O.C.E.A.N. is a useful acronym for the Big Five personality traits used in Psychometrics. Research has shown that these factors are interconnected, and also connect with many other aspects of one’s life. Most importantly, these five traits are the current cutting edge of advertising susceptibility i.e. how easily a person can be sold on the product or opinion they don’t yet know they need (or should believe).
The Big Five are so big, they encompass many other traits and bundle related characteristics into one marketing-facing factor. Don’t confuse the Big Five with the higher fidelity Enneagram Personality Tests. The latter isn’t designed specifically for marketing psychometrics.
Each trait represents a continuum. Individuals can fall anywhere on the continuum for each trait. The Big Five remain relatively stable throughout most of one’s lifetime. They are influenced significantly by both genes and the environment, with an estimated heritability of 50%. They are also known to predict certain important life outcomes such as education and health.
An individual who is high in openness to experience is likely someone who has a love of learning, enjoys the arts, engages in a creative career or hobby, and likes meeting new people (Lebowitz, 2016a).
An individual who is low in openness to experience probably prefers routine over variety, sticks to what he or she knows, and prefers less abstract arts and entertainment.
People high in conscientiousness are likely to be successful in school and in their careers, to excel in leadership positions, and to doggedly pursue their goals with determination and forethought (Lebowitz, 2016a). People low in conscientiousness are much more likely to procrastinate and to be flighty, impetuous, and impulsive.
People high in extroversion tend to seek out opportunities for social interaction, where they are often the “life of the party.” They are comfortable with others, are gregarious, and are prone to action rather than contemplation (Lebowitz, 2016a). People low in extroversion are more likely to be people “of few words who are quiet, introspective, reserved, and thoughtful.
People high in agreeableness tend to be well-liked, respected, and sensitive to the needs of others. They likely have few enemies and are affectionate to their friends and loved ones, as well as sympathetic to the plights of strangers (Lebowitz, 2016a). People on the low end of the agreeableness spectrum are less likely to be trusted and liked by others. They tend to be callous, blunt, rude, ill-tempered, antagonistic, and sarcastic. Although not all people who are low in agreeableness are cruel or abrasive, they are not likely to leave others with a warm fuzzy feeling.
Those high in neuroticism are generally prone to anxiety, sadness, worry, and low self-esteem. They may be temperamental or easily angered, and they tend to be self-conscious and unsure of themselves (Lebowitz, 2016a). Individuals who score on the low end of neuroticism are more likely to feel confident, sure of themselves, and adventurous. They may also be brave and unencumbered by worry or self-doubt.
Rate each question or test statement option with value between 1 and 5 where 1 is most accurate and 5 is least. Answers should correspond to:
Here’s the test:
Rate each word according to how well it describes you. Base your ratings on how you really are, not how you would like to be.
Five Trait Network notes are summarized here.
There have been many attempts to measure the five factors of the Big Five framework, but the most reliable and valid measurements come from the Big Five Inventory and the Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO PI-R). This inventory was developed by Goldberg in 1993 to measure the five dimensions of the Big Five personality framework. It contains 44 items and measures each factor through its corresponding facets:
The responses to items concerning these facets are combined and summarized to produce a score on each factor. This inventory has been widely used in psychology research and is still quite popular, although the Revised NEO Personality Inventory has also gained much attention in recent years.
The original NEO Personality Inventory was created by personality researchers Paul Costa Jr. and Robert McCrae in 1978. It was later revised several times to keep up with advancements (in 1990, 2005, and 2010). Initially, the NEO Personality Inventory was named for the three main domains as the researchers understood them at the time: neuroticism, extroversion, and openness. This scale is also based on the six facets of each factor and includes 240 items rated on a 5-point scale. For a shorter scale, Costa and McCrae also offer the NEO Five-Factor Inventory, which contains only 60 items and measures just the overall domains instead of all facets. The NEO PI-R requires only a 6th-grade reading level and can be self-administered without a scoring professional. Access to the NEO PI-R isn’t as widely available as the BFI.
