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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Lebenswissen­schaftliche Fakultät - Institut für Psychologie


Five Individual Reaction Norms Inventory (FIRNI)


The FIRNI was developed in 2005 by Jaap Denissen and Lars Penke , who were doctoral students of Jens Asendorpf at Humboldt University in Berlin at that time. The aim of their project was not simply to devise “just another” Big Five questionnaire. Rather, they had the goal of devising a measure that taps into the motivational reaction norms that may underlie the Big Five.


In the theoretical model of Denissen and Penke (in press), extraversion was conceptualized as individual differences in the activation of reward system in social situations, agreeableness as differences in the motivation to cooperate (vs. acting selfishly) in resource conflicts, conscientiousness as differences in the tenacity of goal pursuit under distracting circumstances, neuroticism as differences in the activation of the punishment system when faced with cues of social exclusion, and openness for experiences as differences in the activation of reward system when engaging in cognitive activity.


The items of the FIRNI were generated on a rational basis to tap as closely as possible into the hypothesized reaction norms underlying the Big Five. In an iterative process of nine online studies, items were dropped, added, or modified until they were satisfied with the factor structure and the reliability of their instrument. See Denissen and Penke (in press), for more details regarding the construction and validation of the FIRNI.


The FIRNI is free of use and can be downloaded at this site. Please cite it as:

Denissen, J. J. A., & Penke, L. (in press). Individual reaction norms underlying the Five Factor Model of personality: First steps towards a theory-based conceptual framework. Journal of Research in Personality.


Of course there exists other alternatives to measure the Big Five, such as the NEO-FFI (copyright by Pearson, who charge a fee), BFI (copyright by Oliver John), or the items of the International Personality Item Pool (free of charge). In terms of reliability and predictive validity, the FIRNI performs at least as well as these alternative measures. The distinguishing feature of the FIRNI, however, is that its items avoid references to specific behaviors or descriptive adjectives and have a direct, rational connection to the motivational processes that are hypothesized to underlie the Big Five factors.


On this site, you can download the following information.


Questionnaire sheets of the FIRNI in:

-           German

-           English

-           Dutch *


Norms of the FIRNI based on German internet data


Scoring Key

Items are listed in a regular fashion using the following loop: Extraversion (items 1, 6, 11, 16, 21, 26, 31, 36, 41, 46), Neuroticism (items 2, 7, 12, 17, 22, 27, 32, 37, 42, 47), Openness (items 3, 8, 13, 18, 23, 28, 33, 38, 43, 48), Conscientiousness (item 4, 9, 14, 19, 24, 29, 34, 39, 44, 49), Agreeableness (items 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50). Item scores range between 1 (strongly disagree) and 5 (strongly agree). Even items need to be reverse coded before combining items into the corresponding scales. Either unweighted means or sum scores can be calculated (norms are based on sum scores).

Other freely available questionnaires

Revised Sociosexual Orientation Inventory (SOI-R, Penke & Asendorpf, in press)