June 23, 2024
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The Big Five Personality Trait Model

The Personality Trait system is a scientific model which maps human psychology. This system breaks down human personality into five essential personality traits, each of which has two aspects. Every individual possesses each of these five traits in some measure; he may be very high, very low, or moderate in a given trait.

Each personality trait and aspect has advantages and disadvantages. Any trait in excess has positive gifts to offer as well as its disadvantages, and the same is true of having a trait in an extreme deficit.

The combination of all of these traits in different proportions make up your unique personality structure, and understanding this structure can help you understand what you need in relationships, work and lifestyle to feel healthy, happy, productive and fulfilled.

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Agreeableness: Compassion and Politeness

Agreeableness is the primary dimension of Interpersonal interaction. Compassion and politeness are two aspects of agreeableness.

People high in agreeableness are nice, compliant, nurturing, kind, forgiving, naive, trusting and conciliatory. They look for the best in others, and are widely accepting, inclusive, cooperative, flexible and tolerant. They value peace, harmony and compassion, and care very much about the feelings of other people.

Because of their tendency to avoid conflict, agreeable people often dissemble and hide what they think. They regularly sacrifice long-term stability and function in order to avoid “upsetting the apple cart” or doing anything that might disrupt their connection to other people. As a result of this, highly agreeable people often harbor unspoken resentment, jealousy, blame and a certain “victim mentality”.

People low in agreeableness can be less than nice. They are stubborn, dominant, harsh, skeptical, competitive and, in the extreme, even predatory. Seen by others as somewhat competitive, colder and less empathic, they are not particularly forgiving, accepting, gentle or patient.

However, less agreeable tend to be straightforward and blunt, so you know where they stand and can take them at their word. They tend to be good at advocating for themselves and negotiating for more influence, money, recognition or power. Because of their ability to engage in conflict when necessary, disagreeable people tend not to sacrifice long-term stability and function for the sake of short-term peace. They are able to solve the problems of the present immediately and straightforwardly, and because of this, less agreeable people are less likely to suffer from resentment, jealousy, or to harbor invisible anger.

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Conscientiousness: Industriousness and Orderliness

Conscientiousness is the primary dimension of dutiful achievement. Industriousness and orderliness are two aspects of conscientiousness.

Conscientiousness is a measure of obligation, attention to detail, hard work, persistence, cleanliness, efficiency and adherence to rules, standards and processes.

People high in conscientiousness are dutiful. They work hard until the work is done and dislike wasting time. They are unlikely to procrastinate. If a highly conscientious person promises to do something, he or she will probably do it, even in troubled circumstances, without excuses. They are decisive, neat, organized, future-oriented, reliable and not easily distracted.

Less conscientious people tend to procrastinate, make excuses and “flake out”. They may not like the feeling of being under pressure to deliver a final product or meet a deadline, and are not motivated by the need to feel useful, productive or busy. They may find more value in states of being or relating rather than in states of doing or completing. And are happier in environments that do not require results, deadlines or commitment.

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Extraversion: Enthusiasm and Assertiveness

Extraversion is the primary dimension of positive emotion. This personality trait has two aspects: Enthusiasm and Assertiveness.

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Extraversion is a measure of general sensitivity to positive emotions such as hope, joy, anticipation and approach, particularly in social situations.

People with very high levels of extraversion are very enthusiastic, talkative, assertive in social situations, and gregarious. They are highly energized by social contact, and crave it. They find great pleasure in planning parties, telling jokes, making people laugh, and taking part in community activities.

Individuals low in extraversion are withdrawn, private and harder to get to know. They would rather spend time alone than around other people. They generally keep people at a distance, and can find the stimulation and activity of social engagements to be exhausting.

Neuroticism: Withdrawal and Volatility

Neuroticism is the primary dimension of negative emotion. This personality trait has two aspects: Withdrawal and Volatility.

Neuroticism is a measure of general sensitivity to negative emotions such as pain, sadness, irritable or defensive anger, fear and anxiety.

People high in neuroticism are prone to anxiety, depression, guilt and pessimism. They tend to see things through a negative lens which makes them feel nervous, unworthy, victimized or hopeless. When good things happen to them, people with high levels of neuroticism tend to question whether or not they deserved it. Or “wait for the other shoe to drop”. Neurotic people are intolerant of stress, failure, setbacks, disagreement, pressure and risk. They tend to worry about health more, visit doctors more and call in sick more.

People with low levels of neuroticism rarely focus on the negative elements, anxieties and uncertainties of the past, present and future. It is rare for them to face periods of time where they are unhappy, anxious and irritable, unless facing a serious, sustained problem. Even under the latter conditions, they cope well, don’t worry too much, and recover quickly when stressed. They’re good at keeping their head in a storm, and can handle risk without becoming unduly concerned. They are rarely concerned with security, and can more easily handle recreational, career, financial and social situations where the possibility of loss is higher.

Openness to Experience: Openness and Intellect

Openness to experience is the primary dimension of creativity, artistic interest and intelligence, particularly verbal intelligence. There are two aspects of Openness to Experience: Openness and Intellect.

Openness to experience is a measure of interest in novelty, art, literature, abstract thinking, philosophy as well as sensitivity to aesthetic emotions and beauty.

People with high levels of openness to experience are almost always characterized by others as smart, creative, exploratory, intelligent and visionary. Extremely interested in learning, and are constantly acquiring new abilities and skills, they are extremely curious and exploratory. They are exceptionally interested in abstract thinking, philosophy, and the meaning of belief systems and ideologies. They thrive on attending cultural events. This includes enjoying movies, concerts, dance recitals, plays, poetry readings, gallery openings, and art shows. Very likely to enjoy writing (or even to be driven to write). They enjoy complex, abstract ideas and deeply love to confront and solve complex, abstract and multi-dimensional problems.

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