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Big Five Personality Traits The 5-Factor Model Explained [+PDF]
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The big five personality traits are about the following question:
‘Who are you?’
It’s a simple question, but it can be difficult to answer.
You could answer with your name, your job title, your place in relation to your family, your hobby or passion, where you’re from, or a description of your beliefs and values.
There are billions of humans with billions of answers to this question, and each one can tell a different story about who they are. While we may have a lot in common with our fellow humans, like race, religion, sexual orientation, skills, and eye color, there is one thing that makes us each unique: personality.
You can meet hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands of people, but no two will be exactly the same.
This article contains:
- What is Personality?
- Personality Research: A Brief Review
- OCEAN: The Five Factors
- The Trait Network
- Assessing the Big Five
- A Take Home Message
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What is Personality?
Personality is an easy concept to grasp for most of us. It’s what makes you “you”. It encompasses all the traits , characteristics, and quirks that set you apart from everyone else.
In the world of psychology research, personality is a little more complicated. The definition of personality can be complex, and the way it is defined can influence how it is understood and measured.
According to the researchers at the Personality Project, personality is:
“the coherent pattern of affect, cognition, and desires (goals) as they lead to behavior” (Revelle, 2013).
In the words of the American Psychological Association (APA), personality is:
“individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving” (APA, 2017).
However you describe personality, it’s clear that personality has a big impact on life. In fact, personality has been found to correlate strongly with life satisfaction (Boyce, Wood, & Powdthavee, 2013). With such a large potential impact on life, it’s important to have a reliable way to conceptualize and measure personality.
The most prevalent personality framework is the “Big Five,” or the five-factor model of personality. Not only does this theory of personality apply in multiple countries and cultures around the world (Schmitt et al., 2007), there is a valid and reliable assessment scale for measuring the five factors.
But to understand how we got to the Big Five, we have to go back to the beginning of personality research.
Personality Research: A Brief Review
The history of personality research can be roughly divided into seven periods, characterized by different prevailing theories and underlying philosophies.
It seems that as long as there have been humans with personalities, there have been personality theories, classifications, and systems.
Hippocrates (the father of the Hippocratic Oath, which health workers still recite to this day) hypothesized two poles on which temperament could vary: hot vs. cold and moist vs. dry. This idea results in four possible combinations (hot/moist, hot/dry, cold/moist, cold/dry) called “humors” that were thought to be the key factors in both health issues and personality peculiarities.
Later, Plato suggested a classification of four personality types or factors: artistic, sensible, intuitive, and reasoning. His renowned student, Aristotle , proposed a similar set of factors that could explain personality: iconic (or artistic), pistic (or common sense), noetic (intuition) and dianoetic (or logic).
While Aristotle mused on a possible connection between the physical body and personality, this connection was not a widespread belief until the rise of phrenology and the shocking case of Phineas Gage.
Phrenology and Phineas Gage
Phrenology is a pseudoscience or “science” that is not based on any actual, verifiable evidence, that was promoted by a neuroanatomist named Franz Gall in the late 18th century. This pseudoscience hypothesizes a direct relationship between the physical properties of different areas of the brain (such as size, shape, and density) and opinions, attitudes, and behaviors.
While this pseudoscience was debunked relatively quickly, it marked one of the first attempts to tether the physical brain to the individual’s traits and characteristics . The disappointment of phrenology’s failure to provide solid evidence of this connection did not last long.
In 1848, an incident occurred that forever changed the mainstream views on the interconnectivity of the brain and personality. A railroad construction worker named Phineas Gage suffered a terrible accident on the job, in which a premature detonation of explosive powder sent a 3.6 foot (1.1 m), 13.25 pound (6 kg) iron rod into Gage’s left cheek, through his head, and out the other side.
Gage, astonishingly, survived the incident with only a wound where the rod penetrated and blindness in his left eye. However, his good fortune ended there. His friends reported that his personality completely changed after the incident – suddenly he could not keep appointments, showed little respect or compassion for others, and uttered “the grossest profanity.” He died in 1860 after suffering from a series of seizures (Twomey, 2010).
This was the first case that showed clear evidence of a link between the physical brain and personality, and it gained national attention. Interest in the psychological conception of personality spiked, leading to the next phase in personality research.
Sigmund Freud is best known as the father of psychoanalysis, an intensive form of therapy that digs deep into an individual’s life, especially in their childhood, to understand and treat their psychological ailments.
However, he also did extensive work on personality, some of which is probably familiar to you. One of his most fleshed out theories held that the human mind consists of three parts: the id, the ego, and the superego.
The id is the primal part of the human mind that runs on instinct and aims for survival at all costs. The ego bridges the gap between the id and our day-to-day experiences, providing realistic ways to achieve the wants and needs of the id and coming up with justifications and rationalizations for these desires. The superego is the portion that represents humans’ higher qualities, providing the moral framework that humans use to regulate their baser behavior.
While there has not been much evidence found to support Freud’s idea of a three-part mind, this theory did bring awareness to the fact that at least some thoughts, behaviors, and motivations are unconscious. We began to believe that a person’s behavior was truly the tip of the iceberg when assessing their attitudes, opinions, beliefs, and unique personality.
Jung was influenced by his mentor Freud but ultimately came up with a much different system of personality. Jung believed that there were some overarching “types” of personality that each person could be classified into based on dichotomous variables.
For example, Jung believed that individuals were firmly within one of two camps:
1) Introverts – gain energy from the “internal world” or from solitude with the self
2) Extroverts – gain energy from the “external world” or interactions with others
This idea is still extremely prevalent today, and research has shown that this is a useful differentiator between two relatively distinct types of people. However, many of today’s psychologists see the spectrum between introvert and extrovert as one that individuals can regularly traverse, rather than one in which individuals permanently plant their roots at a certain point.
Further, Jung identified what he found to be four essential psychological functions:
He believed that each of these functions could be experienced in an introverted or extroverted fashion and that one of these functions is more dominant than the others in each person.
Jung’s work on personality had a huge impact on the field of personality research, an impact that is still being felt today. In fact, the popular Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® test is based in part on Jung’s theories of personality.
Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers
Abraham Maslow built on the idea that Freud brought into the mainstream, that at least some aspects or drivers of personality are buried deep within the unconscious mind.
Maslow hypothesized that personality is driven by a set of needs that each human has. He organized these needs into a hierarchy, with each level generally requiring fulfillment before a higher level can be fulfilled.
The pyramid is organized from bottom to top here, beginning with the most basic need (McLeod, 2007):
- Physiological needs (food, water, warmth, rest)
- Safety needs (security, safety)
- Belongingness and love needs (intimate relationships, friends)
- Esteem needs (prestige and feelings of accomplishment)
- Self-actualization needs (achieving one’s full potential, self-fulfillment)
Maslow believed that all humans aimed to fulfill these needs, usually in order from most basic to the most transcendent and that these motivations result in the behaviors that make up a personality.
Carl Rogers built off of Maslow’s work, agreeing that all humans strive to fulfill needs, but disagreeing that there is a one-way relationship between striving towards need fulfillment and personality. Rogers believed that the many different ways humans utilize in trying to meet these needs spring from personality, rather than the other way around.
Rogers’ contributions to the field of personality research signaled a shift in thinking about personality. Personality was starting to be seen as a collection of traits and characteristics that were not necessarily permanent rather than a single, succinct construct that can be easily described.
Multiple Personality Traits
In the 1940s, psychologist Hans Eysenck built off of Jung’s dichotomy of introversion versus extroversion. He hypothesized that there were only two defining personality traits: extroversion and neuroticism. Individuals could be high or low on each of these traits, leading to four key types of personalities.
Eysenck also connected personality to the physical body in a much more extensive way than most previous personality researchers and philosophers. He posited that differences in the limbic system resulted in differences in hormones and hormonal activation. Those who were already highly stimulated (introverts) would naturally seek out less stimulation while those on the lower end (extroverts) would search for greater stimulation.
Eysenck’s thoroughness in connecting the body to the mind, or personality, pushed the field toward a more scientific exploration of personality based on objective evidence rather than solely philosophical musings.
Lewis Goldberg may be the most prominent researcher in the field of personality psychology. His groundbreaking work whittled down Raymond Cattell’s 16 “fundamental factors” of personality into five primary factors, similar to the five factors found by fellow psychology researchers in the 1960s.
The five factors Goldberg identified as primary factors of personality are:
- Openness to experience
This five-factor model caught the attention of two other renowned personality researchers, Paul Costa and Robert McCrae, who confirmed the validity of this model. This model was termed the “Big Five” and launched thousands of explorations of personality within its framework, across multiple continents and cultures and with a wide variety of populations.
The Big Five brings us up to about the current era in personality research. The Big Five theory still holds sway as the prevailing theory of personality, but some of the salient aspects of current personality research include:
- Conceptualizing traits on a spectrum instead of as dichotomous variables
- Contextual personality traits (exploring how personality shifts based on environment and time)
- Emphasis on the biological bases of personality and behavior
Since the Big Five is still the most mainstream and widely accepted framework for personality, the rest of this piece will focus exclusively on this framework.
OCEAN: The Five Factors
As noted above, the five factors grew out of decades of personality research, growing from the foundations of Cattell’s 16 factors and becoming the most accepted model of personality to date. This model has been translated into several languages and applied in dozens of cultures, resulting in research that not only confirms its validity as a theory of personality but also establishes its validity on an international level.
These five factors do not provide completely exhaustive explanations of personality, but they are known as the “Big Five” because they encompass a large portion of personality-related terms. The five factors are not necessarily traits in and of themselves, but factors in which many related traits and characteristics fit.
For example, the factor agreeableness includes terms like generosity , amiability, and warmth (on the positive side) and aggressiveness and temper (on the negative side). All of these traits and characteristics and many more make up the broader factor of “agreeableness.”
Below we explain each factor in more detail, with examples and related terms to help you get a sense of what aspects and quirks of personality these factors cover.
A popular acronym for the Big Five is “OCEAN.” The five factors are laid out in that order here.
Openness to Experience
Openness to experience has been described as the depth and complexity of an individual’s mental life and experiences (John & Srivastava, 1999). It is also sometimes called intellect or imagination. Openness to experience concerns an individual’s willingness to try to new things, to be vulnerable, and the ability to think outside the box.
Common traits related to openness to experience include:
- A wide variety of interests
- Preference for variety
An individual who is high in openness to experience is likely someone who has a love of learning, enjoys the arts, engages in a creative career or hobby, and likes meeting new people (Lebowitz, 2016a).
An individual who is low in openness to experience probably prefers routine over variety sticks to what they know and prefers less abstract arts and entertainment.
Conscientiousness is a trait that can be described as the tendency to control impulses and act in socially acceptable ways, behaviors that facilitate goal-directed behavior (John & Srivastava, 1999). Conscientious people excel in their ability to delay gratification, work within the rules, and plan and organize effectively.
Traits within the conscientiousness factor include:
- Hard working
Someone who is high in conscientiousness is likely to be successful in school and in their career, to excel in leadership positions , and to doggedly pursue their goals with determination and forethought (Lebowitz, 2016a).
A person who is low in conscientiousness is much more likely to procrastinate, to be flighty, impetuous, and impulsive.
This factor has two familiar ends of the spectrum: extroversion and introversion. It concerns where an individual draws their energy and how they interact with others. In general, extroverts draw energy or “recharge” from interacting with others, while introverts get tired from interacting with others and replenish their energy from solitude.
The traits associated with extroversion are:
- Socially confident
People high in extroversion tend to seek out opportunities for social interaction, where they are often the “life of the party.” They are comfortable with others, gregarious, and prone to action rather than contemplation (Lebowitz, 2016a).
People low in extroversion are more likely to be people “of few words,” people who are quiet, introspective, reserved, and thoughtful.
This factor concerns how well people get along with others. While extroversion concerns sources of energy and the pursuit of interactions with others, agreeableness concerns your orientation to others. It is a construct that rests on how you generally interact with others.
The following traits fall under the umbrella of agreeableness:
People high in agreeableness tend to be well-liked, respected, and sensitive to the needs of others. They likely have few enemies, are sympathetic, and affectionate to their friends and loved ones, as well as sympathetic to the plights of strangers (Lebowitz, 2016a).
People on the low end of the agreeableness spectrum are less likely to be trusted and liked by others. They tend to be callous, blunt, rude, ill-tempered, antagonistic, and sarcastic. Although not all people who are low in agreeableness are cruel or abrasive, they are not likely to leave others with a warm fuzzy feeling.
Neuroticism is the one Big Five factor in which a high score indicates more negative traits. Neuroticism is not a factor of meanness or incompetence, but one of confidence and being comfortable in one’s own skin. It encompasses one’s emotional stability and general temper.
These traits are commonly associated with neuroticism:
Those high in neuroticism are generally given to anxiety, sadness, worry, and low self-esteem. They may be temperamental or easily angered, and they tend to be self-conscious and unsure of themselves (Lebowitz, 2016a).
