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
Electrical engineering specialist
Scientist / researcher
Interpreter / translator
Writer / content creator / poet
Baker / private chef
Music composer
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. 


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.

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.


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.

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

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


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.

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.
    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.


  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.


  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