Once a week.
Subscribe to our weekly newsletter.
The Big Five personality traits and what they mean to psychologists
Psychologists sort human personalities into five traits, each of which you can score high or low on.
At the topmost level, there are two types of people in the world: Those who think personality types can be categorized and those who can't.
Among those in the first group are psychologists who began developing a system for classifying personality traits based on an analysis of language way back in the 1880s. With the advent of larger data sets, in 1978 Paul Costa and Robert McRae published their Neuroticism-Extraversion-Openness Inventory (NEO-I) that grouped personalities according to three principal traits. In 1985 after further research, they added two more, and published the NEO Personality Inventory (NEO PI). The groupings constitute the five personality traits psychologists use today, known as “The Big Five." Together, they form the acronym OCEAN.
Each personality trait is characterized by six individual facets.
The assumption has long been that these inventories could be useful in statistical studies, revealing how personality correlates to an individual's behavior and degree of life satisfaction. And this has turned out to be true. Few scientists would assert that personality is the only factor that determines how one lives — situational factors are believed to be just as important — but there are some intriguing correspondences.
If you like, you can take a free online International Personality Item Pool Representation of the NEO PI-R™ (IPIP-NEO) test to find out where you fit into the Big Five inventory. The original version has 300 questions, and there's an abbreviated one with 120.
Openness to Experience
This one describes people who enjoy the arts and new experiences. The may exhibit these facets:
• Fantasy — have a vivid imagination
• Aesthetics — believe in the importance of art
• Feelings — experience emotions intensely
• Actions — prefer variety to routine
• Ideas — like complex problems
• Values — tend to vote for liberals
High scorers are creative, into discovering new things, and have a strong internal life characterized by extended musings over concepts and experiences. Low scorers are more conventional, with narrower interests, and are more down to earth.
These people are organized, and tend to keep going and going. They're methodical, down to their to-do lists. Their sub-six are:
• Competence — complete tasks successfully
• Order — like order
• Dutifulness — follow the rules
• Achievement-striving — work hard
• Self-discipline — get chores done right away
• Deliberation — avoid mistakes
Hard-working, dependable, and not afraid of some hard work? You might score highly in conscientiousness. If you go with the flow, make decisions impulsively, and in general like to wing it, odds are you're a low scorer.
This is about degree of sociability, and one's source of energy and excitement: Is it derived from other people? (This is also sometimes called “surgency," which ruins the OCEAN acronym.)
• Warmth — make friends easily
• Gregariousness — love large parties
• Assertiveness — take charge
• Activity — am always busy
• Excitement-seeking — love excitement
• Positive Emotions — radiate joy
High scorers people light up around other people. They love the spotlight and are often the life of the party. They may also be thrill-seekers. People who score low in this trait tend to be quieter, more inward, and more deliberate. Being around people is a chore for them.
Extraversion is also a strong indicator of leadership quality, like conscientiousness.
These people are all about trust, honesty, and getting along with others. They're also tolerant. Their six facets:
• Trust — trust others
• Compliance — would never cheat on taxes
• Altruism — make people feel welcome
• Straightforwardness — am easy to satisfy
• Modesty — dislike being center of attention
• Tender-mindedness — sympathize with the homeless
People who score highly for agreeableness are honesty, dependable, and generous, looking for the best in others. They're often mild-mannered and consider loyalty an important value. Low scorers have low expectations of others, and may be sneaky as a result: They're generally suspicious of other humans.
Agreeable people folks tend to be happier because they gravitate toward the positive, though they're not as likely to get ahead as some others who are dissatisfied with things as they are and think less of their peers. According to one study, agreeable people are more likely to have a looser walk, too.
We may not all be psychologists, but we pretty much know what “neurotic" means. These people have these facets to them:
• Anxiety — worry about things
• Hostility — get angry easily
• Depression — often feel blue
• Self-consciousness — am easily intimidated
• Impulsiveness — eat too much
• Vulnerability — panic easily
Well, obviously, people who score high in neuroticism aren't especially happy. They're vulnerable to frequent strong negative emotions — sadness, anger, fear — and are uncomfortable with themselves. Lower scores for this trait are calm, more stable, and not as likely to react extremely when presented with stressors.
Editor's note: This post originally identified the five personality categories as "types" which made them seem more exclusive than they are. "Types" has been changed to "traits" throughout the post.
"Deepfakes" and "cheap fakes" are becoming strikingly convincing — even ones generated on freely available apps.
- A writer named Magdalene Visaggio recently used FaceApp and Airbrush to generate convincing portraits of early U.S. presidents.
- "Deepfake" technology has improved drastically in recent years, and some countries are already experiencing how it can weaponized for political purposes.
- It's currently unknown whether it'll be possible to develop technology that can quickly and accurately determine whether a given video is real or fake.
The future of deepfakes<p>In 2018, Gabon's president Ali Bongo had been out of the country for months receiving medical treatment. After Bongo hadn't been seen in public for months, rumors began swirling about his condition. Some suggested Bongo might even be dead. In response, Bongo's administration released a video that seemed to show the president addressing the nation.</p><p>But the <a href="https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=324528215059254" target="_blank">video</a> is strange, appearing choppy and blurry in parts. After political opponents declared the video to be a deepfake, Gabon's military attempted an unsuccessful coup. What's striking about the story is that, to this day, experts in the field of deepfakes can't conclusively verify whether the video was real. </p><p>The uncertainty and confusion generated by deepfakes poses a "global problem," according to a <a href="https://www.brookings.edu/research/is-seeing-still-believing-the-deepfake-challenge-to-truth-in-politics/#cancel" target="_blank">2020 report from The Brookings Institution</a>. In 2018, the U.S. Department of Defense released some of the first tools able to successfully detect deepfake videos. The problem, however, is that deepfake technology keeps improving, meaning forensic approaches may forever be one step behind the most sophisticated forms of deepfakes. </p><p>As the 2020 report noted, even if the private sector or governments create technology to identify deepfakes, they will:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"...operate more slowly than the generation of these fakes, allowing false representations to dominate the media landscape for days or even weeks. "A lie can go halfway around the world before the truth can get its shoes on," warns David Doermann, the director of the Artificial Intelligence Institute at the University of Buffalo. And if defensive methods yield results short of certainty, as many will, technology companies will be hesitant to label the likely misrepresentations as fakes."</p>
Context is everything.
The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced a number of new behaviours into daily routines, like physical distancing, mask-wearing and hand sanitizing. Meanwhile, many old behaviours such as attending events, eating out and seeing friends have been put on hold.
A new study looks at how images of coffee's origins affect the perception of its premiumness and quality.
- Images can affect how people perceive the quality of a product.
- In a new study, researchers show using virtual reality that images of farms positively influence the subjects' experience of coffee.
- The results provide insights on the psychology and power of marketing.