The Big Five Personality Traits


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The Big Five Personality Traits

The Big five personality traits are not personality types. Rather, these are dimensions of personality. This means that the personality of each person is a combination of the big five personality traits. These traits vary in different individuals; this is why different people respond differently to situations. The variance in performance levels of different individuals can also be explained by the varying levels of these five personality traits. This essay will focus on the Big five personality traits and their effects on the performance of different people. This will provide an explanation, basing on these five personality traits, as to why individuals have different performance capabilities in different types of tasks.

Different psychology researchers arrived at the big five personality traits after conducting different cross-cultural, empirical, and data-driven studies on this topic. The Big five personality traits are Openness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, Neuroticism, and Conscientiousness. People high in openness like to learn new things and experience challenging situations. The elements of openness include imaginativeness and insightfulness. People who score high on conscientiousness portray aspects of reliability and promptness. In addition, they also are organized and thorough in their doings. Those who score high on agreeableness tend to be friendly, compassionate, and highly cooperative. They also exhibit elements of sympathy, kindness, and affection. On the other hand, individuals who rank high on extraversion are extraverts who like interacting with different people. These are also full of energy and assertive. The opposite of extroverts are introverts, who score low on extroversion, and are draw their energy from within themselves, and not in social interactions. Finally, neuroticism, also called emotional stability, is associated with a person’s emotional stability and capability of negative emotions. Individuals who rank high on this are generally emotionally unstable and insecure. They also tend to be moody and anxious most of the times (McCrae & Costa, 1997).

These personality traits influence an individual’s performance in different tasks, since they determine the motivational levels of individuals. In real life, this model of big five personality traits is highly employed in companies during the process of hiring. This is because these underlying personality traits comprise the overall personality of individuals. Both academic performance and job performance are influenced by these traits (Buss, 1995).

High conscientiousness influences positive performance in both academics and job, as it boosts personal motivation. This is the only trait believed to match a variety of jobs. High neuroticism negatively affects job and academic performance, as emotional instability leads to demotivation. Individuals showing high agreeability perform well in teamwork, as they portray high interpersonal skills due to their friendly and accommodative nature. The trait of openness makes individuals perform well in hard tasks that require creativity, since such individuals are highly curious and open to challenges. Finally, those individuals with high level of extraversion are excellent performers in social jobs involving social interactions on different levels. These personality traits are therefore important as they make us understand why some people are well suited for specific jobs and not others, or why students perform well in specific subjects, and not all. It is therefore important that each person undertake a personality test to determine their traits, as this might help them choose appropriate carriers and guide them in their social relationships, since they will understand themselves better.



Buss, M. (1995). “Evolutionary psychology: A new paradigm for psychological science.”

Psychological Inquiry, 6, 1-31.

McCrae, R., & Costa, T. (1997) “Personality trait structure as a human universal.” American

Psychologist, 52, 509-516.

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