UK Data Service data catalogue record for:

BBC Big Personality Test, 2009-2011: Dataset for Mapping Personality across Great Britain

Title details

SN: 7656
Title: BBC Big Personality Test, 2009-2011: Dataset for Mapping Personality across Great Britain
Alternative title: BBC Lab UK
Persistent identifier: 10.5255/UKDA-SN-7656-1
Depositor: University of Cambridge. Department of Psychology
Depositor: British Broadcasting Corporation
Principal investigator(s): University of Cambridge. Department of Psychology
British Broadcasting Corporation
Sponsor(s): British Broadcasting Corporation
Other acknowledgements: The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), particularly BBC Lab UK were instrumental in building the Internet Survey and recruiting participants.


The citation for this study is:

University of Cambridge. Department of Psychology, British Broadcasting Corporation. (2015). BBC Big Personality Test, 2009-2011: Dataset for Mapping Personality across Great Britain. [data collection]. UK Data Service. SN: 7656,

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Subject Categories

Population studies - Population, vital statistics and censuses


Abstract copyright UK Data Service and data collection copyright owner.

The data are from a large Internet-based survey designed and administered in collaboration with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). Between November 2009 and April 2011, 588,014 individuals competed the "Big Personality Test".

Volunteers were told that the survey was designed to assess personality and that by clicking on the link to proceed to the survey they were giving their consent to participate. Informed consent was not requested from the next of kin, caretakers, or guardians on behalf of minors or children because only individuals 18 and older were eligible to participate. Initiating the survey was used as a record of participant consent. To complete the survey, respondents clicked on a link on the BBC's Lab UK website.

Before beginning the survey, respondents were asked to create a BBC ID if they did not already have one. This was used to invite participants to take part in future projects and to prevent individuals from repeat responding – the survey could not be completed more than once with the same ID. After completing the survey, participants received customized feedback about their personalities based on their responses to the survey items.

A primary aim of the data was to map the distribution of personality in Great Britain (GB), so of all the participants who completed the survey, only those who reported living in England, Wales, and Scotland were included. Participants who did not complete the personality measure were also excluded. These selection criteria resulted in a total sample of 386,375 respondents.

In the present dataset, the researchers are sharing select demographic variables and the personality data used for mapping personality variation across GB. The dataset includes postcode sector information, which allows for aggregating responses for 380 Local Authority Districts.

Further information can be found on the BBC Lab UK Big Personality Test webpage.

Some participants also took part in other studies hosted by the BBC's Lab UK (with the same unique ID) so in principle matching is possible across data sets. A combined dataset containing matched respondents who also completed the BBC Big Money Test is available from the UK Data Archive under SN 8132.

Main Topics:
Main topics of the BBC Big Personality Test, 2009-2011 included:
  • personality
  • demographics
  • location of residence at the postcode district level

Coverage, universe, methodology

Time period: November 2009 - April 2011
Country: England and Wales | Scotland
Spatial units: Postcode (District)
Local Authority Districts
Observation units: Individuals
Kind of data: Numeric data
Alpha/numeric data
Individual (micro) level
Universe: Cross-national
Internet-survey respondents in England (335,114), Scotland (33,353) and Wales (17,908).
Time dimensions: Cross-sectional (one-time) study
Sampling procedures: Convenience sample
Number of units: 386,375 respondents
Method of data collection: Internet web-based survey
Weighting: No weighting available for this dataset.

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Administrative and access information

Date of release:
First edition: 17 February 2015
Copyright: Copyright British Broadcasting Corporation and University of Cambridge.
Access conditions: The depositor has specified that registration is required and standard conditions of use apply. The depositor may be informed about usage. See terms and conditions for further information.
Available to all users based in HE/FE institutions, for not-for-profit educational and research purposes only.
Availability: UK Data Service
Contact: Get in touch


Title File Name Size (KB)
BBC Big Personality Methodology 7656_methodology.pdf 349
BBC Big Personality Survey 7656_personality_survey.pdf 178
BBC Big Personality Variable Labels 7656_variable_labels.pdf 165
Study information and citation UKDA_Study_7656_Information.htm 6
READ File read7656.htm 10
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By principal investigator(s):
Rentfrow, P. J., Jokela, M., and Lamb, M. E. (under review). Regional Personality Differences in Great Britain. PLOS ONE.

Resulting from secondary analysis:


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