Individuals who score on the low end of neuroticism are more likely to feel confident, sure of themselves, and adventurous. They may also be brave and unencumbered by worry or self-doubt.
The Trait Network
How personality traits are connected to each other and just about everything else.
Research has shown that these factors are interconnected, and connected to just about everything else as well! Because the Big Five are so big, they encompass many other traits and bundle related characteristics into one cohesive factor.
Openness to Experience
Openness to experience has been found to contribute to the likelihood of obtaining a leadership position , likely due to the ability to entertain new ideas and think outside the box (Lebowitz, 2016a). Openness is also connected to universalism values, which include promoting peace and tolerance and seeing all people as equally deserving of justice and equality (Douglas, Bore, & Munro, 2016).
Further, research has linked openness to experience to broad intellectual skills and knowledge and may tend to increase with age (Schretlen, van der Hulst, Pearlson, & Gordon, 2010). This indicates that openness to experience leads to gains in knowledge and skills, and naturally increases as a person ages and has more experiences to learn from.
Not only has openness been linked to knowledge and skills , it was also found to correlate with creativity, originality, and a tendency to explore their inner selves with a therapist or psychiatrist, and negatively related to conservative political attitudes (Soldz & Vaillant, 1999). Not only was openness found to correlate with many traits over time, it was also found to be extremely stable over time – one study explored trait stability over 45 years (Soldz & Vaillant, 1999), and found a relatively strong and significant correlation between the two times of measurement!
Concerning the other Big Five factors, openness to experience is weakly related to neuroticism and extroversion and is mostly unrelated to agreeableness and conscientiousness (Ones, Viswesvaran, & Reiss, 1996).
Openness to experience is perhaps the trait that is least likely to change over time, and perhaps most likely to help an individual grow . Those high in openness to experience should capitalize on their advantage and explore the world, their selves, and their passions. These individuals make strong and creative leaders and are the ones most likely to come up with the next big innovation.
This factor has been linked to achievement, conformity, and seeking out security, as well as relating negatively to placing a premium on stimulation and excitement (Roccas, Sagiv, Schwartz, & Knafo, 2002). Those high in conscientiousness are also likely to value order, duty, achievement, and self-discipline, and consciously practice deliberation and work towards increased competence (Roccas, Sagiv, Schwartz, & Knafo, 2002).
In light of these correlations, it’s not surprising that conscientiousness is also strongly related to post-training learning (Woods, Patterson, Koczwara, & Sofat, 2016), effective job performance (Barrick & Mount, 1991), and intrinsic and extrinsic career success (Judge, Higgins, Thoresen, & Barrick, 1999). The long-term study by Soldz and Vaillant (1999) found that conscientiousness was positively correlated with adjustment to life’s challenges and the maturity of one’s defensive responses, indicating that those high in conscientiousness are often well-prepared to tackle any obstacles that come their way. This factor is also negatively correlated with depression, smoking, substance abuse, and engagement in psychiatric treatment.
Conscientiousness was found to correlate somewhat negatively with neuroticism and somewhat positively with agreeableness but had no discernible relation to the other factors (Ones, Viswesvaran, & Reiss, 1996).
From these results, it’s clear that those gifted with high conscientiousness have a distinct advantage over those who are not. Those with high conscientiousness should attempt to use their strengths to the best of their abilities, including organization, planning, perseverance, and tendency towards high achievement.
As long as the highly conscientious do not fall prey to exaggerated perfectionism, they are likely to achieve many of the traditional markers of success.
Those high in extroversion are likely to value achievement and stimulation, and unlikely to value tradition or conformity (Roccas, Sagiv, Schwartz, & Knafo, 2002). Extroverts are often assertive, active, and sociable, shunning self-denial in favor of excitement and pleasure.
Considering these findings, it follows that high extroversion is a strong predictor of leadership , and contributes to the success of managers and salespeople as well as the success of all job levels in training proficiency (Barrick & Mount, 1991). Over a lifetime, high extroversion correlates positively with a high income, conservative political attitudes, early life adjustment to challenges, and social relationships (Soldz & Vaillant, 1999).
The same long-term study also found that extroversion was fairly stable across the years, indicating that extroverts and introverts do not easily shift into the opposite state (Soldz & Vaillant, 1999).
Because of its ease of measurement and general stability over time, extroversion is an excellent predictor of effective functioning and general well-being (Ozer & Benet-Martinez, 2006), positive emotions (Verduyn & Brans, 2012), and overconfidence in task performance (Schaefer, Williams, Goodie, & Campbell, 2004).
When analyzed in relation to the other Big Five factors, extroversion correlated weakly and negatively with neuroticism and weakly positively related to openness to experience (Ones, Viswesvaran, & Reiss, 1996).
Those who score high in extroversion are likely to make friends easily and enjoy interacting with others, but they may want to pay extra attention to making well-thought-out decisions and considering the needs and sensitivities of others.
Agreeable individuals tend to value benevolence, tradition, and conformity while avoiding placing too much importance on power, achievement, or the pursuit of selfish pleasures (Roccas, Sagiv, Schwartz, & Knafo, 2002).
Agreeableness may be motivated by the desire to fulfill social obligations or follow established norms, or it may spring from a genuine concern for the welfare of others. Whatever the motivation, it is rarely accompanied by cruelty, ruthlessness, or selfishness (Roccas, Sagiv, Schwartz, & Knafo, 2002).
Those high in agreeableness are also more likely to have positive peer and family relationships, model gratitude , and forgiveness , attain desired jobs, live long lives, experience relationship satisfaction, and volunteer in their community (Ozer & Benet-Martinez, 2006). Agreeableness affects so many life outcomes because it influences any arena in which interactions with others are important – this includes almost everything!
In the long-term, high agreeableness is related to strong social support and healthy midlife adjustment, but slightly negatively related to creativity (Soldz & Vaillant, 1999). Those who are friendly and endearing to others may find themselves without ample motivation to achieve a traditional measure of success, instead focusing on family and friends.
Agreeableness correlates weakly with extroversion and is somewhat negatively related to neuroticism and somewhat positively related to conscientiousness (Ones, Viswesvaran, & Reiss, 1996).
Individuals high in agreeableness are likely to have many dear friends and a good relationship with family members, but there is a slight risk of consistently putting others ahead of themselves and missing out on opportunities for success, learning, and development. Those who are friendly and agreeable to others can leverage their strengths by turning to their social support network for help when needed and finding fulfillment in positive engagement with their community.
Neuroticism has been found to relate negatively to self-esteem and general self-efficacy , as well as the individual locus of control (Judge, Erez, Bono, & Thoresen, 2002). In fact, these four traits are so closely related that they may fall under one umbrella construct.
In addition to these clear associations, neuroticism has also been linked to poorer job performance and motivation, including goal setting and self-efficacy related motivation (Judge & Ilies, 2002). It is likely no surprise that emotional instability and vulnerability to stress and anxiety do not produce one’s best work.
The anxiety and self-consciousness component of neuroticism was also linked to more traditional values and negatively correlated with achievement values, while the hostility and impulsiveness component of neuroticism relate positively to hedonism (or seeking pleasure without regards to the long-term and with a certain disregard for right and wrong) and negatively to benevolence, tradition, and conformity (Roccas, Sagiv, Schwartz, & Knafo, 2002).
A stunningly long-term study from researchers Soldz and Vaillant showed that neuroticism, over a period of 45 years, was negatively correlated with smoking cessation, healthy adjustment to life, drug usage, alcohol abuse, and mental health issues (1999).
Neuroticism was found to correlate somewhat negatively with agreeableness and conscientiousness, in addition to a weak, negative relationship with extroversion and openness to experience (Ones, Viswevaran, & Reiss, 1996).
Overall, high neuroticism is related to added difficulties in life, including addiction, poor job performance, and unhealthy adjustment to life’s changes. Scoring high on neuroticism is not an immediate sentence to a miserable life, but those in this group would benefit from investing in improvements to their self-confidence, building resources to draw on in times of difficulty, and avoiding any substances with addictive properties.
Assessing the Big Five
There have been a few attempts to measure the five factors of the Big Five framework, but the most reliable and valid measurements come from the Big Five Inventory (BFI) and the Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO PI-R).
Big Five Inventory
This inventory was developed by Goldberg in 1993 to measure the five dimensions of the Big Five personality framework. It contains 44 items and measures each factor through its corresponding facets:
- Positive emotions
- Achievement striving
- Angry hostility
- Openness to experience
The responses to items concerning these facets are combined and summarized to produce a score on each factor. This inventory has been used extensively in psychology research and is still quite popular, although the NEO PI-R has also gained much attention in recent years.
To learn more about the BFI or to see the items, click here to find a PDF with more information.
The original NEO Personality Inventory (NEO PI) was created by personality researchers Paul Costa, Jr. and Robert McCrae in 1978. It was later revised to keep up with the changing times, once in 1990, once in 2005, and again in 2010. Initially, the NEO PI was named for the three main domains as the researchers understood them at the time: neuroticism, extroversion, and openness.
This scale is also based on the six facets of each factor and includes 240 items rated on a 5-point scale. For a shorter scale, Costa and McCrae also offer the NEO Five-Factor Inventory (NEO FFI), which contains only 60 items and measures just the overall domains instead of all facets.
The NEO PI-R requires only a 6th-grade reading level and can be self-administered (taken as an individual without a scoring professional).
Access to the NEO PI-R is kept on a stricter lockdown than the BFI, but you can learn more about the scale or purchase it for your own use here .
Take Home Message
This piece hopefully showed you that personality is a complex topic of research in psychology, with a long history of shifting philosophies and theories. While it’s easy to conceptualize personality on a day-to-day level, conducting valid scientific research on personality can be much more complex.
The Big Five can help you to learn more about your unique personality and help you decide where to focus your energy and attention. The first step in effectively leveraging your strengths is to learn what your strengths are. Whether you use the BFI, the NEO PI-R, the NEO FFI, or something else entirely, I hope you find a good scale to learn about where you fall on the OCEAN spectrums.
Thanks for reading, and as usual please leave us your thoughts in the comments section!
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December 5, 2018
at 10:40 pm
This was very informative and well put together easy to read and understand each personally factor and the components that are considered.
I was simply looking for something completely different while putting together information for my child custody case .. I had not realize how important these factors might be until I started to read it .
This article pulled me in right away it was very interesting
- Nadeem Bedar
December 4, 2018
at 3:25 pm
It is a very interesting article, you put together personality related concepts and theories in one place.
- Wolf Benz
November 15, 2018
at 7:13 pm
Does anyone know where to find the language registers (5 lexicons) to do the statistical categorisation?
- Mary Geraghty
October 30, 2018
at 9:04 am
I found your Article really helping in understanding The big five. I have recently started a foundation course in psychology in the hope of going in to do a degree. I have been given an assignment to do annotated bibliographies on 3 journey articles on trait approaches to personality. I was wondering if this article is peer reviewed and do you think it would be an acceptable article to use.
October 21, 2018
at 1:46 pm
Thank you Courtney for the above article. I was just researching when I found myself reading your article which helped me tackle a question on the Big Five personality trait.
- Chinasa Adigwe
October 18, 2018
at 4:47 pm
Thank you Courtney, I stumbled on this article while researching for materials to complete my paper on personality traits and transformational leadership. Found this article to be very helpful.
- Mhar Alfred L. Olay
October 16, 2018
at 4:27 pm
Thank you, Courney for this very helpful article. It has helped me so much in my research about Personality!
- Peter Shaw
September 11, 2018
at 11:21 pm
Thanx Courtney. This was a well constructed overview – while covering the salient points and giving tips for personal development it was also brief, concise, readable and interesting. Good luck. Peter from Oz.
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Agreeableness is a personality trait manifesting itself in individual behavioral characteristics that are perceived as kind, sympathetic, cooperative, warm, and considerate.  In contemporary personality psychology , agreeableness is one of the five major dimensions of personality structure, reflecting individual differences in cooperation and social harmony. 
People who score high on this dimension are empathetic and altruistic, while a low agreeableness score relates to selfish behavior and a lack of empathy. Those who score very low on agreeableness show signs of dark triad behavior such as manipulation and competing with others rather than cooperating.
Agreeableness is considered to be a superordinate trait, meaning that it is a grouping of personality sub-traits that cluster together statistically. The lower-level traits, or facets , grouped under agreeableness are: trust , straightforwardness, altruism , compliance , modesty , and tender-mindedness. 
