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Marilyn Minton

Previous trait theorists had suggested a various number of possible traits,
including Gordon Allport's list of 4,000 personality traits, Raymond Cattell's 16
personality factors and Hans Eysenck's three-factor theory. (Cherry) On going
Arguments of whether these theories were either not wide enough or too complicated
continued to arise. Finally the five-factor theory came about. This theory explains five
different factors for the framework of different types of personalities. The five different
factors include extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness.
These are not types of personalities, but dimensions of personality. So
someones personality is the combination of each of their Big Five personality
characteristics.(Rentfrow) Because of different cultures, societies, and genetic coding of
each individual, we as human beings all differ in our personality. Not one person can
have the exact same outlook and opinion on certain things as another person. This makes
it difficult to determine which personality traits we acquire. This theory helps individuals
to understand themselves as well as others. A considerable amount of research suggests
that personality is stable throughout life and associated with a range of important life
outcomes, from academic and occupational success, to marital stability and physical
Although there are many more types of personalities, relating to this theory there
are five major ones. The first one is extraversion. Having an extravert personality states
that one is open to new people and not afraid to be the center of attention. The second
trait is Agreeableness. This relates to your level of friendliness and kindness. (Rentfow)

Marilyn Minton
The third is Conscientiousness. Whether one likes to keep their clothes folded in the
closet, or maybe they enjoy staying at work for late hours, both of these actions would
describe a Conscientiousness personality. Emotional stability/Neuroticism is the fourth
trait. When there is a traumatic event in life, some react in a very loud and noticeable
way. Others react with calmness and tranquility; these actions describe one as being
emotionally stable. (Rentfrow) The last personality trait is intellect. Whether it may be
satisfying a curiosity or simply enjoying painting or drawing, both of these actions relate
to intellect.
The Big Five personality dimensions provide a very broad overview of
someones personality. Of course, there is much more to personality than someones
scores on just these five dimensions. (Rentfrow) Many personalities do not only include
one of two of these factors but could possibly have numerous ones. For example, if a
middle-aged adult is very intellectual and strict in the workplace, they may be very
extraverted and open to new things outside of the work place. The five-factor model
emerged from analyses of rating scales that required measured judgments of others; for
example, to what degree is person X fearful, sympathetic, etc. Inventories typically ask
for reports of behaviors ("I tend to avoid parties"). (Digman) Because people can be
high or low on each of the Big Five dimensions, when we combine the different possible
combinations, we end up with 45 personality facets from which we can compute Big Five
personality scores.(Rentfrow) The Big Five personality theory is clearly limited in the
different abstract ways individuals act. Although this theory in helpful in determining

Marilyn Minton
types of personalities, individuals will not be able to truly identify with another through
these narrow traits.

Cherry, K. (n.d.). The big five personality dimensions. Retrieved from
Digman, John M. 1990. Personality structure: Emergence of the five-factor
model. Annual Review of Psychology 41.1: 417440.
Rentfrow, J. (n.d.). The big 5 model of personality. Retrieved from