Big Five vs. HEXACO: In-depth Comparison of Two Models

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In the quest to understand human personality, two models stand out: Big Five and HEXACO. But which one paints a more accurate picture?

Big Five vs HEXACO test

Both models offer unique benefits and can be used in tandem to provide a more comprehensive understanding of an individual’s personality.

The Big Five’s focus on Neuroticism allows a better understanding of a candidate’s ability to handle stress and adapt to changes, a valuable insight in dynamic, high-pressure work environments.

On the other hand, the HEXACO model’s inclusion of honesty and humility offers a unique perspective on a candidate’s ethical stance, informing decisions in industries where integrity and trustworthiness are paramount.

In this article, we will discuss the differences between Big Five and HEXACO, how to use them both in tandem to gain a more holistic view of personality and how they can be useful tools for employers. 

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Key Differences Between Big Five and HEXACO

Comparing the Big Five vs HEXACO models offers different perspectives and depth in understanding individual personalities. The most significant differences are in dimensions and application, where the Big Five model is widely and predominantly used. Both models share Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, and Openness to Experience.

However, their conception of these traits may vary. Notably, HEXACO introduces an additional dimension, Honesty-Humility, which is absent in the Big Five model.

Dimensional Comparison

One significant difference lies in the dimension of Emotionality, which HEXACO treats as the opposite of the Big Five’s Emotional Stability.

While the Big Five model focuses on emotional stability and calmness, HEXACO’s Emotionality dimension explores how individuals react to fear, anxiety, and their need for emotional support.

Another difference is observed in the Agreeableness trait. For HEXACO, agreeableness encompasses qualities such as patience, gentleness, and flexibility, focusing on interpersonal relationships.

While also including cooperation, the Big Five focuses more broadly on trust and straightforwardness.

Application and Usage

In practical applications, the Big Five model is predominantly used for general personality assessment, including in psychological research, individual self-understanding, and employment settings.

It provides a quick overview of one’s personality traits, which can help recruiters assess job fit, psychologists understand their clients, and individuals gain self-insight.

On the other hand, the HEXACO model, with its additional dimension of honesty and humility, is often used when evaluating ethical behavior.

It’s beneficial in corporate settings where understanding a candidate’s propensity for ethical or unethical behavior is critical.

While there are similarities, the key differences between the Big Five and HEXACO lie in their respective dimensions.

Understanding the Big Five Model

What is the Big Five Model?

The Big Five model, also known as the Five Factor Model, is a widely respected tool in psychological studies, tracing its origins back to the lexical hypothesis of personality structure.

This theory suggested that the most significant and universally recognized aspects of personality could be encapsulated within our language.

Psychologists have scrutinized and polished this model over the years, distilling it into five main traits, each representing a spectrum of related characteristics.


Openness, or openness to experience, reflects an individual’s propensity towards imagination, creativity, and seeking novel experiences. It gauges one’s willingness to entertain new ideas, appreciate art, indulge in intellectual discourse, and embrace change.

People scoring high in openness are typically innovative and open-minded, while those scoring low may lean towards traditionalism and prefer routine.


Conscientiousness assesses an individual’s level of organization, reliability, and discipline. It encapsulates traits such as attention to detail, thoroughness, and the ability to plan and follow through with tasks.

Highly conscientious people are typically diligent, careful, and meticulous, while individuals with low conscientiousness scores might be more spontaneous and disorganized.


Extraversion measures the extent of an individual’s outgoingness, assertiveness, and positive Emotionality. It gauges one’s comfort level with social engagement, desire for stimulation, and tendency to exhibit dominant behaviors.

High scores indicate an outgoing, energetic, and socially active personality, while lower scores point to a more reserved, reflective, and private individual.


Agreeableness encapsulates traits related to altruism, kindness, and affection. It measures one’s tendency towards cooperation, empathy, and maintaining positive social relations.

Highly agreeable individuals are often warm, friendly, and considerate, while individuals who score lower may be more competitive or challenging in their interpersonal relationships.


Neuroticism reflects an individual’s propensity towards experiencing negative emotions, such as anxiety, Anger, or depression. It measures emotional instability and the frequency with which negative emotions are experienced.

High neuroticism scores indicate a personality that may be more prone to mood swings and emotional distress, while lower scores suggest emotional stability and resilience.

Compared to HIGH5

Comparing this to the HIGH5 test, the Big Five Model may seem more nuanced and comprehensive. It breaks down personality traits into distinct categories, allowing for a better understanding of an individual’s personality as a whole. The HIGH5 test focuses more on the general characteristics of each strength and does not delve into specific aspects of each trait.

