalists. P (newsletter of the Association for Research in Personality. 2. 1-5.
  • Ortony, A., Revelle, W. & Zinbarg, R. (2008) Why emotional intelligence needs a fluid component. in Matthews, G., Roberts, R., Zeidner, M. (eds) Emotional Intelligence: Knowns and Unknowns. Oxford University Press.123-129.
  • Revelle, W. (2008) The contribution of reinforcement sensitivity theory to personality theory. In P. Corr (Ed.) Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory of Personality. Cambridge University Press. p 508-527, (pdf of the draft)
  • Rafaeli, E., Rogers, G. & Revelle, W. (2007) Affective synchrony: Individual differences in mixed emotions. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 33, 915-932. (pdf)
  • Zinbarg, R. E. and Revelle, W. and Yovel, I. (2007) Estimating omega_h for Structures Containing Two Group Factors: Perils and Prospects. Applied Psychological Measurement, 21, (2) 135-157.
  • Revelle, W. (2007) Experimental Approaches to the Study of Personality, In B. Robins, C. Fraley, and R. Krueger, Personality Research Methods, Guilford. p 37-61. (includes an online appendix simulating experimental data)
  • Rafaeli, E. & Revelle, W. (2006). A premature consensus: Are happiness and sadness truly opposite affects? Motivation and Emotion . 30, 1-12.(pdf from Springer). Appendices to this article are available from Eshkol Rafaeli or here.
  • Zinbarg, R., Yovel, I., Revelle, W. & McDonald, R. (2006). Estimating generalizability to a universe of indicators that all have one attribute in common: A comparison of estimators for omega. Applied Psychological Measurement, 30, 121-144. DOI: 10.1177/0146621605278814
  • Zinbarg, R.E., Revelle, W., Yovel, I., & Li. W. (2005). Cronbach's Alpha, Revelle's Beta, McDonald's Omega: Their relations with each and two alternative conceptualizations of reliability. Psychometrika. 70, 123-133. (pdf)
  • Yovel, I., Revelle, W., Mineka, S. (2005). Who Sees Trees before Forest? The Obsessive-Compulsive Style of Visual Attention Psychological Science 123-129 (pdf).
  • Ortony, A., Norman, D.A. & Revelle, W. (2005): Affect and Proto-affect in effective functioning. in J. M. Fellous & M. A. Arbib (Eds.), Who Needs Emotions? The Brain Meets the Machine. New York: Oxford University Press, p 173-202.
  • Acton, G. S., & Revelle, W. (2004). Evaluation of ten psychometric criteria for circumplex structure. Methods of Psychological Research. (pdf) 9, 1-27.
  • Born, W. K., Revelle, W., & Pinto, L. (2002) Improving Biology Performance with Workshop Groups. Journal of Science Education and Technology. 11, 347-365.
  • Baehr, E.K., Eastman,C.I., Revelle,W. , Olson, S.H.L, Wolfe,L.F., & Zee, P.C. (2003) Circadian phase-shifting effects of nocturnal exercise in older compared to young adults Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp 284(6): R1542 Ð 1550
  • Acton, G. S. , & Revelle, W. (2002). Interpersonal personality measures show circumplex structure based on new psychometric criteria. Journal of Personality Assessment, 79, 456-481. (pdf)
  • Baehr, E.K., Revelle, W., & Eastman, C.I. (2000). Individual differences in the phase and amplitude of the human circadian temperature rhythm: with an emphasis on morningness-eveningness. The Journal of Sleep Research, 9, 117-127 (pdf)
  • Gilboa-Schechtman, E.; Revelle, W.; Gotlib, I. A. (2000) Stroop Interference Following Mood Induction: Emotionality, Mood Congruence, and Concern Relevance. Cognitive Therapy Research. 24, 491-502. (pdf)
  • Revelle, W. Individual Differences. An entry for the Encylopedia of Psychology (A. Kazdin, editor).
  • Dawood, K., Pillard, R. C., Horvath, C., Revelle, W., & Bailey, J. M. (2000). Familial aspects of male homosexuality. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 29, 155-163.
