Mark Pearl

The Big Five/FFM was developed to represent as much of the variability in individuals’ personalities as possible, using only a small set of trait dimensions.

Many personality psychologists agree that its five domains capture the most important, basic individual differences in personality traits and that many alternative trait models can be conceptualized in terms of the Big Five/FFM structure.

The Five Traits

  1. Extraversion,
  2. Agreeableness,
  3. Conscientiousness,
  4. Neuroticism (sometimes named by its polar opposite, Emotional Stability),
  5. and Openness to Experience (sometimes named Intellect).

Examples of these traits

Highly extraverted people are assertive and sociable rather than quiet and reserved. Agreeable individuals are cooperative and polit, rather than antagonistic and rude.
Conscientious individuals are task-focused and orderly, rather than distractible and disorganized Neurotic individuals are prone to experiencing negative emotions, such as anxiety, depression, and irritation, rather than being emotionally resilient.o Highly open individuals have a broad rather than narrow range of interests, are sensitive rather than indifferent to art and beauty, and prefer novelty to routine.


  • the factors are dimensions, not types, so people vary continuously on them, with most people falling in between the extremes
  • the factors are stable over a 45-year period beginning in young adulthood
  • the factors and their specific facets are heritable (i.e., genetic), at least in part
  • the factors probably had adaptive value in a prehistoric environment
  • the factors are considered universal, having been recovered in languages as diverse as German and Chinese
  • knowing one’s placement on the factors is useful for insight and improvement through therapy


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