The topic of personality has been widely studied in psychological research throughout the decades. It has also been embedded into everyday conversations between people as it is very common to say “they have such a great personality” when describing an individual. Personality is defined as a combination of behavioral patterns, thoughts, feelings, and other characteristics that make a person different from others. Therefore, the way in which a person behaves and views the world around them has an overarching influence on personal relationships, work ethic, and the overall outlook on life.
The trait theories of personality have been widely used for defining the characteristics of a person. For example, the Five-Factor Theory of Personality distinguishes between five core traits of a person that interact with each other to form a human personality. Despite the fact that there is some disagreement among researchers regarding the names of labels for each of the personality traits, they are the most commonly described as extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness (Cherry). Otherwise known as the “Big Five,” the trait framework was derived from the theories of Cattell and Eysenck. While the latter’s theory was considered to be limited in scope, the former’s approach was too complicated.
The trait of openness features such characteristics as insight and openness, and people who are high in openness are expected to have many interests. They have a curiosity about the world around them and are willing to have new experiences and learn new things. On a high level, open people are focused on taking up new challenges, are excited to think about abstract concepts, and are very creative. They like to change and enjoy new things and ideas.
For some people, high degrees of openness can be seen as a lack of focus and unpredictability. On the contrary, individuals with low openness are perceived to seek fulfillment through perseverance, are pragmatic and data-driven, and can often be closed-minded and dogmatic. Although, it is important to mention that there are still some debates on how the openness factor should be interpreted.
Conscientiousness is a trait that refers to such qualities as carefulness, diligence, and the desire to approach one’s obligations with thought and seriousness. People who are classified as conscientious are seen to be thoughtful, have good impulse control, and exhibit goal-directed behaviors. Such individuals plan their life ahead, tend to be highly organized, and are attentive to details. Conscientious individuals are likely to be conformists, and when their qualities are taken to an extreme level, they can be workaholics, perfectionists, and compulsive in behavior (Kavirayani 181). When a person has low rates of conscientiousness, they are usually less goal-oriented, are less driven by success, and are more relaxed in their attitude to life and work.
The third category in the “Big Five” framework is extraversion, which is characterized by increased sociability, assertiveness, excitability, and talkativeness. Individuals with the trait exhibit high levels of emotional expressiveness, which is visible in social situations. When a person is extraverted, he or she usually enjoys being in the center of attention and starting conversations with other people, making new friends and acquaintances.
When they are around other people, extraverted individuals feel energized and full of life. Furthermore, they find pleasure and value in activities like large social gatherings, such as community activities, parties, or business and political groups. However, they may often say things first and then think about them. Introversion is the opposite trait of extroversion and is associated with the state of being mostly interested in being with oneself.
Agreeableness is a personality trait characterized by such attributes as kindness, altruism, affection, and other behaviors that are considered prosocial. The general behaviors of an agreeable person are all connected to reaching social harmony and cooperation with other people. Such people tend to put mutual group interests first and then think about what would be best for themselves. Individuals with high levels of agreeableness are usually cooperative, and those with low levels of the trait are more competitive and can often be manipulative and only interested in personal gain.
The final personality trait in the “Big Five” category is neuroticism. This train is often attributed to emotional instability as well as feelings of sadness and moodiness. Neurotic individuals usually experience frequent mood changes, anxiety, and irritability. It is hard for such people to recover after stressful events and continue with their everyday activities. Individuals with low neuroticism levels do not worry much, are often relaxed, and can accept challenges as they are, without any emotional implications.
To summarize, there is a variety of ways in which one can characterize personality. In this exploration, five traits were discussed based on the “Big Five” framework. Each of the characteristics has unique and distinct qualities, denoting behaviors and attitudes that make a person different from others. However, in each category, there can be either high or low levels of traits, with the combination of different characteristics creating a unique personality.
Cherry, Kendra. “The Big Five Personality Traits.” Very Well Mind. 2019. Web.
Kavirayani, Krishnamurthy. “Historical Perspectives on Personality – The Past and Current Process: The Search Is Not Yet Over.” Archives of Medicine & Health Sciences, vol. 6, no. 1, 2018, pp. 180-186.