  • Rafaeli-Mor, E.; Gotlib, I.A.; Revelle, W. (1999). The meaning and measurement of self complexity. Personality and Individual Differences. 27 341-356. (Abstract)
  • Rogers, G. and Revelle, W. (1998) Personality, mood, and the evaluation of affective and neutral word pairs. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 1592-1605. Abstract (pdf) .
  • Revelle, W. (1997) Extraversion and Impulsivity: the lost dimension. In Nyborg, H. (Ed.) The scientific study of human nature: Tribute to Hans J. Eysenck at eighty. Elsevier Science Press.
  • Revelle, W. (1995). Personality Processes. Annual Review of Psychology, 46, 295-328.
  • Anderson, K. J. & Revelle, W. (1994) Impulsivity and time of day: is impulsivity related to the decay of arousal? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology., 67,334-344. Abstract (pdf)
  • Gilboa, E., & Revelle, W. (1994). Personality and the structure of emotional responses. In S. Van Goozen, N. E. Van de Poll, & J. A. Sargent (Eds.), Emotions: Essays on current issues in the field of emotion theory (pp. 135-159). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
  • Revelle, W. (1993). Individual differences in personality and motivation: Non-cognitive determinants of cognitive performance. In A. Baddeley & L. Weiskrantz (Eds.),Attention: Selection, awareness and control: A tribute to Donald Broadbent (pp. 346-373). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Recent presentations

  • Revelle, W. (2011) .Individual differences beyond temperament: Expanding the boundaries of personality. Presented to the British Society for the Psychology of Individual Differences, July, 2011.
  • Revelle, W. (2011) R: A short Course (Presentations to the Association of Psychological Science, May, 2011 and to Association for Research in Personality, June, 2011. )
  • Revelle, W, and Wilt, J. (2010) A methodological critique of claims for a general factor of personality. Presented as part of a symposium: Mapping the Personalty Sphere, Niels Waller (organizer), European Conference on Personality, Brno, Czech Republic, July, 2010 (warning: pdf is 14 mb)
  • Revelle, W. and Wilt, J. (2009) Is there a general factor of personality? Probably not. Paper presented at the 49th annual meeting of the Society of Multivariate Experimental Psychology, Oregon, October, 2009. (4.3 mb pdf)
  • Revelle, W. (2007) I am an differential psychologist. Presidential address delivered to the International Society for the Study of Individual Differences, July, 2007. Giesen, Germany. (slides)
  • Revelle, W. (2006) Individual differences in Cognition: the Personality-Cognition link. Presented at a symposiom "Individual differences in cognition" A symposium organized by Blazej Szymura and Edward Necka Cracow, Poland, September 15-17, 2006
  • Revelle, W. (2006) The ABCDs of Personality and the Problem of Categorization. Part of a Symposium: Categorisation, Decision-Making and Personality (Luke Smillie & William Revelle, organizers) European Conference of Personality, Athens, 2006.
  • Revelle, W. (2006) Synthetic Aperture Personality Assessment. Invited paper at the Midwestern Psychological Association Annual Meeting, Chicago, May, 2006.
  • Revelle, W. (2005). R: statistics for all of us. Prepared for part of the symposium on Multivariate Statistical Methods in Individual Differences Research International Society for the Study of Individual Differences Biennial meeting, Adelaide, July , 2005
  • Revelle, W. (2003) Emotions are to Personality as Weather is to Climate: Analogical reasoning as a tool for scientific investigation. Paper presented at the ETS conference on Emotional Intelligence. November, 2003.
  • Revelle, W., Laun, G. (2004) Synthetic Aperture Personality Assessment. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Multivariate Experimental Psychology, October, 2004.
  • Revelle, W., Rafaeli, E, and Adler, J (2003) Personality within individuals: estimating individual differences in endogenous and exogenous affective responses: Measuring the dynamics of personality. Paper presented at the 2003 meeting of the International Society for the Study of Individual Differences, Graz, Austria. July, 2003.
  • Revelle, W & Rafaeli-Mor, E (2000) Within subject measures of affect and arousal: implications for the study of personality and cognition. Prepared as part of the symposium: Energetic Aspects of personality and cognition, E. Necka and G. Matthews, chairs. (Paper presented at the 10th Meeting of the European Association of Personality Psychology, Krakow, Poland, July, 2000.) (Abstract and Powerpoint handout)
  • A more complete list and some abstracts of recent publications.