Openness to experience has been found to contribute to one’s likelihood of obtaining a leadership position, likely due to the ability to entertain new ideas and think outside the box (Lebowitz, 2016a). Openness is also connected to universalism values, which include promoting peace and tolerance and seeing all people as equally deserving of justice and equality (Douglas, Bore, & Munro, 2016).
Further, research has linked openness to experience with broad intellectual skills and knowledge, and it may increase with age (Schretlen, van der Hulst, Pearlson, & Gordon, 2010). This indicates that openness to experience leads to gains in knowledge and skills, and it naturally increases as a person ages and has more experiences to learn from.
Not only has openness been linked to knowledge and skills, but it was also found to correlate positively with creativity, originality, and a tendency to explore their inner selves with a therapist or psychiatrist, and to correlate negatively with conservative political attitudes (Soldz & Vaillant, 1999).
Not only has openness been found to correlate with many traits, but it has also been found to be extremely stable over time—one study explored trait stability over 45 years and found participants’ openness to experience (along with extroversion and neuroticism) remained relatively stable over that period (Soldz & Vaillant, 1999)
Concerning the other Big Five factors, openness to experience is weakly related to neuroticism and extroversion and is mostly unrelated to agreeableness and conscientiousness (Ones, Viswesvaran, & Reiss, 1996).
Openness to experience is perhaps the trait that is least likely to change over time, and perhaps most likely to help an individual grow. Those high in openness to experience should capitalize on their advantage and explore the world, themselves, and their passions. These individuals make strong and creative leaders and are most likely to come up with the next big innovation.
This factor has been linked to achievement, conformity, and seeking out security, as well as being negatively correlated to placing a premium on stimulation and excitement (Roccas, Sagiv, Schwartz, & Knafo, 2002). Those high in conscientiousness are also likely to value order, duty, achievement, and self-discipline, and they consciously practice deliberation and work toward increased competence (Roccas, Sagiv, Schwartz, & Knafo, 2002).
In light of these correlations, it’s not surprising that conscientiousness is also strongly related to post-training learning (Woods, Patterson, Koczwara, & Sofat, 2016), effective job performance (Barrick & Mount, 1991), and intrinsic and extrinsic career success (Judge, Higgins, Thoresen, & Barrick, 1999).
The long-term study by Soldz and Vaillant (1999) found that conscientiousness was positively correlated with adjustment to life’s challenges and mature defensive responses, indicating that those high in conscientiousness are often well-prepared to tackle any obstacles that come their way.
Conscientiousness is negatively correlated with depression, smoking, substance abuse, and engagement in psychiatric treatment. The trait was also found to correlate somewhat negatively with neuroticism and somewhat positively with agreeableness, but it had no discernible relation to the other factors (Ones, Viswesvaran, & Reiss, 1996).
From these results, it’s clear that those gifted with high conscientiousness have a distinct advantage over those who are not. Those with high conscientiousness should attempt to use their strengths to the best of their abilities, including organization, planning, perseverance, and tendency towards high achievement.
As long as the highly conscientious do not fall prey to exaggerated perfectionism, they are likely to achieve many of the traditional markers of success.
The same long-term study also found that extroversion was fairly stable across the years, indicating that extroverts and introverts do not often shift into the opposite state (Soldz & Vaillant, 1999).
Because of its ease of measurement and general stability over time, extroversion is an excellent predictor of effective functioning and general well-being (Ozer & Benet-Martinez, 2006), positive emotions (Verduyn & Brans, 2012), and overconfidence in task performance (Schaefer, Williams, Goodie, & Campbell, 2004).
When analyzed in relation to the other Big Five factors, extroversion correlated weakly and negatively with neuroticism and was somewhat positively related to openness to experience (Ones, Viswesvaran, & Reiss, 1996).
Those who score high in extroversion are likely to make friends easily and enjoy interacting with others, but they may want to pay extra attention to making well-thought-out decisions and considering the needs and sensitivities of others.
