The Five Dimensions of Personality (Psychology)
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The Five Dimensions of Personality (Psychology)



The Five Dimensions of Personality

The Five Dimensions of Personality
'The Big 5' (Personality Traits).
By Theresa Lowry-Lehnen



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The Five Dimensions of Personality (Psychology) The Five Dimensions of Personality (Psychology) Document Transcript

  • The Five Dimensions of Personality Theresa Lowry-Lehnen Contemporary psychology suggests that there are five basic dimensions of personality, often referred to as the "Big 5" personality traits. Previous trait theorist suggested various numbers of possible traits, including Allport's 4,000 personality traits, Cattell's 16 personality factors and Eysenck's three-factor theory. Cattell's theory eventually proved too complex and Eysenck's too limited in scope and as a result, the five-factor theory emerged which describes the basic traits that serve as the building blocks of personality. Evidence of this theory grew extensively over the past 50 years, beginning with the research of D. W. Fiske (1949) and later expanded upon by Norman (1963), Smith (1967), Goldberg (1981), and McCrae & Costa (1990). The "Big 5" are broad categories of personality traits. While there is a significant body of literature supporting this five-factor model of personality, researchers do not always agree on the exact labels for each dimension.
  • The Five Dimensions of Personality Extraversion: Energy, positive emotions, assertiveness, sociability and the tendency to seek stimulation in the company of others. This trait includes characteristics such as excitability, talkativeness, assertiveness and high amounts of emotional expressiveness. Agreeableness: A tendency to be compassionate and co-operative rather than suspicious and antagonistic towards others. It is also a measure of one's trusting and helpful nature, and whether a person is generally good tempered or not. This personality dimension includes attributes such as trust, altruism, kindness, affection, and other pro-social behaviours. Conscientiousness: A tendency to be organized and dependable, show self-discipline, act dutifully, aim for achievement, and prefer planned rather than spontaneous behaviour. Common features include high levels of thoughtfulness, with good impulse control and goal-directed behaviours. Those high in conscientiousness tend to be organized and mindful of details. Neuroticism: The tendency to experience unpleasant emotions easily, such as anger, anxiety, depression, and vulnerability. Neuroticism also refers to the degree of emotional stability and impulse control and is sometimes referred to by its low pole, "emotional stability". Individuals high in this trait tend to experience emotional instability, anxiety, moodiness, irritability, and sadness. Openness: This trait features characteristics such as imagination and insight, and those high in this trait also tend to have a broad range of interests. They display an appreciation for art, emotion, adventure, unusual ideas, curiosity, and a variety of
  • experiences. Openness reflects the degree of intellectual curiosity, creativity and a preference for novelty and variety a person has. It is also described as the extent to which a person is imaginative or independent, and depicts a personal preference for a variety of activities over a strict routine. Some disagreement remains about how to interpret the openness factor, which is sometimes called "intellect" rather than openness to experience. Each of the five personality factors represents a range between two extremes. For example, extraversion represents a continuum between extreme extraversion and extreme introversion. In the real world, most people lie somewhere in between the two polar ends of each dimension. McCrae and his colleagues discovered that the five traits are remarkably universal. One major study looked at people from more than 50 different cultures and concluded that the five dimensions could be accurately used to describe personality. Based on this research, many psychologists now believe that the five personality dimensions are not only universal; they also have biological origins. Psychologist David Buss has proposed an evolutionary explanation for these five core personality traits, suggesting that they represent the most important qualities that shape our social landscape. These dimensions represent broad areas of personality. Research has demonstrated that these groupings of characteristics tend to occur together in many people. For example, individuals who are sociable also tend to be talkative. However, these traits do not always occur together. Personality is complex and varied, and each person may display behaviours across several of these dimensions. While, research has shown that in most cases, people offer responses which are consistent with their underlying personality traits, it must also be remembered that behaviour involves an interaction between a person's underlying personality and situational variables. The situation that a person finds himself or herself in plays a major role in how that person reacts. There are multiple personality tests available, including online personality tests. Below are some hyperlinks to online personality tests.
  • Personality test outcome example References Buss, D. M. (1995). Evolutionary psychology: A new paradigm for psychological science. Psychological Inquiry, 6, 1-31 Cherry, K .(2013). The big five personality dimensions: / od / personality development / a / big five.htm accessed 07/05/14 Goldberg, L. R. (1981) Language and individual differences: The search for universals in personality lexicons. In L.Wheeler (Ed.), Review of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 2. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage. McCrae, R.R., & Costa, P.T. (1987) Validation of the five-factor model of personality across instruments and observers. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 81-90. McCrae, R.R., & Costa, P.T. (1997) Personality trait structure as a human universal. American Psychologist, 52, 509-516. McCrae, R. R., Terracciano, A., and Members of the Personality Profiles of Cultures Project. (2005). Universal features of personality traits from the observer's perspective: Data from 50 different cultures. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 88, 547-561. Theresa Lowry-Lehnen RGN, BSc (Hon’s) Nursing Science, PGCC, Dip Counselling, Dip Advanced Psychotherapy, BSc (Hon’s) Clinical Science, PGCE (Qualified Teacher Status), H. Dip. Ed, MEd, MHS (Psychology Level 9) EQi- Emotional Intelligence Assessor PhD student Health Psychology