- 1 History
- 1.1 Cattell’s 16 Personality Factors
- 1.2 The Big Five
- 1.3 NEO PI
- 2 NEO PI facets
- 2.1 Trust
- 2.2 Straightforwardness
- 2.3 Altruism
- 2.4 Compliance
- 2.5 Modesty
- 2.6 Tender-mindedness
- 3 Equivalents in psychobiological models
- 4 HEXACO Model
- 4.1 HEXACO Agreeableness facets
- 5 Interpersonal relations
- 6 Prosocial behaviour
- 7 From childhood to adulthood
- 8 Geography
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 Further reading
History[ edit ]
Cattell’s 16 Personality Factors[ edit ]
Agreeable Burden ( William-Adolphe Bouguereau , 1895)
Like all Big Five personality traits , the roots of the modern concept of agreeableness can be traced to a 1936 study by Gordon Allport and Henry S. Odbert.  Seven years later, Raymond Cattell published a cluster analysis of the thousands of personality-related words identified by Allport and Odbert.  The clusters identified in this study served as a foundation for Cattell’s further attempts to identify fundamental, universal, human personality factors.  He eventually settled on 16 personality factors through the use of factor analysis . Further factor analyses revealed five higher-order, or “global”, factors to encompass these 16.  Although labelled “independence” by Cattell, a global factor defined by high scores on the E, H, L, and Q1 factors of the 16PF Questionnaire was an early precursor to the modern concept of agreeableness. 
The Big Five[ edit ]
Extent of agreeableness in the five factor model of personality is most commonly assessed through self-report measures, although peer-reports and third-party observation can also be used. Self-report measures are either lexical  or based on statements.  Which measure of either type is used is determined by an assessment of psychometric properties and the time and space constraints of the research being undertaken.
Lexical measures use individual adjectives that reflect agreeableness or disagreeableness traits, such as sympathetic, cooperative, warm, considerate, harsh, unkind, rude. Words representing disagreeableness are reverse coded. Goldberg (1992)  developed a 20-word measure as part of his 100-word Big Five markers, and Saucier (1994)  developed a briefer 8-word measure as part of his 40-word mini-markers. Thompson (2008)  systematically revised and improved these markers to develop a 40-word measure with better psychometric properties in both American and non-American populations, the International English Mini-Markers. This brief measure has good internal consistency reliabilities and other validity for assessing agreeableness and other five factor personality dimensions, both within and, especially, without American populations. Internal consistency reliability of the Agreeableness measure for native English-speakers is reported as .86, that for non-native English-speakers is .80.
Statement measures tend to comprise more words, and hence consume more research instrument space, than lexical measures. Respondents are asked the extent to which they, for example, Am on good terms with nearly everyone, Am not interested in other people’s problems or Sympathize with others’ feelings. 
Cattell’s factor analytic approach , used to identify the universal personality structures, inspired countless studies in the decades following the introduction of the 16PF. Using Cattell’s original clusters, the 16 Personality Factors, and original data, multiple researchers independently developed a five factor model of personality over this period. From the early 1960s on, these explorations typically included a factor called “agreeableness” or “sociability.”   Despite repeated replications of five stable personality factors following Cattell’s pioneering work, this framework only began to dominate personality research in the early 1980s with the work of Lewis Goldberg . Using lexical studies similar to those of Allport and Odbert, Goldberg chose the term “Big Five” to reflect the sheer number of personality-related terms encompassed by each of these five distinct factors.  One of these, agreeableness, was defined by a number of personality-related words similar to those present in earlier and more recent manifestations of the construct; examples include “friendly,” “good-natured,” “cooperative,” “trustful,” “nurturing,” “sociable,” and “considerate.”  
NEO PI[ edit ]
Beginning in the 1970s, Paul Costa and Robert McCrae began researching the development of personality assessments based on factor models. Beginning with cluster analyses of Cattell’s 16 Personality Factors, Costa and McCrae initially settled on a three-factor model of personality. These three factors were neuroticism (vs. emotional stability), extraversion (vs. introversion), and openness (vs. closedness) to experience, resulting in the acronym “NEO.”  Due to similarities between their three-factor NEO Personality Inventory and Goldberg’s Big Five, Costa and McCrae began to develop scales to assess agreeableness and conscientiousness in the early 1980s.  This work culminated in the 1985 publication of the first NEO PI Manual to be based on the full Five Factor Model .  Although this marked the introduction of agreeableness to the NEO PI, Costa and McCrae worked for an additional seven years to identify and elaborate on the facets comprising this factor in the Revised NEO Personality Inventory . 
NEO PI facets[ edit ]
In the NEO PI, each of the five factors identified by Costa and McCrae are identified with six lower-level traits. Known as facets , the lower-level traits subsumed by agreeableness were first introduced with the 1992 publication of the revised version of the NEO PI. Based on the modern NEO PI-R, the six facets of agreeableness are: Trust , straightforwardness, Altruism , Compliance , Modesty , and Tender-Mindedness. 
Trust[ edit ]
Trust is a defining feature of psychosocial development, personality theory, and folk psychological conceptions of personality.  Individuals who score high on this facet generally believe others’ intentions to be benevolent. Those scoring low on this facet tend to be cynical and view others as suspicious, dishonest, or dangerous.
Straightforwardness[ edit ]
Straightforwardness is the quality of directness and frankness in dealing with others. Despite a long history in moral philosophy , straightforwardness is not as vital to personality theory as the other facets of agreeableness.  Those scoring high on straightforwardness tend to interact with others in a direct and frank manner. Low scorers are less direct, tend to be high in self-monitoring , and are generally deceitful or manipulative. Although the two concepts are not identical, those who score low on this facet tend to be high in Machiavellianism .  Straightforwardness is similar to a dimension in the Interpersonal circumplex called “Ingenuous versus calculating.”  According to Michael C. Ashton and Kibeom Lee, straightforwardness is similar to the honesty aspect of honesty-humility in the HEXACO Model . 
Altruism[ edit ]
Similar to altruism in animals and ethical altruism , this facet is defined by measures of selflessness, self-sacrifice, generosity, and consideration, courtesy, and concern for others.  Altruism is similar to Alfred Adler ‘s concept of social interest, which is a tendency to direct one’s actions toward the betterment of society.  Individuals who score low on Altruism tend to be discourteous, selfish, or greedy, a pattern of behaviors known as “self-interest” in Adlerian psychology .
Compliance[ edit ]
As a facet of agreeableness, compliance is defined as an individual’s typical response to conflict. Those who score high on compliance tend to be meek and mild, and to prefer cooperation or deference as a means of resolving conflict. Low scorers tend to be aggressive, antagonistic, quarrelsome, and vindictive. 
Modesty[ edit ]
While trust, straightforwardness, altruism, and compliance all refer to interpersonal or social behaviors, modesty refers to an individual’s self-concept . Those who score high on modesty tend to be humble and other-focused, while low scorers tend to be arrogant and self-aggrandizing.  Low modesty is otherwise known as conceitedness or Narcissism and, in extreme cases, can manifest as Narcissistic personality disorder .  Otherwise known as “humility” in the Revised NEO Personality Inventory , modesty resembles the humility aspect of Honesty-Humility in the HEXACO Model . 
Tender-mindedness[ edit ]
Tender-mindedness is defined as the extent to which an individual’s judgments and attitudes are determined by emotion. Coined by William James , this term was also prominent in early versions of the 16PF .  Tender-mindedness is primarily defined by sympathy  and corresponds to the International Personality Item Pool ‘s “sympathy” scale.  In contrast, “tough minded” is a trait associated with Psychoticism on the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire . 
Equivalents in psychobiological models[ edit ]
Models based on psychobiological theories of personality have each incorporated a factor similar to agreeableness. In Cloninger ‘s Temperament and Character Inventory the character trait known as cooperativeness is highly similar to and positively correlated with agreeableness.  In Zuckerman’s alternative five model of personality the trait known as Aggression-hostility is inversely related to agreeableness. 
HEXACO Model[ edit ]
To address the absence of measures of Dark triad traits (i.e., narcissism , Machiavellianism , and psychopathy ), Michael Ashton and Kibeom Lee proposed the addition of a sixth factor to the Five Factor Model.  Validated with psycholexical studies similar to those used in the development of the Five Factor Model,  the HEXACO Model adds Honesty-Humility to five factors resembling those in the NEO PI.  Although Honesty-Humility does not directly correspond to any Big Five trait, it is strongly correlated with the Straightforwardness and Modesty facets of Big Five Agreeableness. As both of these facets are only weakly correlated with Big Five Agreeableness, Ashton and Lee suggest dividing NEO PI Agreeableness into two factors similar to those in the HEXACO Model: Honesty-Humility (i.e., Straightforwardness and Modesty) and a redefined Agreeableness (Trust, Altruism, Compliance, and Tender-Mindedness).  Reflecting this conception of Honesty-Humility and HEXACO Agreeableness as unique though similar concepts, Ashton and Lee propose that they represent different aspects of reciprocal altruism : fairness (Honesty-Humility) and tolerance (Agreeableness). 
Despite suggesting this reconceptualization of Agreeableness for the NEO PI, Ashton and Lee do not believe HEXACO Agreeableness is accurately captured by Trust, Altruism, Compliance, and Tender-Mindedness. In addition to accounting for these four facets of Big Five Agreeableness, the HEXACO Model’s construction of Agreeableness includes content categorized under Neuroticism in the NEO PI (i.e., temperamentalness and irritability).  To reflect the negative emotional content at the low end of HEXACO Agreeableness, this factor is also referred to as “Agreeableness (versus Anger).”  The inclusion of anger in the definition of HEXACO Agreeableness further helps to differentiate this factor from Honesty-Humility. In response to offensive or transgressive actions, individuals who score low on Honesty-Humility tend not to respond immediately. Instead, they defer their response by planning their revenge and waiting for the perfect opportunity to enact it. Although those who score low on HEXACO Agreeableness also employ this premeditated strategy, they also tend to respond immediately with anger. 
HEXACO Agreeableness facets[ edit ]
To help capture the numerous distinctions between the Big Five and HEXACO models, Ashton and Lee propose four new facet labels in their conceptualization of Agreeableness: Forgiveness, Gentleness, Flexibility, and Patience.  In addition to these four Agreeableness-specific facets, Lee and Ashton have proposed an additional “interstitial” facet located in a space shared by Agreeableness, Honesty-Humility, and Emotionality: Altruism versus Antagonism. 
- Forgiveness: A measure of an individual’s response to deception or other transgressions. Individuals who score high on this facet tend to regain their trust and re-establish friendly relations by forgiving the offender, while those who score low tend to hold a grudge. Also known as “Forgivingness.” 
- Gentleness: A measure of how an individual typically evaluates others. Individuals who score high on this facet tend to avoid being overly judgmental, while those who score low are highly critical and judgmental.
- Flexibility: A measure of behaviors related to compromise and cooperation. Individuals who score high on this facet prefer cooperation and compromise as means of resolving disagreement, while those who score low tend to be stubborn, argumentative, and unwilling to accommodate others.
- Patience: A measure of one’s response to anger and aggravation. Individuals who score high on this facet tend to be able to tolerate very high levels of anger and maintain their composure while expressing anger. Those who score low on Patience have difficulties remaining calm while expressing their anger and tend to have quick tempers, becoming very angry in response to comparatively little provocation.
- Altruism versus Antagonism: Although shared between three HEXACO factors, Altruism versus Antagonism is moderately correlated with Agreeableness.  This interstitial facet assesses the extent to which an individual is sympathetic, soft-hearted, and helpful, with low-scoring individuals tending toward an antagonistic interpersonal style.
Interpersonal relations[ edit ]
Agreeableness is an asset in situations that require getting along with others. Compared to disagreeable persons, agreeable individuals display a tendency to perceive others in a more positive light.
Because agreeable children are more sensitive to the needs and perspectives of others, they are less likely to suffer from social rejection . Specifically, research indicates that children who are less disruptive, less aggressive, and more skilled at entering play groups are more likely to gain acceptance by their peers. 
One study found that people high in agreeableness are more emotionally responsive in social situations. This effect was measured on both self-report questionnaires and physiological measures, and offers evidence that extraversion and neuroticism are not the only Big Five personality factors that influence emotion. The effect was especially pronounced among women. 
Research also shows that people high in agreeableness are more likely to control negative emotions like anger in conflict situations. Those who are high in agreeableness are more likely to use conflict-avoidant tactics when in conflict with others (whereas people low in agreeableness are more likely to use coercive tactics).  They are also more willing to give ground to their adversary and may lose arguments with people who are less agreeable. From their perspective, they have not really lost an argument as much as maintained a congenial relationship with another person. 
Prosocial behaviour[ edit ]
A central feature of agreeableness is its positive association with altruism and helping behaviour. Across situations, people who are high in agreeableness are more likely to report an interest and involvement with helping others. Experiments have shown that most people are likely to help their own kin , and help when empathy has been aroused. Agreeable people are likely to help even when these conditions are not present.  In other words, agreeable people appear to be “traited for helping”  and do not need any other motivations.
