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Introduction To The Big 5 Personality Model

The Big Five is a taxonomy of personality traits. Each of the five dimensions (or factors) is made up of a number of facets that provide a more in depth understanding of each of the five personality dimensions. The Big Five structure was derived from statistical analyses of which traits tend to co-occur in people's descriptions of themselves or other people. The underlying correlations are probabilistic, and exceptions are possible. For example, talkativeness and assertiveness are both traits associated with Extraversion, but they do not go together by logical necessity. For example, you could imagine somebody that is assertive but not talkative (the "strong, silent type"). However, many studies indicate that people who are talkative are usually also assertive (and vice versa), which is why they go together under the broader Extraversion factor. Average scores are in the middle and scores are distributed across a normalized bell curve. So, a person that scores 50 on a particular Big 5 dimension would be average in terms of the overall population whereas one who scores 90% is in the top 10% of the population with respect to demonstrating that personality dimension.

A test that will help you to find your type can be found here: Typology Central Social Media Personality Test

The Big 5 and their underlying facets are summarized below:

Extraversion - This factor describes the degree to which an individual is introverted or extraverted. Individuals who score higher on extraversion are energized by being around people and in groups. Individuals who are more introverted gain energy and become rejuvenated by alone time. They tend to be quieter, more low key and more deliberate. The facets making up extraversion include:

  • Activity level
  • Assertiveness
  • Cheerfulness
  • Excitement-seeking
  • Outgoing
  • Gregariousness

Agreeableness - Highly agreeable people tend towards being friendly, helpful, considerate, trusting and make sacrifices for others. Low scoring people tend towards skepticism, suspicousness and place impersonal objectives above getting along. This factor Includes traits like sympathetic, kind, and affectionate. Facets under Agreeableness include:

  • Altruism
  • Cooperation
  • Modesty
  • Uncompromising
  • Sympathy
  • Trust

Conscientiousness - High scores on conscientiousness include a strong ability to regulate and control ones behavior. Individuals possessing this trait tend towards an achievement orientation and being organized, thorough and planful. Individuals with lower scores tend towards being more impulsive and less organized. Facets under Conscientiousness include:

  • Achievement striving
  • Cautiousness
  • Dutifulness
  • Orderliness
  • Self-discipline
  • Self-efficacy

Neuroticism - Neuroticism refers to the level of Emotional Stability an individual has. Highly neurotic people are more prone to negative emotions such as anger, anxiety or depression. They are more easily stressed out and tend towards being more reactive. Low scorers tend towards being more calm and collected. They are emotionally stable and balanced. Facets under Neuroticism include:

  • Fiery
  • Prone to worry
  • Melancholy
  • Immoderation
  • Self-consciousness
  • Susceptible to stress

Openness - This factor describes how open or closed your thinking is. Highly open people are intellectually curious, appreciate the arts, emotion, imagination and new experiences. People who are less open tend towards tradition, familiarity and do not like as much change in their lives. Facets associated with Openness include:

  • Adventurousness
  • Artistic interests
  • Emotionality
  • Imagination
  • Intellect
  • Authority-challenging

Interesting Studies

A number of research studies have found that personality type can predict certain outcomes.

