The Big Five Personality Types, also referred to as the Five Factor Model attempts to assess, define, measure, and describe human personality. There have been many theories proposed out there to describe personality and try to understand human behavior. This is the most widely accepted, though there are still studies being done to understand it more.

The premise of the Big Five personality types is that there are wide variations of personality traits, but all of those can be broken down into five components. These five components are measured and the results are used to describe a person’s personality. Since the traits are measured on a spectrum, having more or less of each trait will mean you will exhibit certain behaviors. Below is a list of the five personality traits and their descriptions.

Five personality traits.

1. Extraversion.

This trait is characterized by being sociable, talkative, assertive, and energized by being around people. Someone high in extroversion likes being the center of attention and has no problems meeting new people and starting conversations. These are your loud, life-of-the-party people.

If someone scores low on extraversion, it means they are more introverted. This means that they do not particularly like being at social gatherings, and they struggle to be sociable for long periods as social events can be draining instead of energizing. These people are more reserved, and thoughtful about what they say and need solitude to be recharged.

2. Agreeableness.

This trait describes the extent to which a person exhibits pro-social behavior. Those high on agreeableness are empathetic, compassionate, show kindness, and trust people easily. Their behavior means that they are considerate and always willing to help others. This makes them easy to work with, reliable and trustworthy.

Those who score low on agreeableness can be described as anti-social. They are not concerned about others and they are self-focused to the point of being manipulative. These people are usually competitive, skeptical, insensitive, and unpleasant to be around. Some become bullies as they try to assert their feeling of self-importance.

3. Conscientiousness.

When someone has a high score on conscientiousness it means they are goal driven and organized. This is someone responsible, reliable, and pays attention to details. This trait is associated with people who are quite smart and keep everything organized and in its place. When it comes to goals and deadlines, they can be relied on to deliver promptly. They work well with structured and well-defined schedules. They plan everything well in advance.

On the other hand, those who are low in conscientiousness live a life that is not structured or planned. They tend to go with the flow and are more flexible. These people struggle with structure, even to the extent of missing deadlines as they procrastinate a lot. They can lack discipline and can be impulsive. There is little to no planning of future events, they are spontaneous.

4. Neuroticism.

Neuroticism is characterized by emotional instability. Those who are high on the neuroticism trait are prone to moodiness, sadness, anxiety, depression, and irritability.

These people buckle under pressure, they have a hard time regulating their emotions hence they can struggle with anger issues, temper outbursts, and drastic shifts in their mood. Being high on neuroticism also means that the person is more likely to be diagnosed with mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.

Those who score low are more emotionally sound and can handle stress and pressure. These people are resilient and can function well in high-pressure jobs. They are less likely to suffer from mental health issues like depression and anxiety.

5. Openness.

The last of the five personality types is openness. Scoring high on the openness trait spectrum means one is an avid learner who is curious about new things, places, and people. This person is creative and they do not have linear black-and-white thinking. They live a life that is adventurous and filled with new experiences. They despise traditional, rigid thinking, and they question the status quo.

Those who score low on openness are more traditional. Their world is governed by rules and regulations that should not be broken. These people are not open to change or any new ideas. Their lives are lived in the safety of certainty and well-defined boundaries. These people also lack imagination and creativity.

What influences our personality?

With the list of the Big Five Personality traits, it is important to know that we all possess each of those at varying degrees, however, we have a more dominant one, which can be used to classify us. Most people have asked if we are doomed to the traits that we have. Can someone’s personality change, and if so how? For us to answer that we must start by discussing what influences our personality in the first place.

There are many schools of thought when it comes to what informs who we grow up to be. Below are some factors that influence our personality:

Biological factors.

Biological factors that influence personality are varied. Who we develop to be can be inherited or biologically determined. Genetic predispositions like the color of our skin, our height, and our proneness to mental health disorders can have a huge effect on our personalities.

When looking at biological factors, however, it is important to note that they rely heavily on other environmental factors to shape one’s personality, like how society reacts to the color of your skin or your weight.


Just as we do not choose who gives birth to us, we also do not choose which culture we are born into. Culture refers to the shared social norms, beliefs, habits, and rituals that a group of people shares. The conditioning brought about by the adherence to these shared ways of life impact personality development.

Culture regulates what is acceptable and what is not, thus in this way, through socialization, culture shapes a person’s perception of self, the greater world, and their role in society. When one grows up in traditional cultures that place value on obedience and conformity, one might grow up to be more quiet, reserved, and shy. Whereas someone growing up in a liberal society will tend to be more assertive, expressive, and confident.

Family life.

The family is a child’s first immediate environment. This is where they start their life and who they will become in life is heavily influenced by their home atmosphere.

If a child grows up in a loving, affirming, easy-going home, they are most likely to grow up to be confident, self-aware, and assertive with the ability to trust easily. Children brought up in authoritarian homes, where there are many restrictions and little room for self-expression grow up to be shy, less confident, anxious, and easily embarrassed.

It is important to note that parenting styles are also heavily informed by culture. This means that those who raise their children in collective cultures, their children will grow up seeking social harmony and interdependence. Those raising their children in individualistic environments will raise children who are self-reliant, assertive, and independent.

Consider the question asked earlier if we are indeed doomed to the personality we have grown to have. It has been argued that some people can change their personality due to many factors. This can include, for example, someone becoming more mild-mannered in their old age, or those who become more open in their thinking because of education.

How we can help.

Understanding one’s personality types can be informative and empowering. We are living in a world that needs us to know how to handle ourselves and those around us, and we can only do so if we understand our strengths and how to leverage them.

If you want to learn more about your personality and get tested to determine where you fall, we have trained therapists that can run those tests for you. Connect with our office for help understanding how the personality types relate to you.

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