While agreeable individuals are habitually likely to help others, disagreeable people may be more likely to cause harm. Researchers have found that low levels of agreeableness are associated with hostile thoughts and aggression in adolescents, as well as poor social adjustment.  People low in agreeableness are also more likely to be prejudiced against stigmatized groups such as the overweight. 
When mental illness is present, low agreeableness may be associated with narcissistic and anti-social tendencies.  In theory, individuals who are extremely high in agreeableness are at risk for problems of dependency. Empirical studies show that many more problems are associated with low agreeableness.
However, high agreeableness does not always lead to prosocial behaviour, in a Milgram experiment conscientiousness and agreeableness were associated with willingness to administer high-intensity electric shocks to a victim. 
From childhood to adulthood[ edit ]
Agreeableness is of fundamental importance to psychological well-being, predicting mental health, positive affect, and good relations with others. In both childhood and adolescence agreeableness has been tied to externalizing issues. Along with this it has also been implicated in outcomes to conflict management skills, school adjustment, peer-social status and self-esteem. Some work has been done looking into whether agreeableness levels through childhood have effects on adjustment and agreeableness into adulthood. Among young adults, individuals that have been diagnosed with either externalizing as well as internalizing disorders present lower levels of agreeableness and communion, and higher levels of negative emotionality, than those young adults without such disorders. Agreeableness also is reported to mediate links between anger and depression in young adults. Among college students, agreeableness is often associated with self-reports of emotional experience and control along with psycho-physiological responses to affectively charged stimuli. Across adulthood, low agreeableness has been found to be a health risk. High agreeableness, especially trust and honesty, has been linked to longevity. 
A study done by Caspi, Elder, and Bem (1987) found that explosive and ill-tempered children were found to have higher rates of divorce as adults when compared with their even-tempered peers. Further, ill-tempered men had lower educational attainment, occupational status, and work stability, and ill-tempered women married men with similar low achievement profiles  A second and more recent study by Shiner (2000) found that composite variables describing middle-childhood agreeableness and friendly compliance predicted adolescent academic performance, behavioral conduct, and social competence 10 years later 
Most recent is a study done by Larsen, Pulkkinen, and Adams (2002) in which they looked at many different levels of childhood behavior and emotion and the correlation into adulthood agreeableness. In their first analyses, structure coefficients showed that childhood compliance, aggression, and self-control discriminated high-agreeableness from low-agreeableness in adults better than did activity versus passivity, constructiveness, and anxiety. In their second analyses, structure coefficients indicated that adulthood socialization and impulsivity discriminated high-agreeableness from low-agreeableness in adults better than did inhibition of aggression and anxiety. In linking childhood behavioral profiles to adulthood personality profiles, high-compliant, high-self-control, and low-aggressive children were most likely to become high-agreeable, high-socialized, and low-impulsive adults. These children were more unlikely to become low-agreeable, low-socialized, and high-impulsive adults. Further, low-compliant, low-self-control, and high-aggressive children were likely to become low-agreeable, low-socialized, and high-impulsive adults and these children were unlikely to become high-agreeable, high-socialized, and low-impulsive adults. In addition to this, children classified as low-compliance, low-self-control, low-aggression types and children classified as high-compliance, high-self-control, low-aggression types had a greater probability of becoming adults with high-agreeableness, high-socialization, high-impulsivity profiles. Looking at stability of agreeableness they found results that indicated that stable low agreeable individuals reported less career stability and more depression when compared with stable high agreeable individuals and low to high agreeable individuals. Further, stable high agreeable individuals reported lower levels of alcoholism than did the other groups and fewer arrests than did stable low agreeable individuals. 
Geography[ edit ]
Agreeableness by state. Lighter regions have lower average agreeableness.
In the United States , people in the West , Midwest , and South tend to have higher average scores on agreeableness than people living in other regions.  According to researchers, the top ten most agreeable states are North Dakota , Minnesota , Mississippi , Utah , Wisconsin , Tennessee , North Carolina , Georgia , Oklahoma , and Nebraska .  These findings are consistent with well-known expressions in these states, such as ” southern hospitality ” and ” Minnesota nice .” Because these states are generally less urbanized than the east and west coasts, people may be more likely to live in small communities and know their neighbors. Consequently, they may be more willing to care about and help their neighbours.
In a study done by Albright et al. (1997) groups of college students from China and the United States rated strangers from both countries on the “Big Five” personality traits, external traits, and how well they were dressed. They found that both Chinese and U.S. students rated faces as showing similar levels of agreeableness and extroversion. The people who were thought to be the most agreeable wore smiles, a facial expression that is recognized around the world.  The findings of the research seem to suggest that the trait of agreeableness is attributed to people in a universal way.[ citation needed ]
See also[ edit ]
- Trait theory
- Lexical hypothesis
- Facet (psychology)
References[ edit ]
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- ^ a b Laursen B.; Pulkkinen L.; Adams R. (2002). “The antecedents and correlates of agreeableness in adulthood” . Journal of Developmental Psychology. 38 (4): 591–603. doi : 10.1037/0012-16184.108.40.2061 . PMC 2730208 .
- ^ Caspi A.; Elder G. H.; Bem D. J. (1987). “Moving against the world: Life course patterns of explosive children”. Journal of Developmental Psychology. 23: 308–313. doi : 10.1037/0012-16220.127.116.118 .
- ^ Shiner R. L. (2000). “Linking childhood personality with adaptation: evidence for continuity and change across time into late adolescence”. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology. 78 (2): 310–325. doi : 10.1037/0022-3518.104.22.1680 .
- ^ “The relationship between US state and personality” . myPersonality Research. December 9, 2008. Archived from the original on March 18, 2012. Retrieved April 7, 2012.
- ^ Stephanie Simon (2008-09-23). “The United States of Mind. Researchers Identify Regional Personality Traits Across America” . WSJ.com . Original research article:
Peter J. Rentfrow; Samuel D. Gosling; Jeff Potter (2008). “A Theory of the Emergence, Persistence, and Expression of Geographic Variation in Psychological Characteristics” . Perspectives on Psychological Science. 3 (5): 339–369. doi : 10.1111/j.1745-6924.2008.00084.x . PMID 26158954 .
- ^ C. B. Wortman; E. F. Loftus; C. A. Weaver (1999). Psychology . The McGraw-Hill Companies.
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Big Five personality traits
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The big five personality traits
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The Big Five personality traits, also known as the five-factor model (FFM), and the OCEAN model, is a taxonomy for personality traits.  It is based on common language descriptors. When factor analysis (a statistical technique) is applied to personality survey data, some words used to describe aspects of personality are often applied to the same person. For example, someone described as conscientious is more likely to be described as “always prepared” rather than “messy”. This theory is based therefore on the association between words but not on neuropsychological experiments. This theory uses descriptors of common language and therefore suggests five broad dimensions commonly used to describe the human personality and psyche .   The five factors have been defined as openness to experience , conscientiousness , extraversion , agreeableness , and neuroticism , often represented by the acronyms OCEAN or CANOE. Beneath each proposed global factor, there are a number of correlated and more specific primary factors. For example, extraversion is said to include such related qualities as gregariousness, assertiveness, excitement seeking, warmth, activity, and positive emotions. 
That these underlying factors can be found is consistent with the lexical hypothesis : personality characteristics that are most important in people’s lives will eventually become a part of their language and, secondly, that more important personality characteristics are more likely to be encoded into language as a single word.
The five factors are:
- Openness to experience (inventive/curious vs. consistent/cautious). Appreciation for art, emotion , adventure, unusual ideas, curiosity , and variety of experience. Openness reflects the degree of intellectual curiosity, creativity and a preference for novelty and variety a person has. It is also described as the extent to which a person is imaginative or independent and depicts a personal preference for a variety of activities over a strict routine. High openness can be perceived as unpredictability or lack of focus, and more likely to engage in risky behaviour or drug taking.  Also, individuals that have high openness tend to lean, in occupation and hobby, towards the arts, being, typically, creative and appreciative of the significance of intellectual and artistic pursuits.  :191 Moreover, individuals with high openness are said to pursue self-actualization specifically by seeking out intense, euphoric experiences . Conversely, those with low openness seek to gain fulfillment through perseverance and are characterized as pragmatic and data-driven—sometimes even perceived to be dogmatic and closed-minded. Some disagreement remains about how to interpret and contextualize the openness factor.[ clarification needed ]
- Conscientiousness (efficient/organized vs. easy-going/careless). Tendency to be organized and dependable, show self-discipline , act dutifully , aim for achievement, and prefer planned rather than spontaneous behavior. High conscientiousness is often perceived as being stubborn and focused. Low conscientiousness is associated with flexibility and spontaneity, but can also appear as sloppiness and lack of reliability. 
- Extraversion (outgoing/energetic vs. solitary/reserved). Energetic, surgency , assertiveness, sociability and the tendency to seek stimulation in the company of others, and talkativeness. High extraversion is often perceived as attention-seeking and domineering. Low extraversion causes a reserved, reflective personality, which can be perceived as aloof or self-absorbed.  Extroverted people may appear more dominant in social settings, as opposed to introverted people in this setting. 
- Agreeableness (friendly/compassionate vs. challenging/detached). Tendency to be compassionate and cooperative rather than suspicious and antagonistic towards others. It is also a measure of one’s trusting and helpful nature, and whether a person is generally well-tempered or not. High agreeableness is often seen as naive or submissive. Low agreeableness personalities are often competitive or challenging people, which can be seen as argumentative or untrustworthy. 
- Neuroticism (sensitive/nervous vs. secure/confident). Tendency to be prone to psychological stress.  The tendency to experience unpleasant emotions easily, such as anger , anxiety , depression, and vulnerability . Neuroticism also refers to the degree of emotional stability and impulse control and is sometimes referred to by its low pole, ” emotional stability “. High stability manifests itself as a stable and calm personality, but can be seen as uninspiring and unconcerned. Low stability manifests as the reactive and excitable personality often found in dynamic individuals, but can be perceived as unstable or insecure.  Also, individuals with higher levels of neuroticism tend to have worse psychological well being. 
People who do not exhibit a clear predisposition to a single factor in each dimension above are considered adaptable, moderate and reasonable, yet they can also be perceived as unprincipled, inscrutable and calculating.  Depending on how much of each trait a person has, it could make someone more susceptible to participating in certain activities.[ citation needed ]
Family life and the way someone was raised will also affect these traits. Twin studies and other research have shown that about half of the variation between individuals results from their genetics and half from their environments. Researchers have found conscientiousness, extraversion, openness to experience, and neuroticism to be relatively stable from childhood through adulthood.
- 1 Overview
- 2 Descriptions of the particular personality traits
- 2.1 Openness to experience
- 2.1.1 Sample items
- 2.2 Conscientiousness
- 2.2.1 Sample items
- 2.3 Extraversion
- 2.3.1 Sample items
- 2.4 Agreeableness
- 2.4.1 Sample items
- 2.5 Neuroticism
- 2.5.1 Sample items
- 2.1 Openness to experience
- 3 History
- 3.1 Early trait research
- 3.2 Hiatus in research
- 3.3 Renewed attention
- 4 Biological and developmental factors
- 4.1 Temperament vs. personality
- 4.2 Heritability
- 4.3 Non-humans
- 4.4 Development during childhood and adolescence
- 4.4.1 Extraversion/positive emotionality
- 4.5 Development throughout adulthood
- 4.6 Personality Change from Disease
- 5 Group differences
- 5.1 Gender differences
- 5.2 Birth-order differences
- 6 Cultural differences
- 7 Relationships
- 7.1 Personality disorders
- 7.2 Common mental disorders
- 7.2.1 The personality-psychopathology models
- 7.3 Health
- 7.4 Education
- 7.4.1 Academic achievement
- 7.4.2 Learning styles
- 7.5 Work success
- 7.6 Romantic relationships
- 7.7 Limitation of the predictive power of personality traits
- 8 Measurements
- 9 Critique
- 9.1 Limited scope
- 9.2 Methodological issues
- 9.3 Theoretical status
- 9.4 Evidence for six factors rather than five
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 External links
Overview[ edit ]
The Big Five personality traits was the model to comprehend the relationship between personality and academic behaviors .  This model was defined by several independent sets of researchers who used factor analysis of verbal descriptors of human behavior.  These researchers began by studying relationships between a large number of verbal descriptors related to personality traits. They reduced the lists of these descriptors (arbitrarily) by 5–10 fold and then used factor analysis to group the remaining traits (using data mostly based upon people’s estimations, in self-report questionnaire and peer ratings) in order to find the underlying factors of personality.     
The initial model was advanced by Ernest Tupes and Raymond Christal in 1961,  but failed to reach an academic audience until the 1980s. In 1990, J.M. Digman advanced his five-factor model of personality, which Lewis Goldberg extended to the highest level of organization.  These five overarching domains have been found to contain and subsume most known personality traits and are assumed to represent the basic structure behind all personality traits. 
