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What Are the Big 5 Personality Traits?

Many contemporary personality psychologists believe that there are five basic dimensions of personality, often referred to as the “Big 5” personality traits. The Big 5 personality traits are extraversion (also often spelled extroversion), agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism.

Extraversion is sociability, agreeableness is kindness, openness is creativity and intrigue, conscientiousness is thoughtfulness, and neuroticism often involves sadness or emotional instability.

Understanding what each personality trait is and what it means to score high or low in that trait can give you insight into your own personality—without taking a personality traits test. It can also help you better understand others, based on where they fall on the continuum for each of the personality traits listed.

The Big 5 Personality Traits

It is important to note that each of the five primary personality traits represents a range between two extremes. For example, extraversion represents a continuum between extreme extraversion and extreme introversion. In the real world, most people lie somewhere in between.

While there is a significant body of literature supporting these primary personality traits, researchers don’t always agree on the exact labels for each dimension. That said, these five traits are usually described as follows.

Openness
Openness (also referred to as openness to experience) emphasizes imagination and insight the most out of all five personality traits. People who are high in openness tend to have a broad range of interests. They are curious about the world and other people and are eager to learn new things and enjoy new experiences.

People who are high in this personality trait also tend to be more adventurous and creative. Conversely, people low in this personality trait are often much more traditional and may struggle with abstract thinking.

Conscientiousness
Among each of the personality traits, conscientiousness is one defined by high levels of thoughtfulness, good impulse control, and goal-directed behaviors. Highly conscientious people tend to be organized and mindful of details. They plan ahead, think about how their behavior affects others, and are mindful of deadlines.

Extraversion
Extraversion (or extroversion) is a personality trait characterized by excitability, sociability, talkativeness, assertiveness, and high amounts of emotional expressiveness. People high in extraversion are outgoing and tend to gain energy in social situations. Being around others helps them feel energized and excited.

People who are low in this personality trait or introverted tend to be more reserved. They have less energy to expend in social settings and social events can feel draining. Introverts often require a period of solitude and quiet in order to “recharge.”

Agreeableness
This personality trait includes attributes such as trust, altruism, kindness, affection, and other prosocial behaviors. People who are high in agreeableness tend to be more cooperative while those low in this personality trait tend to be more competitive and sometimes even manipulative.

Neuroticism
Neuroticism is a personality trait characterized by sadness, moodiness, and emotional instability. Individuals who are high in neuroticism tend to experience mood swings, anxiety, irritability, and sadness. Those low in this personality trait tend to be more stable and emotionally resilient.

Continue reading more about The Big 5 Personalities here