Toolbox | The Big 5

Posted by Laurel Leaside | Dec 30, 2017 | Toolbox | 0 |

The Tool


A theory has been put forward that there are five essential, core dimensions of personality that we all fit into- often referred to as The Big Five The basic personality traits of this model are Openness, Contentiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.

According to this theory, each of us will be differing variations of low and high in all of the major personality aspects. Every major trait then has two sub-aspects that create a vast continuum of possibility within personalities. So for example, if we took several people who were all very high in Openness, how that Openness was expressed would depend on how they related to Intellect and Creativity- so think the Scientist vs the Artist. Or we may have two individuals both high in Neuroticism at extreme ends of Volatility and Withdrawal; the first might be prone to screaming and throwing plates on a very bad day, while the latter is more likely going to shut down and go numb to the world.

OpennessIntellect vs Creativity on the high end of the spectrum and on the low-  Consistency vs Caution 

ContentiousnessOrderliness vs Industriousness on the high end of the spectrum and on the low- Easy-going vs Carelessness

ExtraversionEnthusiasm vs  Assertiveness on the high end of the spectrum and on the low- Reservation vs Passiveness

AgreeablenessCompassion vs Politeness on the high end of the spectrum and on the low- Irritability vs Challenge

NeuroticismVolatility vs Withdrawal on the high end of the spectrum and on the low- Security vs Calm

It is important to remember, none of the traits are by themselves good or bad. It is all about balance and the right application; a characteristic might be very advantageous in one circumstance and a detriment in another. That is why we advocate for self-understanding and mastery of many skills, so we have more options to act on desired outcomes. Agreeableness is probably our best example, while often perceived as a positive aspect there are situations where being high in this attribute might cause a lot of personal turmoil as well as being potentially detrimental to the fruition of a project.

While relatively new to me this is a psychiatric model that has been around for quite some time and seen many tweaks and revisions but largely stayed the same and is generally agreed to be a pretty sound model. Am I generalizing for the sake of simplicity? Yes! So please do dig deeper into all the history with it’s twists and turns if you want more.


Why I Like the Tool


I came across this tool fairly recently while listening to some Jordan Peterson philosophy lectures online. The mention was just referencing the concept briefly as part of a larger talk, I was intrigued and did a little digging of my own. Later on, I found a video where Peterson discussed a new online test that was recently released by his team and goes into a fair amount more detail.

Once I had considered the theory, and it’s application in my life, it became apparent that it was an excellent tool for comparing and contrasting myself with others (in a usefull way). Showing me why some I get along easily with and connect to some, why frictions might arise with others (and how that is not always a bad thing). It helped illuminate what comes very naturally and the directions I could stand to have some growth.

Like most typologies that are worth their salt, it is a fantastic way to ‘know thyself’ more thoroughly, which we here at Massive Phobia think is a great step in having more self-mastery, which leads to more ability to create the life you’d like to be living. I think that all the variations on this general model compliment nicely with some of my other favourites  (like Enneagram, soon to be added to the ol’ Toolbox)  and by employing multiple models we can more completely understand human psychology and how it relates to us. A good map is never the territory, but they certainly aid in your explorations of it!

Favourite Resources


I mentioned this video above as my personal  introduction. I think it is pretty concise and to the point so I am listing it first, I also really like the visual example that they use. If you want to go even deeper on the theory or really want to take the test and get the most you can from it,  give this one a listen too . Ps we are not affiliates, just fans;)

If you love visual learning I found a great many infographics and created a board about The Big Five  just for y’all on our Pinterest page; there were too many good ones to include just one!

Do you love to take tests to find out about yourself? There are a good many out there both free and paid for you to find. So far I took these two- Truity  and 123test, they were quick and easy and yielded similar results. I have yet to take the understand myself test one because you can only take it once (they score you with everyone else who has) and thus suggest you do it when you have the time and are pretty clear of mind (rest assured I will and a review to follow).

And if you are a little new to all of this and want a really comprehensive article about psychology and how The Big Five apply, check out this article


Please do check out our ever growing for more helpful ideas Toolbox


This post was created with the help of Grammarly.

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