If you’ve taken a college psychology course or have any interest in personality, you’ve more than likely come across the term “Big Five” personality dimensions or personality traits. These have been gathered through the result of decades’ worth of psychological research into personality. While they don’t capture the idiosyncrasies of everyone’s personality, it is a theoretical framework in which to understand general components of our personality that seem to be the most important in our social and interpersonal interactions with others.
Decades of research on personality has uncovered five broad dimensions of personality. These so-called Big Five dimensions are called:
- Extraversion (your level of sociability and enthusiasm)
- Agreeableness (your level of friendliness and kindness)
- Conscientiousness (your level of organization and work ethic)
- Emotional Stability (your level of calmness and tranquility)
- Intellect (your level of creativity and curiosity)
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.
The AB5C Model of Personality
The Big Five personality dimensions provide a very broad overview of someone’s personality. Of course, there is much more to personality than someone’s scores on just these five dimensions.
The Abridged Big 5 Circumplex (AB5C) is a circular model of personality where psychologists examine traits or “facets” that are essentially blends of any two of the Big 5 dimensions.
Consider, for instance, someone who is high in Intellect and high in Extraversion. This person would be both sociable and creative. But the combination of high Extraversion and high Intellect reveals the more subtle characteristic of being witty or humorous. In contrast, suppose someone is high in Intellect but low in Extraversion. The combination of these two characteristics reveals the quality of being reflective.
Because people can be high or low on each of the Big Five dimensions, when we combine the different possible combinations, we end up with 45 personality facets from which we can compute Big Five personality scores.
Want to learn more?
Take the free Personality Patterns test now to see how you score on the Big 5 personality dimensions.
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 10 Nov 2009
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Rentfrow, J. (2009). The Big 5 Model of Personality. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 6, 2013, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2009/11/10/the-big-5-model-of-personality/