The Psychology of Curiosity: an introduction

“Curiosity is the most superficial of all the affections. It has an appearance of giddiness, restlessness, and anxiety (Edmund Burke – an Irish philosopher)”

Speaking of curiosity, people usually come up with the idiom curiosity killed the cat. Why does curiosity seem to be associated with such a negative connotation? Is this also a popular perception of our daily lives and in society? In this article, I shall walk you through the definition, main types of curiosity and how it varies among in individuals

1. Two main types of curiosity

Curiosity is a critical cognitive function that influences human’s behaviors. From a broader perspective, curiosity might be seen as a stepping stone for major developments in science, decision-making, and learning. According to Psychology iresearchnet, curiosity is “a motivational state involving the tendency to recognize and seek out novel and challenging experiences”. 

Since curiosity originates from the thirst for new knowledge, it differs from other positive emotions. For example, joyful feelings such as enjoyment and cheerfulness exist when an individual already has a clear picture with ample necessary information regarding the experience. Curiosity, on the other hand, occurs when someone feels the excitement of explorations with uncertainty, hesitation, and lack of information. 

Curiosity has been classified into two main types: perceptual curiosity (or cognitive curiosity) and epistemic curiosity (or sensory curiosity). The definition of these two types lies in the matters that one is curious about. Cognitive curiosity describes the desire for new information and knowledge, or in general, cognitive matters. 
Sensory curiosity expresses the yearning for new sensations and thrills. This type involves the exploration of novel physical experiences such as do something for a try, go for an adventure, pick up a new sport, etc.

“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”

Albert Einstein

2. State versus trait : the opposing theories on the origin of curiosity

The concept of curiosity is central to motivation. Whether curiosity emerges internally or externally remains a controversial debate. However, this leads to two distinguished classifications of curiosity types: state and trait. Both of the terms determine how and why humans get involved in curious behaviors

a. State curiosity is externally stimulated

When curiosity is used as a description of specific behaviors towards a stimulus, it is known as state curiosity.  This is a state of increased arousal response stimulated by an event or activity in which an individual gains nearly no essential information in advance. It is generally based on an external situation that evokes the curiosity-driven behaviors of an individual.

Suppose you happen to know one of your friends is intrigued by the universe and always asks several questions during the National Geographic Cosmos series, or your family members wonder about the wide-opening window from the neighbor’s house during wintertime. In these cases, state curiosity appears to be the most suitable description for these behaviors. 

2. Trait curiosity comes from internal urge to gain knowledge

The concept that curiosity resides from the inside is called trait curiosity. This relates to people who have a strong interest in acquiring novel knowledge and experience, simply for the sake of learning and self-discovery. For instance, if some of your classmates have the following characteristics: highly self-motivated by discovering theoretical knowledge, being curious and passionate about trying new sports or travelling to new, unknown places, we can say these people have trait curiosity.

3. Different individuals experience different levels of curiosity and the matters they are curious about


When people get older, both the types and degree of their curiosity will change. Human beings, at different ages, are curious about different matters. When we are a little kid, we often drive ourselves to a specific  goal: to understand something better at the moment. This explains why kids ask a lot of questions because they are curious about everything and want to know more about it. 

However, when we grow older, we realize life is much more complicated, and we tend to “extend” the initial question, from “why” to “what if”. We not only want to know about present matters but also want more information about the unknown events that are likely to occur in the near future. 

When ones get older, they tend to draw various possibilities; they yearn for anticipating or foreseeing future events for better preparation. The question “why” indicates a thirst for an answer, an explanation, or could be an initial step for a novel discovery. 

“What if” represents one or several possibilities generated from a fact, or a present event that an individual already knows. “What if” plays a vital role in activating the analysis phase in the process of seeking out new information. After “what if”, people tend to define advantages and disadvantages, solve the problem and compare the results. 

As ones grow older, they expand their scope of knowledge and interests. They look at life from different perspectives; hence their curious behaviors tend to change. The two questions “why” and “what if” tend to be combined and used in different circumstances to know and understand things better

4. The 4 components that power curiosity

Curiosity can be induced  by 4 main factors: novelty, complexity, uncertainty, conflict

Novelty indicates the newness, the unknown things compared to prior experience, learned knowledge, and expectations. For example, a 5-year-old kid reads an astronomy comic book. She realized there is a lot about the universe she did not know before, compared to what she learned at school. The more she reads, the more curious she is about the universe. Reading this astronomy book brought her novel experiences, which evokes her curiosity for the universe.

Complexity is a quality that represents the variety of components within the scope of understanding. The more diverse and challenging the components are, the higher level of complexity.

Uncertainty describes the insecure and doubtful feelings when facing an issue with little knowledge acquired. Uncertainty also displays the presence of multiple possibilities and outcomes with almost no knowledge gained.

Finally, conflict describes the presence of a contradiction between what you feel and what you want to do. For example, a conflict might occur when you find a dark place, and half of you want to enter to find out what it is on the inside, and the other half is getting scared of dark places and the urge to turn away.

The four factors that drive curiosity

5. High in curiosity might mean high in openness, yet low in neuroticism

A study by Furnham and Chamorro (2006) discussed the positive connection between curiosity and the five personality traits. In particular, individuals with high scores in openness tend to be more intellectually curious and have more comfortable attitudes and feelings towards novel or challenging activities.

However, research shows that curiosity has a negative relationship with neuroticism. Research by Renner (2007) indicated a negative correlation between curiosity and the control of anxiety. In other words, highly curious individuals are associated with low levels of anxiety. Curious people tend to take challenges in open attitudes and high readiness to confront unexpected risks. They do not seem to get anxious easily, thus being able to control their anxiety more effectively. 

6. Summary

Curiosity has occupied a vital position in the study of motivation, emotion, and cognition since the origins of psychology. To this day, several basic principles and concepts of curiosity continue to confound science. Yet the importance of curiosity in personal development and daily life activities is undeniable. 

Harnessing curiosity in real-life environments, such as in work and educational settings, plays a fundamental role in growing an individual’s ability and an organization’s overall achievements. Albeit certain pros and cons, stimulating curiosity helps nurture personal growth, strengthen social bonds, and sustain our motivation and sense of exploration.

Extroversion: The Depth You Have Not Seen

Extroversion, or extraversion, is one of the factors from the Big Five personality model. This personality trait is characterized by an orientation of an individual’s energies and interests towards the outer world of social experiences rather than the inner world of subjective feelings and thoughts.

The trait indicates a continuum of behaviors and attitudes, ranging from low (introverted), neutral (ambivert), to high (extroverted). Extroverts are comparably sociable, outgoing, gregarious, and tend to be openly expressive. On the contrary, introverts are relatively more reserved, conserve their energies, and tend to be internally expressive. 

You can read this article to find out if you are an extrovert or an introvert, or I recommend taking this test to discover more.

1. The six facets of extroversion

According to the International Personality Item Pool, there are six facets in each dimension of the Big Five Personality Traits. The facets of the extroversion domain are:

Friendliness: a quality of being friendly, pleasant, and accommodating in social situations. Friendly people make friends quickly and find it easy to form intimate relationships. They are willing to spend time forming relationshipsandexpanding their network circles. Unfriendly individuals are often perceived as hostile and distant by others. They simply do not reach out to initiate a friendship or expand their connections. 

This trait indicates the general desires of a person to make friends and create friendships. Its meaning leans more towards the formation of close relationships and the tendency to behave hospitable and companionable with others. Friendliness does not relate to how somebody desires  to be in the crowd or group activities.

Friendly behaviors cultivate friendship, form intimate relationships, and broaden one’s social connections

Gregariousness: American Psychological Association describes this facet as the tendency for an individual to be fond of the company of others and want to associate with them in social activities. Gregariousness gives people security, acceptance, companionship, and a sense of belonging. They like the stimulation of being around and interacting with several people. 

However, this stimulation is not favored by non-gregarious people. They would find these events uncomfortable, unpleasant, and even annoying.

