The Big Five Personality Traits: Five Strong Arguments for Their Adoption

By  //  October 1, 2023

During the 1980s, a significant personality theory emerged known as the Big Five model. This theory suggests that human personality can be delineated by five core traits, each spanning a spectrum encompassing opposing characteristics.

These traits are Neuroticism (ranging from anxiety and volatility to emotional stability and confidence), Conscientiousness (spanning from persistence and responsibility to sloppiness and laziness), Agreeableness (encompassing friendliness and empathy versus hostility and insolence), Openness to experience (ranging from creativity and curiosity to intolerance and rigidity), and Extroversion (covering assertiveness and urgency versus introversion and shyness). There is a growing consensus that the Big Five model provides a far more accurate comprehension of individuals’ personalities and a broader range of life outcomes compared to popular alternatives like the Myers-Briggs (MBTI) and Enneagram tests. Big 5 test can be taken for free on the Psyculator platform. In this article, we explore five compelling reasons why adopting the Big Five personality model can prove advantageous for you.

1. Advancing with Science

Unlike the MBTI and Enneagram, which originated from untested philosophies rather than rigorous observations of people, the Big Five personality traits and their associated theories were developed through meticulous and scientific observation. While Carl Jung, the psychologist who inspired the MBTI, relied on a psychoanalytical approach and created a personality system based on his assumptions about human nature without subjecting them to empirical testing, the researchers behind the Big Five followed a different path. They allowed empirical data to guide their understanding of personality structure. Some of the earliest studies in this field explored the lexical hypothesis, suggesting that if discernible characteristics exist on which individuals vary, and understanding these distinctions is crucial for interacting with people, then every culture should have developed language to describe these traits. In the English language alone, approximately 4,500 words are dedicated to describing personality traits, representing consistent patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Researchers analyzed self-assessments and assessments of others on these traits using factor analysis, a statistical technique grouping characteristics based on strong associations. This led to the identification of five major clusters of interrelated traits that effectively capture most individual differences, followed by the development and testing of theories to explain these traits’ origins.

  1. Continuums are better than Categories 

Unlike the MBTI and Enneagram, which assign personality types as discrete categories, the Big Five assesses personality as a set of traits graded along a continuum from low to high. Psychologists prefer traits over types for several reasons. Types often encompass multiple traits within a single category, resulting in overlap among personality types, allowing individuals to identify with multiple types. Moreover, type-based approaches tend to categorize individuals into extremes, whereas human qualities are better described as falling along a continuum, with most individuals situated somewhere in the middle. The Big Five’s measurement method employs questions with sliding scales, eschewing forced-choice formats.

3.Depicting Your Personal Growth

Using a personality type framework makes it challenging, if not impossible, to quantify and track changes in personality over different periods. When reflecting on oneself from 5, 10, or 20 years ago, one can identify various ways in which they have evolved, ranging from subtle shifts to significant transformations. Research supports these anecdotal observations, showing that, in addition to individualized changes, humans tend to undergo similar transformations as they age. The ability of personality types to account for these meaningful changes is questionable. For example, someone identified as an INTJ in 2004 might have evolved significantly over 15 years, but retaking the MBTI test may or may not reflect these changes, as the MBTI assigns a type based on where one falls in various personality spectrums.

4.Predicting Life Outcomes with your Personality Score 

If personality shapes one’s approach to the world, it should logically influence their choices and impact various aspects of their life. The Big Five personality traits have consistently demonstrated their ability to predict various life outcomes, including life satisfaction, academic performance, job performance and satisfaction, relationship satisfaction, divorce likelihood, physical health, health-related behaviors, and even life expectancy. These correlations persist even after accounting for factors such as intelligence, socioeconomic status, and other critical variables.

5.More Than Just Money Matters

Critics often point to the high cost associated with systems like the MBTI, Enneagram, DISC, and other commercially available assessments. The Enneagram offers a relatively affordable option at approximately $10, but taking the MBTI online via their website can cost around $50 or more. In contrast, while pay-to-access Big Five tests like the NEO inventories exist, most are freely available on the internet for researchers and the general public. Many personality psychologists advocate for openness and transparency in their research, including providing assessment tools to the public without cost.”