20200303041502understanding_the_big_five_personality_traits.docx

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Understanding the Big Five Personality TraitsBy Cynthia VinneyUpdated September 27, 2018Today's psychologists agree that personality can be described by five broad traits: openness toexperience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Together, thesetraits make up the five-factor model of personality known as the Big Five.Key Takeaways: Big Five Personality TraitsThe Big Five personality traits are openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion,agreeableness, and neuroticism. Each trait represents a continuum. Individuals can fallanywhere on the continuum for each trait. Evidence suggests that personality is highly stableduring adulthood, although small changes may be possible.Origin of the Big Five ModelThe Big Five, as well as other models that specify human personality traits, arises from thelexical hypothesis, which was first proposed by Francis Galton in the 1800s. The lexicalhypothesis states that every natural language contains all the personality descriptions that arerelevant and important to the speakers of that language.In 1936, pioneering psychologist Gordon Allport and his colleague Henry Odbert explored thishypothesis by going through an unabridged English dictionary and creating a list of 18,000words related to individual differences. Approximately 4,500 of those terms reflectedpersonality traits. This sprawling set of terms gave psychologists interested in the lexicalhypothesis a place to start, but it wasn't useful for research, so other scholars attempted tonarrow the set of words down.Eventually, in the 1940s, Raymond Cattell and his colleagues used statistical methods to reducethe list to a set of only 16 traits. Several additional scholars analyzed Cattell’s work, includingDonald Fiske in 1949, and they all came to a similar conclusion: the data contained a strong,stable set of five traits.However, it wasn't until the 1980s that the Big Five began to receive wider scholarly attention.Today, the Big Five is a ubiquitous part of psychology research, and psychologists largely agreethat personality can be grouped into the five basic traits specified by the Big Five.The Big Five TraitsEach Big Five trait represents a continuum. For example, the trait of extraversion’s opposite isintroversion. Together, extraversion and introversion make up opposing ends of a spectrum forthat Big Five trait. People can be very extraverted or very introverted, but most people will fallsomewhere in between the extremes of the spectrum.
It's also important to remember that each trait of the Big Five is very broad, representing a

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Term
Spring
Professor
AmyLau
Tags
Big Five personality traits, personality change, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, journal of personality, Handbook of Personality, Science of Personality Psychology

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