Big Five: Introduction
The Big Five model refers to five personality dimensions, which define human nature and account for an individual’s behavior and cognition. Note that the study of personality traits is a leading research topic in psychology; with Gordon Allport’s Trait Theory (Allport and Odbert, 1936), Raymond Cattell’s 16 Personality Factors (Raymond Catell, 1957), and Lewis Goldberg’s Five Factor Model (Goldberg, 1990) defined as major foundations in trait theory.
The Big Five personality traits are categorized as openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism:
- Openness to experience, as a personality trait, features characteristics, such as receptivity to new ideas and imagination. People with high levels of openness reveal robust levels of creativity and abstract thinking. Those who score low tend to be analytical and rigid.
- Conscientiousness refers to characteristics, such as goal-directed behavior, thoughtfulness, and impulse control. People with high levels of conscientiousness are considerate, organized, and self-aware individuals. Those who score low in conscientiousness act on impulse and may procrastinate on important tasks.
- Extraversion is characterized by high levels of emotional expressiveness, sociability, and assertiveness. People high in this trait are impulsive and social individuals. People low in extraversion, known as introverts, prefer solitude and avoid small talk.
- Agreeableness is characterized by attributes, such as kindness, affection, and trustworthiness. People who score high in this trait are very cooperative and empathetic. In contrast, those low in agreeableness often act competitively.
- Neuroticism features characteristic traits, such as emotional instability and sadness. People who score high in neuroticism may suffer from anxiety, mood swings, and depression. Those low in this trait tend to be more resilient and emotionally stable.
Thus, the Big Five personality test is a powerful tool to assess an individual’s personality traits. The test is a computer-based task, implemented into the PEBL (Psychology Experiment Building Language) system.
The Big Five is a valid computerized tool. It includes 50 questions that measure openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism, with 10 questions for each trait. Participants are asked to answer a set of questions with regard to their personality characteristics. To set an example, the test includes statements, such as “I worry about things,” “I feel comfortable around people,” “I feel I am better than other people,” “I am interested in the meaning of things” and “I get chores done right away.” Each statement includes a five-point Likert scale, ranging from “Very inaccurate” to “Very accurate.” One question is displayed at a time. Participants are asked to answer truthfully, without skipping questions or going back.
The Big Five Personality Traits and their Relation to Internet Addiction
Kayis et al. (2016) performed a meta-analysis to find a relation between the Big Five personality traits and internet addiction. The research team evaluated 12 studies and found that all five personality traits were closely related to internet addiction. Nevertheless, only neuroticism revealed a positive correlation with internet addiction. Consequently, people high in neuroticism are more likely to develop internet addiction disorders.
The Big Five and People’s Uses of Music
Chamorro-Premuzic & Furham (2007) evaluated the association between the Big Five personality traits and music uses. The sample consisted of 341 participants, 241 women and 100 men, between the ages of 17 and 41. Note that the research team conducted their study in a large theatre hall with invigilators monitoring the participants. Results indicated that introverted, neurotic, and non-conscientious individuals were more likely to use music in an emotional way to alleviate sadness or anxiety. In contrast, those high in traits, such as openness, used music in a cognitive and rational way.
The Relation between the Big Five Personality Traits and Work Involvement
Bozionelos (2004) studied the relationship between the Big Five of personality and work involvement. The sample (n=279) consisted of white-collar workers employed in a full-time capacity. Data analyses indicated a weak relation between work involvement and the Big Five of personality. Interestingly, agreeableness and work involvement was negatively related; individuals with high agreeableness scores expressed lower work involvement.
Assessing the Relationship between Facebook Usage and the Big Five Personality Traits
Ryan & Xenos (2011) studied the influence of the Big Five personality traits on social media usage and Facebook, in particular. The sample consisted of 1324 participants (1158 Facebook users and 166 non-users), between the ages of 18 and 44. The study team found that people high in extraversion were more likely to be Facebook users, whereas those high in conscientiousness were more likely to be social media non-users.
The Link between the Big Five Personality Traits and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms
Nigg et al. (2002) examined the Big Five personality traits in adulthood and Attention- Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) symptoms recalled from childhood. The sample consisted of a total of 1620 participants from six different pools; Michigan undergraduates, Denver undergraduates, Michigan parents, Denver parents, Bay Area parents, and Michigan young adults with AD/HD. Self-reports and spousal reports were also collected. Results indicated that AD/HD symptoms were related to three of the Big Five dimensions: low agreeableness, low conscientiousness, and high neuroticism.