Assertiveness: People often do not think of assertiveness as part of extroversion, but it is indeed. Assertiveness indicates characteristics where a person is firm and bold, confident and dominant, decisive and determined, and willing to express themselves externally. They are able to be in charge or take control of group activities.

Depending on different circumstances, this aspect still appears in introverts, yet with lower frequency,compared to extroverts. Introverts can be assertive if they think it is necessary to speak up and behave firmly.

Activity level: Similar to assertiveness, this facet is not commonly thought to be part of extroversionthe common understanding of extroversion does not always refer to this facet. Activity level illustrates the tendency to enjoy having a fast-paced and action-packed lifestyle. Individuals with high levels of this facet are energetic, sprightly and industrious. 

Activity level does not mean searching for new and exciting experiences, but rather the frequency of these activities.. Those who prefer a slower pace tend to scatter their schedule with a lower density of activities. Slow-pace life is more suitable for them because they want to truly enjoy the quality instead of the number of the activities.

A crowded city is often is an ideal environment for those who score high in the facet of activity level

Excitement-seeking: Unlike assertiveness and activity level, this facet aligns well with the common understanding of extroversion. Someone who enjoys seeking excitement gets easily bored. They seek high levels of strong stimulations such as crowded places, cheerful events with loud music and bright lights. Such stimulation can be undesirable, inconvenient, and overwhelming to the more introverted counterparts. who tend to prefer more peaceful and relaxing surroundings.

Cheerfulness: Mood, bright emotions, and positive responses are what this facet  about. Cheerful people have relatively high levels of bright feelings, such as joy or enthusiasm, and positive interactions with others. People who have lower levels of cheerfulness experience fewer delights or optimism and are often perceived as less warm and positive towards others.

The absence of cheerfulness, however, does not necessarily mean there are only negative emotions. These are two different things and they are not correlated to each other. In reality, a majority of people tend to mistake these two matters and wrongly label the absence of cheerfulness as negativity.

Acquiring a thorough insight into the six facets would provide you with a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of extroversion. Looking at an extrovert, you can see more details into his or her behaviors, feelings, and reactions to daily situations.

2. Career recommendations for extroverts

Extroverts enjoy expressing themselves externally and interacting with others to exchange knowledge and make friends. An open, high-energy workplace that encourages verbal exchange and teamwork would be an ideal environment for extroverts. 

Extroverts excel in these jobs:
Lawyer / law consultant
Teacher / lecturer / professor
Sale manager / execution planner
Public relation staff
Nurse / caregiver
Human resources consultant
Tour guide
Project manager
Event planner
MC / radio speaker
Financial specialist
Social media influencer
Community service staff

Open working environments which encourage group-based activities and verbal interactions are ideal for extroverts

3. Career suggestions for introverts

For those who tend to conserve their feelings, energy, and want to gain full control of their work using minimal social interactions, a quiet job would be more suitable. Introverts thrive in a calm and peaceful environment because they can fully concentrate on the process without interruptions and distractions from others.

These suggested jobs are more appropriate for those who score low in extroversion:

Computer programmer
Web developer
Software engineer
Data analyst
Social media marketing
Interior / landscape / graphic designer
Librarian
Electrical engineering specialist
Scientist / researcher
Interpreter / translator
Writer / content creator / poet
Artist
Carpenter
Baker / private chef
Music composer
Photographer
Self-employed / freelancer

Librarian is one of the ideal jobs for those who enjoy a quiet and peaceful working environment.

4. The challenge of teaching introverts and educational approaches to unlock their potential

For young children with high levels of introversion, group discussions and engagement points in the classroom might not be the best approach to evaluate their actual ability. According to Susan Cain in her best-selling book, some young introverts have to pretend to be extroverts to fit in this education system for the sake of overall grades and other schooling benefits.

4.1 Introverted students tend not to excel in large groups

When introverted students are required to perform in large groups, they are likely to not perform well. Group-based tasks are designed in the way of bringing everyone an equal chance to speak up an opinion, raise a problem, and solve that problem together. 

However, while teachers think they have created an equal opportunity for all students, the reality is often different. Susan Cain pointed out that it often leads to “the most dominant student or the one who cares most about the grades doing all the tasks and taking over”. Introverted students would excel when performing the tasks individually in quiet surroundings , which allows their creativity and thoughtfulness to be maximized.

4.2 Technology can help introverts speak up their ideas

Technology-based platforms can ease the uncomfortable feelings and enable introverts to find their voice in classrooms and group activities. Game-based learning platforms, such as Gimkit and Kahoot, can assist teachers efficiently. For instance, teachers can set the response settings either in anonymous mode or public mode. Anonymous mode means only the teacher gets to know who provides this answer, while public mode allows the entire class to view the provider’s name. 

Introverts can be assertive, bold, and become competitive if they think it is necessary to behave so. As a result, public mode is an excellent opportunity to encourage competitiveness and public recognition. In a world that cannot stop talking, the power of introverts needs to be identified and recognized, especially in the classroom.

5. Teaching strategies to work with extroverted students

5.1 Approach extroverts with a smile to balance out extroversion and introversion

More often, extroverted students are more socially dominant  than their introverted counterparts. This can sometimes become a problem for teachers who want to pay equal attention to all students in the class. Approach young extroverts with a smile and remind him or her to tone it down a bit, so that teachers can have more interactions with other students.  

5.2 Extroverted students enjoy compliments and surprises

If introverted individuals perform better in quiet and calm surroundings, their counterparts enjoy expressing themselves verbally. For example, they are the ones who enjoy making demonstrations or coming up to the front of the classroom. They would feel valued and recognized if teachers compliment them on their initiative and enthusiasm

Cfchildren.org stated that extroverted students like to be surprised. Little surprises in the classroom helps to boost the engagement and excitement of young extroverts. They are more like a “curious cat” that gets nervous towards the surprise, yet excited at the same time. Teachers can leverage morning times to create little surprises as a positive feedback to extroverted students. This is a great way to level up their energy from the beginning of the day and make sure they are readily involved for the lesson. 

Conclusion: The hidden depth of extroversion, and the vital role of educators

The general expression of extroversion, based on popular definitions, might stop at friendliness and excitement seeking. Digging deeper into the six facets of this trait, we now know it also exhibits different dimensions of gregariousness, assertiveness, cheerfulness and activity level. 

Balancing the introversion and extroversion of the students in the classroom are very important. Teachers are encouraged to create multi-purpose activities that fit both types of students. Enhancing the advantage of technology, such as game-based learning platforms, could help teachers to modify and diversify the activities in their classroom to fit different preferences in extroversion. 

Reference:

Assertiveness: A More Effective Way To Resolve Aggression

Today I would like to discuss a concept which is a significant cause of conflict in personal and work life: the quality of being socially dominant and its counterpart, passive aggressiveness. From my own observation, these two yin-yang approaches result in two camps of thoughts which are constantly at war with each other.

The benefits of being assertive

Assertiveness has been a well-known concept that contributes to good communication skills. Being assertive means to be able to speak up and project your point of view so as to protect your self-interest and create win-win situations through clear communication. It is a more healthy way of channeling aggression than said, bottling up inside just to explode later.

Potential benefits of being assertive:

  • Protect your personal benefits 
  • Communicate and find win-win situation in teamwork
  • Make individuals more stress-resistant and hence, improve productivity
  • Speak up and protect your boundary, thus improve mental healths
  • Be happier in general and reap associated health benefits
  • Feel more confident and competent, and therefore improve self-esteem

The definition of assertiveness: a skill or mindset?

The definition of assertiveness can range from a very positive meaning to domineering or openly aggressive. 16personalities.com, a very popular psychometric site, defines assertive individuals as “self-assured, even-tempered, and resistant to stress”.

So the keywords here are low on stress and aggression, or simply, low on neuroticism on the Big Five scale. For the discussion of this article, we will stick closely to the definition of Assertiveness as “the quality of being self-assured and confident without being aggressive“.

The implication is that loud and aggressive people can still be considered as not assertive if the underlying motivation is frequent excessive stress and aggression. Assertiveness in this sense closely resembles the laid-back type B in the popular Type A/ B personality model.

