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Big Five Personality Traits (OCEAN) and Psychological Behavior-People and Personalities

Updated on May 9, 2013

Personality Theories and Psychology

Having a big vocabulary is important in all aspects of life. Yet personality experts rely on only 5 words to generally describe characteristics of the psychology of  people. How can 5 adjectives be the agreed upon way to categorize personality types?


Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, Neuroticism

. These 5 words are used by professionals in the field of psychology to describe the basic personality traits all people share

The Psychology of Personality

A lot of research in the field of psychology has been done over the years to back up the findings that personality traits can be broadly classified into these 5 categories. Within these personality classifications people can fall within a range of high to low, and somewhere in between.  They are known more as personality dimensions, rather than personality types because they cover such a broad spectrum of the psychology of personalities. Beyond the Big 5 personality factors, there are subcategories, which are more adjectives to describe people within the Big 5 Factors. 

Personality traits are important to understand.  From the jobs we choose, to the partners we pick, our personalities affect our everyday interactions and our long term lifestyle.  Achievements, failures, joys, frustrations, and the situations we find ourselves in, are all a product of the psychology of ourselves.  The way people react to us, and the way we react to people are all a result of our personalities. Personality traits can range from positive to negative.   Positive characteristics lead to positive psychological results, such as accomplishments, satisfaction, self-fulfillment.  Negative characteristics cause negative psychology, and for people to feel frustrated, to have feelings of failure and poorer self esteem. The better you know yourself, the better you will match yourself to a career and relationships that you enjoy.  The healthier minded you are, the better the psychology for yourself. The more you understand your personality the more you can decide for yourself what is right for you.  How people deal with situations and the behaviors they elicit come about because of their personality traits.  It is also necessary to understand these 5 dimensions of personality when dealing with psychology of depression, and other psychological issues.  These 5 personality traits offer a guide to the intensity of a person’s reactions, behaviors and emotions.  Neuroticism, for example, is known to be associated with people who have poorer coping skills, and may be more prone to anxiety and depression.  It has been noted that there is a correlation between internalizing problems and people who score high on the Neuroticism personality scale.  Psychology of people and their personalities are connected. 

Psychology and Personality

Personality Tests

The best known personality tests use these Big 5 Personality Factors to help choose if an applicant is the right person for a job.  People who are more inclined to show high Conscientiousness tend to demonstrate better job performance, have higher academic grades, and follow orders better. People who score low on the Conscientiousness scale usually smoke, abuse alcohol or drugs, have poor lifestyle habits and may even have ADHD (attention defict/hyperactivity disorder). This doesn’t mean everyone who scores low is all of these, but where someone falls on the range of the 5 Factor Model of Personality will give indications of their behavior.  The psychology of people can be associated with the Big 5 Personality factors.

The psychology behind the Five Factor Model is to describe personalities to help make psychological correlations within these 5 groups. clusters of these adjectives occur and can be used to categorize a person’s traits. The study of personalities is very involved. Because it is so complex, there is no definitive answers that will tell anyone everything they need to know about personality traits. The Big Five is a good way to start from the top and then refine with more descriptive words. There is much more to the makeup of people and their personalities that goes well beyond the Big 5 personality traits. But it is a valuable tool in educating  ourselves about what personality really means.

Personality develops from a mixture of inheritable factors and environmental influences.  In twin studies, it was found that both had an equal weight in forming personalities.  What happens to us as children is forms the psychology of a person. It is important in determining our personality makeup. But study after study has found that in addition to genetic factors, parental affects, and experiences that occur in childhood, personality factors continue to change and mold us all into adulthood.  It is thought that personality is pretty much set  into middle adulthood. Studies are finding that depending on the circumstances, personalities are always developing and changing, even later in life.  Although the older one gets, the less likely there will be personality changes, the psychology of a person is always developing and changing.

The Big 5 Personality Factors were developed to help understand the unique differences that make up personality characteristics and the psychology of a person.  For example, a person who is extraverted would have certain characteristic attached to being outgoing.  They might also be vivacious, energetic, confident, talkative, involved, active and bold.  An extroverted person may be all of these adjectives, or may be some of them.  An introverted person would be shy, perhaps timid, reserved, hesitant to react, fearful, and self conscious.  The introverted person may have all of these personality characteristics or some of them. And what personality traits are exhibited depend on the situations.  An extroverted person may be quieter in a crowd of people they do not know, but among their friends, they will be boisterous and lively. However within the personality spectrum they are still considered extroverts, because their overall personality is not determined by any single situation.

Personality Traits Affect the Psychology of a Person

Each of the personality factors have ranges that people’s personalities fall within. To remember the Big 5, use the acronym: OCEAN

Openness ~ people’s personality will tend to be creative, insightful, and imaginative. Personalities who score low on Openness are usually closed to new experiences

Conscientiousness ~ this personality trait will tend to be thought provoking, achievement oriented, and organized. People who lack conscientiousness score low on this personality trait.

Extraversion ~ this personality is usually talkative, friendly, and shows emotional expressiveness. Introverted people would demonstrate a low score on this personality aspect.

Agreeableness ~ people with this personality usually have characteristics that include kindness, affection, altruism. Those who score low on this scale may look to challenge others.

Neuroticism ~ individuals scoring high on this scale demonstrate emotional instability, anxiety, impulsiveness. Those who score low on this range usually demonstrate more emotional stability.

It is important to understand that no matter where you fall on the range of the Big Five Personality Factors, it is part of your personality and part of your own psychology of being human, From you the career you choose, the lifestyle you lead, and personal relationships you form, matching who you are to the things you do will help you lead a healthier, happier and more fulfilling lifestyle.

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    • toknowinfo profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Thanks so much for proof reading. I made the correction.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 

      9 years ago from Minnesota

      I had to learn all about this scale in my Master's degree in Counseling Psychology. Nice job writing out the different aspects of personality. FYI: on the neuroticism category you say that those that score high on this are unstable and instead of saying those that score low on it are more stable you accidentally said high on it.

      Loved this article and rated: UP USEFUL BEAUTIFUL and AWESOME

    • lyjo profile image


      9 years ago

      Interesting topic, great information, great hub, I have always been fascinated by this subject & people. Thanks for an interesting read. Take care!

    • toknowinfo profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      The personality of people is a very interesting topic. After all, everyone has a personality even pets do. Read my other "Peoplality" hubs and be entertained by the different personalities of people.

    • maggs224 profile image


      9 years ago from Sunny Spain

      A very interesting Hub packed full of information much of it new to me.

    • kunle profile image


      10 years ago from naija

      You got big words their and they really made a lot of sense . one thing i know is that if someone has a bad trait such a person should work on it before he/she start having off springs because of the possibility of person down such trait and the place of peer pressure and the environment cannot be ignored. You are spot on


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