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Delving into HEXACO

So what is the HEXACO Model? Here’s everything you need to know.

The HEXACO Personality Model is a comprehensive psychometric tool developed by two psychologists, Kibeom Lee and Michael C. Ashton. It emerged through a series of studies in the early 2000s, which found consistent evidence for a sixth personality factor not covered by other models.

This six-dimensional model provides a more nuanced understanding of human personality, capturing the facets missed by the Big Five model. It provides a valuable tool for various applications, such as recruitment, team building, and personal development.


This dimension reflects traits associated with sincerity, fairness, modesty, and avoidance of greed. Individuals scoring high on honesty and humility value truthfulness and avoid manipulating others for personal gain.

On the other hand, those with lower scores may be more prone to deceit, manipulation, and self-aggrandizement.


In the HEXACO model, Emotionality is akin to the inverse of Emotional Stability in the Big Five model. It measures the degree to which an individual experiences fear and anxiety, along with their need for emotional support from others.

High scorers are typically sensitive and anxious, while low scorers may be more emotionally resilient and less easily disturbed.


eXtraversion in the HEXACO model is similar to that in the Big Five, measuring sociability, assertiveness, and liveliness. Individuals high in eXtraversion are outgoing and energetic, while those scoring lower tend to be more reserved and introspective.


Agreeableness in the HEXACO model reflects one’s temperament regarding patience, gentleness, and flexibility. Those with high scores are usually cooperative and considerate, while those with low scores may be more critical and antagonistic.


Conscientiousness measures diligence, thoroughness, and organization. High scorers are organized, reliable, and disciplined, while those with lower scores may be more spontaneous, impulsive, and disorganized.

Openness to Experience

The last factor, Openness to Experience, reflects creativity, curiosity, and willingness to try new things. Individuals with high scores in this dimension are generally open-minded and imaginative, whereas those with lower scores may be more conventional and resistant to change.

Compared to HIGH5

When juxtaposing HEXACO with the HIGH5 test, Openness to Experience aligns with the Creativity, Curiosity, and Decisiveness dimensions. Both tests indicate that individuals who score high in this dimension are open-minded, creative thinkers who are willing to try new things and explore novel ideas.

Pros of the Big Five Model

When it comes to the Big Five model, you’ll find plenty of advantages. Its widespread acceptance in the scientific community is a testament to its validity. The model has undergone extensive empirical research, robustly supporting its five-factor structure.

This degree of acceptance lends credibility and ensures it remains a popular choice for personality assessment.

Empirical Support

One of the key strengths of the Big Five model is its solid empirical support. Numerous studies have confirmed the model’s reliability and validity across various populations and cultures.

It’s important to note that such empirical backing enhances the credibility of the Big Five model in both academic research and practical applications.

Cons of the Big Five Model

However, the Big Five model is not without its drawbacks. A significant disadvantage is its lack of inclusion of certain personality aspects. For instance, the model doesn’t account for elements such as honesty and humility, which the HEXACO model includes explicitly.

This limitation can lead to incomplete or skewed personality profiles, especially regarding ethical behavior assessment.

Lack of Certain Personality Aspects

The Big Five model’s narrow focus on specific personality traits overlooks essential aspects of an individual’s character. We can’t ignore that features like honesty and humility play a vital role in someone’s behavior, especially in the workplace.

The absence of these traits can lead to a compromised understanding of an individual’s personality.

Another potential downside is the Big Five model’s simplicity. While its straightforwardness can be advantageous in specific settings, it may not comprehensively understand complex personalities.

The model’s simplicity may lead to overlooking nuances and intricacies in nature, which can be crucial in specific applications.

Over-Simplicity of the Model

The simplicity of the Big Five model can also be seen as a drawback. It’s common to find complex personalities that the basic five-factor structure can’t fully capture.

This could result in a rather one-dimensional and simplistic view of an individual’s character, limiting the depth of understanding and potentially leading to inaccuracies in personality analysis.

The advantages and disadvantages of the Big Five Model must be weighed when considering its use.

Compared to HIGH5

In contrast to the HIGH5 test, the Big Five and HEXACO present similar limitations in terms of their focus on specific traits and lack of comprehensiveness. However, the HIGH5 test aims to address these issues by incorporating additional personality dimensions and a more holistic approach.

Pros and Advantages of the HEXACO Model

The HEXACO model offers a comprehensive look at personality, considering a broader range of traits than the Big Five model.