A loud and domineering person might not be considered assertive due to underlying aggression

How is assertiveness a mindset? I have observed two distinct patterns among people. On one hand, assertive individuals find it easier to set boundary. Their typical emotional reactions are either neutral or anger towards things or other people. It’s not that they cannot take blame or feel guilt, but they just do not dwell on it and instead quickly fix the issues either through correcting their own or other’s behaviors.

On the other hand are apparently meeker individuals who shy away from displaying outward anger or judgement and tend to internalize feelings of shame or guilt. That doesn’t mean they do not have aggression. These individuals may appear easy-going on the surface, but can harbor  victim mentality and passive-aggressive behaviors.

Yin and Yang: Is assertiveness all good and passive-aggressiveness bad?

Like most of other mindsets, being openly or passive-aggressive tends to be reinforced and biased by our egos. Passive-aggressive people tend to have a martyr complex, thinking that other people are immoral or ignorant, but keep such thoughts to themselves. They view assertive people as insensitive, domineering and even shallow.

Openly aggressive people on the other hand, view the majority as too inefficient, soft, overthinking or even lazy. While passive people often furnish their thought system with idealism, morality and sensitivity, assertive people reinforce their egos with the ideas of logic, efficiency, survival and bottom lines.

Such self-reinforcement results in a continuous battle between the overly assertive and the passive, like yin and yang, in our social interactions. The effect of a domineering personality is easy to see but passive aggression can be equally nasty. Especially when having a superior position, passive aggressive people can intentionally or unintentionally channel their aggression through guilt tripping, sarcasm or petty politics to cause pain to others.

Victim mentality is often a behavior associated with passive-aggressiveness

From an objective standpoint, both of these perspectives are valid. When something goes wrong, you can look outside and find faults in the system or others. You can also look into yourselves and find reasons for shame or guilt, or to do better next time. The key is balance so that you don’t over-blame yourself at the expense of leadership or don’t blame yourself enough to learn and improve.

How does assertiveness correlate with personality types?


Overall, introverted feeling types such as ISFP, INFP, ISFJ and INFJ tend to be the least assertive while extraverted thinkers such as  ESTJ and ENTJ are often assertive to the point of being brash. Genders also play a role where females would likely downplay their assertiveness which is traditionally considered a masculine quality.

How to practice assertiveness

Introvert and sensitive individuals often have the most to gain by practicing assertiveness
  • Avoid the martyr complex: people can’t read your mind even if they try to. We often have very skewed and over-simplistic views of other people’s minds so we shouldn’t expect others to understand us with the same depth and details as we understand ourselves. Communication is key!
  • Read books to improve soft skills and communication. There are many well-known books out there such as the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, How to Win Friends and Influence People… Having the foundation on communications and people’s skills will allow you to transition from being closed up to assertive without coming off as brash or confrontational.
  • Read books on psychology to understand different personality types: learning about MBTI, Enneagram, Big Five can all help us to recognize the distinct personalities and their corresponding point of views, which are all valid.
  • Understand and tame your aggression: Ultimately, it’s a matter of channeling our aggression effectively or best of all, not having one in the first place. Meditation, talking to our support network, contemplating to see a wider perspective and challenging our own biases would help to alleviate our inner tension.

The Big Five’s Agreeableness: An In Depth Analysis

Followed by a series of five personality traits from the Big Five personality model, the next personality dimension that we will look into is agreeableness. The word “agree” indicates the likelihood to say yes, to compromise, or to agree to do things, either for oneself or others. Agreeableness measures the tendency to be kind, friendly, cooperative, and supportive. It shows how well one gets along with with others in a group-based environment. 

Highly agreeable people exhibit prosocial forms of behavior. They tend to be more sociable, considerate, tender-minded, and are concerned with the welfare of others. Low scorers tend to be more tough-minded and consider their interests and benefits above others. Sometimes, they are perceived as cynical, domineering, and antagonistic. 

If you want to know how agreeable you are, we recommend you taking the Big Five Personality Test here 

1. The importance of agreeableness: generate positive thoughts and improve mental health

Agreeableness helps to form relationships with  peace and empathy, trust and harmonization. It also helps to minimize the possibility of conflicts and arguments. On an individual scale, agreeableness enables one to harbor and nurture positive thoughts and actions towards others. 

Agreeableness, if placed at the right place and to the right people, attracts positivity and reduce negativity

2. The six facets of agreeableness

According to the International Personality Item Pool, each dimension of the Big Five Personality Traits comprises six facets, or also known as sub traits. The facets of the conscientiousness domain are:

Trust: to believe that someone or something is initially reliable, ethical, and truthful. A trusting individual tends to believe people are well-intentioned and fair. The opposite of being trusting is skeptical. Skeptical individuals tend not to trust others easily without considering other aspects. They tend to base on various other factors, such as their personal experience, facts, or evidence, to trust a person.

Morality: This facet shows the desire to be sincere and candid as opposed in dealing with others. Those who have high levels of morality tend to lean towards being sincere and kind-hearted with others. Those with low levels of morality believe a certain amount of deception or manipulation is needed in communications and relationships. It should be noted that this facet is not about being wrong or right, but rather the degree an individual feels comfortable and pleasant to interact straightforwardly with others.

Cooperation: the willingness to work together with others for a common goal, purpose, or benefit. These people do not like confrontations and tend to compromise. They are often not concerned much with their own needs or interests. Those who tend not to cooperate efficiently with others are more competitive and prioritize their personal needs and benefits. 

According to Dr. Todd Grande, looking at the overall personality trait, cooperation is one of the facets to be associated the most with agreeableness, in terms of the popular conception. For instance, a manager would view an agreeable employee as cooperative toward his or her co-workers. 

According to Dr. Todd Grande, looking at the overall personality trait, cooperation is one of the facets to be associated the most with agreeableness, in terms of the popular conception. For instance, a manager would view an agreeable employee as cooperative toward his or her co-workers. 

Cooperation is considered the most associated facet to the agreeableness trait, especially in working environments,  based on the popular conception

Altruism: the willingness or the desire to help others. Altruistic people find it fulfilling to help others in need. People with low levels of altruism might appear to be helpful towards others, yet the way they see these kind actions is different. Instead of feeling self-fulfilling and joyful when seeing others receive help, they feel inconvenient and look at it as an imposition

Modesty: how willing someone is to claim himself or herself better than others. Modest people do not like making this claim and would rarely consider themselves at a higher position than others. The opposite of modest is arrogant people who act as if they are superior to others.

Sympathy: the ability to understand and resonate with other people’s feelings, particularly that of sad events and sorrows. They are better at identifying, understanding, and connecting with human sufferings. Less sympathetic people lack the ability to recognize and harmonize with sorrowful experiences others are going through. 

Sympathy, in different situations, is considered as justice versus mercy. These two aspects appear as two extremes of a spectrum, where sympathetic individuals tend to lean towards mercy, and less sympathetic ones tend to lean towards the justice side

Sympathy                                                                                                                                                                                 More
Sympathetic people can understand and resonate well with other people’s emotions

3. Suggested careers for highly agreeable people

Highly agreeable people enjoy assisting others and feel more fulfilled when seeing others getting better from the help they receive. An ideal working environment for agreeable people would be a place that allows them to build connections and make positive contributions to the community.

Potential job ideas for agreeable people:

Teacher / lecturer

Nurse / caregiver

NGO / NPO leader

Religious Leader

Counselor

Community service staff

4. Suggested careers for those with low levels of agreeableness

Those who tend to behave bold, assertive, and tough-minded are not suitable for community-related jobs. They find it hard to place others’ needs and benefits above or emotionally connect to others. These people strive best in environments that focus on the outcomes, welcome counter opinions, and allow their competitiveness to glow.

Potential jobs ideas for low scorers in the agreeableness trait:

Scientist / researcher

Politicians

Programmer

Data analyst

Manager / director / association leader

Accountant

Engineer / mechanic

Author / writing content creator

5.Interesting facts about agreeableness

5.1 Agreeable people shouldn’t be perceived as “less intelligent”

Being too agreeable might lead to some behaviors that could be regarded as less intelligent. Agreeable people place their needs and interests lower than that of others. For this reason, agreeable individuals are perceived as less intelligent, especially in competitive working environments. 

