Do you know what personality type you are? I was sure about I knew about my own but, after reading a very informative article this weekend, I learned that I was wrong! There are five major personality types; personality being described by five broad traits.
The hypothesis that human personality could be categorized into different types was first proposed by Francis Galton in the 1800's. And this was something I didn't know. "The lexical hypothesis states that every natural language contains all the personality descriptions that are relevant and important to the speakers of that language." Cool. "In 1936, pioneering psychologist Gordon Allport and his colleague Henry Odbert explored this hypothesis by going through an unabridged English dictionary and creating a list of 18,000 words related to individual differences. Approximately 4,500 of those terms reflected personality traits. This sprawling set of terms gave psychologists interested in the lexical hypothesis a place to start, but it wasn't useful for research, so other scholars attempted to narrow the set of words down." Raymond Cattell, in the 1940's used statistical methods to narrow down the sprawling list to a mere 16 traits. Several other scholars including one Mr. Donald Fisk came to the conclusion in 1949 that all the data contained a set of five strong and stable personality traits. So what are those five stable traits for humans?
1. Openness to experience; Folks with this trait are usually curious, imaginative, artistic, interested in many things, excitable, and unconventional. The opposite of openness to experience is close-mindedness.
2. Conscientious: These types are organizers and planners. They delay their gratification, avoid compulsive action, and follow the norms, The opposite of conscientious is lack of direction. The traits for these people include; competence, order and organizational skills, dutifulness and lack of carelessness, achievement through hard work, self-discipline, being deliberate and controlled.
3. Extraversion: Extraverted individuals draw their energy from their interactions with the social world. Extraverts are sociable, talkative, and outgoing. The opposite of extraversion is introversion. Extraverts typically are; gregarious, assertive, active, excitement-seeking, emotionally positive and enthusiastic, warm and outgoing.
4. Next up is agreeableness. These are the altruistic humans who are positive and see the good in others. They trust others and behave prosocially. The opposite of agreeableness is antagonism. Their defining traits are; trusting and forgiving, straightforward and undemanding, altruistic, affable and amenable, modest, and sympathetic to others.
5. Neuroticism: Neuroticism refers to a tendency towards negative emotions and includes experiences like feeling anxious and depressed. The opposite of neuroticism is emotional stability. The key facets of this personality type are; anxiety and tension, angry hostility and irritability, depression, shyness, self-consciousness, impulsive and moody, and lack of self-confidence.
The acronym OCEAN is a handy device for the traits specified by the Big Five.
Personality traits tend to be highly stable so therefore change very little over the adult lifetime. Experts tell us that while some gradual shift is possible, the shifts are not dramatic. This is partially due to genetics, which plays a huge role in traits one develops. And environments can indirectly reinforce inherited traits. Adult humans choose environments that reinforce and support their traits.
But here's where things get interesting. recent studies are showing that children as young as five "have the ability to describe their personality and that by age six, children begin to show consistency and stability in the traits of conscientiousness, extraversion, and agreeableness." Two other studies on children show that kids could have additional personality traits. One American study showed that children could have two additional personality traits; irritability and activity. A Dutch study of children ages three to sixteen of both sexes also found two additional personality traits. "While one was similar to the activity trait found in the previously discussed study, the other, dependency (relying on others), was different."
The Big Five personality traits evolve as humans age. Over time, research shows that people became more conscientious, less neurotic, and increased social dominance (a facet of extraversion) as they aged. Humans tend to become more agreeable in old age. That kind of blows the theory that old folks are naturally curmudgeons! Adolescents are more open to new experiences and demonstrated greater social vitality, another facet of extraversion especially during their college years.
I hope you enjoyed learning about personality types. Did you know which category you fell into? I found that while I display a few facets of each, I am definitely one more than any other. I think that's probably true for most humans, too.
I invite you back again tomorrow but until then,