The Big Five personality trait test includes 50 questions based on a five-point Likert scale. The test is a prominent tool, with numerous benefits across a wide range of settings and populations.
Interestingly, Alansari (2016) found a significant difference between males (n=305) and females (n=380) in Kuwait. While males obtained high scores on extraversion and conscientiousness, females scored high on neuroticism on the Arabic version of the Big Five Inventory.
The Big Five is a popular instrument globally, with numerous revised versions.
Yet, evidence shows that when it comes to cross-cultural translation, validity and reliability tests should also be performed due to cultural differences. To set an example, Hee (2014) recruited 343 nurses and examined the validity and reliability of the Big Five scale in Malaysia. Although pilot results revealed high internal reliability, the team extracted only four factors (extraversion, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness to experience), ranging from 0.573 to 0.803.
Convergent validity: Short versions, such as the Big Five Inventory-10, correlate well with measures for subjective well-being, affect, satisfaction, and happiness (Balgiu, 2018).
Internal consistency: The test is highly reliable. The Arabic version of the Big Five Inventory, for instance, reveals high internal consistency for neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness; with Cronbach’s alpha = 0.83, 0.82, 0.79, 0.82, 0.90, respectively, for males, and Cronbach’s alpha = 0.74, 0.83, 0.85, 0.81, 0.92 for females.
Strengths and Limitations
The Big Five personality test is a powerful tool used to assess an individual’s personality. As the broad dimensions of the Big Five encompass numerous personality traits, the test has several applications in personality psychology, addiction, and business. In addition, the Big Five personality test is an easy to perform task, with a five-point Likert scale.
The biggest limitation of the Big Five personality test is its subjective nature which can lead to social desirability bias. Thus, the test can be used in combination with other measurements.
Summary & Key Points
- The Big Five refers to five basic dimensions of personality, categorized as openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.
- The Big Five personality test is a computer-based tool integrated into the PEBL system.
- The test includes 50 questions (with a prompt followed by a statement) with answers based on a 5-point Likert scale (ranging from “Very inaccurate” to “Very accurate”).
- The test has a wide range of applications in the field of personality psychology, such as assessing internet addiction, music uses, and monitoring work involvement. However, researchers should consider the risk of social desirability bias.
- The Big Five is one of the most popular instruments in psychology worldwide.
- Alansari, B. (2016). The Big Five Inventory (BFI): Reliability and validity of its Arabic translation in non clinical sample. European Psychiatry, 3.
- Allport, G., & Odbert, H. (1936). Trait-names: A psycho-lexical study. Psychological Monographs,
- Balgiu, B. (2018). The psychometric properties of the Big Five inventory-10 (BFI-10) including correlations with subjective and psychological well-being. Global Journal of Psychology Research: New Trends and Issues, 8 (2).
- Bozionelos, N. (2004). The big five of personality and work involvement. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 19(1), 69-81.
- Cattell, R. (1957). Personality and motivation structure and measurement. Yonkers-on-Hudson, NY: World Book.
- Chamorro-Premuzic, T., & Furnham, A. (2007). Personality and music: Can traits explain how people use music in everyday life? British Journal of Psychology, 98(2), 175-185.
- Goldberg, L. (1990). An alternative “description of personality”: The Big-Five factor structure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59(6), 1216-1229.
- Hee, O. (2014). Validity and Reliability of the Big Five Personality Traits Scale in Malaysia. International Journal of Innovation and Applied Studies, 5 (4).
- Kayiş, A. R., Satici, S. A., Yilmaz, M. F., Şimşek, D., Ceyhan, E., & Bakioğlu, F. (2016). Big five-personality trait and internet addiction: A meta-analytic review. Computers in Human Behavior, 63, 35-40.
- Nigg, J. , John, O., Blaskey, L., Huang-Pollock, C., Willcutt, E., Hinshaw, S., & Pennington, B. (2002). Big Five dimensions and ADHD symptoms: Links between personality traits and clinical symptoms. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83(2), 451-469.
- Ryan, T., & Xenos, S. (2011). Who uses Facebook? An investigation into the relationship between the Big Five, shyness, narcissism, loneliness, and Facebook usage. Computers in Human Behavior, 27(5), 1658-1664.