  • Taste in Music and Entertainment - Hu and Pu (2011) found that that in the area of music, recommendations are more successful when they leverage the correlations between people's personality and their music preferences. Chamorro-Premuzic and Furnham (2007) found that differences in personality and cognitive ability may determine how people experience music. Golbeck and Norris (2013) found correlations between personality and movie preferences among Netflix™ users.
  • How People Respond To Marketing - Hirsh et al. (2012) found that people respond more positively to marketing messages tailored to their personality. Chen (2011) found that in the context of online marketing, people with high openness are more intellectually curious and open to new ideas and therefore are more likely to try new things. Myszkowski and Storme (2012) found that openness significantly predicts individuals' tendency to prefer and respond to well-designed products. Their study suggests that individuals with low openness tend to respond more intensely to the appearance of a product, amplifying design-driven product choices. Conversely, individuals with high openness tend to focus more on other product aspects, leading them to disregard aesthetic characteristics. Lin (2002) and Sarli and Tat (2011) reported that personality characteristics affect one's brand preferences.
  • Car Ownership - Kassarjian (1971) found that car owners tend to perceive the types of cars they purchase as extensions of their personality. Environmental consciousness describes how an individual's personality can influence their preference for low-emission vehicles. Westfall (1962) found that personality differences exist between the owners of convertible cars and the owners of standard or compact cars. Consumers who score high in the agreeableness dimension and in the orderliness facet of the conscientiousness dimension prefer traditional cars. Consumers who score high in the openness dimension, on the other hand, might make a convertible car their first choice. Choo and Mokhtarian (2002) examined the relationship between choice of vehicle type and factors such as personality, lifestyle, attitude, and demographics. They found that individuals who score high in the facets adventurousness, excitement-seeking, and authority-challenging might prefer powerful performance cars. People who score high in the agreeableness dimension, however, might not like powerful cars.
  • Spending Habits and Investing - Pirog and Roberts (2007) focused on the "misuse" (or "abuse") of credit cards among college students and found students who score high in conscientiousness tend to use debit cards or cash and tend not to abuse credit cards. Conversely, high neuroticism (emotional range) is likely to be associated with excessive use of credit cards. Lauriola and Levin (2001) showed that personality influences individuals' risky decision-making in financial investments. They concluded that people who score high on openness to experiences tend to make risky investments. Meanwhile, neuroticism (emotional range) might make people less willing to take such risks.
  • On Taking Risks - Nicholson et al. (2001) developed the correlation between Big Five characteristics and risk profiles and found that agreeableness and conscientiousness lower people's willingness to take risks in general. In contrast, individuals who score high in extraversion are more likely to make risky decisions. Tok (2011) identified the relationship between Big Five personality characteristics and participation in risky adventure sports such as skiing, mountain biking, flying, gliding, parasailing, and scuba diving. Four of the Big Five characteristics directly influence participation in risky sports: High scores in extraversion, openness, and neuroticism (emotional range) increase the probability of participation in these sports; a high score in conscientious reduces the willingness to participate. Hymbaugh and Garrett (1974) found that skydivers typically have higher excitement-seeking and adventurousness than the general population.
  • Job Performance - Barrick and Mount (1991) explored the relationship of Big Five personality dimensions to job performance. They found that personality dimensions such as conscientiousness are related to job performance for all job groups they studied. Hurtz and Donovan (2000) reported that conscientiousness is the personality characteristic that is most predictive of job performance. Lim and Ployhart (2004) found that extraversion is positively correlated with leadership abilities. Judge et al. (2002) reported that extraverted individuals are more satisfied in the workplace because work gives them an opportunity to experience arousal. Conversely, introverted individuals are less satisfied in the workplace due to too much stimulation. van Vianen et al. (2012) reported individual differences in adaptability and its causes, correlates, and consequences. They found that conscientiousness, extraversion, and openness correlate positively with career adaptability.
  • Academic Performance - Chamorro-Premuzic and Furnham (2003) found that personality characteristics impact academic performance. Specifically, they found that neuroticism (emotional range) might impair academic performance and that conscientiousness might lead to higher academic achievement.
  • Personal Development - Komarraju and Karau (2005) found that high openness and conscientiousness often lead to a greater interest in self-improvement learning and that high neuroticism (emotional range) decreases the motivation for such learning.
  • Relationships - Botwin et al. (1997) found that the personality characteristics of one's partner significantly predict marital dissatisfaction, most notably when the partner scores lower on agreeableness, emotional range, and openness than desired.
  • Health and Life Outcomes - Turiano et al. (2012) reported that Big Five characteristics predicted health-related outcomes. For example, all of the characteristics except for openness predicted self-rated physical health, and all of the characteristics except for agreeableness predicted number of work days limited due to physical health. Masui et al. (2006) found that high scores in the specific personality characteristics conscientiousness, extraversion, and openness are associated with longevity. Other researchers have also uncovered a relationship between Big Five personality characteristics and life expectancy. Roberts et al. (2007) reported that specific personality characteristics predict important life outcomes, such as mortality, divorce, and success at work.
  • Diet - Shepherd and Sparks (1994) developed the relationship between personality and food choice. Their study reveals that people with high scores in emotional range (neuroticism), especially in the facet immoderation, tend to consume high-fat food. Elfhag and Morey (2008) revealed that conscientiousness is positively related to a preference for low-fat food. Specifically, the self-discipline and dutifulness facets of the conscientiousness dimension positively influence the consumption of low-fat food and (because weight management is closely related to food choice) regular weight control. Heaven at al. (2001) reported that consumption of health food is related to two Big Five dimensions. People with high neuroticism (emotional range) are usually less likely to choose healthy food, while people with high conscientiousness prefer healthy food. The paper also cites several facets that subtly relate to food choice: artistic interests (from the openness dimension) and self-discipline (from the conscientiousness dimension) correlate positively to greater consumption of health food; conversely, being susceptible to stress has a somewhat negative correlation with health-food consumption. Lusk (2012) found that food lovers score high in openness to experience. Openness might motivate people to try different foods and help them to become food connoisseurs.
  • Exercise - Courneya and Hellsten (1998) found that personality influences an individual's tendency to pursue habits associated with a healthy lifestyle, including physical exercise. Extraversion and conscientiousness correlate positively with more frequent physical exercise, while neuroticism (emotional range) might negatively influence the frequency of exercise.