What are the ˈBig Fiveˈ personalities?

The ˈBig Fiveˈ personality test is the most used personality test in use today. It was actually developed by a few contemporary psychologists, who all came to the same conclusion: there are five basic structures which make up people’s personalities. Many psychologists have tried to put a figure on how many personality types there are. Some offered too little and some offered too many. But when the ˈBig Fiveˈ theory appeared, others felt it provided the essential five traits that were the foundations of all personalities.

There is much debate still on the actually correct naming of each trait, but the most agreed-on terms is O.C.E.A.N – Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism.

Openness – intellect and openness

The personality trait of openness had many aspects but it is based on how open a person is to experiences. So it looks at how adventurous or routine-based someone might be. This is often prominent by how creative and curious you are.

People who rate high on openness are often more creative in nature, they show a love for learning new things.

It also looks at your views, and someone who is more conservative will often rank lower on the openness scale.

It looks at the personality trait of absorption, and how adaptable and how quickly someone can take in new knowledge. This is why those with low openness are seen as more narrow-minded and traditional in their views. However, people with higher openness can be dismissive about what is known, due to their love of exploring the unknown.

Traits

High                         Low

- Creative                - Traditional

- Independent          - Practical

- Curious                  - Prefers routine

- Messy                    - Logical thinking

- Broad interests       - Sticks to rules

Conscientiousness – industriousness and orderliness

This personality trait is mostly looking at how someone controls themselves. This could be their control over impulsiveness or how they control themself to achieve a certain goal. It mainly focuses on how organised you are and is often centred on your work ethic.

Someone who is lower on the conscientiousness scale will often be disorganised and may lack direction. However, someone who is high on the scale may be too goal-focused and controlled that they won’t allow themselves to do anything that isn’t based on their goals.

Traits

High                         Low

- Hardworking           - Disorganised

- Detail orientated     - Free sprinted

- Focused                 - Impulsive

- Organised              - Careless

- Set goals               - Lazy

Extroversion – enthusiasm and assertiveness

This personality trait is quite self-explanatory and looks at how extroverted a person is. So if someone gains energy from being sociable, they are more extrovert; if they gain energy from being on their own or in smaller groups, they are more of an introvert. There is more on the differences between extroverts and introverts in our article ˈThe Myers Briggs Test: Are you an Extrovert or Introvert? ˈ

Those who have a high extroversion will often appear more assertive and talkative, and will generally express their emotions more often than people lower on the scale will.

Traits

High                          Low

- Creative                - Traditional

- Independent          - Practical

- Curious                  - Prefers routine

- Messy                    - Logical thinking

- Broad interests        - Sticks to rules

Agreeableness – compassion and politeness

As the name suggests, this personality trait is looking at how agreeable someone is, and also how kind they are naturally. This part of the personality test looks at pro-social behaviours, like how trustworthy someone is or how affectionate they are with others.

Those with a lower score are less caring of others’ opinions or feelings so can appear less empathetic. This can often be due to a mistrust of others, which can make those with less agreeableness more manipulative. But because of those high on the scale being more trusting they can find themselves more susceptible to being fooled or taken advantage of.

Traits

High                          Low

- Friendly                  - Competitive

- Trusting                  - Mistrusting

- Cooperative            - Manipulative

- Kind                        - Critical

- Modest

Neuroticism – volatility and withdrawal

The last trait is centred on how emotionally stable you are. Those who are higher on the scale will be more anxious and emotionally unstable, and can at times be more prone to mood swings. Which in turn means that those with low neuroticism are more stable and even-tempered by nature.

Those with high neuroticism are more likely to have a mental health condition, like depression, anxiety and phobias.

Traits

High                         Low

- Mood swings          - Adaptable

- Anxious                  - Calm

- Irritable                  - Even-tempered

- Negative                 - Feels secure

Personality is a large and complex thing, and the millions upon billions of variations found in each of us make it even more bewildering. But the ˈBig Fiveˈ has helped many look closer at their actions and behaviour and furthered their understanding of themselves.

Do you think the ˈBig Fiveˈ is accurate, and what are your thoughts on personality tests in general?