What is the Big 5 theory?
The Big 5 theory, otherwise known as trait theory, is an approach in psychology that defines 5 main traits that determine our personality. It’s called a theory, but it’s mostly data-driven studies, so it’s more of factual analysis.
🤔 To understand, here’s the example of the weight curve: the majority of the population will be in a weight range, which will give an average. Of course, there will be data outside this range, but the average gives us a statistic 👀.
What are the dimensions of the Big Five?
To establish the 5 personality traits, the researchers used empirical studies and took an average of the most frequently occurring traits. As such, they were able to identify 5 major personality traits, which can be found under the acronym OCEAN: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion (and introversion), agreeableness, and neuroticism.
What are the 5 personality traits of the Big 5?
The Big 5 traits don’t classify people into 5 categories. It assesses our personality 5 times differently. Each time, we will fall within the spectrum of each trait, without it being judged negatively or positively. Let’s see the traits in detail 🧐:
When you score high in openness, you’re distinguished by a curious, creative personality with a vivid imagination. This translates into an open mind and an unconventional character. You like to have new, even unusual opinions!
Conversely, when you have a low percentage of openness, it means that you’ll be more conventional and traditional. You don’t like to step out of your comfort zone, because you apprehend things you don’t know well. Intellectual pursuits and the chatter that comes with them clearly aren’t your passion!
👉 The high or low level of openness can be beneficial depending on the situation. For example, a high score will be more comfortable in creative or research activities. A low score will be more comfortable in technical activities like accounting 🧮.
A high score means you’re organized, hard-working, disciplined, and basically conscientious! So what does a low percentage mean? Well, you’re more distracted, disorganized, and find it hard to find the motivation to do your tasks (at home and at work).
In general, you don’t get upset about unfinished tasks, unlike the conscientious ones. This results in more perfectionist personalities. On the other hand, you tend to be more spontaneous and playful when you have a low level of conscientiousness 😎.
👉 Extraversion (or introversion)
We’ve already talked about introverts at Wengood, they’re people who work with their internal energy, whereas extroverts need others to feel good. Obviously, the higher the score, the more likely you are to be sociable, talkative, and need social interaction to thrive. If you have a low score, you’ll be much less dependent on social life. On the contrary, being in contact with other people can cause social fatigue, which means you prefer to spend time alone when you have a low percentage 🔋.
You may be interested in this article >>> Am I an introvert?
When you have a high agreeableness score, it means that you tend to be forgiving, tolerant, and helpful. It’s important for you to be altruistic and get along with others. The lower the agreeableness, the more likely you are to be inflexible, stubborn, and skeptical. Your behavior will be more critical, and you won’t be able to defend your opinions. Even if a high level of agreeableness is more appreciated by those around us, it’s more difficult to make decisions or be objective.
Managers or lawyers will generally have a low agreeableness score. However, this doesn’t mean that they’ll all be toxic managers or the devil’s advocate 😈😬!
Neuroticism comes from neurosis and therefore covers all psychological illnesses such as depression and generalized anxiety. The higher the score, the more vulnerable you tend to be to stress and emotions like anger. Anxiety will be a part of your daily life, which is not the case when you get a low score on the Big 5 test. This will make you a calm, serene person with a little apprehension. Nevertheless, you may be too carefree and fail to appreciate potential threats in your life.
You may be interested in this article >>> What are the symptoms of depression?
How can you use the Big Five?
You need to realize that whatever your score in one of the 5 traits, there is nothing pejorative about it. One type of trait and/or one percentage is not better than another. You should therefore disregard the negative connotations associated with certain traits.
On the other hand, the results of the Big 5 test can be used to maximize your strengths and work on your weaknesses. For example, I know that I’m an introvert and that I tend to be moderately conscientious. When you discover this kind of information about yourself, you can therefore better understand situations by correcting your cognitive biases.
The Big 5 can be compared to the MBTI, the test of the 16 personalities, as the results work as a spectrum. However, the Big 5 is more precise, you know exactly where you are on the spectrum (20%, 55%, 72%, etc.). Whereas for the MBTI, you are either at 0% or 100%, which is a bit more all white or all black.
Paying attention to your difficulties
Beyond being able to correct our weaknesses, there’s one point we need to pay attention to. Indeed, the trait of neuroticism shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s good to focus on your strengths, but you shouldn’t turn it into toxic positivity. If you have a high score in this area, it means that you have psychological difficulty.
The Big 5 is therefore a way of looking at your stress management, your anxiety, and the way you feel in general. It’s a way of taking stock and sounding the alarm if you see that things aren’t working. In this case, the best thing is to get help from a psychologist so that they can assess your psychological health and put in place solutions to get better 🤗.
Editor’s note: Understanding yourself to accept yourself?
The Big 5 test allows you to identify 5 character traits, and broad outlines that can help you to know yourself better, but this test is nothing without psychological support. If you really want to understand yourself better, to accept yourself as you are, this requires analysis followed by work on yourself. Don’t hesitate to make an appointment with a psychologist if you feel the need.
🤗 Understanding yourself, accepting yourself, being happy... It’s here and now!
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