Big Five Personality Traits: The 5-Factor Model Explained In-Depth

Table of Contents
Personality traits

Some of us may feel like we are in the wrong job or career. Some of us may even feel like we are not fully utilizing what we’re born with.

It may be surprising, but some of us may not even know where our strengths or weaknesses lie. Making choices without knowing our personality is synonymous to gambling.

That is, we are playing a game of chance with our own future. Knowledge is power. To survive in the wild, you first have to know the resources you have.

Likewise, to start thriving, we should first find out what abilities we have. In the following article, we will be discussing personality traits that you possibly may resonate with.

By understanding each personality trait and taking the test, you will not just have a better understanding of yourself, but will also be able to live life by design. You can start thriving.

What is the 5-Factor Model (OCEAN)?

Among the currently available personality tests, one of the most popular and scientifically backed approaches to personality types is the Big Five personality test.

This theory of personality breaks down an individual’s personality into 5 core factors, namely Conscientiousness, Agreeableness, Neuroticism, Openness to Experience, and Extraversion.

The Big Five Personality Traits Theory breakdown:

  • Conscientiousness
  • Agreeableness
  • Neuroticism
  • Openness to Experience
  • Extraversion.

The Big Five Personality is correlated with other constructs as well. For example, the Big Five Personality traits has been shown to account for 14% of the variance in academic GPA.

This means that personality traits are associated with academic performance. It was also shown that personality traits may also be associated with your learning styles, with conscientiousness and agreeableness positively associated with all four learning styles.

Neuroticism on the other hand was negatively related to the four learning styles. The Big Five Personality is a useful tool for self-discovery and self-development.

It helps us to understand ourselves, and our positive and negative personality traits. By better understanding our personality, we can better ask for our needs, connect with others more easily, and even optimize our behavior based on personality preferences.

The Big Five Personality will help us to better perform in our environments. Unlike most other personality theories which label individual differences into personality types and binary categories, the Big Five Model puts people on a spectrum.

How to Use the Big 5 Personality Traits

Examples of Positive and Negative Personality Traits

Examples of positive personality traits Examples of negative personality traits
  • Curious
  • Adventurous
  • Prepared
  • Attention to Detail
  • Hardworking
  • Sociable
  • Excitement-Seeking
  • Enthusiastic
  • Empathetic
  • Trust
  • Altruism
  • Proactive
  • Risk-averse
  • Easily Swayed
  • Impractical
  • Too Rigid
  • Over-serious
  • Hedonistic
  • Impulsive
  • Conflict-Avoidant
  • Gullible
  • Anxious
  • Hostile
  • Self-conscious

Openness (to Experience)

Openness or Openness to Experience is the openness to consider new ideas. The facets of Openness include intellect and aesthetic openness.

Openness describes a person’s tendency to have more abstract thoughts and are more open to new ideas. Those low in this trait may be seen as traditional and have a tendency to avoid the unknown.

It is worth noting that people high in Openness love challenges and actively seek out a variety of experiences.

Curious (+)

Those high in Openness are sometimes seen as unconventional. Even on tasks they have done before, they would often find new ways or methods to accomplish it.

They often stray away from tradition and instead move towards innovation.

Adventurous (+)

Adventure into the unknown is the way to go for people that are high in Openness. They may even see adventure and novelty as a need. Sometimes people high in Openness may feel tied down or bored when they feel like they are in a routine.

Easily Swayed (-)

Those high in Openness are always open to new ideas and concepts. However, an excessive level of Openness may cause them to be incapable of forming a coherent structure of the world.

They may even switch ideas quickly depending on which seems more novel to them.

Impractical (-)

People with a high level of Openness have ideas that are often unconventional. However, their ideas may also be seen as impractical.

Because their creativity knows no bounds, they may come up with ideas without considering the practicality.


Conscientiousness is the level of impulse control a person has in order to be persistently engaged in goal-directed behaviors.

Conscientiousness describes an individual’s ability to forego instant gratification and is often seen as highly self-disciplined, efficient, and organized.

Those low in this trait may have an easy-going and lax attitude which may lead to procrastination and carelessness.

Funnily enough, being high in Conscientiousness is associated with being a fantastic dancer.

