Big five personality traits

The Big Five Personality Traits model, or the Five Factor Model of personality breaks personality down into five components: Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Openness, and Stress Tolerance. 

The Big Five personality traits (the Five-Factor model of personality) is a grouping of five unique characteristics used to study personality.

The factors that influence a personality are called the determinants of personality, and these factors determine the traits which a person develops in the course of development from a child.

Each of the five factors are broken up comparatively with two identified values. 

These factors and values are as follows:

conscientiousness (efficient/organized vs. extravagant/careless)

agreeableness (friendly/compassionate vs. critical/rational)

neuroticism (sensitive/nervous vs. resilient/confident)

openness to experience (inventive/curious vs. consistent/cautious)

extraversion (outgoing/energetic vs. solitary/reserved)

Semantic associations, where some words used to describe aspects of personality are often applied to the same person. 

These associations suggest five broad dimensions used in common language to describe the human personality, temperament, and psyche.

Those labels for the five factors may be remembered using the acronyms “OCEAN” or “CANOE”. 

For each proposed global factor, there are a number of correlated and more specific primary factors. 

Extraversion is typically associated with qualities such as gregariousness, assertiveness, excitement-seeking, warmth, activity, and positive emotions.

These traits are placed on continua.

The Big Five model helps to understand the relationship between personality and academic behavior.

It was a process defined by several independent researchers who analysed words describing people’s behaviour to find the basic factors of personality.

These five overarching domains have been found to contain most known personality traits and are assumed to represent the basic structure behind them all.

The Big Five traits are not nearly as powerful in predicting and explaining actual behaviour as the more numerous facets or primary traits.

Each of the 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 also making up part of the Big Five.

The aspects are labelled as follows: 

Volatility and Withdrawal for Neuroticism

Enthusiasm and Assertiveness for Extraversion

Intellect and Openness for Openness to Experience

Industriousness and Orderliness for Conscientiousness; 

Compassion and Politeness for Agreeableness.

Openness to experience refers to experience 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 beliefs. 

Open people can be perceived as unpredictable or lacking focus, and more likely to engage in risky behaviour or drug-taking.

Individuals with high openness are said to pursue self-actualization specifically by seeking out intense, euphoric experiences. 

Conversely, those with low openness want to be fulfilled by persevering 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 as there is a lack of biological support for this particular trait. 

Openness has not shown a significant association with any brain regions as opposed to the other four traits which do using brain imaging to detect changes in volume associated with each trait.

Conscientiousness is a tendency to be self-disciplined, act dutifully, and strive for achievement against measures or outside expectations. 

Conscientiousness is related to people’s level of impulse control, regulation, and direction. 

High conscientiousness can be perceived as being stubborn and focused, while low conscientiousness is associated with flexibility and spontaneity, but can also appear as sloppiness and lack of reliability.

High conscientiousness prefers planned rather than spontaneous behavior.

The average level of conscientiousness rises among young adults and then declines among older adults.

Extraversion is characterized by breadth of activities from external activities/situations, and energy creation from external means.

It is is marked by pronounced engagement with the external world. 

Extraverts enjoy interacting with people, and are often perceived as energetic, enthusiastic and action-oriented. 

Extraverts possess high group visibility, like to talk, and assert themselves. 

Extraverts may appear more dominant in social settings, as opposed to introverts in that setting.

Introverts have lower social engagement and energy levels than extraverts, tending to seem quiet, low-key, deliberate, and less involved in the social world. 

Introverts lack of social involvement should not be interpreted as being shy or depressed, but as greater independence of their social world than extraverts. 

Introverts need less stimulation, and more time alone than extraverts, not that they are unfriendly or antisocial but rather, aloof and reserved in social situations.

Generally, people are a combination of extraversion and introversion.

Agreeableness is the general concern for social harmony, and 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 human nature.

Disagreeable individuals place self-interest above getting along with others, and are generally unconcerned with others’ well-being and are less likely to extend themselves for other people. 

Such skepticism about others’ motives causes them to be suspicious, unfriendly, and uncooperative.

Disagreeable people are often competitive or challenging, which can be seen as argumentative or untrustworthy.