However, how agreeableness is related to intelligence depends on how one chooses to define intelligence. Studies found that agreeableness has zero correlation with objective tests of general intelligence

5.2 People who consider themselves superior to others tend to appear disagreeable

Disagreeable personalities were found in those who perceived themselves at a higher position than others, regardless of their actual ability. This is a study result from Furnham & Buchanan on “Personality, gender, and self-perceived intelligence.” This has significant implications because that means agreeableness is not a fixed trait but can also change fluidly. A person can be more agreeable to a superior but less so with someone in an inferior position.

5.3 Agreeable individuals are more likely to experience Placebo Effect

A study published in 2013 found that there is a higher likelihood for agreeable individuals to undergo the placebo effect. For agreeable participants, they appeared to be more relieved by the placebo effect than other subjects having lower levels of agreeableness. They are less likely to object to the experimenters, more motivated to please them, and more hopeful for positive outcomes. 

5.4 Agreeable individuals are less bothered by grammatical mistakes

Subtle errors in emails might annoy some people, yet this is exceptional for agreeable people. The way personality affects an individual’s reaction to email mistakes was thoroughly discussed in this study. The study results suggested that agreeable people are less sensitive to grammatical errors in emails. It would be wrong to claim that agreeable people have worse grammar than others. They simply do not want to exaggerate the minor mistakes and willing to pass them through.

5.5 Social media is mostly used for positively connecting with others, rather than complaining, by agreeable people

How personality affects the usage of social media platforms has become the subject for a study in 2013. According to the results, agreeable people are more likely to use social media to build and maintain positive connections, rather than a platform for complaints and judgemental opinions. Another interesting study found that agreeable job applicants are less likely to be found badmouthing others on Facebook.

Social Media Sharing and Mobile Phone Networking Concept, Businesswoman is Using Smartphone for Communication Chat While Drinking a Cup of Coffee. Technology Connection for Entertainment Media Network , #Aff, #Concept, #Networking, #Smartphone, #Businesswoman, #Phone #Ad
The primary purpose of social media – building connections – is utilized the most by highly agreeable people

6. Conclusion: agreeableness needs to be utilized efficiently in the right place

Most people fall somewhere between agreeableness and disagreeableness. Depending on the circumstance, agreeableness can be perceived as a strength or weakness. On the overall perspective, agreeableness is a personal positivity that shows trust, cooperation, and support. This is a good thing and has become the keystone ingredient for organizational harmonization. However, in circumstances where assertiveness and counter opinions are more welcomed and focused, it is better to be tough-minded and competitive to protect one’s self-benefits.

References:

Six facets of the agreeableness personality trait, Dr. Todd Grande

Agreeableness has a zero correlation with objective tests of general intelligence, DeYoung, 2011

There is a higher likelihood for agreeable individuals to undergo the placebo effect

Agreeable people are less sensitive to minor writing errors in emails

Social media is used for positive connection purposes by agreeable people

The Pros And Cons Of Conscientiousness

Hello dear readers, before continuing to read this article, maybe take a few minutes to ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you more detail-oriented or big-picture?
  • Do you tend to “work hard” first before “play hard”?
  • Do you rarely break promises or show up late?
  • Do you often plan, decide, and like to put stuff on paper?
  • Do you enjoy having a clear schedule rather than going with the flow?

If most of the answers are yes, you might be an individual scoring high in the conscientiousness trait. 

Conscientiousness is a fundamental personality trait—one of the Big Five personality model. This trait reflects the tendency for an individual to be accountable and reliable, organized and detail-oriented. High scorers tend to be ambitious at work and enjoy adhering to norms and rules. On the contrary, people with low levels of conscientiousness are likely more big-picture oriented and spontaneous.

If you want to know how conscientious are you, we recommend to take the Big Five Personality Test here.

The Six Facets of Conscientiousness

According to the International Personality Item Pool, each dimension of the Big Five Personality Traits comprises six facets, or sub traits. The facets of the conscientiousness domain are:

  • Self-Efficacy: the ability to accomplish things, and desire to achieve and complete tasks. Self-Efficacy enables one to believe that they are competent and self-controlled. Low scorers in conscientiousness might have low self-efficacy.  Low self-efficacy might make them feel that their lives are out of control.
  • Orderliness: the quality of being organized and well-prepared. This facet is manifested when one enjoys making plans and following schedules and routines. Order-oriented people tend to keep things in order and organized and enjoy making and completing to-do lists. People with low levels of conscientiousness on the other hand tend to break rules and be disorganized.

conscientiousness_orderliness
Keeping things in order is one of the favorite things to do for order-oriented people

  • Dutifulness: Dutifulness allows one to have a strong sense of moral responsibility and contentment when following routines, regulations, or contracts. People with low levels of dutifulness view rules as being too confining and restrictive.hey tend to “play hard” before “work hard” and focus more on the present moments rather than long-term goals.  
  • Self-Discipline: the ability an individual has to control and motivate himself or herself to stay on track and make progress in achieving the goals. People with high levels of self-discipline have strong willpower, plus an ability to be persistent on following through with tasks, even unpleasant ones. People who do not have self-discipline tend to fail to self-control and self-motivate to continue the work they are supposed to do. 
  • Cautiousness: The tendency to think through all possible options and potential consequences of a situation before taking action. This also applies in communication where cautiousness means choosing carefully what to say and which words to use. Cautious people are thoughtful and need more time to make decisions. The opposite of being cautious is impulsive
  • Achievement-striving: the tendency to work diligently to achieve success and become the top performer. People having this facet often set their goals high and would love to sacrifice the joyful presence for hard work to accomplish those goals. They are usually internally driven, ambitious, and strive for a better future. On the contrary, people who do not have this tend not to be driven by accomplishments and achievements.

sixfacets_conscientiousness

Among the six facets, achievement-striving is one of the elements that is considered to be associated with career success. Since this facet is about setting ambitious goals and striving to achieve them, the downside is that the goals set could be too high or too risky. Also, high scorers could be considered narrow-minded, overly focused. They are too focused to be aware of other options or r alternatives. 

The relationship between conscientiousness and demographic, biological and environmental factors.

The interactions children have with their parents or caregivers in the early development stage can affect their personality traits later in life. A research measured key personality traits from a handful of adults and recorded memories of their parents’ behaviors in their childhood found that children who were able to receive care and affections from their parents tend to score higher in conscientiousness

affection baby baby girl beautiful
Children receiving affections from their parents tend to score higher in conscientiousness.

On another school of thought, other research suggested that a biological basis might also influence levels of conscientiousness. In Canada, 1996, a twin study by Kerry L. Jang  and his research team shows that conscientiousness is possibly inherited through the genes of our parents.

Demographic factors can also contribute to the changes in conscientiousness levels. Research by Van den Akker suggested that conscientiousness tends to increase as we grow older and acquire relatively enough social experience. 

The upsides of consciousness: lower likelihood of accidents and higher empathy

In a study called “The Five‐Factor Model, Conscientiousness, and Driving Accident Involvement” by Winfred Arthur Jr. and William G. Graziano in 1996, conscientious people are less likely to be involved in driving accidents than those with less conscientious personality traits. This is a direct result of conscientious people being careful, cautious, and self-discipline. 

red and yellow hatchback axa crash tests
Conscientiousness individuals are less likely to be involved in car accidents

Conscientious people tend to be more empathetic towards other people, according to a study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology. Since they will not take action without pondering possible options and consequences, they are rarely in a situation of advertently offending or upsetting others by either their words or actions.

The downsides of consciousness: bureaucracy and “anal personality”

The consciousness paradox: higher consciousness in to poorer and less democratic societies

On the national scale, the research found that “countries with high average levels of conscientiousness tend to be poorer, less democratic, and have a lower life expectancy compared to their less conscientious counterparts”. Although some scholars suggest that between-country comparisons of conscientiousness are not valid and convincing enough to yield a result, this led them to think there is the existence of “conscientiousness paradox”. This can be simply interpreted that, when levels of conscientiousness go too high, instead of yielding a better result, for instance, more productive at work, the reality is entirely opposite. 

