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What are the Big Five Personality Traits

The Big Five model of personality is the most academically supported and theoretically rigorous model of personality. It posits that five major personality traits (Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, Neuroticism) underpin human personality, each representing different sits of behaviours, characteristics, and personal proclivities.

1:03 Lead consultant, Ben Schwencke, explains the big 5 personality traits.

All human beings set somewhere on these five continuums, which collectively account for their temperament, character, and interpersonal styles. These five personality traits include:

Openness to experiences

A person’s predisposition towards imagination, variety, intellectual curiosity, and unconventionality. People who score highly on openness to experience tend to reject tradition and routine, finding these to be stifling and restrictive. People who score low on openness to experience tend to focus on practical, concrete issues, showing less interest for artistic, philosophical, or theoretical concerns.


A person’s predisposition towards organisation, attention to detail, caution, and discipline. People who score highly on conscientiousness tend to avoid disorder, preferring a structured and systematic approach to problem solving. People who score low on conscientiousness take a more laidback approach, finding structure, systems, and processes to be restrictive, and thus adopt an ad-hoc approach to life.


A person’s predisposition towards sociality, assertiveness, gregariousness, and enthusiasm. People who score highly on extraversion (known as extraverts) tend to seek interpersonal connections, finding them to be both restorative and enjoyable. People who score low on extraversion (known as introverts) show less preference for sociality, preferring smaller social circles and more alone time.


A person’s predisposition towards cooperation, empathy, sympathy, and interpersonal warmth. People who score highly on agreeableness are more trusting and honest, rarely suspecting the intentions of other people. People who score low on agreeableness are referred to as disagreeable, tending to focus on their own goals, objectives, and needs, prioritising these over those of others.


A person’s predisposition towards anxiety, stress, worry, and negative affect. People who score highly on neuroticism are referred to as “Neurotic”, and are more likely to experience mood swings and unexpected emotionality. People who score low on neuroticism are said to be “emotionally stable”, showing fewer fluctuations in mood, and instead display a calmer and more stoic approach to life.