Agreeableness is a social trait positively correlates with the quality of relationships with one’s team members, and also positively predicts transformational leadership skills. 

Very agreeable leaders were more likely to be considered transformational rather than transactional. 

Agreeableness has been found to be negatively related to transactional leadership in the military. 

Neuroticism is the tendency to have strong negative emotions, such as anger, anxiety, or depression, sometimes called emotional instability.

Neuroticism is associated with low tolerance for stress or strongly disliked changes.

Neuroticism is a classic temperament trait.

Neurotic people are emotionally reactive and vulnerable to stress.

Neurotic people are more likely to interpret ordinary situations as threatening, and  perceive minor frustrations as hopelessly difficult. 

Neurotic people’s  negative emotional reactions tend to stay for unusually long periods of time, which means they are often in a bad mood. 

Neuroticism is connected to pessimism toward work, hinders personal relationships at work, and is associated higher levels of anxiety from the pressures at work.

Neurotic people may display problems in emotional regulation that can make a neurotic person think less clearly, make worse decisions, and cope less effectively with stress. 

Neurotics disappointment with one’s life achievements can make one more neurotic and increase the chances of falling into clinical depression. 

Neurotic individuals tend to experience more negative life events.

Neurotic people tend to have worse psychological well-being.

Less neurotic individuals are less easily upset and are less emotionally reactive, tend to be calm, emotionally stable, and free from persistent negative feelings. 

Neuroticism is similar but not identical to being neurotic in the psychological sense.

There are debates between temperament researchers and personality researchers as to whether or not biologically based differences define a concept of temperament or a part of personality. 

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 socio-cultural factors, but, similar to sex and age, still cannot be controlled or easily changed.

Temperament refers to dynamic features of behavior-energetic, tempo, sensitivity, and emotionality-related, whereas personality is to be considered a psycho-social construct comprises the content characteristics of human behavior, such as values, attitudes, habits, preferences, personal history, self-image.

Study of twins suggested that heritability and environmental factors both influence all five factors to the same degree.

Heritability influenced the five factors broadly: openness to experience is estimated to have a 57% genetic influence, extraversion 54%, conscientiousness 49%, neuroticism 48%, and agreeableness 42%.

Temperament often refers to early behavioral and affective characteristics that are thought to be driven primarily by genes.

Temperament often include four trait dimensions: surgency/sociability, negative emotionality, persistence/effortful control, and activity level.

Some differences in temperament are evident at, if not before, birth.

Some newborn infants are peaceful and easily soothed while others are comparatively fussy and hard to calm.

Unlike temperament, the development of personality as gradually occurring throughout childhood.

Studies support the relative stability of personality traits across the human lifespan, at least from preschool age through adulthood.

Four of the Big Five – namely Extraversion, Neuroticism, Conscientiousness, and Agreeableness  describe personality differences in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.

Openness may not be a fundamental, stable part of the childhood personality. 

 Openness in children and adolescents relates to attributes such as creativity, curiosity, imagination, and intellect, but studies have failed to find distinct individual differences in Openness in childhood and early adolescence.

Openness may only manifest as children develop socially and cognitively.

The majority of studies  suggest that personality traits – particularly of 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.

Most adults become more agreeable, conscientious, and less neurotic as they age: the maturation effect.

Consistent with adult personality trends, youth personality becomes increasingly more stable in terms of rank-order throughout childhood.

Personality research indicates that people become agreeable, conscientious, and emotionally stable with age, but the  mean levels of agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness to experience decline from late childhood to late adolescence.

The biological, social, and psychological changes experienced during youth is a result of temporary dips in maturity.

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 differences in Extraversion manifest in infancy as varying levels of positive emotionality.

These differences 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:  – activity, sociability, shyness, and the trait of dominance.

Activity: children with high activity tend to have high energy levels and more intense and frequent motor activity compared to their peers.

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, and may become fearful even around others, especially if their peers reject them.

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.

Cross-sectional data comparing personality levels across different age groups, show a high degree of stability in personality traits.

Little evidence exists that adverse life events can have any significant impact on the personality of individuals.

