Who Am I? The Big Five Personality Factors

Nothing is more fascinating or more terrifying than one’s own personality. People will never tire of thinking about themselves and how they compare to others. Many of my clients arrive at the first session ready to tell me that they are an ENTJ or an Eagle or some other string of capital letters or bird species which apparently defines their personality.

Most of the personality tests out there have very little evidence behind them. But there is one model of personality that has stood the test of time for 60 years and has been validated by numerous studies. Unlike the many personality tests, this is not a measure that companies pay for, but a model that researcher use: The Big Five.

The 5 in the Big Five refers to five dimensions of character traits. These traits are quite reliable over time, meaning that they are good for describing us throughout time. To remember the Big Five, just remember OCEAN:

Openness to Experience




Neuroticism/Emotional Stability


Here they are in a little detail:

Openness to experience

Curiosity and an appreciative of adventure, ideas and experiences. People high on this dimension can be creative or imaginative but may be at risk for drug addiction. People who are low on this dimension are often pragmatic (on the positive side) and closed minded (on the negative).


People high of this dimension think about the needs of their future self and of others. People low on this measure tend to cater to their present gratification, and may be good to their present self.


Extraverted people tend to be externally focused, gregarious and socially dominant. Introversion refers to self-containment and an inner focus.


The extent to which a person wishes to fit in with others, prioritise social harmony and foster interpersonal trust marks the agreeableness dimension. Disagreeableness means prioritising self, competitiveness and individuality.

Neuroticism/Emotional Stability

People high on emotional stability are generally unperturbed by difficult life circumstances. People who are high on neuroticism (the opposite of emotional stability) are more likely to experience mental health problems.

So, if you are wondering how to define your personality and how you differ from other, think about OCEAN, the Big Five.


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