The Five-Factor Personality model has attracted an immense amount of interest recently. Some say that this new system of personality modeling replaces the older, well-known Myers-Briggs personality testing system in ways that are increasingly universalized and more efficient. Others say that the test only applies to certain societies. What’s the big deal about this new system and why do we even need one? And most importantly, where do YOU fall in the Big Five?
First of all, the Myers-Briggs test -developed by venerated personality psychologist Carl Jung and Isabel Myers-Briggs – has been sharply criticized of late. And by “of late” I mean “for the past three decades”. Psychologists have shown that problems with the Myers-Briggs test are not insubstantial, attacking its reliability to the exclusivity of its results to its relative uselessness in determination of personality for type of work…despite its heavy use -thanks to excellent marketing- by employers in evaluating potential employees.
So the old test is shot through of holes. So what? What’s so important about personality anyway?
Well. Your personality is basically everything about who you are, so…yeah. It’s pretty important. And where the Myers-Briggs test fails, the Big Five is more efficient and demonstrates consistent results across race, age, ethnic group and nationality.
While the Myers-Briggs tests sorts participants into different personality “types” -kind of like a Jungian sorting hat- the Big Five model shows areas of strengths and weakness across its factors. Those factors -Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism- are simply that: factors in determining the participant’s personality. There’s no cut-and-dried “typing”, which is helpful, as while I can think of plenty of people who might test highly for Neuroticism, I can think of no one who would want that to be their hard-and-fast personality “type”.
The Big Five allows for a degree of flexibility never achieved with the Myers-Briggs test because it accounts for factors that might seem self-cancelling under other testing methods, such as a person showing introverted traits in one area of their personality and extraverted traits in another.
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Like any psychological testing system, though, it has its own flaws. The modeling seems highly functional across educated, more affluent cultures, but trying to use the modeling in indigenous cultures has, in its limited application, proved nearly impossible. The Five Factor Model applies, it would seem, more cohesively only in more highly-industrialized populations in more developed societies with greater access to higher education.
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So how do you figure out where you fall in the Big Five? Click here to take the test now; with only 41 questions it takes just a few minutes (compared to the 116+ questions on the Myers-Briggs). You can even decide whether or not to share your results with the scientific community. While it’s an incorrect conclusion to say there are now only five personality “types” that’s probably just us journalists getting carried away with exciting research. The really exciting part is that there aren’t really five personality types because we all test with nuances and differences that are ascribed to who we uniquely are.
(This author, by the way, tested highly for extraversion, agreeableness and openness to experience, and low for neuroticism and conscientiousness.)