Personality can be described by five distinct traits, and together they are known as the Big Five.
Personalities contain the patterns of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that make each person unique. Together, these aspects can play a role in every part of our lives, from friendships to careers, to hobbies.
Throughout history, researchers have tried to simplify complex personalities by suggesting that most people fit into specific categories. By focusing on an individual’s characteristics and patterns of behavior, researchers can try and predict or explain behavior.
Experts believe that there are five personality traits, known as the “Big Five” or the Five-Factor Model. Each trait reflects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. This model is one of the most widely used frameworks in personality research.
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Companies use this model to predict how employees or potential candidates relate to others. Also, it can be used for understanding how employees might think and handle stress.
The Big Five personality traits consist of:
- openness to experience
Each of the five personality factors is composed of a range between two extremes. Most people score in between the two ends of each dimension.
Extraversion, sometimes called extroversion, reflects how you interact socially. It describes your emotional expression and how comfortable you are in your environment.
People who score high in extraversion may have tendencies to:
- be more outgoing and talkative
- thrive in social situations
- have a wide social circle and find it easy to make friends
- like to start conversations
- feel comfortable arguing and debating your opinions
- seek excitement
- generally enjoy being around people
- work in a supervisor position with others
If you score lower on extraversion in the Big Five model, you might:
Agreeableness is a personality trait that describes how you treat your relationships with others. It’s how kind and helpful you are toward people. Overall, high agreeableness means you desire to keep things running smoothly and value social harmony.
If you score high in agreeableness, you may be:
- kind to others
People with lower scores in this personality trait might be more:
- less likely to help others
- less compassionate
Conscientiousness is a trait that refers to how thoughtful and goal-oriented you are. It’s how in control you are over your impulses and your level of organization and work ethic.
If you score high in conscientiousness, you tend to be:
- more optimistic
- emotionally stable
- unlikely to react in a stressful environment
- good at planning
- mindful of deadlines
Scoring low in conscientiousness means you may:
- be more impulsive
- have trouble focusing on your goals
- be messy
- be less structured
- have more difficulty staying organized
- prone to lateness
Neuroticism is a personality trait that refers to your emotional stability. As a personality dimension, neuroticism is characterized by unsettling thoughts and feelings of sadness or moodiness.
A high score in neuroticism means that you may:
- often feels insecure
- get stressed easily
- appear irritable or moody to others
- worry a lot
- experience mood swings or feelings of sadness
People who score low in this personality trait might mean you:
- are more optimistic
- manage stress easily
- don’t worry a lot
- are emotionally stable and resilient
- are unlikely to react in stressful situations
- often feel relaxed
Intellect, imagination, and openness describe your imagination and how creative you are. It refers to your sense of curiosity about the world and your willingness to try new things.
If you score high in this personality trait, you may:
- enjoy learning and trying new things
- have an active imagination
- be more creative
- be intellectually curious
- think about abstract concepts
- enjoy challenges
- like to travel
- have a wide range of interests
A lower score in openness means you might:
- dislike change
- be likely to stick to routines
- not be imaginative or creative
- have more traditional thinking
- be more grounded
Personality tests can shed light on the various aspects of your personality and help you get to know yourself better. Though a test can’t fully describe you or define who you are as a person, it can help you recognize your strengths and weaknesses. The tests may even help you discover a new way to approach your problems.
If you’ve discovered that one of your character traits has a negative impact on your life or relationships, you could consider discussing this with a licensed therapist.
A therapist can help you understand your personality and suggest ways to make changes.