The big five personality traits are the best accepted and most commonly used model of personality in academic psychology. The big five come from the statistical study of responses to personality items. Using a technique called factor analysis researchers can look at the responses of people to hundreds of personality items and ask the question “what is the best was to summarize an individual?”. This has been done with many samples from all over the world and the general result is that, while there seem to be unlimited personality variables, five stand out from the pack in terms of explaining a lot of a persons answers to questions about their personality: extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness and openness to experience. The big-five are not associated with any particular test, a variety of measures have been developed to measure them. __ OpenPsychometrics (Click link to take test)
More on the Big Five Traits (Source)
Openness to Experience
Openness to experience has been described as the depth and complexity of an individual’s mental life and experiences (John & Srivastava, 1999). It is also sometimes called intellect or imagination. Openness to experience concerns an individual’s willingness to try to new things, to be vulnerable, and the ability to think outside the box.
Conscientiousness is a trait that can be described as the tendency to control impulses and act in socially acceptable ways, behaviors that facilitate goal-directed behavior (John & Srivastava, 1999). Conscientious people excel in their ability to delay gratification, work within the rules, and plan and organize effectively.
This factor has two familiar ends of the spectrum: extroversion and introversion. It concerns where an individual draws their energy and how they interact with others. In general, extroverts draw energy or “recharge” from interacting with others, while introverts get tired from interacting with others and replenish their energy from solitude.
This factor concerns how well people get along with others. While extroversion concerns sources of energy and the pursuit of interactions with others, agreeableness concerns your orientation to others. It is a construct that rests on how you generally interact with others.
Neuroticism is the one Big Five factor in which a high score indicates more negative traits. Neuroticism is not a factor of meanness or incompetence, but one of confidence and being comfortable in one’s own skin. It encompasses one’s emotional stability and general temper.
Heritability of Big 5 Personality Traits
Genetically informative research, including twin studies, suggest that heritability and environmental factors both influence all five factors to the same degree. Among four recent twin studies, the mean percentage for heritability was calculated for each personality and it was concluded that heritability influenced the five factors broadly. The self-report measures were as follows: openness to experience was estimated to have a 57% genetic influence, extraversion 54%, conscientiousness 49%, neuroticism 48%, and agreeableness 42%. __ Wikipedia Big Five Personality Traits
While the heritability measures for the big five traits are not as high as heritability measures for IQ (80% in adulthood), the 57% heritability estimate for “openness” is reasonably close. The “openness” trait is sometimes described as “intellect.”
…. research has linked openness to experience to broad intellectual skills and knowledge and may tend to increase with age (Schretlen, van der Hulst, Pearlson, & Gordon, 2010). This indicates that openness to experience leads to gains in knowledge and skills, and naturally increases as a person ages and has more experiences to learn from.
Not only has openness been linked to knowledge and skills, it was also found to correlate with creativity, originality, and a tendency to explore their inner selves with a therapist or psychiatrist, and negatively related to conservative political attitudes (Soldz & Vaillant, 1999). Not only was openness found to correlate with many traits over time, it was also found to be extremely stable over time – one study explored trait stability over 45 years (Soldz & Vaillant, 1999), and found a relatively strong and significant correlation between the two times of measurement! ___ https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/big-five-personality-theory/
This is an interesting parallel between “openness” and “intelligence” since the Big Five Trait tests and IQ tests are quite different sorts of tests.
The “conscientiousness” trait seems to be a good parallel to the “executive function” concept. Executive function is better fitted to neurologic function (pre-frontal lobes of the brain) but has not been validated in testing as well as “conscientiousness.”
This research article helps to clarify relationships between some specific neurological functions of the brain and the personality traits of conscientiousness and neuroticism.
Gender Differences in Big 5
There are distinct gender differences in the big five personality traits, which help to partially explain why women do not earn as much income as men on average. They may also help explain why there are far fewer female leaders and explorers at elite levels in the most difficult fields of knowledge and skill.
This is not an indication of superiority or inferiority of either sex, rather it suggests that men and women evolved along parallel paths to possess slightly different sets of attributes — on average.
Big Five is a Good Place to Start
We cannot learn everything important about a person by just looking at five personality traits. But we can learn a great deal, much of which is of critical importance. Given the simplicity of test-taking and scoring, and given the demonstrated validity of the test — and consistency of scores over time — anyone setting out to learn more about what makes himself tick may wish to take the big 5 personality trait exam to provide a baseline.
After digesting that information (perhaps after taking 3 or 4 different tests), take a look at the self-authoring software by Jordan Peterson. These programs will help you understand how your personality strengths and weaknesses have combined to create your life, and how you can come to terms with your personality and begin to shape your future, taking into account the things you can change for the better.
I am still in the early days of exploring this area of science-based self help, but from what I have seen so far it seems worth exploring.
Don’t be discouraged by what you learn about yourself as you set out. It is the potential to change things for the better which should excite you.