Its strength lies in including the Honesty-Humility factor, capturing the personality’s moral and ethical dimensions. This trait is critical in assessing individuals for roles that require high ethical standards and integrity.

Comprehensive Nature

This model contributes to a fuller understanding of personality by examining six dimensions instead of five. It includes Emotionality, Extraversion, Agreeableness (versus Anger), Conscientiousness, Openness to Experience, and the unique addition of honesty and humility.

This last trait is beneficial in predicting ethical and moral behaviors, offering insights into how an individual might behave in situations that require honesty and humility.

Incorporation of Morality and Honesty

Incorporating honesty and humility into the HEXACO model allows for a more nuanced understanding of an individual’s character.

This can be particularly useful in workplace settings, where honesty and humility play crucial roles in teamwork and leadership. Employers can use this model to gauge whether prospective employees will likely display these traits.

On the flip side, one of the cons of the HEXACO model is its complexity. With more traits to measure, it’s a more involved process to administer and interpret. This complexity can make it harder for non-psychologists to understand and use effectively.

Cons and Disadvantages of The HEXACO Model


While its comprehensive nature is a strength, the complexity of the HEXACO model can also be a barrier. There’s more information to digest, which can be overwhelming for individuals unfamiliar with personality assessments.

This can also lead to longer administration times for the test, potentially reducing its practicality in specific settings.

A further disadvantage of the HEXACO model is its lesser-known status than the Big Five. Its relative obscurity may lead to hesitations in its adoption despite its potential advantages.

Lesser-Known Status

Despite its potential benefits, the HEXACO model is not as widely recognized or used as the Big Five model. This lack of widespread recognition can limit its use in settings where the Big Five dominates, hindering the adoption of a potentially more nuanced tool for personality assessment.

Compared to HIGH5

Analyzing the pros and cons between the Big Five and HEXACO compared to the HIGH5 test, it’s clear that each model has its own unique strengths and weaknesses. Ultimately, the best approach will depend on the specific needs and goals of the individual or organization using it.

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Practical Implications and Applications

When comparing the Big Five vs HEXACO models, consider that these tools are widely used in psychology and research. They are practical tools for understanding human behavior, motivations, and personality traits, making them indispensable in various research contexts.

Researchers often employ these models in longitudinal studies to track personality changes over time or in cross-cultural studies to understand personality variations across different cultures.

The Big Five in Psychological Research

The Big Five model, focusing on five broad personality traits, provides researchers with a robust framework to evaluate personality characteristics.

It facilitates understanding the relationship between personality traits and psychological outcomes such as mental health conditions, job satisfaction, or life satisfaction.

For instance, high Neuroticism has been linked to a greater likelihood of developing mental health disorders, while high Agreeableness has been associated with higher job and life satisfaction.

The HEXACO in Psychological Research

On the other hand, the HEXACO model, with its six dimensions, offers a more detailed insight into an individual’s personality. It’s particularly effective in assessing traits such as honesty and humility, which are not explicitly covered in the Big Five.

This makes the HEXACO model invaluable in research areas focused on ethical behavior and decision-making, providing a deeper understanding of individual differences.

In organizational settings, these models are used in a variety of ways. They help with employee assessment, enhancing team building, and improving the work environment.

Recruiters often use these tests to identify candidates whose personality traits align with the job requirements and the company’s culture.

The Big Five and HEXACO in Organizational Settings

For instance, a candidate with high scores in Conscientiousness (Big Five) or Diligence (HEXACO) would be suitable for roles requiring careful attention to detail and a high level of responsibility.

Similarly, high Agreeableness (Big Five) or Cooperativeness (HEXACO) would indicate a potential employee’s ability to work well in team settings.

Thus, these models offer a reliable basis for making informed hiring decisions and promoting a well-balanced and productive workforce.

Compared to HIGH5

Upon examining these practical implications alongside those of the HIGH5 test, it becomes clear that understanding one’s personality is an essential step toward personal growth and achieving success.

The HIGH5 test goes beyond simply assessing personality traits; it provides actionable insights for individuals to apply their strengths daily, leading to higher satisfaction and better mental health.

How Accurate is the Big Five Assessment?

The Big Five Personality Traits Test is widely recognized for its empirical accuracy. Its validity is well-established, with countless studies in psychology affirming its effectiveness in predicting behavior, job performance, and psychological conditions.

As such, this model is applauded for its robustness, empirical backing, and its broad, comprehensive scope.

