So far I haven’t been calling out any individual personality tests, behavioral surveys, or academic studies that I’ve been using. The things I post here are usually composites of various results mixed with my own observations. Today I do want to address a specific test, because I found it to be both interesting and accurate.
My Big Five Personality Traits
The Big Five is a test used by psychologists to measure personality traits. Rather than jamming you into a fixed type (like INTJ, for instance, where I fall on the Meyers-Briggs Indicator), it looks at where you fall across five different traits. Each trait is scored from 1 to 100. It’s not as simple as high good, low bad, either. The results, at least on the version that I took, tell you where most people score. That could be high, low, and in between. It also provides some information on what your score means, based on other people who have that same trait within that range.
If you’d like to take the test yourself, you can do so here. There are 30 questions, and it takes about 10 to 15 minutes. I’d like to hear your comments.
Openness to Experience
My score: 92 out of 100
The first category is Openness to Experience, which is defined as how much you value art, creativity, emotion, curiosity, and similar concepts. There are three sub-categories, aesthetic sensitivity, intellectual curiosity, and creative imagination.
If I weren’t open to new things, I wouldn’t be a self-employed expat. The results suggest that I’d be good in the arts or investigative journalism. The downside is that people who score as high as I did are often perceived to be lacking focus. That’s definitely not me, and I don’t know that people see me that way-There’s also a tendency to pursue both self-actualization and drug use, neither of much is me. However, the reason I won’t take anything stronger than ibuprofen for pain is because I fear addiction, so who know? It might fit into this somehow.
My score: 58 out of 100
The next category is Agreeableness, defined as having a tendency toward empathy and cooperation. An agreeable person is well-tempered and helpful. The three sub-categories here are compassion, respectfulness, and trust.
No big surprise that I scored extremely low on trust, and that’s what tanked me here. I was in the higher end on the other two, scoring highest on compassion. Of course people with high Agreeableness scores are seen as weak, because that’s the world we live in. Kindness is somehow a failing and selfishness is a virtue. Hmm, yeah, how is it that my trust issues are continually being validated?
My score: 92 out of 100
Their definition of this category, Conscientiousness, is to be dutiful, self-disciplined, and achievement oriented. People who score high here tend to be planners. The three subcategories here are organization, productiveness, and responsibility.
All three categories are me. I scored about the same in each of them. The results say I’m dependable and focused. They also say that I’m probably boring, and I accept that. But they also say that I’m probably highly religious and politically conservative. Which is the biggest laugh I’ve had all week. I’m decidedly not spontaneous, and I am stubborn, both associated with a high score in this trait.
My score: 63 out of 100
In other places I’ve seen this trait called Neuroticism. I’m glad this one went with Negative Emotionality, because that seems more descriptive and less of a loaded term. It’s how prone you are to psychological stress. The three sub-categories here are anxiety, depression, and emotional volatility.
The results say that I’m a normal human, right in the middle of the pack. It was surprising that I scored low on anxiety and depression since I suffer from those things. On the other hand, I’ve been working on having those under control. While I’m not happy about scoring highest on emotional volatility, I have been doing a lot of self-work lately. It reflects difficulty processing emotions, particularly those connected to anxiety, depression, and trauma. Which is exactly what I’ve been working through.
My score: 38 out of 100
This trait is defined as seeking out the company of others. People who lean into this trait are talkative and seek out stimulation. The three sub-categories here are sociability, assertiveness, and energy level.
What, I’m not an extrovert? Shocker! The energy level confused me a bit, because I don’t connect that to my general disposition toward being around people. The results explained that not having a lot of energy means I’m less inclined to want to be around people. This is all about my chronic pain and mobility issues, so, sure. I see that. It’s not that I don’t like people, I just find it draining and prefer to save my energy for other things.
What I Can Do With This
This basically just confirms what I already know about myself. While that doesn’t really give me anything actionable, it validates what I’m already doing. It’s nice to know that I’m heading in the right direction.
My realization about Openness to Experience is that I do want to fold more of those qualities into my work. My day job continues to lean more and more into an appreciation of literature. Here, I continue to stump for critical thinking and the eradication of willful ignorance. People with no intellectual curiousity frighten me.
Agreeableness just reinforces that I need to work on my trust issues. I know that’s holding me back. I can still be cautious. This trait is also, I think, an offset for Negative Emotionality. I might be prone to being emotionally volatile. Yet because I have compassion and an awareness that my actions and behaviors affect other people, I dial it back as much as possible.
Validation and Clarity
In looking at the results for Conscientiousness and seeing that people who score as high as I did tend to be religious and conservative, I had to think about why I’m neither. The offset trait is Openness to Experience. To cling to any sort of orthodoxy, to me, means that you think there’s one good way to do things. Life paths are settled, and you just do things in a certain way because that’s how it’s done. That’s not me.
For things like Negative Emotionality, it helps me to realize that I have made progress, because I expected a very different score. As stated above, I do see a connection between this trait and Agreeableness. Situations where people aren’t being treated with compassion are the things that I tend to get emotionally volatile about are . Bullies can launch me from Mister Rogers into the Hulk in seconds.
Things like Extraversion aren’t things that need to be fixed so much as traits that I need to be aware of when setting goals and planning how I’m going to accomplish them. Yes, I would rather use my finite amounts of energy getting things done or enjoying life than hanging around people just to be around people. I think that my Agreeableness score crosses over here as well, because it also defines my contexts for social interactions.