Conscientiousness used to be defined as a pathological

According to Freud, “one group of his patients stood out from the rest: their discerning traits were cleanliness, conscientiousness, frugality, and stubbornness – that is, an anal personality.

Fortunately, conscientiousness has a more appealing connotation these days. Conscientiousness is widely considered a positive trait that an employee or a worker should have for productivity, long-term contribution, and organizational loyalty. As a result, one might be tempted to assume that “the more, the better”. 

High conscientiousness correlates to poorer workplace performance

Conscientiousness in practice is: “observing rules, focusing on the work, staying on schedule, keeping promises, and being reliable”.  It is only productive if the motivation comes from inside, not from the external desire for social rewards

“Hypocrisy is not genuine conscientiousness”

An over-conscientious employee can become compulsive perfectionists and workaholics. They might also be seen as being inflexible and non-adaptive. “Pedantry, a neurotic adherence to routine and perfectionism, are examples of extreme conscientiousness”. This can be seen as a manager insists on doing or organizing things in a particular way and it has to be perfect… according to his opinions! Or an employee takes more than half an hour just to fix minor visualization details of the report. Simply put, conscientiousness in doing the wrong things only results in bureaucracy and low productivity.

conscientiousness_lowproductivity
Too much conscientiousness correlates to poorer workplace performance

The above statement used to be a hypothesis yet has been empirically confirmed by a summary study, suggesting that the overly high levels of conscientiousness of an employee quickly turn into “detriment“ if he or she was assigned a simple task.

In short, overly conscientious people tend to spend unnecessary extra time making decisions, and “the ability to improvise and prioritize is lost”. These people also are prone to be exposed to “rapid burnout”, thus feeling faster than others, which lowers their work performance and productivity. 

Conclusion: the importance of conscientiousness

Conscientiousness plays a vital role in both individual improvement and working organizations. Individuals can leverage the power of conscientiousness to cultivate and grow personal development on a daily basis. In a working environment, this personality trait helps to boost team performance and drive the team towards accomplishing the goals set. It is also one of the keystone ingredients in a productive employee and a successful manager.

Summary: Levels of conscientiousness and behaviors

LOW HIGH EXTREME
Big-picture oriented Detail-oriented Become a perfectionist
Prefer deadlines and schedules Enjoy spontaneous situations
“Play harder” first Hard-working Become Workaholic
Stay relaxed, rarely take things seriously Responsible when taking actions or speaking Become Inflexible and non-adaptive
Break rules, disobey Adhere to norms and rules Being stubbornly compulsive

References:

The Big Five’s Openness: A closer look

Openness to experience, or openness, is one of the five dimensions of the Big Five Personality Traits. It is used to identify and measure individual differences in personality. Openness measures how open-minded, creative, and insightful an individual is. High scorers are likely to be receptive, imaginary, and adventurous. Low scorers, on the other hand, are resistant to changes, enjoy having a routine, and prefer conventional practices.

  1. Sub traits of the openness domain

Each dimension of the Big Five Personality Traits comprises six different facets, or also known as sub traits. The sub traits of openness domain are:  

  • Imagination: the ability to visualize new ideas and concepts in mind from both external and internal sources.
  • Artistic interests: an inclination to discover or to learn about new things related to art.
  • Adventurousness: the tendency to  undertake things that involve risk and danger.
  • Emotionality: the quality or state of being emotional.
  • Intellect: the capacity to think, understand and acquire knowledge, especially complex issues.
  • Liberalism: an attitude of respecting and allowing different types of beliefs or behavior.
  1. Similarity in openness creates relationship compatibility

Openness plays a pivotal role in forming new social relationships. Research shows that people tend to gravitate to romantic relationships and friendships with people who have roughly the same level of openness as they do. Although this effect is not strong compared to several other factors that bring people together, studies cannot deny its importance and benefits. Because openness involves the willingness to consider different schools of thoughts and a relatively high level of receptivity, high scorers in this trait are more open to tolerate differences in opinions, beliefs, and behaviors.

People who score high in openness have fewer conflicts with others and are less likely to be prejudiced. They often claim to have more satisfying relationships and stronger bonds with friends and family members. Besides, they are able to develop new sources of interest across various aspects. This comes as a direct result of the three following attributes combined: good relationships with others, open to new ideas, and a strong sense of curiosity. Low scorers, on the other hand, experience more difficulties voicing their opinions or accepting others’. They could become either insecure expressing themselves, or conservative with new beliefs and opinions.

In romantic couples, relationship compatibility in openness can be clearly illustrated. Individuals with a higher level of adventurousness and receptivity are more likely to find a partner with similar traits. Because open-minded people enjoy developing new interests in various aspects, they might meet their perfect half in the journey of exploration. However, it should be highlighted that openness is not the only factor that contributes to maintaining a long-term happy relationship. Instead, it acts as a foundational stepping-stone for the relationship.

bigfive_openness_similarity
High similarity in openness level would create better compatibility

  1. High in openness correlates to high degrees of intelligence

There are several schools of thoughts about how the openness trait typically shows positive correlations with IQ test performance. Some suggested that it might reflect the expression of intelligence in personality, particularly in the openness domain[1]. Others showed that openness correlates more strongly with verbal intelligence than spatial intelligence[2]. Meanwhile, these two types of intelligence in others have been found to correlate roughly equally with openness while Bates and Shieles argued that openness enhances the effect of spatial intelligence on the acquisition of knowledge via verbal intelligence.

Besides, several conceptualizations of this trait have been further developed. One holds that openness is the expression of intelligence in personality. Another is that it reflects creativity. Third, and most recently, it has been conceptualized as a motivated cognitive flexibility that is linked to dopamine function.

In sum, these three conceptual models, plus the studies about the positive correlation between two types of intelligence (namely spatial intelligence and verbal intelligence) and openness, suggest that this personality trait should correlate to differing degrees with intelligence, creativity , and other measures of executive functioning.

  1. Parent’s openness have strong influence on the child’s personality

For people who have children, openness is expected to have a strong association with parenting styles. Parents who score low in this trait tend to impose rules and expect obedience. They are considered strict parents who are not very welcome to new opinions and do not tolerate the child’s objections. These might influence a child’s long-term behavior and in different ways. If the child appears to be an argumentative and antagonistic person, there would be a great number of conflicts and arguments between parents and children occurring frequently. From another perspective, if the child agrees to conform to the rules and obey his or her parents, there are two possible situations. First, the child only does so if his or her self-benefits are under the parents’ control. Second, the child might inherit this trait from his or her parents and turn into a strict parent when having children.

A high level of openness has explicitly related to positive features of parenting. Studies found that openness associates with parental support and less negative control. Parents, especially mothers, are encouraged to be more supportive and engaging in various developing stages of the child. Instead of being manipulative and critical, parents with a high score in openness are more open and receptive to new opinions. These parents often provide the child with privacy to establish mutual respect and give each other space for self-reflection. Therefore, the child also feels more comfortable expressing his or her thoughts and more willing to embrace new ideas. When this child becomes a parent in the future, he or she is more likely to inherit this positive maternal trait from his or her parents and become an open-minded parent.

  1. High scorers in openness tend to have higher aesthetic sensitivity

People scoring high in openness tend to be more open to the surrounding environment. Aesthetic experiences and surrounding neighborhoods become a joyful part of high scorers. Their levels of, what researchers call “aesthetic sensitivity” are higher, compared to those who rank low in the openness domain. High scorers enjoy sensory experiences including music, art, and splendid scenery. They also claim to have their feelings more absorbed and emotionally touched by these kinds of experiences.

On the contrary, less open-minded people seem to be less curious and emotionally responsive to the surrounding environment. They often do not pay attention to surrounding neighborhoods, thus having lower levels of aesthetic sensitivity. Besides, low scorers might feel uncomfortable or even struggling, when dealing with new changes in the surroundings. From their perspective, the surroundings are perfectly fine the way it is since their presence and there is no need for making or adding up new changes. Even when new changes have altered their surroundings, there is a strong urge inside of them wanting things to get back to the unchanged state.

