The Big Five Personality Traits are the five dimensions of human personality that can be used to describe one’s character. They are very broad and each trait covers a vast area of personality features. The Big Five Factors of personality are: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism (Atkinson et.al., p. 437). Each of the factors has two “polarities”, and every person can be allocated somewhere in-between them.
Openness factor is used to define weather a person is curious and inventive, or rather consistent and cautious (Goldberg, 1993, p. 26). This factor also includes such traits as imagination, appreciation for art, one’s hobbies and interests, etc (Atkinson et.al., 2000, p. 437). This factor gives a possibility to distinguish creative people with imagination from the down-to-earth ones. As intellectuals often score high on this factor, it has also been called Intellect or Culture. But the scores one gets on this factor depend neither on one’s scores on intelligence tests nor on previous education and experience.
Scoring high in Openness means that a person is creative and curious. This is a great contribution to one’s performance at a workplace, especially in professions that require creativity. At the same time this employee will always be ready to learn new things and think of unconventional ways to cope with tasks. At the same time people that score low in openness will be steady devoted workers that respect work routine and strictly follow the rules.
This trait describes personalities in terms of efficiency and organization (Goldberg, 1993, p. 25). So people may vary from being efficient and organized to careless and easy-going. Those with high scores in prompt are fast and reliable (Atkinson et.al., 2000, p. 437). This factor describes a level at which a person can control his or her impulses. Thus it also defines one’s level of self-control, ability to plan and self-discipline. Thus a person that scored high in conscientiousness knows the result that has to be achieved and controls one’s impulses accordingly.
Although being impulsive can be fun and exciting in everyday life, work environment requires stability and ability to evaluate one’s opinions and actions. Those who score high in conscientiousness will be very successful through careful planning and persistence. Those with low scores, the impulsive ones, will not be able to concentrate on one task for a long time. Moreover, there is a danger of ruining business relationships because of one’s impulsive behavior.
This factor covers such personality traits as engagement with the external world, energy, positive emotions, talkativeness, and sociability. Those who score high in extraversion can be described as energetic and open, while people with low scores will be perceived as reserved and solidary (Atkinson et.al., 2000, p. 437). Extraverts get new energy from interaction with other people, while introverts – from being alone In the work environment this factor will rather influence personal relationships than the way extroverts and introverts complete their tasks, although extroverts are more action-oriented.
Those who score high in agreeableness are friendly, compassionate, and cooperative. People with low scores are usually more distant, cold or even unkind (Atkinson et.al., 2000, p. 437). Those with high score also value the ability to easily get along with others and generally believe in positive human nature. These people re even ready to compromise own interests for the sake of others. While those who score low in agreeableness (the disagreeable people) usually think that their opinions are more important than of others.
At a workplace agreeable people are more popular than the disagreeable ones. They maintain positive atmosphere at a workplace. Moreover, the agreeable type will be more interested in seeking compromise and a best solution for a problem (Goldberg, 1993, p. 28). At the same time it will be extremely complicated to argue with the disagreeable person. Those who score low in agreeableness will not be liked as bosses as well, as they will limit initiative of employees and support only their own ideas.
Neuroticism is the factor that can distinguish sensitive and nervous people from secure and confident ones (Atkinson et.al., 2000, p. 437). Those scoring high in neuroticism tend to easily experience unpleasant emotions, such as anger or depression and are generally emotionally unstable. This can also influence the atmosphere at work, as people who score high in neuroticism will not only get in a bad mood easily, but will as well impose it on colleagues.
The Big Five personality traits not only describe some basic personality features of people, but also is able to define the behavior and reactions of these people at a workplace. Thus it is essential to conduct personality tests in order to avoid unpleasant surprises when it comes to the actual work.