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Big Five Personality Dimensions

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Identify and describe the Big Five personality dimensions, specify which one is correlated most strongly with job performance, and describe the proactive personality.

Today, many researchers believe that they are five core personality traits. Evidence of this theory has been growing over the past 50 years, beginning with the research of D. W. Fiske (1949) and later expanded upon by other researchers including Norman (1967), Smith (1967), Goldberg (1981), and McCrae & Costa (1987).

The "big five" are broad categories of personality traits. However, these five categories are usually described as follows:

1. Extraversion: This trait includes characteristics such as excitability, sociability, talkativeness, assertiveness and high amounts of emotional expressiveness.

2. Agreeableness: This personality dimension includes attributes such as trust, altruism, kindness, affection, and other prosocial behaviors.

3. Conscientiousness: Common features of this dimension include high levels of thoughtfulness, with good impulse control and goal-directed behaviors. Those high in conscientiousness tend to be organized and mindful of details.

4. Neuroticism: Individuals high in this trait tend to experience emotional instability, anxiety, moodiness, irritability, and sadness.

5. Openness: This trait features characteristics such as imagination and insight, and those high in this trait also tend to have a broad range of interests.

It is important to note that each of the five personality factors represents a range between two extremes. For example, extraversion represents a continuum between extreme extraversion and extreme introversion. In the real world, most people lie somewhere in between the two polar ends of each dimension.

Conscientiousness is the best predictor of job performance. Conscientiousness is related to such things as achievement, perseverance, organization and responsibility. Conscientious individuals are motivated toward achievement through social conformity.

A person with a proactive personality shows initiative, takes action, and perseveres until a desired change occurs. (Kinicki & Kreitner, 2009).

Goldberg, L. R. (1981) Language and individual differences: The search for universals in personality lexicons. In L. Wheeler (Ed.), Review of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 2. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

McCrae, R.R., & Costa, P.T. (1987) Validation of the five-factor model of personality across instruments and observers. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 81-90.

Pervin, L. & John, O. (Eds.) (1999). Handbook of personality: theory and research. New York: Gilford.




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