Personality traits describe people’s repetitive or consistent and stable patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behavior. “Personality traits are construed as basic tendencies that are rooted in biology and that interact with external influences, including culture, in shaping the skills, habits, tastes, and values of the individual” (Wikipedia).
The Five-Factor Model is an account of the structure of individual differences in personality (McCrae & Costa, 2003). Robert R. McCrae, personality psychologist, co-author of “Personality in Adulthood: A Five-Factor Theory Perspective” believes personality is a biological trait primarily.
Five-Factor Model of Personality
Personality psychology is part of a larger personality science which spans the full spectrum from neurons to narratives (Little).
According to the Five Factor Model, which is an umbrella model for different perspectives on personality, the five main personality traits are neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, conscientiousness, and agreeableness (Işıka & Üzbeb, 2015).
The most researched trait globally, is the Five-Factor Model (Big Five). After decades of research of taxonomy of traits; many traits are combined into the Five-Factor Model (FFM). Thus, the Big Five Model is the model of the organization or the structure of a large number of traits.
The factors and descriptions are provided in Table 1 (Işıka & Üzbeb, 2015).
|Five-Factor Model (FFM)||Descriptions of Traits|
|Neuroticism||calm, self-confident, stable, resilient, and well-adjusted (vs. neurotic, nervous,
insecure, fearful, and anxious, Emotional Instability)
|Extraversion||sociable, talkative, optimistic, ambitious, assertive, reward-seeking, outgoing, and
energetic (vs. introverted, shy, reserved, quiet, and unadventurous)
|Openness to Experience||curious, intellectual, imaginative, creative, innovative, and flexible (vs. closed-minded,
shallow, and simple)
|Agreeableness||helpful, good-natured, cooperative, sympathetic, trusting, and forgiving (vs. rude,
selfish, hostile, uncooperative, and unkind, Antagonism)
|Conscientiousness||organized, responsible, dependable, neat, efficient, and achievement-oriented (vs.
disorganized, lazy, irresponsible, careless, and sloppy)
According to Brian R. Little, personality psychologist, University of Cambridge; openness and conscientiousness are good predictors of life success.
Open people achieve success through being audacious or occasionally odd whereas conscientious people achieve success through sticking to deadlines, perseverance as well as having some passion. Extraversion and agreeableness are both conducive to working well with people.
Comparison Between Extroverts and Introverts
|Extroverts need stimulation e.g. finding things that are exciting like parties, social events.||Introverts spend time alone in quiet places to reduce stimulation. This may be as a result, introverts realize they do better when they can lower the level of stimulation.|
|Extroverts when communicate want to have social encounter e.g. they like to stand close and have eye contact or mutual gaze.||Introverts are likely to avoid completely social encounter.|
There are studies done on the frequencies which individuals engage in conjugal act broken down by male, female extroverts and introverts.
The research was to find how many times per month introvert men and women, extrovert men and women engage in sex?
|Introverted men||Extroverted men|
|Introverted women||Extroverted women|
Table 3 shows that extrovert men and women involve in sexual activities a lot more than introvert men and women which is not surprising. Extroverts are associated with excitement and jubilation. They therefore chase after or engage in things that produce ample pleasure to stimulate them.
Facets of Traits
While the Five-Factor Model may be the accepted container for personality psychologist worldwide to embed the other taxonomy of traits, it is quite confusing as you find yourself exercise characteristics from more than one or more trait from the Big Five.
It becomes difficult to understand where you belong in the Five-Factor Model (FFM). With facets, individual personality is vividly understood and it makes sense to a novice studying this subject or non-psychologist interested in identifying their traits.
Free traits are strategic enactments designed to advance core projects. They arise out of the interplay of what we have termed biogenic, sociogenic, and idiogenic sources of human action (Little, 2020).
“Abiogenic introvert acting in an extraverted manner so as to advance a core project of ‘keeping our clients happy’ is engaging in free-traited behavior.”
An introvert screaming in the middle of the class to warn a bully.
An agreeable person disagreeing with a friend to protect his wife from embarrassment.
Biogenic traits may be genetic and function without awareness also sociogenic traits comprise of laid down rules of communities or values and norms passed on through family relationship.
Sociogenic traits may be provoked without conscious activity whereas idiosyncratic or idiogenic traits require an amount of consciousness as they are product of self-reflection. Idiogenic is personal constructions, commitments, and core projects.
How Does Personality Change Over Time?
According to Mark D. Kelland, psychology at Lansing Community College, college students believe that adult personality can readily change.
Likewise, clinical psychologists helping people to change their dysfunctional lives, want to believe that personality can change.
On the other hand, trait theorists have shown that traits are highly resistant to change once adulthood has been reached. (see, e.g., Costa & McCrae, 1989; McCrae & Costa, 2003).
Costa and McCrae acknowledge that individuals at certain times change dramatically.
In his online publication, personality can change over a lifetime, Christopher Soto, associate professor of psychology at Colby College, writes “And while personality traits are relatively stable over time, they can and often do gradually change across the life span”.
For example, adults become more agreeable, conscientious and emotionally resilient as they age. But the changes may happen gradually. Dramatic changes in personality turn to be rare in individuals.
What Can Cause Personality Changes?
- As noted above, clinical psychologists may help people to change their dysfunctional lives.
- A shift in personality may be due to age, an event or mental illness e.g. Alzheimer, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, alcoholism, drug, stress, confusion, experience etc.
Personality’s Influence on Social Relations Across the Lifespan
According to Lauri A. Jensen-Campbell, Jennifer M. Knack and Madeline Rex-Lear, an important reason to examine personality is to understand how it influences people’s daily lives in meaningful and predictable ways.
Personality influences how people get along with other people in society. Social relationships can have a profound effect on personality.
There’s a task in each person’s life to create or have social relationship with others in their lifetime. This relationship doesn’t only end on establishment but how it is maintained between both parties is also another important part of the task.
To understand how a relationship is created and maintained; interpersonal dynamics and the characteristics an individual brings to the relationship are equally important.
For example, personality characteristics associated with socio-emotional competence (e.g., Extraversion, effortful control, empathic accuracy, Neuroticism) have been found to predict both the duration and quality of relationships across the lifespan.
The Cambridge Handbook of Personality Psychology: Personality and social relations by Lauri A. Jensen-Campbell, Jennifer M. Knack and Madeline Rex-Lear.
Personality may or can influence social relations in early stages of a child. A research by attachment researchers indicate that a warm, receptive parenting style is crucial for developing secure attachments with an infant (De Wolff and Van Ijzendoorn 1997).
Personality also plays an important role in childhood peer relations. As children grow, friends or peers become doorway for acquiring new social skills.
When next you come across kids playing and one is more authoritative and demanding, it is a display of the Big Five Factor. A child who scores low on agreeableness is likely to exhibit the characteristics above.
While those that scores high on agreeableness will reason with others and are more likely to employ more constructive resolution tactics (e.g., negotiation) in peer conflicts.
In adults, you will see same Five-Factor Model (FFM) playing important roles. For instance; whom an adult desire for mate selection, the quality of the relationship and durability (stability or instability) of marriage are associated with conscientiousness.