Suitability for Various Roles

The Big Five model’s ability to predict job performance is awe-inspiring. It successfully identifies high scores in traits like Openness and Agreeableness, which indicate an individual’s potential suitability for specific roles.

For instance, high Openness points to a willingness to learn new skills, making such individuals ideal for parts that require constant learning and adaptability.

High Agreeableness, which signifies strong interpersonal skills, may hint at a person’s fit for jobs requiring teamwork, collaboration, or customer interaction.

Indicating Potential Challenges

Likewise, the Big Five model can flag potential challenges individuals might face in specific jobs. A low score on the Neuroticism scale can suggest an individual’s capacity to cope with high-stress roles or those involving frequent changes.

In the face of adversity, these individuals may exhibit resilience and stability, highly desirable qualities in fast-paced, dynamic environments.

Predicting Life Satisfaction

Moving beyond the occupational sphere, the Big Five model has also shown efficacy in predicting life satisfaction. High Agreeableness, for instance, has been linked to higher job and life satisfaction.

This suggests that individuals with high Agreeableness not only excel in their professional lives but can also experience greater happiness and contentment in their personal lives.

Reliability Across Cultures

Another strength of the Big Five model lies in its cross-cultural reliability. It’s been found to be applicable across different cultures and geographical locations, making it a universally acceptable model for understanding personality.

This broad applicability underscores the model’s robustness and ability to provide a comprehensive overview of an individual’s personality, regardless of cultural differences.

Compared to HIGH5

Setting the Big Five Assessment against the backdrop of the HIGH5 test, we can see how it serves as a valuable tool for understanding and leveraging one’s strengths.

The HIGH5 test goes beyond just identifying an individual’s personality traits, instead focusing on their unique strengths that can be harnessed to achieve personal and professional goals.

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How Accurate is the Hexaco Assessment?

The HEXACO Personality Test, much like the Big Five model, is a comprehensive tool used to evaluate potential recruits’ personality traits. It measures six dimensions: Honesty-Humility, Emotionality, Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, and Openness to Experience.

These dimensions offer recruiters a broad spectrum of candidate personality traits, helping them make well-informed hiring decisions based on how each feature might align with a specific job role.

Identifying Ethical Behaviour

One of the distinct features of the HEXACO model is its emphasis on honesty and humility. This trait gives employers a glimpse into a candidate’s ethical behavior.

High scores in honesty and humility can indicate a person’s inclination towards fairness, sincerity, and avoidance of manipulation, making these scores a crucial factor when assessing individuals for roles where integrity and ethical conduct are paramount.

Assessing Emotional Responses

Emotionality, another element unique to the HEXACO model, helps assess an individual’s emotional responses. This trait provides insights into how a candidate might react under pressure, handle stressful situations, or navigate emotionally charged interactions.

High scores in emotional intelligence could point to empathetic individuals, valuable traits in jobs requiring a high degree of interpersonal interaction.

Evaluating Sociability and Creativity

Extraversion and Openness to Experience are traits measured by the HEXACO model. Extraversion offers insights into a candidate’s sociability. High scores may suggest that an individual is outgoing and energetic, which could be an asset in roles that require networking or team collaboration.

On the other hand, Openness to Experience can hint at a candidate’s creativity and willingness to embrace new ideas, making it particularly relevant for roles in fast-paced, innovative fields.

Assessing Cooperation and Diligence

Finally, the HEXACO model assesses Agreeableness and Conscientiousness. High scores in Agreeableness can indicate a person’s tendency towards cooperation and maintenance of positive interpersonal relationships.

In contrast, Conscientiousness evaluates a person’s level of diligence, organization, and dependability. These traits can be essential in roles that require great attention to detail and consistent performance.

Compared to HIGH5

In a side-by-side analysis of Hexaco and the HIGH5 test, both models showcase how strengths can be categorized into five main areas: intellect, interpersonal strengths, perseverance, joyfulness, and kindness.

This overlap suggests that the HIGH5 model’s holistic approach to identifying strengths aligns with the HEXACO model in evaluating key personality traits that contribute to success in various roles.


To wrap up, personality tests such as the Big Five and the HEXACO provide valuable tools in the recruiter’s arsenal, enabling a more nuanced understanding of a candidate’s personality traits. They offer unique insights into a candidate’s potential fit within a team, suitability for specific roles, and overall work style. 

High scores in certain traits can indicate preparedness for particular job demands, such as increased stress, interpersonal interaction, or the need for creativity and openness to new experiences.

Consequently, these assessments ensure a robust, unbiased, and efficient recruitment process, leading to well-informed hiring decisions and a harmonious work environment.

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