One study looked at people’s reactions to viewing photographs of the space and the universe taken by the Hubble telescope. Participants with an originally high score in openness domain claim how profound and magnificent the pictures are. They also rate this experience special and emotionally touched. Meanwhile, low scorers in openness think nothing special in this experience, some even report to be boring and sterile.

These results show levels of openness positively correlate with aesthetic sensitivity. Those who rank high in this personality trait tend to have higher aesthetic sensitivity. This means they enjoy sensory experiences better and are more emotionally responsive to the surrounding neighborhoods. For low scorers, be prepared that everything will be changing to form a new order because this is an inevitable process to sustain life. So be comfortable, accepting, and adaptive to new changes and your levels of openness will improve.  

  1. People have lower openness as they become older

Differences in openness dimension have been observed across different groups by age, gender, and culture. Each category contains specific features that affect the variations of openness. A deep dive into each category will illustrate how openness varies and why it matters in our daily life.  

The level of openness is likely to vary throughout one’s lifespan. This trait declines in both males and females over time, a change that indicates less interest and curiosity in new adventures, in forming new relationships, and in accepting new ideas. A survey of more than 10.000 people in the United States found that senior participants claimed to have lower levels of openness (which is also true for extraversion and neuroticism), compared to junior respondents. This shows openness and age establish an inverse proportion, which means we tend to be less open-minded as we grow older.

  1. Recommendations for high scorers in openness

Openness allows one to be securely vulnerable and honest, which enables one to establish mutual trust and embrace emotional understanding. This helps to form a new structure of relationships and strengthen social bonds. People in this group are highly creative, adaptable, and adventurous.

So how can high scorers utilize their strengths to work and communicate better?

  • Besides creativity, one should also pay attention to practicality and feasibility
  • Get familiarized with factual concepts such as data and numbers
  • Concentrate energy in one topic or aspect at a time
  • High scorers may find it comfortable expressing themselves. Make sure to give your friends, co-workers, or family members space to express personally, emotionally, and mentally as well.

If you rank high in this domain, jobs that involve emotionality and creativity are more suitable for you:

  • Artist.
  • Content creator.
  • Graphic Designer.
  • Entrepreneur: if you are a creative person with a business mindset, plus a problem-solver, running a business might be appropriate for you.
  • Philosopher.
  • Lawyer.
  • Pilot.
    bigfiv_openness_officejob
    Office jobs with nine-to-five working hours might not be an ideal option for high scorers
  1. Recommendations for low scorers in openness

People belonging to this group prefer familiar and conventional practices and enjoy routine activities. They might have difficult times expressing their feelings and opinions. Similarly, they are not willing to consider or embrace new ideas from others.

So how can low scorers work and communicate in a better way?

  • Try to perceive and think a different angle
  • Understand others’ values and traditions from their points of view
  • Be more flexible and adaptive to changes and new ideas
  • Be comfortable and confident in self-expression

Jobs that generally require logical thinking or has a stable working environment are often suitable options for this group:

  • Banker
  • Financial Analyst
  • Auditor
  • Accountant
  • Contractor

If you are curious about your levels of openness, take the quiz and find out more.

References:

  1. Sub traits and careers for openness domain
  2. Openness and the gravitations towards equivalent relationships: Like attracts like
  3. High in openness correlates to high degrees of intelligence and
  4. Openness varies in different individual and social characteristics
  5. Gender differences in personality across the ten aspects of the Big Five

Introduction To The Big 5 Personality Traits

The Big 5 (OCEAN) Personality Traits.

If Big 3 recalls a basketball league in the United States, big 4 reminds you of four well-known accounting firms, then this article introduces to you the big 5 personality traits. The big 5 personality traits, often referred to as OCEAN, stands for Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion (or extraversion), Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. These five personality traits represent broad domains of human behavior and have been utilized in everyday life to serve both personal and organizational purposes. Today, the OCEAN model is mostly used by the HR department to evaluate potential candidates and marketers who want to understand their audiences and consumers.

The OCEAN model: Historical development

The OCEAN model is known to have taken over a decade to be narrowed down, from 4,500 to just five. Earlier theories suggested different numbers for possible traits, which includes Gordon Allport’s list of 4,500 personality traits in the early 20th century. From this original list, Raymond Cattell’s – a British psychologist – reduced the number of main personality traits down to 171. He eventually shortened his list to just 16 key personality traits. Another British psychologist named Hans Eysenck developed a different theory with just three dimensions, called Introversion / Extroversion, Neuroticism / Emotional Stability and Psychoticism. 

Several researchers felt that Cattell’s theory was complicated, while Eysenck’s was too limited in scope. The five-dimension personality model, therefore, emerged as a result of the search for a common language amongst personality researchers. Tupes and Christal (1961) were the first to propose this five-dimension model, indicating that personality is made up of five broad personality dimensions: extraversion, compatibility, neuroticism, conscientiousness and developmental openness. The completeness of this model comprises essential traits that serve as the foundation of personality science. 

It is important to note that each trait represents a range between two polar ends of the dimension. In other words, you either score high or low in a trait, which go along are appropriately matching behaviors of this trait. Scoring low in agreeableness does not always mean you are a disagreeable person. Instead, you are more likely to be tough-minded and competitive in certain situations. In reality, most people lie somewhere in between the two extremes of each dimension.

 

  • Openness: 

 

This trait represents the willingness to be open to new experiences or the comfort around novel discoveries. Openness features characteristics such as imagination, creativity and curiosity. High scorers tend to be highly creative and have a wide range of interests across various aspects. They enjoy discovering complex concepts and prefer incentive practices than traditional ones. They are also comfortable with abstract thinking and very interested in technical know-how. Most of the time, operating principles and structural functions of a mechanism possibly trigger their sense of curiosity.

Those who score low in openness are more resistant to expose to new things. They are more comfortable with familiar and conventional concepts. Technological advancements or modern lifestyle and customs might not be suitable and applicable to this group. Low scorers in this trait prefer practical ideas with facts and evidence than hypothetical or philosophical complications.  

High in Openness

  • Very creative
  • Open to trying new things & changes
  • Comfortable with abstract concepts
  • Adventurous, inventive and curious
Low in Openness

  • Prefer conventional practices
  • Dislike new things & changes
  • Prefer practical & factual concepts
  • Resistant, traditional, cautious

 

  • Conscientiousness: 

 

This dimension of the big 5 personality traits represents high levels of determination, self-discipline and thoughtfulness. Conscientious people are careful and organized. They are deadline-lovers and can work well under the pressure of time. They are often mindful of details and more likely to forego immediate gratification, shift their focus and work hard toward the planned goals. From their perspective, the comfortable presence would be sacrificed for the sake of long-term achievement. People who are high in conscientiousness tend to be consistently diligent and ambitious with goal-directed behaviors. 

On the contrary, unconscientious people tend to enjoy the part “play harder” before “work hard”. For low scorers, it is more important to enjoy life at the present than constantly sacrifice it for the future. You might find your friend eating a chocolate cake, despite her well-planned diet list on the table, or notice yourself chilling in a Friday party, despite a pile of unfinished reports due next week. If you find yourself somewhere mentioned above, I guess you would choose to be spontaneous over well-prepared and general statements over specific details.

High in Conscientiousness

  • Detail-oriented
  • Prioritize important tasks
  • prefer deadlines & schedules
Low in Conscientiousness

  • Prefer big-picture key points
  • Procrastinate important tasks.
  • Enjoy spontaneous situations

 

  • Extraversion

 

Extraversion, or extroversion, is a state characterized by the orientation of one’s interests and energies toward the outer world rather than the inner world. Scoring high in this trait means you are more likely to be an outgoing and sociable person. If you are “the more, the merrier” type of person, you are able to engage actively with others to earn social interactions and social approvals. You may also find joy and comfortable through expanding the energy externally. 

