30-Second Psychology: The 50 Most Thought-provoking Psychology Theories, Each Explained in Half a Minute - Christian Jarrett 2011
The big five
Ways We Differ
We can’t help but form impressions about each other’s personalities. We quickly deduce that others are friendly, quiet, eccentric and so on. But just how many aspects to a personality are there? The ancient Greeks believed people fall into four temperamental categories — choleric, phlegmatic, sanguine and melancholic. In the middle of the twentieth century, the British-born psychologist Raymond Cattell devised a personality test based on the idea that there are sixteen personality factors including guilt-proneness and shrewdness. Contemporary psychology has now settled on the idea that there are in fact five main factors to personality, known as the big five — extraversion, neuroticism (associated with anxiety and apprehension), conscientiousness, agreeableness and openness (associated with creativity and insight). Each factor encapsulates those aspects of personality that tend always to go together. For example, people who are sociable tend also to be talkative and assertive, as if these three traits are all manifestations of the same underlying factor, in this case extraversion. The big five factors are continuous dimensions like weight or strength. So it’s not the case that we’re either neurotic or we’re not. Rather, we each have a certain amount of neuroticism, and the same holds true for the other factors.
The various permutations of personality are encapsulated by five main factors, known as the big five.
The big five factors are dimensions of personality that we all share. Some psychologists have taken a different (’idiographic’) approach, documenting each individual’s uniqueness. Best known is George Kelly and his personal construct theory. Kelly proposed that we each see the world in the context of a unique set of dialectic constructs (such as whether people are kind or not) and that by uncovering these constructs, we learn how a person sees the world.
FUNDAMENTAL ATTRIBUTION ERROR
NATURE VIA NURTURE
If you are a high scorer on the neurotic personality dimension, then you might be worried about the risk of those precarious blocks and numbers toppling over.