Prepared (+)

Someone high in conscientiousness often plans and prepares before the actual event. They dislike spontaneity. They are often very organized and always come into situations prepared.

Attention to Detail (+)

Conscientiousness also describes an individual who is meticulous and pays attention to every detail.

People high in conscientiousness are likely to ensure every detail is exactly right and no mistakes are made in order to achieve their goal.

Hardworking (+)

Being highly self-disciplined, you can always depend on someone that is high on conscientiousness.

They are often industrious and hardworking. They often finish important tasks right away and engage in mostly goal-directed behaviors.

Too Rigid (-)

Spending most of their time preparing, individuals who are high in Conscientiousness may sometimes be too rigid. They may dislike or even be unable to deal with situations that don’t go according to plan.

Over-serious (-)

Often engaging in goal-directed behaviors, one may see them as too serious. They often prioritize work over play, which may be excessively serious in some situations.


Extraversion is the inclination of a person towards seeking out interaction with the outside world, particularly in social situations.

Extraversion describes the ability to be outgoing and to feel energized in social situations. Those low on Extraversion may tend to preserve their energy and are often seen as more solitary or reserved.

Extraversion tend to have higher levels of dopamine activity, meaning that they have a higher tendency to seek out rewards and pleasure.

Sociable (+)

Often being the life of the party, those high in Extraversion tend to be outgoing and sociable. They often have a wide circle of friends and tend to gravitate towards meeting more people.

Excitement-Seeking (+)

Extraverts tend to engage in activities that would bring them excitement and joy. They also seek excitement by interacting with the environment which includes both other people and fun activities.

Enthusiastic (+)

With high levels of energy in social settings, Extraverts are often seen as enthusiastic to people around them. Since they also don’t mind being the center of attention, they often raise the spirits of those around them.

Hedonistic (-)

Being excited and pleasure-seeking, extraverts may sometimes be hedonistic. Often going to parties and other social activities, they may be constantly seeking the next high of their life.

Impulsive (-)

Being an Extravert may also sometimes mean thinking aloud. This means that some extraverts may say things before thinking through them. This may sometimes get them in trouble when they say the wrong things.


Agreeableness describes the level of social interest of a person. Agreeableness describes the ability to get along with other people in the community by prioritizing the needs of others over their own.

Those high in Agreeableness may be seen as more altruistic, kind, empathetic, and helpful.

Those low in Agreeableness may be seen as more analytical and self-serving, showing little interest in others.

People high in Agreeableness tend to be more forgiving and least likely to seek revenge.

Empathetic (+)

People high in Agreeableness tend to be more soft-hearted and empathetic towards others. They show a great deal of empathy towards others and enjoy serving others.

Trust (+)

High Agreeableness is associated with highly trusting individuals. Agreeable individuals tend to be more trusting, often giving the benefit of the doubt to others.

Altruism (+)

Agreeable individuals often prioritize the concerns of others above their own. This means that they would often carry out tasks for others even at their own expense.

Conflict-Avoidant (-)

An overly Agreeable individual may comply for the sake of avoiding conflict. This may be bad in certain situations as they just follow what they have been told, instead of thinking for themselves.

Gullible (-)

Often seeing the best in others, they may be easily cheated. Always trusting others, their trust may be taken advantage of by some individuals.


Neuroticism is associated with low tolerance for stress or adverse stimuli. Neuroticism is the emotional stability of an individual.

Someone high in Neuroticism may respond to stressors with negative emotions such as sadness, moodiness, and anxiety. However, individuals low in Neuroticism are more emotionally stable and resilient.

It is worth noting that there are interventions that have been shown to decrease Neuroticism and reduce psychological distress.

Proactive (+)

Because they are sensitive towards negative outcomes, people high in Neuroticism may be more likely to notice things going wrong. This may help them predict possible failures and proactively solve them.

Risk-averse (+)

Neurotic individuals tend to be more pessimistic. This makes them avoid risks that may not be in their favor, avoiding any unnecessary gambles and losses.

Anxious (-)

Individuals who score high in Neuroticism tend to be more anxious when they perceive the situation to be negative. They are also more prone to anxiety and bad moods.