At least four sets of researchers have worked independently within lexical hypothesis in personality theory for decades on this problem and have identified generally the same five factors: Tupes and Christal were first, followed by Goldberg at the Oregon Research Institute ,      Cattell at the University of Illinois,     and Costa and McCrae .     These four sets of researchers used somewhat different methods in finding the five traits, and thus each set of five factors has somewhat different names and definitions. However, all have been found to be highly inter-correlated and factor-analytically aligned.      Studies indicate that the Big Five traits are not nearly as powerful in predicting and explaining actual behavior as are the more numerous facets or primary traits.   The FFM-associated test was used by Cambridge Analytica , including the scandalous case associated with interference with president election in the USA  
Each of the Big Five personality traits contains two separate, but correlated, aspects reflecting a level of personality below the broad domains but above the many facet scales that are also part of the Big Five.  The aspects are labeled as follows: Volatility and Withdrawal for Neuroticism; Enthusiasm and Assertiveness for Extraversion; Intellect and Openness for Openness to Experience; Industriousness and Orderliness for Conscientiousness; and Compassion and Politeness for Agreeableness. 
Descriptions of the particular personality traits[ edit ]
Openness to experience[ edit ]
Openness is a general appreciation for art, emotion, adventure, unusual ideas, imagination, curiosity, and variety of experience. People who are open to experience are intellectually curious, open to emotion, sensitive to beauty and willing to try new things. They tend to be, when compared to closed people, more creative and more aware of their feelings. They are also more likely to hold unconventional beliefs.
Sample items[ edit ]
- I have excellent ideas.
- I am quick to understand things.
- I use difficult words.
- I am full of ideas.
- I am not interested in abstractions. (reversed)
- I do not have a good imagination. (reversed)
- I have difficulty understanding abstract ideas. (reversed) 
Conscientiousness[ edit ]
Conscientiousness is a tendency to display self-discipline, act dutifully, and strive for achievement against measures or outside expectations. It is related to the way in which people control, regulate, and direct their impulses. High scores on conscientiousness indicate a preference for planned rather than spontaneous behavior.  The average level of conscientiousness rises among young adults and then declines among older adults. 
Sample items[ edit ]
- I always am prepared.
- I pay attention to details.
- I get chores done right away.
- I like order.
- I follow a schedule.
- I am exacting in my work.
- I leave my belongings around. (reversed)
- I make a mess of things. (reversed)
- I often forget to put things back in their proper place. (reversed)
- I shirk my duties. (reversed) 
Extraversion[ edit ]
Extraversion is characterized by breadth of activities (as opposed to depth), surgency from external activity/situations, and energy creation from external means.  The trait is marked by pronounced engagement with the external world. Extraverts enjoy interacting with people, and are often perceived as full of energy. They tend to be enthusiastic, action-oriented individuals. They possess high group visibility, like to talk, and assert themselves. 
Introverts have lower social engagement and energy levels than extraverts. They tend to seem quiet, low-key, deliberate, and less involved in the social world. Their lack of social involvement should not be interpreted as shyness or depression; instead they are more independent of their social world than extraverts. Introverts need less stimulation, and more time alone than extraverts. This does not mean that they are unfriendly or antisocial; rather, they are reserved in social situations. 
Generally, people are a combination of extraversion and introversion, with personality psychologist Eysenck suggesting that these traits are connected somehow to our central nervous system.  :106
Sample items[ edit ]
- I am the life of the party.
- I don’t mind being the center of attention.
- I feel comfortable around people.
- I start conversations.
- I talk to a lot of different people at parties.
- I don’t talk a lot. (reversed)
- I think a lot before I speak or act. (reversed)
- I don’t like to draw attention to myself. (reversed)
- I am quiet around strangers. (reversed) 
- I have no intention of talking in large crowds. (reversed)
Agreeableness[ edit ]
The agreeableness trait reflects individual differences in general concern for social harmony. Agreeable individuals value getting along with others. They are generally considerate, kind, generous, trusting and trustworthy, helpful, and willing to compromise their interests with others.  Agreeable people also have an optimistic view of human nature.
Disagreeable individuals place self-interest above getting along with others. They are generally unconcerned with others’ well-being, and are less likely to extend themselves for other people. Sometimes their skepticism about others’ motives causes them to be suspicious, unfriendly, and uncooperative. 
Because agreeableness is a social trait, research has shown that one’s agreeableness positively correlates with the quality of relationships with one’s team members. Agreeableness also positively predicts transformational leadership skills. In a study conducted among 169 participants in leadership positions in a variety of professions, individuals were asked to take a personality test and have two evaluations completed by directly supervised subordinates. Leaders with high levels of agreeableness were more likely to be considered transformational rather than transactional . Although the relationship was not strong, (r=0.32, β=0.28, p<0.01) it was the strongest of the Big Five traits. However, the same study showed no predictive power of leadership effectiveness as evaluated by the leader’s direct supervisor.  Agreeableness, however, has been found to be negatively related to transactional leadership in the military. A study of Asian military units showed leaders with a high level of agreeableness to be more likely to receive a low rating for transformational leadership skills.  Therefore, with further research, organizations may be able to determine an individual’s potential for performance based on their personality traits.
Sample items[ edit ]
- I am interested in people.
- I sympathize with others’ feelings.
- I have a soft heart.
- I take time out for others.
- I feel others’ emotions.
- I make people feel at ease.
- I am not really interested in others. (reversed)
- I insult people. (reversed)
- I am not interested in other people’s problems. (reversed)
- I feel little concern for others. (reversed) 
Neuroticism[ edit ]
Neuroticism is the tendency to experience negative emotions, such as anger, anxiety, or depression.  It is sometimes called emotional instability, or is reversed and referred to as emotional stability. According to Eysenck’s (1967) theory of personality, neuroticism is interlinked with low tolerance for stress or aversive stimuli.  Neuroticism is a classic temperament trait that has been studied in temperament research for decades, before it was adapted by the FFM.  Since main properties of temperament traits are stability in life time and its neurophysiological basis, the FFM researchers used these properties of Neuroticism to support their model.
Those who score high in neuroticism are emotionally reactive and vulnerable to stress, they also tend to be flippant in the way they express emotion. They are more likely to interpret ordinary situations as threatening, and minor frustrations as hopelessly difficult. Their negative emotional reactions tend to persist for unusually long periods of time, which means they are often in a bad mood. For instance, neuroticism is connected to a pessimistic approach toward work, confidence that work impedes personal relationships, and apparent anxiety linked with work.  Furthermore, those who score high on neuroticism may display more skin-conductance reactivity than those who score low on neuroticism.   These problems in emotional regulation can diminish the ability of a person scoring high on neuroticism to think clearly, make decisions, and cope effectively with stress.[ citation needed ] Lacking contentment in one’s life achievements can correlate with high neuroticism scores and increase one’s likelihood of falling into clinical depression.[ citation needed ] Moreover, individuals high in neuroticism tend to experience more negative life events,   but neuroticism also changes in response to positive and negative life experiences.  
At the other end of the scale, individuals who score low in neuroticism are less easily upset and are less emotionally reactive. They tend to be calm, emotionally stable, and free from persistent negative feelings. Freedom from negative feelings does not mean that low-scorers experience a lot of positive feelings. 
Neuroticism is similar but not identical to being neurotic in the Freudian sense (i.e., neurosis .) Some psychologists prefer to call neuroticism by the term emotional instability to differentiate it from the term neurotic in a career test.
Sample items[ edit ]
- I get irritated easily.
- I get stressed out easily.
- I get upset easily.
- I have frequent mood swings.
- I worry about things.
- I am much more anxious than most people. 
- I am relaxed most of the time. (reversed)
- I seldom feel blue. (reversed) 
History[ edit ]
Early trait research[ edit ]
Historically preceding The Big Five personality traits (B5) or the Five Factors Model (FFM), was Hippocrates ‘s four types of temperament— sanguine , phlegmatic , choleric , and melancholic . The sanguine type is most closely related to emotional stability and extraversion, the phlegmatic type is also stable but introverted, the choleric type is unstable and extraverted, and the melancholic type is unstable and introverted. 
In 1884, Sir Francis Galton was the first person who is known to have investigated the hypothesis that it is possible to derive a comprehensive taxonomy of human personality traits by sampling language: the lexical hypothesis .  In 1936, Gordon Allport and S. Odbert put Sir Francis Galton’s hypothesis into practice by extracting 4,504 adjectives which they believed were descriptive of observable and relatively permanent traits from the dictionaries at that time.  In 1940, Raymond Cattell retained the adjectives, and eliminated synonyms to reduce the total to 171.  He constructed a self-report instrument for the clusters of personality traits he found from the adjectives, which he called the Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire . Based on a subset of only 20 of the 36 dimensions that Cattell had originally discovered, Ernest Tupes and Raymond Christal claimed to have found just five broad factors which they labeled: “surgency”, “agreeableness”, “dependability”, “emotional stability”, and “culture”.  Warren Norman subsequently relabeled “dependability” as “conscientiousness”. 
Hiatus in research[ edit ]
In 1949, the first systematic multivariate research of personality was conducted by Joy P. Guilford . Guilford analyzed ten factors of personality, which she measured by the Guildford-Zimmerman Temperament Survey . These scales included general activity (energy vs inactivity); restraint (seriousness vs impulsiveness); ascendance (social boldness vs submissiveness); sociability (social interest vs shyness); emotional stability (evenness vs fluctuation of mood); objectivity (thick-skinned vs hypersensitive); friendliness (agreeableness vs belligerence); thoughtfulness (reflective vs disconnected), personal relations (tolerance vs hypercritical); masculinity (hard-boiled vs sympathetic).  These overlapping scales were later further analyzed by Guilford et al, and condense into three dimensions: social activity (general activity, ascendence, sociability), introversion-extraversion (restraint, thoughtfulness), and emotional health (emotional stability, objectivity, friendliness, personal relations). 
For the next two decades, the changing zeitgeist made publication of personality research difficult. In his 1968 book Personality and Assessment, Walter Mischel asserted that personality instruments could not predict behavior with a correlation of more than 0.3. Social psychologists like Mischel argued that attitudes and behavior were not stable, but varied with the situation. Predicting behavior from personality instruments was claimed to be impossible. However, it has subsequently been demonstrated empirically that the magnitude of the predictive correlations with real-life criteria can increase significantly under stressful emotional conditions (as opposed to the typical administration of personality measures under neutral emotional conditions), thereby accounting for a significantly greater proportion of the predictive variance. 
In addition, emerging methodologies challenged this point of view during the 1980s. Instead of trying to predict single instances of behavior, which was unreliable, researchers found that they could predict patterns of behavior by aggregating large numbers of observations.  As a result, correlations between personality and behavior increased substantially, and it was clear that “personality” did in fact exist.  Personality and social psychologists now generally agree that both personal and situational variables are needed to account for human behavior.  Trait theories became justified, and there was a resurgence of interest in this area.  In the 1980s, Lewis Goldberg started his own lexical project, emphasizing five broad factors once again.  He later coined the term “Big Five” as a label for the factors.
Renewed attention[ edit ]
In a 1980 symposium in Honolulu , four prominent researchers, Lewis Goldberg, Naomi Takemoto-Chock , Andrew Comrey, and John M. Digman, reviewed the available personality instruments of the day.  This event was followed by widespread acceptance of the five-factor model among personality researchers during the 1980s.  Peter Saville and his team included the five-factor “Pentagon” model with the original OPQ in 1984. Pentagon was closely followed by the NEO five-factor personality inventory, published by Costa and McCrae in 1985. However, the methodology employed in constructing the NEO instrument has been subjected to critical scrutiny (see section below).  :431–433
In a recent study from 2016, Colin G. DeYoung et al test how these 25 facets could be integrated with the 10-factor structure of traits within the Big Five. The developers mainly researched the Big Five model and how the five broad factors are compatible with the 25 scales of the Personality Inventory (PID-5) for the DSM-5. DeYoung et all considers the PID-5 to measure facet-level traits.  Because the Big Five factors are broader than the 25 scales of the PID-5, there is disagreement in personality psychology relating to the number of factors within the Big Five. According to DeYoung and other developers, “the number of valid facets might be limited only by the number of traits that can be shown to have discriminant validity.” 
Biological and developmental factors[ edit ]
Temperament vs. personality[ edit ]
There are debates between researchers of temperament and researchers of personality as to whether or not biologically-based differences define a concept of temperament or a part of personality. The presence of such differences in pre-cultural individuals (such as animals or young infants) suggests that they belong to temperament since personality is a socio-cultural concept. For this reason developmental psychologists generally interpret individual differences in children as an expression of temperament rather than personality.  Some researchers argue that temperaments and personality traits are age-specific manifestations of virtually the same latent qualities.   Some believe that early childhood temperaments may become adolescent and adult personality traits as individuals’ basic genetic characteristics actively, reactively, and passively interact with their changing environments.    [ clarification needed ]
Researchers of adult temperament point out that, similarly to sex, age and mental illness, temperament is based on biochemical systems whereas personality is a product of socialization of an individual possessing these four types of features. Temperament interacts with social-cultural factors, but still cannot be controlled or easily changed by these factors.    
