Big Five Personality Traits

The Big Five model of personality, also known as the Five Factor Model (FFM), is a framework that outlines five core dimensions of personality. Based on decades of personality research and validity tests across the world, the Five Factor Model is the most commonly accepted theory of personality today. The five dimensions represent broad categories designed to capture much of the individual variation in personality and were determined by analyzing and grouping common adjectives used to describe peopleÕs personality and behavior. The Five Factor Model is also commonly referred to using the acronyms OCEAN and CANOE.

View All Term Definitions

Big Five Personality…conscientiousnessopenness to experienceneuroticism / emotional…extraversionagreeableness

Breakdown by Domain

Domain Key


Key Features

Context & Culture

  • Originally developed through a lexical analysis of English terms, research has also been conducted in Chinese, Czech, Dutch, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Turkish, and more
  • Research suggests the Big Five traits capture much of the variability in personality across cultures; however, languages other than English often produce additional important traits and there is some evidence to suggest that ÒopennessÓ in particular may be understood differently across cultures (e.g., intellect vs. rebelliousness)

Developmental Perspective

  • Research on the validity of the Big Five traits has been conducted with all ages, but primarily with adults
  • Research has shown that while relatively stable, traits develop and change with age
  • No learning progression provided

Associated Outcomes

  • Evidence suggests personality traits are correlated with life outcomes such as educational attainment, health, and labor market outcomes

Available Resources

Support Materials

  • No materials provided

Programs & Strategies

  • No programs or strategies provided

Measurement Tools

Personality traits are often measured through questionnaire scales such as:

  • NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R)
  • Big Five Inventory (BFI)
  • Trait-Descriptive Adjectives (TDA)

Key Publications

  • John, O.P., Naumann, L.P., & Soto, C.J. (2008), Paradigm Shift to the Integrative Big Five Trait Taxonomy in Handbook of Personality: Theory and Research, 114-156.
  • McCrae, R. R. and John, O. P. (1992), An Introduction to the Five?Factor Model and Its Applications. Journal of Personality, 60: 175-215.

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