The Big Five personality traits, also known as the five factor model
(FFM), is a model based on common language descriptors of personality.
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 peoples' 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
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 towards being artists or writers in
regards to being creative and appreciate the significance of the
intellectual and artistic pursuits. 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). 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
stubbornness and obsession. Low conscientiousness is associated with
flexibility and spontaneity, but can also appear as sloppiness and
lack of reliability.
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. Extroverted people tend to be more dominant in
social settings, opposed to introverted people who may act more shy
and reserved in this setting.
Agreeableness (friendly/compassionate vs. challenging/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 argumentativeness or
Neuroticism (sensitive/nervous vs. secure/confident). Neuroticism
identifies certain people who are more prone to psychological
stress. The tendency to experience unpleasant emotions easily, such
as anger, anxiety, depression, and vulnerability.
refers to the degree of emotional stability and impulse control and is
sometimes referred to by its low pole, "emotional stability". A high
stability manifests itself as a stable and calm personality, but can
be seen as uninspiring and unconcerned. A low stability expresses as a
reactive and excitable personality, often very dynamic individuals,
but they can be perceived as unstable or insecure. It has also been
researched that individuals with higher levels of tested neuroticism,
tend to have worse psychological well being.
People who don't exhibit a clear tendency towards specific
characteristics chosen from the above-mentioned related pairs in all
five dimensions are considered adaptable, moderate and reasonable
personalities, but can be perceived as unprincipled, inscrutable and
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.
These researchers began by studying relationships between a large
number of known personality traits. They reduced the lists of these
traits (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 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 at the
National Institutes of Health. 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.
Each of the
Big Five personality traits
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 to Experience;
Industriousness and Orderliness for Conscientiousness; and Compassion
and Politeness for Agreeableness.
1 Descriptions of the particular personality traits
Openness to experience
1.1.1 Sample items
1.2.1 Sample items
1.3.1 Sample items
1.4.1 Sample items
1.5.1 Sample items
2.1 Early trait research
2.2 Hiatus in research
2.3 Renewed attention
3 Biological and developmental factors
Temperament vs. personality
3.4 Development during childhood and adolescence
3.4.1 Extraversion/positive emotionality
3.5 Development throughout adulthood
4 Group differences
4.1 Gender differences
4.2 Birth-order differences
5 Cultural differences
6.2 Common mental disorders
6.2.1 The personality-psychopathology models
6.4.1 Academic achievement
6.4.2 Learning styles
6.5 Work success
6.6 Romantic relationships
6.7 Limitation of the predictive power of personality traits
8.1 Limited scope
8.2 Methodological issues
8.3 Theoretical status
8.4 Evidence for six factors rather than five
9 See also
11 External links
Descriptions of the particular personality traits
Openness to experience
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
A particular individual, however, may have a high overall openness
score and be interested in learning and exploring new cultures but
have no great interest in art or poetry.
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 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.
I am always prepared.
I pay attention to details.
I get chores done right away.
I like order.
I follow a schedule.
I am exacted 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 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 than extraverts and more time alone. 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
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)
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
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.
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 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. Lacking contentment in one's life
achievements can correlate with high neuroticism scores and increase
one's likelihood of falling into clinical depression. 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.
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)
Early trait research
Sir Francis Galton
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
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
For the next two decades, the changing zeitgeist made publication of
personality research difficult. In his 1968 book
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
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.
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).
Biological and developmental factors
Temperament vs. personality
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.
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.
Personality research conducted on twin subjects suggests that both
heritable and environmental factors contribute to the Big Five
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%.
The Big 5 personality traits can be seen in chimpanzees.
Big Five personality traits
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
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
Development during childhood and adolescence
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
Yet, 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. 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. Some of these differences 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.
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
children and adolescents relates to attributes such as creativity,
curiosity, imagination, and intellect, many researchers have
failed to find distinct individual differences 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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
Main article: Birth order
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
In 2002, the journal of psychology posted a Big Five
Difference; Researchers explored relationship between the five factor
model and the Universal-Diverse Orientation (UDO) in councillor
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 similaralities and difference among
individuals. (Miville, M., Romas, J., Johnson, J., and Lon, R. 2002)
The study has shown the councillor trainees that are more open to the
idea of creative expressions among individuals are more likely to work
with a diverse group of clients, and feel comfortable in their role.
(Thompson, R. et al. 2002)
Big Five personality traits
Big Five personality traits and culture
The Big Five have been pursued in a variety of languages and cultures,
such as German, Chinese, Indian, etc. 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.
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
As of 2002, 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
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 researches 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
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
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
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
mortality and is highly 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
The personality-psychopathology models
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
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
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.
Being highly conscientious may add as much as five years to one's
Big Five personality traits
Big Five personality traits also predict positive
health outcomes. In an elderly Japanese sample, conscientiousness,
extraversion, and openness were related to lower risk of
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.
Part of a series on
Applied behavior analysis
Industrial and organizational
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
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 have been described as "enduring ways of thinking and
Although there is no evidence that personality determines thinking
styles, they 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.
Smeck, Ribicj, and Ramanaih (1997) defined four types of learning
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:
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 behavior while completing academic assignments
focusing on the actual result instead of understanding the logic
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.
Besides openness, all
Big Five personality traits
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
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.
Association for Psychological Science (APS), however, recently
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. 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. 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
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,
Openness is being original and having imagination.
Conscientiousness is being goal oriented with a willingness to
Extraversion is being sociable and being an emotionally
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Neuroticism is negatively related to all forms of work role
Two theories have been integrated in an attempt to account for these
differences in work role performance.
Trait activation theory
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
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
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
These reports are, however, rare and not conclusive.
Limitation of the predictive power of personality traits
The predictive effects of the
Big Five personality traits
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.
Several measures of the Big Five exist:
Personality Item Pool (IPIP)
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
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. 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.
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. 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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
Big Five personality traits may
promise deeper biological understanding of the origins and
implications of these superfactors.
Evidence for six factors rather than five
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.
Big Five personality traits
Big Five personality traits and culture
HEXACO model of personality structure
Moral foundations theory
Myers–Briggs Type Indicator
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Northern American Geography of Personality
The Big Five
Personality Model on YouTube
World map of the Big 5
Personality Traits on YouTube
Big Five personality traits
Openness to experience