What if you score low in extraversion trait? The answer is you are likely to be more introverted than extroverted. Congratulations, introverts! Welcome to this extroverted world! Introverts often conserve their energy in social situations. They tend to gain energy by self-reflecting and listening to their inner world of subjective experiences. Instead of focusing on the outer world, they shift it inward and expand it internally.

High in Extraversion

  • More likely to start conversations
  • Easy-going and easy-to-blend-in
  • Seek social interactions
Low in Extraversion

  • Carefully think through before speaking
  • Being picky (jobs, relationships, etc.)
  • Prioritized individuality and subjective experiences

 

  • Agreeableness

 

Agreeableness describes the tendency of an individual to act in a cooperative, unselfish and loyal manner. This trait is characterized by the degree of trust, kindness, compassion and co-operation. People who are high in agreeableness are more cooperative, supportive and friendly to others. Conflicts and arguments or any other forms of debates are not a good friend of an agreeable person. Instead, they constantly seek situations where they can support and assist others that are in need of help. 

If you happen to score low in this trait, do not get disappointed by the antonym name: disagreeable. I would prefer saying competitive and tough-minded. This group of people are more willing to confront challenges and arguments, sometimes they become very tough-minded and would be antagonistic if needed to protect their self-benefits. Low scorers ponder self-benefits before compromising or assisting others, which is a good thing, especially in this highly exploitative working environment. 

High in agreeableness

  • Tend to compromise
  • Avoid conflicts and arguments
  • Put others’ needs ahead 
  • Enjoy assisting others 
Low in agreeableness

  • Consider self-benefits before compromising
  • Being antagonistic and argumentative
  • Prioritize individual needs
  • Prefer competitiveness

 

  • Neuroticism

 

Neuroticism is a trait characterized by a person’s tendency to experience negative emotions, including fearfulness, self-doubts, insecurity and emotional instability. While everyone experiences these emotions from times to times, some people are more prone to them than others. Mood swings, emotional instability and self-doubts are distinct manifestations of this dimension. Scoring high in this trait means you are more prone to the mentioned manifestations.

depiction of a neurotic person

By contrast, low scorers in neuroticism means you are more emotionally stable and bounce back from stressful situations quickly. Unlike the high-scorer group, high scorers have the ability to shift from reacting to gaining full control of a situation. This possibly the reason they are relatively calmer and strong-minded in challenging circumstances. 

High in neuroticism

  • Experience mood swings 
  • React to a situation with fearfulness and insecurities
  • Struggles to bounce back after stressful events
Low in neuroticism

  • Emotionally resilient
  • Tend to shift from reacting to taking control of the situation
  • Think forward and move on quickly

You might want to take the test here

How the Model is Used Today

If you already took the test and got your results, you are one step ahead of HR practitioners and marketers. The big 5 OCEAN model is used not only for individual purposes to discover one’s identity but also for organizational purposes. In large organizations, the HR department utilizes the OCEAN framework to evaluate and select appropriate candidates for the position. Candidates are put in a specific context and asked various questions relating to the OCEAN framework. For official full-time employees, the OCEAN model might be used as foundational outcomes to build teams that have similar or cross-matching personality traits. For individual purposes, the HR director might provide an employee with a summary of his / her results. Feedback and advice on how to communicate effectively with others will be provided to the employee accordingly based on the test results. 

Besides, marketers also frequently use this OCEAN framework as a crucial part to understand their audiences and consumers. Based on the commonalities within the personality profiles, marketers are able to know some typical characteristics of their target group. Combined with demographic segmentation and other important factors such as social status and genders, the complete version of different consumer profiles will be created. Marketers can now identify targeted shoppers, consumer segmentation to better match with the company’s strategy or its brand image.

References:

  1. Gordon Allport’s work on 4,500 personality traits
  2. Raymond Cattell’s 16 personality factors
  3. Hans Eysenck’s three-dimension theory
  4. Personality and big five-factor models of personality, March 2018: Page 3, 4
  5. The Big Five Personality Traits
  6. The Big Five OCEAN Personality Types: Introduction and Discussions
  7. The Big 5 OCEAN Traits Explained – Personality Quizzes
  8. Extraversion vs Introversion
  9. Definition of Agreeableness

 

How to Know If You Are An Introvert or Extrovert?

Let’s start with the definitions:

The simplified definition of introversion-extroversion scale is the source where an individual gain energy from. An introvert will gain energy reflecting and listening to his inner world of thoughts, feelings or ideas. Meanwhile, an extrovert is energized by interacting with surrounding people, ideas or projects and will get bored being left alone for too long.

I would like to clarify some common misconceptions. Many tests give you results in percentage such as 70% Introvert, 30% Extrovert. However, this does not mean you are a different type 30% of the time. Being 90% or 51% introverted still means you have an introverted outlook in life. Being more in the middle of the scale probably means you are more versatile in channeling your energy to meet extraverted tasks.

Being more introverted does not guarantee you are a loner, unfriendly or have very few friends either. It is simply a generalized tendency,. Introverts are very capable of being confident in public speaking or having more friends than an extrovert. Outward behaviors can be misleading. Being an introvert or extrovert is deeper than that, going to the core values and overall attitude towards the outside world. So read below for 3 guidelines which will help you better decide which side you are on. 

Extroverts seek social approval while introverts prioritize individuality

From a sociology point of view, since the time where mankind still lives in cave and in small closely-knitted communities, there are two distinct social strategies. One one hand, one may regard the community’s standards and needs as absolute and everything he thinks or does ultimately allows him to be better recognized by the tribe. The introvert’s ultimate basis is his own needs and himself. It is not about being selfish, but prioritizing individual perspectives and standards over the norms.

For example, an introverted feeling-dominant person will prioritize his moral standards and his subjective experience over the tribe’s. Such a type is the inspiration for the typical protagonist in many classic romance stories where the character is willing to fight and suffer for a personal passion despite resistance from the community or family. An extraverted feeling person, as you can guess, would more likely to follow what the social norms dictate.

introvert feeling in Hunchback_of_Notre_Dame
The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a good illustration of introverted feeling

In the case of thinking, an extraverted thinkers will have the habit of thinking how to obtain knowledge from well-validated external sources and to apply a principle or rule to as many people as possible. An introverted thinker, on the other hand, is often more comfortable relying on his original understanding of how things work and how he can “game the system” to obtain what he wants.

Extroverts prefer quantity while introverts want quality

Carl Jung himself mentioned in his book that the extroversion scale points beyond humans to include all living organisms. In the same population of a specific species, on one end of the spectrum are individuals who are more aggressive and less discriminate in acquiring food and mates. On the other end, there are those that prefer to conserve energy, striking with fewer but more efficient attempts.

Of course, like many other biological drives, introversion-extroversion has grown to be more complex in humans. But the general principle stays the same: extroverts prefer to expand their energy while introvert conserves. Both are valid survival strategies. It explains many different outward behaviors between the two types, like how introverts tend to prefer fewer but closer friends or how extroverts seem more outgoing and socially assertive in pursuing their goals. 

Extroverts are often generalists while introverts are specialists

Introverts often can think and work for much longer on a single topic or project, obtaining more unique and in-depth insights than their extroverted counterparts. Extroverts, like Thomas Edison, are of course capable of invention and creating ideas. However, what introverts are naturally good at is depth in subject matters. They are certainly over-represented in professions such as research, writing, drawing, engineering etc.

Meanwhile, extroverts often use ideas to achieve real world objectives. They are over-represented as managers, politicians, marketers… They usually prefer well-validated or popular knowledge and have relatively less patience to dwell on a topic for too long.

Conclusion

If you are a so-called ambivert, trying to pinpoint the side of this spectrum is not an easy task and personality tests online often do not help due to a lack of accuracy. I believe the best way to do is to contemplate the 3 principles above and search within yourself about what you really want. 

Most of us want success or popularity eventually, but does that success needs to come from your original understanding and ingenuity? Do you often distrust the mass and wish everyone can be more unique and think more for themselves? If those questions constantly itch you, you are more likely to be introverted than extroverted. 

