The term “personality traits” is often used to describe things about how a person behaves. What many people do not realize is that personality traits are a means of measurement in modern psychology. There are five specific traits, known as the Big Five or Five Factor Model, that are used to describe human personality. The concept of the Big Five is from the work of Costa & McCrae and since 1992 has become one of the best methods for understanding the relationship between academic behavior and personality. The Big Five include:
Openness to Experience
Someone who is open has strong intellectual curiosity and prefers novelty and variety. People with an openness to experience often have large vocabularies, lots of excellent ideas, a vivid imagination, and are quick to understand things. Open people have a tendency to place a high value on art, creativity, imagination, and adventure. They tend to be excel in creative pursuits and have unconventional or non-traditional beliefs.
Someone who is conscientious is organized, disciplined, and focused on achievement. People with high levels of conscientiousness are usually prepared for situations, tackle chores as soon as possible, pay attention to details, prefer order over chaos, and like to follow a detailed schedule. These people are often planners and sometimes focus on external motivation instead of internal.
People with a high level of extraversion are high social, assertive, and talkative. People with high levels of extraversion are often seen as the life of a party. They are comfortable around people and like to start conversations. They enjoy being the center of attention and socializing, and are rarely described as shy or reserved. These people are usually exuberant and full of energy, ready for new experiences and excitement. They are often described as having great attitudes and can be a lot of fun to be around in many different situations.
People with high levels of agreeableness tend to be helpful, sympathetic, and cooperative. Those who exhibit high levels of agreeableness are interested in people, take time to focus on other people, are soft-hearted, and are capable of feeling other people’s emotions. They typically make people feel at ease in their company. Agreeable individuals place a high value on people “getting along” and working together. They are often seen as easy-going and non-argumentative.
Neuroticism is a measurement of a person’s emotional stability, anxiety level, and impulse control. People with high levels of neuroticism have frequent mood changes and are easily disturbed. They are irritated very easily, get stressed out at the drop of a hat, and are easy to upset. Neuroticism tends to include a lot of negative emotions, including anger and depression. These people are emotionally reactive and very vulnerable, and their negative emotions tend to last for long periods of time.
In general, people exhibit bits of each of the personality traits, but tend to score higher in one or two categories. These personality traits measure degrees and mental health professionals are able to access how healthy or unhealthy a person is based on what degree of a particular trait a person exhibits. For instance, someone with a high level of agreeableness might lack boundaries and the ability to stand up for himself. Likewise, someone with a high level of neuroticism might have difficulty functioning in social situations.