Personality research aims to identifying differences between individuals. Personality researchers found that personality is made of stable and consistent dimensions that appear across time, contexts, social roles and in all cultures; though the culture does influence the level of expression of these dispositions. These dimensions were names the big 5. The constellation of the 5 dimensions influence how the individual perceives the world, behaves, feels, expresses oneself, adjusts and copes with life. The makeup of all 5 dimensions (e.g. considering all the scores from each continuum) represents the individuality of each person. Besides explaining individual differences in different situations, the big 5 may also help predict future behaviour, attitudes, decisions etc. Research found, for example, that the big 5 can predict work performance, psychological well- being, leadership qualities, nature of social relationships and more. The following will portray each dimension:
Openness characterizes a dimension in one’s personality which is open to the experiencing new experiences, skills, culture, interests, knowledge, art, science etc. Having high openness is linked with being intellectually curious, aesthetic, being creative, innovative, inquisitive, imaginative, resourceful, reflective, analytical, abstract and critical. High openness does not only imply the willingness to explore fresh ideas but also the keenness to reconsider and rethink existing and conventional social, ethical, political and religious values, norms and views. Individuals with low extraversion tend to shy away from anything new that might challenge them as it causes them severe discomfort. They have low intellectual curiosity, narrow interests, very conventional way of thinking and even cognitive inflexibility.
Conscientiousness specifies the individual’s extent of order, determination, purpose, hard-work, dependability and motivation in pursuit of goals and achievements. High consciousness is associated with being very dependable, ethical, persistent, loyal, honest, ambitious, determined, meticulous, logical, well-organized and dutiful( Seibert, & Kraimer,2001). A high score on the consciousness dimension tends to characterize very driven, ambitious, self-disciplined, impulse- inhibited, industrious individuals (Costa & McCrae, 1992 ;Chamorro-Premuzic & Furnham, 2006). Extreme consciousness could lead to compulsive behaviors, perfectionism and workaholic tendencies. Poor consciousness is seen in lower need of control, responsibility, order, achievement as well as reduced dependability, loyalty and moral principles.
Extraversion is associated with being out-going, extravert, impulsive and having a need to find stimulation and excitement from the environment and others( Costa & McCrae,1992). Personality traits that get associated with high extraversion are being at the centre of attention, talkative, assertive, cheerful, dominant, energetic, ambitious, adventurous, confident and pleasure seeking. Individuals who are high on the extraversion dimension tend to like being in groups, are frequently and positively socially active and emotionally expressive (Bono & Judge,2004). Individuals, who score low on this dimension are more reserved, low-key ,quiet, like spending time alone, are more introspective and independent.
Agreeableness considers the individuals interpersonal inclinations. High agreeableness is associated with traits such as being trusting, cooperative, altruistic, forgiving, caring, tolerant, flexible and kind. Individuals who have high agreeableness often believe in social harmony and the basic goodness of human beings. The low end of the dimension is associated with the pursuit of self- interests, manipulations, inflexibility, dishonesty, argumentativeness, suspiciousness and unkindness (Zhao & Seibert, 2006). Low scorers may believe that they are superior and all knowing in comparison to others. Whereas one prefers peacefulness, altruism, positive and valuable social relationships, the other extreme of the dimension is more negative, selfish, inconsiderate and the relationships are filled with hostility, control, indifference and conflicts.
Neuroticism represents the individual differences in ability to experience and regulate negative distressing emotions such as fear, anger, sadness, guilt, disgust and embarrassment (Costa & McCrae, 1992). In general, individuals who have high neuroticism tend to interpret even minor events as stressful, threatening, difficult or emotionally strenuous, which lead to the experience of more emotional distress, depression, anger, hostility, anxiety, stress, hopelessness and helplessness. High neuroticism also leads to self- criticism, low self -esteem, poor self-efficacy and somatisation. Highly neurotic individuals demonstrate poor coping, emotional regulation and few effective problem solving strategies (Bono& Judge, 2004; Judge, Higgins, Thoresen, & Barrick, 2006). People, who have low neuroticism are calmer, more self- assured, proactive in coping and regulate their negative emotions in a satisfactory manner, which promotes mental health.
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Zhao, H., & Seibert, S. E. (2006). The Big Five personality dimensions and entrepreneurial status: A meta-analytical review. Journal of Applied Psychology, 91(2), 259.