Therefore, it is suggested that temperament should be kept as an independent concept for further studies and not be conflated with personality.  Moreover, temperament refers to dynamical features of behaviour (energetic, tempo, sensitivity and emotionality-related), whereas personality is to be considered a psycho-social construct comprising the content characteristics of human behavior (such as values, attitudes, habits, preferences, personal history, self-image).    Temperament researchers point out that the lack of attention to extant temperament research by the developers of the Big Five model lead to an overlap between its dimensions and dimensions described in multiple temperament models much earlier. For example, neuroticism reflects the traditional temperament dimension of emotionality, extraversion the temperament dimension of “energy” or “activity”, and openness to experience the temperament dimension of sensation-seeking.  
Heritability[ edit ]
Personality research conducted on twin subjects suggests that both heritable and environmental factors contribute to the Big Five personality traits.
Genetically informative research, including twin studies , suggest that heritability and environmental factors both influence all five factors to the same degree.  Among four recent twin studies, the mean percentage for heritability was calculated for each personality and it was concluded that heritability influenced the five factors broadly. The self-report measures were as follows: openness to experience was estimated to have a 57% genetic influence, extraversion 54%, conscientiousness 49%, neuroticism 48%, and agreeableness 42%. 
Non-humans[ edit ]
The Big 5 personality traits can be seen in chimpanzees.
The Big Five personality traits have been assessed in some non-human species but methodology is debatable. In one series of studies, human ratings of chimpanzees using the Hominoid Personality Questionnaire , revealed factors of extraversion, conscientiousness and agreeableness – as well as an additional factor of dominance – across hundreds of chimpanzees in zoological parks , a large naturalistic sanctuary, and a research laboratory. Neuroticism and openness factors were found in an original zoo sample, but were not replicated in a new zoo sample or in other settings (perhaps reflecting the design of the CPQ).  A study review found that markers for the three dimensions extraversion, neuroticism, and agreeableness were found most consistently across different species, followed by
openness; only chimpanzees showed markers for conscientious behavior. 
Development during childhood and adolescence[ edit ]
Research on the Big Five, and personality in general, has focused primarily on individual differences in adulthood, rather than in childhood and adolescence, and often include temperament traits.    Recently, there has been growing recognition of the need to study child and adolescent personality trait development in order to understand how traits develop and change throughout the lifespan. 
Recent studies have begun to explore the developmental origins and trajectories of the Big Five among children and adolescents, especially those that relate to temperament.    Many researchers have sought to distinguish between personality and temperament.  Temperament often refers to early behavioral and affective characteristics that are thought to be driven primarily by genes.  Models of temperament often include four trait dimensions: surgency/ sociability, negative emotionality, persistence/effortful control, and activity level.  Some of these differences in temperament are evident at, if not before, birth.   For example, both parents and researchers recognize that some newborn infants are peaceful and easily soothed while others are comparatively fussy and hard to calm.  Unlike temperament, however, many researchers view the development of personality as gradually occurring throughout childhood.  Contrary to some researchers who question whether children have stable personality traits, Big Five or otherwise,  most researchers contend that there are significant psychological differences between children that are associated with relatively stable, distinct, and salient behavior patterns.   
The structure, manifestations, and development of the Big Five in childhood and adolescence has been studied using a variety of methods, including parent- and teacher-ratings,    preadolescent and adolescent self- and peer-ratings,    and observations of parent-child interactions.  Results from these studies support the relative stability of personality traits across the human lifespan, at least from preschool age through adulthood.     More specifically, research suggests that four of the Big Five –namely Extraversion, Neuroticism, Conscientiousness, and Agreeableness- reliably describe personality differences in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.     However, some evidence suggests that Openness may not be a fundamental, stable part of childhood personality. Although some researchers have found that Openness in children and adolescents relates to attributes such as creativity, curiosity, imagination, and intellect,  many researchers have failed to find distinct individual differences in Openness in childhood and early adolescence.   Potentially, Openness may (a) manifest in unique, currently unknown ways in childhood or (b) may only manifest as children develop socially and cognitively.   Other studies have found evidence for all of the Big Five traits in childhood and adolescence as well as two other child-specific traits: Irritability and Activity.  Despite these specific differences, the majority of findings suggest that personality traits –particularly Extraversion, Neuroticism, Conscientiousness, and Agreeableness- are evident in childhood and adolescence and are associated with distinct social-emotional patterns of behavior that are largely consistent with adult manifestations of those same personality traits.     Some researchers have proposed the youth personality trait is best described by six trait dimensions: neuroticism, extroversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and activity.  Despite some preliminary evidence for this “Little Six” model,   research in this area has been delayed by a lack of available measures.
Previous research has found evidence that most adults become more agreeable, conscientious, and less neurotic as they age.  This has been referred to as the maturation effect.  Many researchers have sought to investigate how trends in adult personality development compare to trends in youth personality development.  Two main population-level indices have been important in this area of research: rank-order consistency and mean-level consistency. Rank-order consistency indicates the relative placement of individuals within a group.  Mean-level consistency indicates whether groups increase or decrease on certain traits throughout the lifetime. 
Findings from these studies indicate that, consistent with adult personality trends, youth personality becomes increasingly more stable in terms of rank-order throughout childhood.  Unlike adult personality research, which indicates that people become agreeable, conscientious, and emotionally stable with age,  some findings in youth personality research have indicated that mean-levels of agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness to experience decline from late childhood to late adolescence.  The disruption hypothesis, which proposes that biological, social, and psychological changes experienced during youth result in temporary dips in maturity, has been proposed to explain these findings.  
Extraversion/positive emotionality[ edit ]
In Big Five studies, extraversion has been associated with surgency .  Children with high Extraversion are energetic, talkative, social, and dominant with children and adults; whereas, children with low Extraversion tend to be quiet, calm, inhibited, and submissive to other children and adults.   Individual differences in Extraversion first manifest in infancy as varying levels of positive emotionality.  These differences in turn predict social and physical activity during later childhood and may represent, or be associated with, the behavioral activation system .   In children, Extraversion/Positive Emotionality includes four sub-traits: three traits that are similar to the previously described traits of temperament – activity, sociability, shyness,   and the trait of dominance.
- Activity: Similarly to findings in temperament research, children with high activity tend to have high energy levels and more intense and frequent motor activity compared to their peers.    Salient differences in activity reliably manifest in infancy, persist through adolescence, and fade as motor activity decreases in adulthood  or potentially develops into talkativeness.  
- Dominance: Children with high dominance tend to influence the behavior of others, particularly their peers, to obtain desirable rewards or outcomes.    Such children are generally skilled at organizing activities and games  and deceiving others by controlling their nonverbal behavior. 
- Shyness: Children with high shyness are generally socially withdrawn, nervous, and inhibited around strangers.  In time, such children may become fearful even around “known others”, especially if their peers reject them.   Similar pattern was described in temperament longitudinal studies of shyness 
- Sociability: Children with high sociability generally prefer to be with others rather than alone.   During middle childhood, the distinction between low sociability and high shyness becomes more pronounced, particularly as children gain greater control over how and where they spend their time.   
Development throughout adulthood[ edit ]
Many studies of longitudinal data, which correlate people’s test scores over time, and cross-sectional data, which compare personality levels across different age groups, show a high degree of stability in personality traits during adulthood, especially Neuroticism trait that is often regarded as a temperament trait  similarly to longitudinal research in temperament for the same traits.  It is shown that the personality stabilizes for working-age individuals within about four years after starting working. There is also little evidence that adverse life events can have any significant impact on the personality of individuals.  More recent research and meta-analyses of previous studies, however, indicate that change occurs in all five traits at various points in the lifespan. The new research shows evidence for a maturation effect. On average, levels of agreeableness and conscientiousness typically increase with time, whereas extraversion, neuroticism, and openness tend to decrease.  Research has also demonstrated that changes in Big Five personality traits depend on the individual’s current stage of development. For example, levels of agreeableness and conscientiousness demonstrate a negative trend during childhood and early adolescence before trending upwards during late adolescence and into adulthood.  In addition to these group effects, there are individual differences: different people demonstrate unique patterns of change at all stages of life. 
In addition, some research (Fleeson, 2001) suggests that the Big Five should not be conceived of as dichotomies (such as extraversion vs. introversion) but as continua. Each individual has the capacity to move along each dimension as circumstances (social or temporal) change. He is or she is therefore not simply on one end of each trait dichotomy but is a blend of both, exhibiting some characteristics more often than others: 
Research regarding personality with growing age has suggested that as individuals enter their elder years (79–86), those with lower IQ see a raise in extraversion, but a decline in conscientiousness and physical well being. 
Research by Cobb-Clark and Schurer indicates that personality traits are generally stable among adult workers. The research done on personality also mirrors previous results on locus of control. 
Personality Change from Disease[ edit ]
While personality is mostly stable in adulthood, some diseases can alter personality. Gradual impairment of memory is the hallmark feature of Alzheimer’s disease , but changes in personality also commonly occur. A review of personality change in Alzheimer’s disease found a characteristic pattern of personality change in patients with Alzheimer’s disease: a large decrease in Conscientiousness of two to three standard deviations, a decrease in Extroversion of one to two standard deviations, a reduction in Agreeableness of less than one standard deviation, and an increase in Neuroticism of between one and two standard deviations  .
Group differences[ edit ]
Gender differences[ edit ]
Cross-cultural research has shown some patterns of gender differences on responses to the NEO-PI-R and the Big Five Inventory.  For example, women consistently report higher Neuroticism, Agreeableness, warmth (an extraversion facet) and openness to feelings, and men often report higher assertiveness (a facet of extraversion) and openness to ideas as assessed by the NEO-PI-R. 
A study of gender differences in 55 nations using the Big Five Inventory found that women tended to be somewhat higher than men in neuroticism, extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. The difference in neuroticism was the most prominent and consistent, with significant differences found in 49 of the 55 nations surveyed. Gender differences in personality traits are largest in prosperous, healthy, and more gender-egalitarian cultures. A plausible explanation for this is that acts by women in individualistic, egalitarian countries are more likely to be attributed to their personality, rather than being attributed to ascribed gender roles within collectivist, traditional countries.  Differences in the magnitude of sex differences between more or less developed world regions were due to differences between men, not women, in these respective regions. That is, men in highly developed world regions were less neurotic, extraverted, conscientious and agreeable compared to men in less developed world regions. Women, on the other hand tended not to differ in personality traits across regions.  The most simple explanation for this gender data is that women remain relatively resource-poor, regardless of the circumstances of males within a first-world country. However, the authors of this study speculated that resource-poor environments (that is, countries with low levels of development) may inhibit the development of gender differences, whereas resource-rich environments facilitate them. This may be because males require more resources than females in order to reach their full developmental potential . The authors also argued that due to different evolutionary pressures, men may have evolved to be more risk taking and socially dominant, whereas women evolved to be more cautious and nurturing. Ancient hunter-gatherer societies may have been more egalitarian than later agriculturally oriented societies. Hence, the development of gender inequalities may have acted to constrain the development of gender differences in personality that originally evolved in hunter-gatherer societies. As modern societies have become more egalitarian, again, it may be that innate sex differences are no longer constrained and hence manifest more fully than in less-developed cultures. Currently, this hypothesis remains untested, as gender differences in modern societies have not been compared with those in hunter-gatherer societies. 
Birth-order differences[ edit ]
Frank Sulloway argues that firstborns are more conscientious, more socially dominant, less agreeable, and less open to new ideas compared to laterborns. Large-scale studies using random samples and self-report personality tests, however, have found milder effects than Sulloway claimed, or no significant effects of birth order on personality.   A study using the Project Talent data, which is a large-scale representative survey of American high-schoolers, with 272,003 eligible targets, found statistically significant but very small effects (the average absolute correlation between birth order and personality was .02) of birth order on personality, such that first borns were slightly more conscientious, dominant, and agreeable, while also being less neurotic and less sociable  . Parental SES and participant gender had much larger correlations with personality.
In 2002, the journal of psychology posted a Big Five Personality Trait Difference; Researchers explored relationship between the five factor model and the Universal-Diverse Orientation (UDO) in counselor trainees. (Thompson, R., Brossart, D., and Mivielle, A., 2002) UDO is known as one social attitude that produces a strong awareness and/or acceptance towards the similarities and differences amongst individuals. (Miville, M., Romas, J., Johnson, J., and Lon, R. 2002) The study has shown the counselor trainees that are more open to the idea of creative expression (a facet of Openness to Experience, Openness to Aesthetics) amongst individuals are more likely to work with a diverse group of clients, and feel comfortable in their role. 
Cultural differences[ edit ]
The Big Five have been pursued in a variety of languages and cultures, such as German,  Chinese,  Indian,   For example, Thompson has claimed to find the Big Five structure across several cultures using an international English language scale. 
Cheung, van de Vijver, and Leong (2011) suggest, however, that the Openness factor is particularly unsupported in Asian countries and that a different fifth factor is identified. 
Recent work has found relationships between Geert Hofstede ‘s cultural factors , Individualism, Power Distance, Masculinity, and Uncertainty Avoidance, with the average Big Five scores in a country.  For instance, the degree to which a country values individualism correlates with its average extraversion, whereas people living in cultures which are accepting of large inequalities in their power structures tend to score somewhat higher on conscientiousness.
Personality differences around the world might even have contributed to the emergence of different political systems. A recent study has found that countries’ average personality trait levels are correlated with their political systems: countries with higher average trait Openness tended to have more democratic institutions, an association that held even after factoring out other relevant influences such as economic development. 
Attempts to replicate the Big Five in other countries with local dictionaries have succeeded in some countries but not in others. Apparently, for instance, Hungarians do not appear to have a single agreeableness factor.  Other researchers have found evidence for agreeableness but not for other factors.  It is important to recognize that individual differences in traits are relevant in a specific cultural context, and that the traits do not have their effects outside of that context.  :189
Relationships[ edit ]
Personality disorders[ edit ]
As of 2002 [update] , there were over fifty published studies relating the FFM to personality disorders.  Since that time, quite a number of additional studies have expanded on this research base and provided further empirical support for understanding the DSM personality disorders in terms of the FFM domains. 
In her review of the personality disorder literature published in 2007, Lee Anna Clark asserted that “the five-factor model of personality is widely accepted as representing the higher-order structure of both normal and abnormal personality traits”.  However, other researchers disagree that this model is widely accepted (see the section Critique below) and suggest that it simply replicates early temperament research.   Noticeably, FFM publications never compare their findings to temperament models even though temperament and mental disorders (especially personality disorders) are thought to be based on the same neurotransmitter imbalances, just to varying degrees.    
The five-factor model was claimed to significantly predict all ten personality disorder symptoms and outperform the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) in the prediction of borderline , avoidant , and dependent personality disorder symptoms.  However, most predictions related to an increase in Neuroticism and a decrease in Agreeableness, and therefore did not differentiate between the disorders very well. 
Common mental disorders[ edit ]
Average deviation of five factor personality profile of heroin users from the population mean.  N stands for Neuroticism, E for Extraversion, O for Openness to experience, A for Agreeableness and C for Conscientiousness.
Converging evidence from several nationally representative studies has established three classes of mental disorders which are especially common in the general population: Depressive disorders (e.g., major depressive disorder (MDD), dysthymic disorder ),  anxiety disorders (e.g., generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic disorder , agoraphobia , specific phobia , and social phobia ),  and substance use disorders (SUDs).  
These common mental disorders (CMDs) have been empirically linked to the Big Five personality traits, neuroticism in particular. Numerous studies have found that having high scores of neuroticism significantly increases one’s risk for developing a CMD.   A large-scale meta-analysis (n > 75,000) examining the relationship between all of the Big Five personality traits and CMDs found that low conscientiousness yielded consistently strong effects for each CMD examined (i.e., MDD, dysthymic disorder, GAD, PTSD, panic disorder, agoraphobia, social phobia, specific phobia, and SUD).  This finding parallels research on physical health, which has established that conscientiousness is the strongest personality predictor of reduced mortality, and is highly negatively correlated with making poor health choices.   In regards to the other personality domains, the meta-analysis found that all CMDs examined were defined by high neuroticism, most exhibited low extraversion, only SUD was linked to agreeableness (negatively), and no disorders were associated with Openness.  A meta-analysis of 59 longitudinal studies showed that high neuroticism predicted the development of anxiety, depression, substance abuse, psychosis, schizophrenia, and non-specific mental distress, also after adjustment for baseline symptoms and psychiatric history. 
The personality-psychopathology models[ edit ]
Five major models have been posed to explain the nature of the relationship between personality and mental illness. There is currently no single “best model”, as each of them has received at least some empirical support. It is also important to note that these models are not mutually exclusive – more than one may be operating for a particular individual and various mental disorders may be explained by different models.  
- The Vulnerability/Risk Model: According to this model, personality contributes to the onset or etiology of various common mental disorders. In other words, pre-existing personality traits either cause the development of CMDs directly or enhance the impact of causal risk factors.     There is strong support for neuroticism being a robust vulnerability factor. 
- The Pathoplasty Model: This model proposes that premorbid personality traits impact the expression, course, severity, and/or treatment response of a mental disorder.    An example of this relationship would be a heightened likelihood of committing suicide for a depressed individual who also has low levels of constraint. 
- The Common Cause Model: According to the common cause model, personality traits are predictive of CMDs because personality and psychopathology have shared genetic and environmental determinants which result in non-causal associations between the two constructs.  
- The Spectrum Model: This model proposes that associations between personality and psychopathology are found because these two constructs both occupy a single domain or spectrum and psychopathology is simply a display of the extremes of normal personality function.     Support for this model is provided by an issue of criterion overlap. For instance, two of the primary facet scales of neuroticism in the NEO-PI-R are “depression” and “anxiety”. Thus the fact that diagnostic criteria for depression, anxiety, and neuroticism assess the same content increases the correlations between these domains. 
- The Scar Model: According to the scar model, episodes of a mental disorder ‘scar’ an individual’s personality, changing it in significant ways from premorbid functioning.     An example of a scar effect would be a decrease in openness to experience following an episode of PTSD. 
Health[ edit ]
To examine how the Big Five personality traits are related to subjective health outcomes (positive and negative mood, physical symptoms, and general health concern) and objective health conditions (chronic illness, serious illness, and physical injuries), a study, conducted by Jasna Hudek-Knezevic and Igor Kardum, from a sample of 822 healthy volunteers (438 women and 384 men).  As a result, out of the Big Five personality traits, neuroticism was found most related to worse subjective health outcomes and optimistic control to better subjective health outcomes. When relating to objective health conditions, connections drawn were presented weak, except for neuroticism significantly predicted chronic illness, whereas optimistic control was more closely related to physical injuries caused by accident. 
Being highly conscientious may add as much as five years to one’s life.[ vague ]  The Big Five personality traits also predict positive health outcomes.[ citation needed ] In an elderly Japanese sample, conscientiousness , extraversion , and openness were related to lower risk of mortality. 
Higher conscientiousness is associated with lower obesity risk. In already obese individuals, higher conscientiousness is associated with a higher likelihood of becoming non-obese over a 5 year period. 
Education[ edit ]
Academic achievement[ edit ]
Personality plays an important role that affects academic achievement. A study conducted with 308 undergraduates who completed the Five Factor Inventory Processes and offered their GPA suggested that conscientiousness and agreeableness have a positive relationship with all types of learning styles (synthesis analysis, methodical study, fact retention, and elaborative processing), whereas neuroticism has an inverse relationship with them all. Moreover, extraversion and openness were proportional to elaborative processing. The Big Five personality traits accounted for 14% of the variance in GPA, suggesting that personality traits make some contributions to academic performance. Furthermore, reflective learning styles (synthesis-analysis and elaborative processing) were able to mediate the relationship between openness and GPA. These results indicate that intellectual curiousness has significant enhancement in academic performance if students can combine their scholarly interest with thoughtful information processing. 
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A recent study of Israeli high-school students found that those in the gifted program systematically scored higher on openness and lower on neuroticism than those not in the gifted program. While not a measure of the Big Five, gifted students also reported less state anxiety than students not in the gifted program.  Specific Big Five personality traits predict learning styles in addition to academic success.
- GPA and exam performance are both predicted by conscientiousness
- neuroticism is negatively related to academic success
- openness predicts utilizing synthesis-analysis and elaborative-processing learning styles
- neuroticism negatively correlates with learning styles in general
- openness and extraversion both predict all four learning styles. 
Studies conducted on college students have concluded that hope, which is linked to agreeableness, has a positive effect on psychological well being. Individuals high in neurotic tendencies are less likely to display hopeful tendencies and are negatively associated with well-being.  Personality can sometimes be flexible and measuring the big five personality for individuals as they enter certain stages of life may predict their educational identity. Recent studies have suggested the likelihood of an individual’s personality affecting their educational identity. 
Learning styles[ edit ]
Learning styles have been described as “enduring ways of thinking and processing information”. 
In 2008, the Association for Psychological Science (APS) commissioned a report whose conclusion indicates that no significant evidence exists to make the conclusion that learning-style assessments should be included in the education system.  Thus it is premature, at best, to conclude that the evidence linking the Big Five to “learning styles”, or “learning styles” to learning itself, is valid.
However, the APS also suggested in their report that all existing learning styles have not been exhausted and that there could exist learning styles that have the potential to be worthy of being included in educational practices. There are studies that conclude that personality and thinking styles may be intertwined in ways that link thinking styles to the Big Five personality traits.  There is no general consensus on the number or specifications of particular learning styles, but there have been many different proposals.
As one example, Smeck, Ribicj, and Ramanaih (1997) defined four types of learning styles :
- synthesis analysis
- methodical study
- fact retention
- elaborative processing
When all four facets are implicated within the classroom, they will each likely improve academic achievement.  This model asserts that students develop either agentic/shallow processing or reflective/deep processing. Deep processors are more often than not found to be more conscientious, intellectually open, and extraverted when compared to shallow processors. Deep processing is associated with appropriate study methods (methodical study) and a stronger ability to analyze information (synthesis analysis), whereas shallow processors prefer structured fact retention learning styles and are better suited for elaborative processing.  The main functions of these four specific learning styles are as follows:
|Synthesis analysis:||processing information, forming categories, and organizing them into hierarchies. This is the only one of the learning styles that has explained a significant impact on academic performance. |
|Methodical study:||methodical behavior while completing academic assignments|
|Fact retention:||focusing on the actual result instead of understanding the logic behind something|
|Elaborative processing:||connecting and applying new ideas to existing knowledge|
Openness has been linked to learning styles that often lead to academic success and higher grades like synthesis analysis and methodical study. Because conscientiousness and openness have been shown to predict all four learning styles, it suggests that individuals who possess characteristics like discipline, determination, and curiosity are more likely to engage in all of the above learning styles. 
According to the research carried out by Komarraju, Karau, Schmeck & Avdic (2011), conscientiousness and agreeableness are positively related with all four learning styles, whereas neuroticism was negatively related with those four. Furthermore, extraversion and openness were only positively related to elaborative processing, and openness itself correlated with higher academic achievement. 
In addition, a previous study by Mikael Jensen has shown relationships between The Big Five personality traits, learning, and academic achievement. According to psychologist Jensen, all personality traits, except neuroticism, are associated with learning goals and motivation. Openness and conscientiousness influence individuals to learn to a high degree unrecognized, while extraversion and agreeableness have similar effects.  Conscientiousness and neuroticism also influence individuals to perform well in front of others for a sense of credit and reward, while agreeableness forces individuals to avoid this strategy of learning.  As a result of Jensen’s study, it is likely that individuals who score high on the agreeableness trait will learn just to perform well in front of others. 
Besides openness, all Big Five personality traits helped predict the educational identity of students. Based on these findings, scientists are beginning to see that there might be a large influence of the Big Five traits on academic motivation that then leads to predicting a student’s academic performance. 
Some authors suggested that Big Five personality traits combined with learning styles can help predict some variations in the academic performance and the academic motivation of an individual which can then influence their academic achievements.  This may be seen because individual differences in personality represent stable approaches to information processing. For instance, conscientiousness has consistently emerged as a stable predictor of success in exam performance, largely because conscientious students experience fewer study delays.  The reason conscientiousness shows a positive association with the four learning styles is because students with high levels of conscientiousness develop focused learning strategies and appear to be more disciplined and achievement-oriented.
Work success[ edit ]
Controversy exists as to whether or not the Big 5 personality traits are correlated with success in the workplace.
Within organizational communication, personality is taken into account of how a person carries themselves in the workplace. The five factor personality theory encompasses five different personalities which are as follows: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Openness is being original and having imagination. Conscientiousness is being goal oriented with a willingness to achieve. Extraversion is being sociable and being an emotionally positive person. Agreeableness is being able to adapt and as a leader make necessary accommodations. The last personality trait was neuroticism which is usually when a leader tends to be negative emotionally and having a need for stability.   
It is believed that the Big Five traits are predictors of future performance outcomes. Job outcome measures include job and training proficiency and personnel data.  However, research demonstrating such prediction has been criticized, in part because of the apparently low correlation coefficients characterizing the relationship between personality and job performance . In a 2007 article  co-authored by six current or former editors of psychological journals, Dr. Kevin Murphy, Professor of Psychology at Pennsylvania State University and Editor of the Journal of Applied Psychology (1996–2002), states:
- The problem with personality tests is … that the validity of personality measures as predictors of job performance is often disappointingly low. The argument for using personality tests to predict performance does not strike me as convincing in the first place.
Such criticisms were put forward by Walter Mischel ,  whose publication caused a two-decades’ long crisis in personality psychometrics. However, later work demonstrated (1) that the correlations obtained by psychometric personality researchers were actually very respectable by comparative standards,  and (2) that the economic value of even incremental increases in prediction accuracy was exceptionally large, given the vast difference in performance by those who occupy complex job positions. 
There have been studies that link national innovation to openness to experience and conscientiousness. Those who express these traits have showed leadership and beneficial ideas towards the country of origin. 
Some businesses, organizations, and interviewers assess individuals based on the Big Five personality traits. Research has suggested that individuals who are considered leaders typically exhibit lower amounts of neurotic traits, maintain higher levels of openness (envisioning success), balanced levels of conscientiousness (well-organized), and balanced levels of extraversion (outgoing, but not excessive). 
Further studies have linked professional burnout to neuroticism, and extraversion to enduring positive work experience.  When it comes to making money, research has suggested that those who are high in agreeableness (especially men) are not as successful in accumulating income. 
Some research suggests that vocational outcomes are correlated to Big Five personality traits. Conscientiousness predicts job performance in general. In addition, research has demonstrated that Agreeableness is negatively related to salary . Those high in Agreeableness make less, on average, than those low in the same trait. Neuroticism is also negatively related to salary while Conscientiousness and Extraversion are positive predictors of salary.  Occupational self-efficacy has also been shown to be positively correlated with conscientiousness and negatively correlated with neuroticism . Significant predictors of career-advancement goals are: extraversion , conscientiousness , and agreeableness .  Some research has also suggested that the Conscientiousness of a supervisor is positively associated with an employee’s perception of abusive supervision.  While others have suggested that those with low agreeableness and high neuroticism are traits more related to abusive supervision. 
Research designed to investigate the individual effects of Big Five personality traits on work performance via worker completed surveys and supervisor ratings of work performance has implicated individual traits in several different work roles performances. A “work role” is defined as the responsibilities an individual has while they are working. Nine work roles have been identified, which can be classified in three broader categories: proficiency (the ability of a worker to effectively perform their work duties), adaptivity (a workers ability to change working strategies in response to changing work environments), and proactivity (extent to which a worker will spontaneously put forth effort to change the work environment). These three categories of behavior can then be directed towards three different levels: either the individual, team, or organizational level leading to the nine different work role performance possibilities. 
- Openness is positively related to proactivity at the individual and the organizational levels and is negatively related to team and organizational proficiency. These effects were found to be completely independent of one another.
- Agreeableness is negatively related to individual task proactivity.
- Extraversion is negatively related to individual task proficiency.
- Conscientiousness is positively related to all forms of work role performance.
- Neuroticism is negatively related to all forms of work role performance. 
Two theories have been integrated in an attempt to account for these differences in work role performance. Trait activation theory posits that within a person trait levels predict future behavior, that trait levels differ between people, and that work-related cues activate traits which leads to work relevant behaviors . Role theory suggests that role senders provide cues to elicit desired behaviors. In this context, role senders (i.e.: supervisors, managers, et cetera) provide workers with cues for expected behaviors, which in turn activates personality traits and work relevant behaviors. In essence, expectations of the role sender lead to different behavioral outcomes depending on the trait levels of individual workers and because people differ in trait levels, responses to these cues will not be universal. 
Romantic relationships[ edit ]
The Big Five model of personality was used for attempts to predict satisfaction in romantic relationships, relationship quality in dating, engaged, and married couples. 
- Self-reported relationship quality is negatively related to partner-reported neuroticism and positively related to both self and partner-reported conscientiousness 
- Self-reported relationship quality was higher among those high in partner-reported openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness .
- Self-reported relationship quality was higher among those high in self-reported extraversion and agreeableness.
- Self-reported relationship quality is negatively related to both self and partner-reported neuroticism
- Observers rated the relationship quality higher if the participating partner’s self-reported extraversion was high 
- High self-reported neuroticism , extraversion , and agreeableness are related to high levels of self-reported relationship quality
- Partner-reported agreeableness is related to observed relationship quality. 
These reports are, however, rare and not conclusive.
Limitation of the predictive power of personality traits[ edit ]
The predictive effects of the Big Five personality traits relate mostly to social functioning and rules-driven behavior and are not very specific for prediction of particular aspects of behavior. For example, it was noted that high neuroticism precedes the development of all common mental disorders.,  and this trait does not even always attributed to personality by temperament researchers.  Further evidence is required to fully uncover the nature and differences between personality traits, temperament and life outcomes. Social and contextual parameters also play a role in outcomes and the interaction between the two is not yet fully understood. 
Measurements[ edit ]
Several measures of the Big Five exist:
- International Personality Item Pool (IPIP) 
- The Ten-Item Personality Inventory (TIPI) and the Five Item Personality Inventory (FIPI) are very abbreviated rating forms of the Big Five personality traits. 
- Self-descriptive sentence questionnaires 
- Lexical questionnaires 
- Self-report questionnaires 
- Relative-scored Big 5 measure 
The most frequently used measures of the Big Five comprise either items that are self-descriptive sentences  or, in the case of lexical measures, items that are single adjectives.  Due to the length of sentence-based and some lexical measures, short forms have been developed and validated for use in applied research settings where questionnaire space and respondent time are limited, such as the 40-item balanced International English Big-Five Mini-Markers  or a very brief (10 item) measure of the Big Five domains.  Research has suggested that some methodologies in administering personality tests are inadequate in length and provide insufficient detail to truly evaluate personality. Usually, longer, more detailed questions will give a more accurate portrayal of personality.  The five factor structure has been replicated in peer reports.  However, many of the substantive findings rely on self-reports.
Much of the evidence on the measures of the Big 5 relies on self-report questionnaires, which makes self-report bias and falsification of responses difficult to deal with and account for.  It has been argued that the Big Five tests do not create an accurate personality profile because the responses given on these tests are not true in all cases.[ citation needed ] For example, questionnaires are answered by potential employees who might choose answers that paint them in the best light. 
Research suggests that a relative-scored Big Five measure in which respondents had to make repeated choices between equally desirable personality descriptors may be a potential alternative to traditional Big Five measures in accurately assessing personality traits, especially when lying or biased responding is present.  When compared with a traditional Big Five measure for its ability to predict GPA and creative achievement under both normal and “fake good”-bias response conditions, the relative-scored measure significantly and consistently predicted these outcomes under both conditions; however, the Likert questionnaire lost its predictive ability in the faking condition. Thus, the relative-scored measure proved to be less affected by biased responding than the Likert measure of the Big Five.
Andrew H. Schwartz analyzed 700 million words, phrases, and topic instances collected from the Facebook messages of 75,000 volunteers, who also took standard personality tests, and found striking variations in language with personality, gender, and age. 
Critique[ edit ]
The proposed Big Five model has been subjected to considerable critical scrutiny          and defense for the model. 
Subsequent critical replies by Jack Block at the University of California Berkeley followed.    It has been argued that there are limitations to the scope of the Big Five model as an explanatory or predictive theory.   It has also been argued that measures of the Big Five account for only 56% of the normal personality trait sphere alone (not even considering the abnormal personality trait sphere).  Also, the static Big Five  is not theory-driven, it is merely a statistically-driven investigation of certain descriptors that tend to cluster together often based on less than optimal factor analytic procedures.  :431–433  Measures of the Big Five constructs appear to show some consistency in interviews, self-descriptions and observations, and this static five-factor structure seems to be found across a wide range of participants of different ages and cultures.  However, while genotypic temperament trait dimensions might appear across different cultures, the phenotypic expression of personality traits differs profoundly across different cultures as a function of the different socio-cultural conditioning and experiential learning that takes place within different cultural settings. 
Moreover, the fact that the Big Five model was based on lexical hypothesis , (i.e. on the verbal descriptors of individual differences) indicated strong methodological flaws in this model, especially related to its main factors, Extraversion and Neuroticism. First, there is a natural pro-social bias of language in people’s verbal evaluations. After all, language is an invention of group dynamics that was developed to facilitate socialization, the exchange of information and to synchronize group activity. This social function of language therefore creates a sociability bias in verbal descriptors of human behaviour: there are more words related to social than physical or even mental aspects of behavior. The sheer number of such descriptors will cause them to group into a largest factor in any language, and such grouping has nothing to do with the way that core systems of individual differences are set up. Second, there is also a negativity bias in emotionality (i.e. most emotions have negative affectivity), and there are more words in language to describe negative rather than positive emotions. Such asymmetry in emotional valence creates another bias in language. Experiments using the lexical hypothesis approach indeed demonstrated that the use of lexical material skews the resulting dimensionality according to a sociability bias of language and a negativity bias of emotionality, grouping all evaluations around these two dimensions.  This means that the two largest dimensions in the Big Five model might be just an artifact of the lexical approach that this model employed.
Limited scope[ edit ]
One common criticism is that the Big Five does not explain all of human personality. Some psychologists have dissented from the model precisely because they feel it neglects other domains of personality, such as religiosity , manipulativeness/machiavellianism , honesty , sexiness/ seductiveness , thriftiness , conservativeness , masculinity/femininity , snobbishness / egotism , sense of humour , and risk-taking/thrill-seeking .   Dan P. McAdams has called the Big Five a “psychology of the stranger”, because they refer to traits that are relatively easy to observe in a stranger; other aspects of personality that are more privately held or more context-dependent are excluded from the Big Five. 
In many studies, the five factors are not fully orthogonal to one another; that is, the five factors are not independent.   Orthogonality is viewed as desirable by some researchers because it minimizes redundancy between the dimensions. This is particularly important when the goal of a study is to provide a comprehensive description of personality with as few variables as possible.
Methodological issues[ edit ]
Factor analysis , the statistical method used to identify the dimensional structure of observed variables, lacks a universally recognized basis for choosing among solutions with different numbers of factors.  A five factor solution depends on some degree of interpretation by the analyst. A larger number of factors may underlie these five factors. This has led to disputes about the “true” number of factors. Big Five proponents have responded that although other solutions may be viable in a single dataset, only the five factor structure consistently replicates across different studies. 
Moreover, the factor analysis that this model is based on is a linear method incapable of capturing nonlinear, feedback and contingent relationships between core systems of individual differences. 
Theoretical status[ edit ]
A frequent criticism is that the Big Five is not based on any underlying theory ; it is merely an empirical finding that certain descriptors cluster together under factor analysis .  Although this does not mean that these five factors do not exist, the underlying causes behind them are unknown.
Jack Block ‘s final published work before his death in January 2010 drew together his lifetime perspective on the five-factor model. 
He summarized his critique of the model in terms of:
- the atheoretical nature of the five-factors.
- their “cloudy” measurement.
- the model’s inappropriateness for studying early childhood .
- the use of factor analysis as the exclusive paradigm for conceptualizing personality.
- the continuing non-consensual understandings of the five-factors.
- the existence of unrecognized but successful efforts to specify aspects of character not subsumed by the five-factors.
He went on to suggest that repeatedly observed higher order factors hierarchically above the proclaimed Big Five personality traits may promise deeper biological understanding of the origins and implications of these superfactors.
Evidence for six factors rather than five[ edit ]
It has been noted that even though early lexical studies in the English language indicated five large groups of personality traits, more recent, and more comprehensive, cross-language studies have provided evidence for six large groups rather than five.  These six groups forms the basis of the HEXACO model of personality structure . Based on these findings it has been suggested that the Big Five system should be replaced by HEXACO, or revised to better align with lexical evidence. 
See also[ edit ]
- Big Five personality traits and culture
- Core self-evaluations
- DISC assessment
- Goal orientation
- HEXACO model of personality structure
- Moral foundations theory
- Myers–Briggs Type Indicator
- Personality psychology
- Szondi test
- Trait theory
References[ edit ]
- ^ a b c Rothmann S, Coetzer EP (24 October 2003). “The big five personality dimensions and job performance” . SA Journal of Industrial Psychology. 29. doi : 10.4102/sajip.v29i1.88 . Retrieved 27 June 2013.
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External links[ edit ]
- International Personality Item Pool , public domain list of items keyed to the big five personality traits.
- Selection from the “Handbook of personality: Theory and research” for researchers
- Rentfrow PJ, Jokela M, Lamb ME (2015). “Regional personality differences in Great Britain” . PLOS One. 10 (3): e0122245. Bibcode : 2015PLoSO..1022245R . doi : 10.1371/journal.pone.0122245 . PMC 4372610 . PMID 25803819 .
- Northern American Geography of Personality
- The Big Five Personality Model on YouTube
- World map of the Big 5 Personality Traits on YouTube
- Personality traits
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