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The Big 5 Personality Traits and You

There have been many personality models developed over history. A scientist by the name of Lewis Goldberg developed the most commonly accepted model in use today. This model is named “The Big Five.”

The combination of these five personality factors can accurately describe a person’s personality and predict their behavior and success in life quite well.

Use “The Big Five” to understand your personality and gain insight into your current challenges:

1. Extraversion. On one end of this scale are the extroverts, and on the other are the introverts. Most of us lie somewhere in between. Think of introverts as those who gain energy while spending time alone. They tend to tire from social interactions.

○ Extroverts are just the opposite. Being alone drains their energy and they are recharged by spending time with others. Extroverts are commonly described as sociable, socially confident, talkative, energetic, and assertive.

○ Introverts are frequently introspective, reserved, and quiet. They are often, but not always, lacking in social confidence.

2. Agreeableness. This characteristic is self-explanatory. Agreeable people are polite, sensitive, cheerful, patient, and enjoyable to be around. They are likable and like others. Those low in agreeableness are often described as blunt, rude, sarcastic, and abrasive.

○ Not surprisingly, studies show that most prison inmates rank in the bottom 2% for agreeableness.

○ Those high in agreeableness are well-liked by everyone.

○ Women tend to be more agreeable than men by a significant margin.

3. Openness. This isn’t the willingness to share your deepest, darkest secrets. Openness in this context is a measure of how open you are to new experiences. People high in this trait are interested in new ideas and perspectives. They also tend to value art and music. This trait is closely linked to intelligence.

4. Conscientiousness. If you’re high in conscientiousness, you value order, achievement, self-discipline, and like to take care of business. You are not particularly interested in new experiences or novel stimulation. You are neat, organized, and like to work from a schedule.

○ This trait is strongly correlated with success. If you know someone that doesn’t seem all that smart or talented, but they are still successful, they are almost certainly high in conscientiousness.

○ Those very low in conscientiousness are chronic procrastinators, disorganized, and often labeled as underachievers. If your life always seems out of control, it’s likely that you are low in conscientiousness.

5. Neuroticism. Those that rate high in neuroticism tend to be unstable, seek short-term enjoyment, are impulsive, and negative. They have poor job performance, a greater tendency for addiction, and difficulty adjusting to change.

There are several Big 5 tests available online for free or for a fee. You can also contact a mental health professional about testing. If you’re struggling with life, it can be helpful to know where you fall within these five personality traits. You can then begin making adjustments to alter your scores as needed.

For example, if your life is a disaster, and you realize that you are low in conscientiousness, you could start taking control of your day by creating a schedule each evening. This has been found to be very effective in raising your level of conscientiousness.

Those low in agreeableness can make it a point to do something nice for someone each day. If you’re high in neuroticism, learning to meditate or reading on book on anxiety reduction can make a big change in your life.

Understanding your personality can help you to tame the challenges you’re currently experiencing in your life. If you’re feeling stuck, a quick personality test might provide the answers you’re looking for. See how you score on The Big 5.


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