Those high in extroversion are likely to value achievement and stimulation, and unlikely to value tradition or conformity (Roccas, Sagiv, Schwartz, & Knafo, 2002). Extroverts are often assertive, active, and sociable, shunning self-denial in favor of excitement and pleasure.
Considering these findings, it follows that high extroversion is a strong predictor of leadership, and contributes to the success of managers and salespeople as well as the success of all job levels in training proficiency (Barrick & Mount, 1991). Over a lifetime, high extroversion correlates positively with a high income, conservative political attitudes, early life adjustment to challenges, and social relationships (Soldz & Vaillant, 1999).
Agreeable individuals tend to value benevolence, tradition, and conformity while avoiding placing too much importance on power, achievement, or the pursuit of selfish pleasures (Roccas, Sagiv, Schwartz, & Knafo, 2002).
Agreeableness may be motivated by the desire to fulfill social obligations or follow established norms, or it may spring from a genuine concern for the welfare of others. Whatever the motivation, it is rarely accompanied by cruelty, ruthlessness, or selfishness (Roccas, Sagiv, Schwartz, & Knafo, 2002).
Those high in agreeableness are also more likely to have positive peer and family relationships, model gratitude and forgiveness, attain desired jobs, live long lives, experience relationship satisfaction, and volunteer in their communities (Ozer & Benet-Martinez, 2006).
Agreeableness affects many life outcomes because it influences any arena in which interactions with others are important—and that includes almost everything. In the long-term, high agreeableness is related to strong social support and healthy midlife adjustment but is slightly negatively correlated to creativity (Soldz & Vaillant, 1999).
Those who are friendly and endearing to others may find themselves without the motivation to achieve a traditional measure of success, and they might choose to focus on family and friends instead.
Agreeableness correlates weakly with extroversion and is somewhat negatively related to neuroticism and somewhat positively correlated to conscientiousness (Ones, Viswesvaran, & Reiss, 1996).
Individuals high in agreeableness are likely to have many close friends and a good relationship with family members, but there is a slight risk of consistently putting others before themselves and missing out on opportunities for success, learning, and development. Those who are friendly and agreeable to others can leverage their strengths by turning to their social support networks for help when needed and finding fulfillment in positive engagement with their communities.
Neuroticism has been found to correlate negatively with self-esteem and general self-efficacy, as well as with an internal locus of control (feeling like one has control over his or her own life) (Judge, Erez, Bono, & Thoresen, 2002). In fact, these four traits are so closely related that they may fall under one umbrella construct.
In addition, neuroticism has been linked to poorer job performance and lower motivation, including motivation related to goal-setting and self-efficacy (Judge & Ilies, 2002). It likely comes as no surprise that instability and vulnerability to stress and anxiety do not support one’s best work.
The anxiety and self-consciousness components of neuroticism are also positively linked to more traditional values and are negatively correlated with achievement values. The hostility and impulsiveness components of neuroticism relate positively to hedonism (or seeking pleasure without regards to the long-term and a disregard for right and wrong) and negatively relate to benevolence, tradition, and conformity (Roccas, Sagiv, Schwartz, & Knafo, 2002).
The 45-year-long study from researchers Soldz and Vaillant showed that neuroticism, over the course of the study, was negatively correlated with smoking cessation and healthy adjustment to life and correlated positively with drug usage, alcohol abuse, and mental health issues (1999).
Neuroticism was found to correlate somewhat negatively with agreeableness and conscientiousness, in addition to a weak, negative relationship with extroversion and openness to experience (Ones, Viswevaran, & Reiss, 1996).
Overall, high neuroticism is related to added difficulties in life, including addiction, poor job performance, and unhealthy adjustment to life’s changes. Scoring high on neuroticism is not an immediate sentence to a miserable life, but those in this group would benefit from investing in improvements to their self-confidence, building resources to draw on in times of difficulty, and avoiding any substances with addictive properties.