Changes occur in all five traits at various points in the lifespan. 

On average, levels of agreeableness and conscientiousness typically increase with time, whereas extraversion, neuroticism, and openness tend to decrease.

Changes in Big Five personality traits depend on the individual’s current stage of development. 

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 life.

Research suggests that the Big Five personality traits should not be conceived of as dichotomies, such as extraversion vs. introversion, but as continua, with the capacity to move along each dimension as social or temporal situations change. 

With  growing age individuals that  enter their elder years (79–86), those with lower IQ see a raise in extraversion, but a decline in conscientiousness and physical well-being.

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.

Women tend to be somewhat higher than men in neuroticism, extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness.

Gender differences in personality traits are largest in prosperous, healthy, and more gender-egalitarian nations. 

Actions 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.

Men in highly developed world regions are less neurotic, less extraverted, less conscientious and less agreeable compared to men in less developed world regions. 

Women, on the other hand tended not to differ in personality traits across regions.

Speculation is that in resource-poor environments may inhibit the development of gender differences, whereas resource-rich environments facilitate them. 

Males require more resources than females in order to reach their full personality potential of less conscientious, less agreeable, less neurotic, and less extraverted. 

Men may have evolved to be more risk taking and socially dominant, whereas women evolved to be more cautious and nurturing. 

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.

Countries’ average personality trait levels are correlated with their political systems: countries with higher average trait Openness tended to have more democratic institutions.

Individual differences in traits are relevant in a specific cultural context, and that the traits do not have their effects outside of that context.

Some diseases cause changes in personality: The 

largest change observed is a decrease in conscientiousness with Alzheimer’s disease.

The next most significant changes were an increase in Neuroticism and decrease in Extraversion, but Openness and Agreeableness were also decreased. 

The five-factor model can significantly predict all ten personality disorder symptoms.

Common mental disorders (CMDs) are 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 common mental disorder.

Low conscientiousness yielded consistently strong effects for each common mental disorder examined:  major depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder, general anxiety disorder, PTSD, panic disorder, agoraphobia, social phobia, specific phobia, and substance abuse disorder.

Conscientiousness is the strongest personality predictor of reduced mortality, and is highly negatively correlated with making poor health choices.

 A meta-analysis found that all common mental disorders are defined by high neuroticism, most exhibited low extraversion, only substance abuse disorder is linked to agreeableness, negatively, and no disorders were associated with Openness.

Studies show that high neuroticism predicted the development of anxiety, depression, substance abuse, psychosis, schizophrenia, and non-specific mental distress.

Personality contributes to the onset or etiology of various common mental disorders.

Pre-existing personality traits either cause the development of common mental disorders directly or enhance the impact of causal risk factors.

Premorbid personality traits impact the expression, course, severity, and/or treatment response of a mental disorder.

There is strong support for neuroticism being a robust vulnerability factor.

Premorbid personality traits impact the expression, course, severity, and/or treatment response of a mental disorder.

Out of the Big Five personality traits, neuroticism is most related to worse subjective health outcomes

Neuroticism significantly predicts chronic illness.

Being highly conscientious may add as much as five years to one’s life.

In a study of elderly Japanese, conscientiousness, extraversion, and openness were related to lower risk of mortality.

Higher conscientiousness is associated with lower obesity risk. 

In already obese individuals, higher conscientiousness is associated with a higher likelihood of becoming non-obese over a five-year period.

Personality plays an important role in academic achievement: 

conscientiousness and agreeableness have a positive relationship with all types of learning styles.

Neuroticism shows an inverse relationship to learning.

The Big Five personality traits account for 14% of the variance in grade point average, suggesting that personality traits contribute to academic performance. 

Grade point average 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

openness and extraversion.

Studies conducted on college students have concluded that hope, which is linked to agreeableness, conscientiousness,, and openness, 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 well-being.

It is likely that all personality traits, except neuroticism, are associated with learning goals and motivation. 

Conscientiousness and neuroticism also influence individuals to perform well in front of others for a sense of credit and reward, while agreeableness forces individuals to avoid this strategy of learning.

