Today you will be presented with information about personality, specific personality traits, and how personality is measured by psychologists.
Personality consists of several behavioral traits that tend to remain stable throughout a person’s life. These traits fall on a spectrum, or a range of low to high levels. Every person has a unique range of personality traits, and no two personalities are exactly alike. To what degree a person possesses these traits can be assessed using various measures developed by researchers in psychology.
One way to assess a person’s personality is with projective tests. These tests require a person to look at various pictures and respond to them as directed. When the trained examiner analyzes the person’s responses, various traits are revealed such as emotions, and behaviors.
Another measurement tool to assess personality is the self-report inventory. These require a person to answer questions about characteristic behaviors. They often present situational questions that require a person to reveal how he or she would generally respond given a scenario.
One of the most commonly used inventories for assessing personality is based on the Big Five Model. The authors of this model identified 5 major personality traits that are generally present to some degree in almost all people. These traits are Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.
Openness to experience is the tendency to be interested in a wide variety of things, and especially the desire to experience unfamiliar things. People with a high openness to experience may have a vast interest in art, music, cuisine, sports, and often try new things. They are flexible in their routines, imaginative, and often have an independent nature. Someone who has a low openness to experience prefers routines and familiar experiences. He or she may be perceived as closed-minded to new ideas or activities, and could be described as traditional or conforming.
Conscientiousness is the quality of being organized, careful, and disciplined. Someone who has a high degree of conscientiousness is orderly, often chooses work over play, and makes decisions based on a personal belief of what is right or prudent. High conscientiousness is correlated with academic and career success. Someone with a low degree of conscientiousness often acts impulsively, would rather play than work, and is often disorganized. Low conscientiousness is highly correlated with procrastination.
Extraversion is defined as the tendency to seek external sources for stimulation. A person who has a low degree of extraversion, sometimes called an introvert, prefers to spend time alone or with a small group of friends. He or she often gets enjoyment from solitary activities like drawing, crafting, reading, or fishing, and is often perceived as being quiet, reflective, or a loner. Preferring the company of yourself or only one or two friends is not the same as being shy or socially awkward. On the other hand, someone who has a high degree of extraversion seeks stimulation in crowds of people and is seen as outgoing, energetic, talkative, assertive, and sociable.
Agreeableness is the tendency to be helpful, softhearted , and compliant. Someone with a high degree of agreeableness will make decisions based on what will cause the least conflict, is often sympathetic and compassionate, and has a trusting nature. High agreeableness is associated with a generally positive outlook on the world and other people. Someone with low agreeableness makes decisions based on what will please himself or herself, rather than others, is generally uncooperative and uncompromising, and is suspicious of others’ motives.
The characteristic of Neuroticism is sometimes referred to as emotional stability. Someone who has a low degree of neuroticism is not prone to negative emotions, and is even-keel in stressful situations. He or she is usually perceived as emotionally secure or even unfeeling. A low degree of neuroticism does not mean one is more prone to positive emotions. A highly neurotic person, however, will experience very negative emotions during even slightly stressful situations. This person is often perceived as highly anxious, depressed, moody, insecure, or self-pitying.