1. Openness to experience
Openness is a general appreciation for art, emotion, adventure, unusual ideas, imagination, curiosity, and variety of experience. People who are open to experience are intellectually curious, open to emotion, sensitive to beauty and willing to try new things. They tend to be, when compared to closed people, more creative and more aware of their feelings. They are also more likely to hold unconventional beliefs. Another characteristic of the open cognitive style is a facility for thinking in symbols and abstractions far removed from concrete experience. People with low scores on openness tend to have more conventional, traditional interests. They prefer the plain, straightforward, and obvious over the complex, ambiguous, and subtle. They may regard the arts and sciences with suspicion or view these endeavours as uninteresting. Closed people prefer familiarity over novelty; they are conservative and resistant to change. Sample items
I have a rich vocabulary.
I have a vivid imagination.
I have excellent ideas.
I am quick to understand things.
I have difficulty understanding abstract ideas. (reversed)
I do not have a good imagination. (reversed)
I am not interested in abstractions. (reversed)
Conscientiousness is a tendency to show self-discipline, act dutifully, and aim for achievement against measures or outside expectations. It is related to the way in which people control, regulate, and direct their impulses. High scores on conscientiousness indicate a preference for planned rather than spontaneous behaviour. The average level of conscientiousness rises among young adults and then declines among older adults. Sample items
I am always prepared.
I pay attention to details.
I get chores done right away.
I leave my belongings around. (reversed)
I make a mess of things. (reversed)
I often forget to put things back in their proper place. (reversed)
I shirk my duties. (reversed)
Extraversion is characterized by breadth of activities (as opposed to depth), surgency from external activity/situations, and energy creation from external means. The trait is marked by pronounced engagement with the external world. Extraverts enjoy interacting with people, and are often perceived as full of energy. They tend to be enthusiastic, action-oriented individuals. They possess high group visibility, like to talk, and assert themselves. Introverts have lower social engagement and energy levels than extraverts. They tend to seem quiet, low-key, deliberate, and less involved in the social world. Their lack of social involvement should not be interpreted as shyness or depression; instead they are more independent of their social world than extraverts. Introverts need less stimulation than extraverts and more time alone. This does not mean that they are unfriendly or antisocial; rather, they are reserved in social situations. Sample items
I don’t mind being the center of attention.
I feel comfortable around people.
I start conversations.
I don’t talk a lot. (reversed)
I don’t like to draw attention to myself. (reversed)
I am quiet around strangers. (reversed)
I have no intention of talking in large crowds. (reversed)
The agreeableness trait reflects individual differences in general concern for social harmony. Agreeable individuals’ value getting along with others. They are generally considerate, kind, generous, trusting and trustworthy, helpful, and willing to compromise their interests with others. Agreeable people also have an optimistic view of human nature. Agreeableness also positively predicts transformational leadership skills. Leaders with high levels of agreeableness were more likely to be considered transformational rather than transactional. Disagreeable individuals place self-interest above getting along with others. They are generally unconcerned with others’ well-being, and are less likely to extend themselves for other people. Sometimes their scepticism about others’ motives causes them to be suspicious, unfriendly, and uncooperative. Sample items
I sympathize with others’ feelings.
I take time out for others.
I feel others’ emotions.
I make people feel at ease.
I am not really interested in others. (reversed)
I am not interested in other people’s problems. (reversed)
I feel little concern for others. (reversed)
Neuroticism is the tendency to experience negative emotions, such as anger, anxiety, or depression. It is sometimes called emotional instability, or is reversed and referred to as emotional stability. Those who score high in neuroticism are emotionally reactive and vulnerable to stress. They are more likely to interpret ordinary situations as threatening, and minor frustrations as hopelessly difficult. Their negative emotional reactions tend to persist for unusually long periods of time, which means they are often in a bad mood. For instance, neuroticism is connected to a pessimistic approach toward work, confidence that work impedes personal relationships, and apparent anxiety linked with work. Furthermore, those who score high on neuroticism may display more skin conductance reactivity than those who score low on neuroticism. Lacking contentment in one’s life achievements can correlate with high neuroticism scores and increase one’s likelihood of falling into clinical depression. Individuals high on neuroticism tend to experience more negative life events, but neuroticism also changes in response to positive and negative life experiences. Sample items
I am easily disturbed.
I change my mood a lot.
I have frequent mood swings.
I worry about things.
I am much more anxious than most people.
I am relaxed most of the time. (reversed)
I seldom feel blue. (reversed)