Yardstick Introvert Extrovert
Social approval Have a general dislike and often question popular ideas , standards or tastes Seek to achieve socially-approved concepts and objectives without “overthinking”
Quantity versus quality Prefer quality, being picky (job, relationship…) Want to experience it all, easy-going and easy to blend in
Generalist versus specialist Are often specialist Are often generalist

 

The 4 Types Of INFP

The INFP MBTI type is stereotyped as misunderstood, meek and emotional introvert who is obsessed with morality  while having a natural gift for written languages. However, in truth, INFP is a very diverse range of people with varied strengths and interests. Let’s explore 4 main subtypes of INFP which you can better identify yourself with:

The “Marketer”

INFP type often correlates with Enneagram type 4 – the Individualist. Type 4 Enneagram shares many characteristics with the poster child INFP: individualistic, creative, emotional with desire to be unique. Enneagram type 4 can develop wing 3 or wing 5. Enneagram Type 3 is nicknamed the Performer, or someone who is achievement and status-oriented. Meanwhile, type 5 is labeled the Investigator, or someone who is logical and always want to understand things deeper.

Depiction of INFP Marketer in Team

The Marketer is INFP with Enneagram 4 Wing 3. It combines type 4’s knack for creative expression and a somewhat conventional career-focused mindset. They are career-driven and often have lofty goals, taking pride in conveying with passion the values of the brands and products which they believe in.

The Marketer type often has a better time to blend into teamwork and corporate environment compared to INFP 4 Wing 5. They enjoy using their creative ability to produce marketing materials that can touch the audience while enjoy career stability and progression.

The “Bohemian”

Bohemian is defined as a socially unconventional person, often in the arts. This is a pretty apt term to describe Enneagram 4 with wing 5 (4w5) because the 5 wing adds an additional layer of introversion and bizarreness into their perspectives. Enneagram 4 and 5 are both introverted in attitude, resulting in a really introspective and original character.

Unlike 4w3 who is often more comfortable with teamwork and corporate settings, 4w5 Bohemian is truly a lone wolf. The emotionality of type 4 combined with the rationality of 5 itself seems like an oxymoron. Imagine an INFP who has learnt to temper his feelings with logic and objectivity. This type wants their work to be not only unique but also original and insightful. They will more likely do a mundane day job while using their creative talent to produce few but high-quality work compared to the Marketer INFP.

Vincent Van Gogh Enneagram 4w5
Van Gogh is most likely a 4w5 (not necessarily INFP)

Read more: https://enneagrampaths.com/2019/01/13/enneagram-4w3-vs-4w5/

The Turbulent INFP

I use the terminology Turbulent and Assertive from 16personalities.com to describe another pronounced dichotomy among INFP. In fact, the majority of INFP seems to be Turbulent, which is expected among feeling-dominant types. Turbulent is equivalent to Neurotic in Big 5, describing someone who is more prone to worrying, perfectionism and seeking social approval.

The turbulent INFP fits more with the usual expectation of INFP type who is prone to overthinking and perfectionism, the chief cause of their notorious procrastination. Turbulent INFPs are pretty socially-conscious despite being an introvert. They would often worry about meeting conventional social expectations such as career, income, status…

Yet, turbulent individuals are said to be more creative. Having both creativity and perfectionism, they are very capable of producing art masterpieces.

The Assertive INFP

I’m not sure if Assertive INFP are born or grown because neuroticism can change. Many INFPs including myself appeared more turbulent when younger and through repeated self-conditioning, are able to attain better inner-peace to become more assertive.

Regardless, assertive individuals are more self-assured and confident in their abilities, at the risk of being complacent and arrogant. While turbulent INFP are perfectionistic in their work and relentless in self-improvement, assertive ones seem contented and nonchalant. 

At their best, assertive INFP are calm and comfortable in asserting themselves. According to surveys by 16personalities.com, they are more resistant to stress and seem more happy with life. They can also possess more perseverance to pursue their visions as they are less dependent on other people’s approval or conventional expectations.

Conclusion

I understand that if you are an INFP type, you may not like to be pigeon-holed into labels or being categorized as more typical or mainstream. However, the writing above is in no way exhaustive and also limited by my own repertoire of personality psychology. I would say, at the risk of sounding cliche, we are all unique… 

There can be many other personality dimensions yet to be discovered. The personality labels, whether being mainstream or not, only serve to help us better understand our strengths and weaknesses through well-known concepts. You are always encouraged to explore other unique aspects of your individuality so as to grow to the fullest of your potential.

Overall, there are pros and cons for being in each of the INFP subtypes listed above. One type can always learn from the opposite type to become a more balanced and mature individual.

MBTI Superpowers Part 2: The ENTJ and INTJ

At the core, INTJ and ENTJ are very similar and hence one type often gets confused for the other. They are both visionary doers who prioritize external measurable results. Both often are straight-shooters who dislike politics and small talks.

ENTJ’s superpowers: effectiveness and vision

The reason I put ENTJ first is because their inner workings are probably easier to imagine than that of INTJ. They are over-represented among CEOs and corporate managers, often pictured as smart, decisive and even ruthless about profit and bottom lines.

ENTJ’s superpower in leadership and strategy is derived from Extraverted Thinking (Te). Te is adept at recognizing and applying the rules of the system. It is energized by external, socially-approved rewards. Te-dominant personalities like ENTJ and ESTJ, or even INTJ and ISTJ, work really hard and are industrious. They look for measurable results and can be impatient with explanation or speculation. Their motto is “ What matters is the results, not the process”.

But what distinguishes ENTJ from ESTJ is their auxiliary function, Introverted Intuition (Ni). Ni helps ENTJ to be more imaginative and visionary. If ESTJ is more of a traditional manager, ENTJ are often innovators and change-makers who can realize and turn new technology or invention into profitable enterprises. 

Bill Gates and Napoleon Bonaparte are said to be of ENTJ types. Napoleon was well-known as an effective and ruthless conqueror, but he was also a forward-thinking law-maker who spearheaded various changes to the legal, military and political landscape of France.

The most mature ENTJs even go beyond the pull of their typical competitive and controlling Te and become magnanimous and forgiving. They are extremely protective of their team, employees, and friends. They have the vision and disciplines to push the entire company towards goals but are also flexible and open-minded enough to give individuals under them space to perform with autonomy and trust.

napoleon in battle - a poster child of ENTJ
Mature ENTJs can be inspiring and magnanimous leaders

 

INTJ’s superpowers: patience, vision and integrity

INTJ’s dominant function, however, is Introverted Intuition (Ni). The chief purpose of Ni is understanding, not external achievements. It seeks clarity and truth. Especially during the younger years where Te is not yet developed, INTJs will often indulge in Ni, spending hours daydreaming and contemplating. They are voracious readers of both fiction and non-fiction and often enjoy computer games and fantasy genre when young.

As INTJ becomes more mature , their more developed Te allows them to become more engaged with the external world. They learn to channel their fountain of unique perspectives into achieving real-world objectives. If their extraverted counterparts seem like brash go-getters, INTJ’s superhuman strength lies in his extraordinary patience to plan and wait to execute with relentless precision, when all the pieces fall into the right place.

INTJ’s penchants for logic and planning often allow them to be great engineers and scientists. The more socially-inclined and ambitious type often find resounding success in the commercial world, conducting their business with cutting-edge technology and uncompromising integrity. Yes integrity is very true for INTJ who is also very much influenced by their third function, Introverted Feeling, which is the epitome of integrity and moral character.

However, logic and precision are not enough to describe INTJ’s ingenuity and potential contribution. Leading with Ni, their understanding are global and highly objective. They are forward-looking visionary leaders who can make the impossible happen for society at large. Think about Elon Musk, a poster child INTJ. Building a successful company (Paypal) and becoming a multi-millionaire is not enough for him. He has his eyes set to bring humanity to Mars and beyond!

Elon Musk - a poster child INTJ
The once nerdy and socially-awkward INTJ

A really good place to understand INTJ’s inner workings is the Cold-war classic Atlas Shrugged. Most of the heroes and heroines in the book are INTJ and the author, Ayn Rand, herself is said to be an INTJ.