Individuals who score high on the agreeableness trait will likely learn just to perform well in front of others.

Big Five traits mighhave a large influence of on academic motivation that leads to predicting a student’s academic performance.

Conscientiousness is a stable predictor of success in exam performance.

Conscientious students experience fewer study delays.

Individuals with a high levels of conscientiousness develop focused learning strategies and appear to be more disciplined and achievement-oriented.

Controversy exists as to whether the Big 5 personality traits are correlated with success in the workplace.

Personality measures as predictors of job performance are often disappointingly low. 

Studies link national innovation to openness to experience and conscientiousness.

Individuals who are leaders typically exhibit lower amounts of neurotic traits, maintain higher levels of openness to envision success, balanced levels of conscientiousness being well-organized, and balanced levels of extraversion, outgoing, but not excessive.

Studies have linked professional burnout to neuroticism, and extraversion to enduring positive work experience.

Individuals who are high in agreeableness, especially men, are not as successful in accumulating income.

Conscientiousness predicts job performance.

Agreeableness is negatively related to salary. 

Those high in agreeableness make less, on average, than those low in the same trait. 

Neuroticism is negatively related to salary while conscientiousness and extraversion are positive predictors of salary.

Occupational self-efficacy is positively correlated with conscientiousness and negatively correlated with neuroticism. 

Significant predictors of career-advancement goals are: extraversion, conscientiousness, and agreeableness.

Conscientiousness of a supervisor is positively associated with an employee’s perception of abusive supervision

While others have low agreeableness and high neuroticism are traits more related to abusive supervision, and conscientiousness is positively associated with wages, while agreeableness, and neuroticism were negatively associated with wages. 

A  work role-is defined as the responsibilities an individual has while they are working: Nine work roles have been identified, classified in three broader categories: proficiency, adaptivity, and proactivity.

Openness is positively related to proactivity at the individual and the organizational levels.

Openness is negatively related to team and organizational proficiency. 

Agreeableness is negatively related to individual task proactivity, and is associated with lower career success and being less able to cope with conflict.

Extraversion is negatively related to individual task proficiency, and has a higher job and life satisfaction but more impulsive behaviors.

Conscientiousness is positively related to all forms of work role performance. 

Conscientiousness has a higher leadership effectiveness and lower deviance behaviors but also lower learning in skill acquisition.

Neuroticism is negatively related to all forms of work role performance, and increases the chance of engaging in risky behaviors.

Self-reported relationship quality is negatively related to partner-reported neuroticism and positively related to both self- and partner-reported conscientiousness.

Self-reported relationship quality was higher among those high in partner 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.

Individuals who score high in Conscientiousness are more likely to possess a right-wing political identification.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, a strong correlation was identified between high scores in Openness to Experience and a left-leaning ideology.

The traits of agreeableness, extraversion, and neuroticism have not been consistently linked to either conservative or liberal ideology.

The predictive effects of the Big Five personality traits relate mostly to social functioning and rules-driven behavior.

High Agreeableness, Conscientiousness and Extraversion relate to general religiosity, while Openness relate negatively to religious fundamentalism and positively to spirituality. 


Each trait measures a unique aspect of human personality:

Agreeableness measures tendencies with respect to social harmony, how well the individual gets along with others, how cooperative or skeptical they are, and how they might interact within a team.

Conscientiousness measures how careful, deliberate, self-disciplined, and organized an individual is, and is often predictive of employee productivity.

Extraversion is a measure of how sociable, outgoing, and energetic an individual is. 

Lower scores on the extroversion scale are considered to be a sign of introversion,  and a more deliberate and low-key and independent person.

Openness measures the extent to which an individual is imaginative and creative, as opposed to down-to-earth and conventional.

Stress tolerance (neuroticism) measures the ways in which individuals react to stress.

The five factor model significantly predicts all 10 personality disorder symptoms and outperform the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) in the prediction of borderline, avoidant, and dependent personality disorder symptoms.

The most prominent and consistent personality dimensions underlying a large number of the personality disorders are positive associations with neuroticism and negative associations with agreeableness.

Across nations women are found to be significantly higher than men in average neuroticism, extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *