Big Five Personality Traits
The concept of the "Big Five" personality traits is taken from psychology and includes five broad domains that describe personality. The Big Five personality traits are openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. These five factors are assumed to represent the basic structure behind all personality traits. They were defined and described by several different researchers during multiple periods of research.
These are not “types” of personalities, but dimensions of personality. So someone’s personality is the combination of each of their Big Five personality characteristics. For example, someone may be very sociable (high Extraversion), not very friendly (low Agreeableness), hard-working (high Conscientiousness), easily stressed (low Emotional Stability) and extremely creative (high Intellect). A considerable amount of research suggests that personality is stable throughout life and associated with a range of important life outcomes, from academic and occupational success to marital stability and physical health.
- Openness to experience: (inventive/curious vs. consistent/cautious). Appreciation for art, emotion, adventure, unusual ideas, curiosity, and variety of experiences. 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. Moreover, individuals with high openness are said to pursue self-actualization specifically by seeking out intense, euphoric experiences, such as skydiving, living abroad, gambling, et cetera. 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.
- Conscientiousness: (efficient/organized vs. easy-going/careless). A 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 stubborn and obsessive. Low conscientiousness is flexible and spontaneous but can be perceived as sloppy and unreliable.
- Extraversion: (outgoing/energetic vs. solitary/reserved). Energy, positive emotions, 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.
- Agreeableness: (friendly/compassionate vs. analytical/detached). A 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). 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". A high need for stability manifests as a stable and calm personality but can be seen as uninspiring and unconcerned. A low need for stability causes a reactive and excitable personalities, often very dynamic individuals, but they can be perceived as unstable or insecure.