Five strong reasons to use the big five model of personality

In the 1980s, a significant personality theory called the Big Five model emerged. This theory suggests that human personality can be described using five core traits, each covering a range of opposing characteristics. These traits are Neuroticism (from anxiety and volatility to emotional stability and confidence), Conscientiousness (from persistence and responsibility to sloppiness and laziness), Agreeableness (from friendliness and empathy to hostility and insolence), Openness to experience (from creativity and curiosity to intolerance and rigidity), and Extroversion (from assertiveness and urgency to introversion and shyness). Many believe that the Big Five model offers a more accurate understanding of people’s personalities and a wider range of life outcomes compared to popular alternatives like the Myers-Briggs (MBTI) and Enneagram tests. You can take the Big 5 personality test for free on the Psyculator platform. In this article, we explore five strong reasons why adopting the Big Five personality model can be beneficial for you.

1.Supported by scientific research
Unlike the MBTI and Enneagram, which are based on untested philosophies rather than careful observations of people, the Big Five personality traits and their associated theories were developed through meticulous scientific observation. While Carl Jung, the psychologist who inspired the MBTI, relied on a psychoanalytical approach and created a personality system based on his assumptions about human nature without subjecting them to empirical testing, the researchers behind the Big Five took a different approach. They let empirical data guide their understanding of personality structure. Some of the earliest studies in this field explored the lexical hypothesis, suggesting that if there are noticeable characteristics on which individuals vary, and understanding these distinctions is crucial for interacting with people, then every culture should have developed language to describe these traits. In the English language alone, there are approximately 4,500 words dedicated to describing personality traits, representing consistent patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Researchers analyzed self-assessments and assessments of others on these traits using factor analysis, a statistical technique that groups characteristics based on strong associations. This led to the identification of five major clusters of interrelated traits that effectively capture most individual differences, followed by the development and testing of theories to explain the origins of these traits.

2.Continuums are more accurate than categories
Unlike the MBTI and Enneagram, which categorize people into personality types, the Big Five assesses personality as a set of traits measured on a continuum from low to high. Psychologists prefer traits over types for several reasons. Personality types often include multiple traits within a single category, leading to overlap among personality types and allowing individuals to identify with multiple types. Furthermore, type-based approaches tend to put people into extreme categories, while human qualities are better described as falling along a continuum, with most individuals falling somewhere in the middle. The Big Five measures these traits using questions with sliding scales, avoiding forced-choice formats.

3.Reflecting personal growth
Using a personality type framework makes it difficult, if not impossible, to measure and track changes in personality over time. When reflecting on yourself from 5, 10, or 20 years ago, you can likely identify various ways in which you’ve evolved, from small shifts to significant transformations. Research supports these personal observations, showing that, in addition to individualized changes, humans tend to undergo similar transformations as they age. The ability of personality types to account for these meaningful changes is questionable. For example, someone identified as an INTJ in 2004 may have changed significantly over 15 years, but retaking the MBTI test may or may not reflect these changes, as the MBTI assigns a type based on where you fall in various personality spectrums.

4.Predicting life outcomes with your personality
If your personality shapes how you approach the world, it makes sense that it would influence your choices and various aspects of your life. The Big Five personality traits have consistently shown their ability to predict various life outcomes, including life satisfaction, academic performance, job performance and satisfaction, relationship satisfaction, the likelihood of divorce, physical health, health-related behaviors, and even life expectancy. These correlations remain even after considering factors like intelligence, socioeconomic status, and other important variables.

5.It goes beyond money
Critics often highlight the high cost of systems like the MBTI, Enneagram, DISC, and other commercially available assessments. The Enneagram offers a relatively affordable option at around $10, but taking the MBTI online via their website can cost around $50 or more. In contrast, while there are pay-to-access Big Five tests like the NEO inventories, most of them are freely available on the internet for researchers and the general public. Many personality psychologists advocate for transparency in their research, including providing assessment tools to the public for free.

The article Five strong reasons to use the big five model of personality first appeared in TravelDailyNews International.

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