The Big Five are five traits that have surfaced repeatedly in factor analysis of personality measures. The five dimensions of the Big Five are openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Everyone supposedly carries an extent to all these dimensions but the amounts of each vary in different people. The Big Five appears in people's ratings of personality even when researchers ask participants to describe people they've only seen, not met. This shows that we judge the characteristics of a person based off of their behavior. This finding is important because it breaks down the human personality in a way so that one can see why a person acts the way they do. I took a little quiz online and these were my results.
You may have noticed in any of your classes the students who either are always the first ones to raise their hands whenever the teacher asks for volunteers and the ones who cringe and seek coverage, hiding behind their hands when the professor asks "who would like to share first?". Or even when you are out shopping with friends, and there is that one friend who must get everything in bright neon, colors and the other friend who would rather stick to the neutral-beige toned clothing.
The students who jump to the opportunity of sharing would have probably scored high on the "openess to experience" personality trait and that friend who refuses anything highlighter-yellow, green would probably score low on the "openess to experience" trait.
The "openess to experience" trait is just one of the personality traits of what psychologists call The Big Five, five traits that have surfaced repeatedly in factor analysis of personality measures. OCEAN is acronym that describes the five dimension of the the Big Five which, as defined by Paul Costa and Robert McCrae, are:
- Openess to Experience/Openess- open people tend to be intellectually curious and unconventional;
- Conscientiousness- conscientious people tend to be careful and responsible;
- Extraversion- extraverted people tend to be social and lively;
- Agreeableness- agreeable people tend to be sociable and easy to get along with; and
- Neuroticism- neurotic people tend to be tense and moody.
However, is there a reason why one person possess one trait more than another? Does genes have a role in someone's personality trait? Or can it be the environment of a person's upbringing that shapes and influences it? This brings up the never ending Nature-Nuture debate.
For those of us who are familiar with "The Simpsons", we can see how "nature" fails to be the sole factor when it comes to "The Big Five". For example, Lisa Simpson is very Conscientious because she sets goals, she is attentive to details, and she is very reliable. Her brother, Bart, by contrast, is very unreliable. He breaks his promises, doesn't follow rules, and so on. Biological siblings, same father and mother, who show to be quite opposites and are literally on opposite ends in terms of the "conscientiousness" scale. They also seem to be examples that contradict the "nurture" aspect as well; both grew up and live in the exact same environment, yet are very different in regards to their personalities.
So what makes a person the way they are? Why is that someone can be completely composed and calm in stressful situations where another person may have a complete break-down just at the thought of working in the busiest cafe that morning? We cannot assume that a person's genetics is the sole contributor or the way a person may have grown up to be the reason why they score high on the "neuroticism" trait. We can, for sure, state that each and everyone of us are different and The Big Five can only act as a model of the different personalities that we all carry in our selves.