Hostile (-)

Highly Neurotic individuals tend to experience a lot of stress. Sometimes, it may be more than they can bear and hence lash out on others in the form of hostility.

Self-conscious (-)

Because they are constantly thinking about how things will go wrong in their own mind, Neurotic individuals are highly self-conscious. This makes them overly aware and sensitive about what others think of them.

How To Determine Your Personality Traits

To find your personality traits and your natural strengths, you can take our free Big Five Personality test. By filling in the questionnaire, you will get back to where you fall on the spectrum for each personality trait.

Then, you will be able to find out what are your natural strengths so that you can begin to understand what motivates, energizes and gives you purpose.

So, take the first step and complete the Big Five Personality Test to find out your natural strengths.

How Do I Change My Personality Traits?

With the Big Five personalities having an average of more than 50% genetic influence, personality cannot be easily changed.

Research has also shown that individual personality is quite a stable construct. Personality changes, especially in adults, are small and don’t vary substantially.

However, studies have also shown that maturation may have a slight impact on the Big Five Personality.

As maturation happens, individuals tend to become less extraverted, less neurotic, and less open to experience, while agreeableness and conscientiousness increase over time.

However, these are only minor changes. This means that instead of changing our entire personality, we should work to develop what we have.

By developing your natural personality, you can be in tune with your true self and progress further in your career and life.

How Can My Personality Affect Others?

You and everyone around you are constantly influencing one another. Without realizing it, a Neurotic individual may just influence those around them to think more negatively.

Hence, it is important to be aware of your strengths and weaknesses in order to positively influence those around you. Even your perception is sometimes based on your personality.

An extraverted individual may see an Introverted individual as timid or shy. However, an Introverted individual may see their fellow Introverts as reflective or meditative.

By being aware of our personality, we are being aware of our biases. Only then can we see others through a clearer lens.

Finally, by learning about the personality of your own and those around you, you can better learn how to foster better relationships.

For example, someone low in Agreeableness may not naturally be empathetic. By understanding this, you may be more forgiving and don’t take it personally if they don’t show you the empathetic response you were expecting.

Big 5 Character Traits FAQ

Does the Big Five model explain personality?

The main purpose of the Big Five model is to explain personality. In particular, the Big Five or Five-Factor model divides human personality into five components and considers that people possess 5 main personality traits: Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Openness, and Neuroticism.

These five basic personality traits represent a spectrum, and an individual can be at any point on a continuum between the two extreme points. The Big Five model helps people understand their core personality traits and values and compare themselves with others based on those characteristics.

As a result, people can find out who they’re compatible with and what kinds of jobs are most suitable for them.

Who made the Big 5 personality traits?

The theory of the Five-Factor Model is often attributed to two famous scholars, Robert McCrae and Paul Costa. But actually, their research team developed the NEO Personality Inventory (or NEO-PI).

The Big 5 personality traits were originally developed by American psychologist D. W. Fiske in 1949. Later, the theory was revised by other researchers, such as Norman, Smith, Goldberg, and McCrae & Costa.

While these are the most popular Big 5 model scholars, the model has been revised several times since then too.

Why is the Big 5 considered the best model of personality?

The Big 5 personality model is the most widely accepted personality model in the modern research community and is considered the best model of personality.

The reason is that, unlike other models that reveal very few or too many personality traits, the Big 5 model consists of 5 basic personality traits that are culturally universal and can be found in all individuals regardless of their age, gender, race, or ethnicity.

All the other personality characteristics except for the core 5 traits can be reduced to these five traits.


The journey of self-development begins with awareness. You must first know what you have before you begin to find out what to do. A useful tool to help you discover yourself is the Big Five Dimensions of Personality.

The Big Five personality consists of five factors – Openness (to Experiences), Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. Openness to Experience is the openness to consider new ideas.

Conscientiousness is the level of persistence a person has to achieve a goal. Extraversion is the inclination of a person to seek out social interactions. Agreeableness describes the display of prosocial behaviors. Neuroticism is associated with a low tolerance for stress and other adverse stimuli.

By understanding where you stand on the continuum of each dimension, you will be able to find out the areas in which you are naturally gifted as well as areas to watch out for. You will then be able to use this information as a map in your journey of self-discovery.

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