What are Personality Traits?

Have you ever wondered what ‘Personality’ is and what is meant when people talk about ‘Personality Traits’? Let’s bring some light into the dar.

Weinberg and Gould (1999) described personality as “the characteristics or blend of characteristics that make a person unique”.

Emotional competency  brings it to the point with “Personality traits are intrinsic differences that remain stable throughout most of our life. They are the constant aspects of our individuality”. These individual differences are fixed and define who you are. There are different measurements to assess your personality traits. In general, there is not ONE overall valid and agreed and measure of  personality. But the most popular and common one is the “BIG FIVE”.

The Big Five assesses the following personality traits:

Openness to new Experiences – to be willing and finding pleasure in trying new things, intellectual curiosity.

Conscientiousness – to be thorough, being concerned with doing things properly. A very strong expression of conscientiousness might end in perfectionism.

Extraversion – where does energy comes from – intrinsic or from external. And where does energy goes to – is a person more external or more internal oriented.

Agreeableness – how agreeable a person is.

Neuroticism – whether a person is emotional stable or might have a long-term tendency to be emotionally negative.

If you combine the first letters of each trait you get OCEAN – this way it’s pretty easy to remember. Some of the traits might be named differently within the Big Five frame i.e. Neuroticism is called Emotional Stability or Openness to Experience is renamed as Intellect. But the general idea behind it is similar.

In general the Big Five does measure so-called bright side personality traits, i.e. pleasant traits. However, if a very strong tendency is shown the originally positive and favoured personality trait can become a bit more unpleasant.