The Complete Guide To The Big 5 Personality


The Big 5 Personality profile is a way of grouping personality traits so as to better understand, analyze, and predict human behavior. It is built on the idea that people have certain traits that constitutes regular behavior, and uses a statistical technique called factor analysis to group those behaviors into categories.

There is a biological basis for personality that is driven by chemicals in the brain. For example, high serotonin activity is related to anxious behavior, which is part of neuroticism.

Personality research is a useful tool for persuasion, manipulation, strategy, and self understanding. Different personalities correlate with different values. The categories are as follows:

  1. Openness to experience. Openness is broken down into six facets (imagination, aesthetic sensitivity, attentiveness to inner feelings, preference for variety, intellectual curiosity, and authority challenging). Openness is correlated with the self direction and universalism values in the Schwartz inventory.
  2. Conscientiousness is broken down into six facets (competence, order, dutifulness, achievement striving, deliberation, and self discipline). Conscientiousness is related to achievement and conformity values.
  3. Extroversion has six facets (activity, assertiveness, gregariousness, warmth, positive emotion, and excitement seeking. Extroversion is correlated with achievement and stimulation values.
  4. Agreeableness also has six facets (trust, altruism, compliance, modesty, tender mindedness, straightforwardness). Agreeableness is related to the tradition and benevolence values, and has some negative relation to achievement. Social dominance desire is inversely related to agreeableness.
  5. Neuroticism is broken down into six facets (anxiety, vulnerability, self consciousness, impulsiveness, angry hostility, depression). Neuroticism is negatively related to angry hostility.


Caldini’s book Influence talks about 6 persuasive tricks. It turns out that those 6 tricks have greater or lesser tendencies to work on a person depending on their personality profile.

People higher in openness were more persuaded by authority, consensus, and liking. Those higher in conscientiousness were persuaded best by commitment, reciprocity, and liking. Agreeableness was correlated with authority, commitment, and liking. People who were neurotic were more likely to be persuaded by consensus.

It should be noted that conscientiousness is correlated to success, so you might consider using techniques like commitment and reciprocity if you don’t know what personality a person has, and their position is something people work long and hard to get into.

Media Consumption Preferences

Movies: Men tend to like science fiction and action movies while women prefer drama and romance. High levels of extroversion aligned with comedy and romance. Agreeableness is correlated with romance. Conscientiousness was also related to a liking for romance movies. Openness is correlated with liking documentaries and science fiction. Neuroticism is negatively related to science fiction.

Music: Openness is related to mellow, unpretentious, sophisticated, intense, and contemporary music. Mellow music is also positively related to every trait except emotional stability. Intense music is correlated with extroversion, openness, and negatively related to agreeableness, conscientiousness, and emotional stability.

Books: Extroverts prefer books with social themes, memoirs, and celebrity romance. Agreeableness is correlated with familial and religious themes. Low disagreeable people tend to like psychological dramas and other dark content. They also like cult classics. Openness is correlated with intellectually challenging books like classic literature. People lower on openness like mainstream content that is easier to digest like light fantasy. Neurotic people like narratives that match their emotional state like books on mental issues and books with sad endings. They also like alternative reality books. Emotionally stable people like self improvement and non fiction books. Conscientiousness is related to professional development and knowledge based books. Low levels of conscientiousness correlate with lighthearted content like humor and teenage books.

Personality and book preference. See Book study listed above.

Word/Language Usage

Certain words and topics are correlated with personality types as well. Neuroticism is correlated with negative emotion word categories like words about fear, anger, sadness. Extroversion is related to positive emotion words, social, friend, and sexual words. Agreeableness is related to affiliation social words and conflict avoidance. It is also related to lower use of negative emotion words and swear words. Here is a link to a more visual version of word clouds and personality.

Activity Preferences

There is a relationship between extroversion, conscientiousness, low levels of neuroticism, and physical activity.

Psychological Problems

Those high in openness can have issues with fantasizing, unstable goals, nonconformity, and impulsivity. Schizotypal, narcissistic, borderline, and paranoid personality disorders are more common in people with high openness. Keep in mind neuroticism is also a necessary requirement for some of these potential problems to ‘activate.’ Low openness is related to difficulty adopting to change, low tolerance for different ways of looking at the world, and a low range of interests. Low openness is related to disorders like OCD.

Low levels of conscientiousness is linked to antisocial and criminal actions. It also is related to homelessness and unemployment and difficulty saving or planning. If you are low in conscientiousness and also disagreeable you are more likely to abuse substances.

Extroversion is related to higher levels of positive affect, but the answer is more nuanced. See this article.

Higher levels of disagreeableness is correlated with narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder. Disagreeable people also have a lower level for emotional threat. Agreeableness tends to be correlated with worse negotiation outcomes.

Neuroticism is correlated with all sorts of personality and mood problems. They include things like bipolar, depression, anxiety, eating, dissociative identity, and other disorders.


Personality can affect how a person responds to advertising. See this study for an overview and more useful links. People high in extroversion respond better to implications of social reward or excitement. Those who are more neurotic find advertising that implies security and safety more motivating. Low agreeableness is related to less favorable attitudes towards advertisements. Some think that high conscientiousness is correlated with liking advertising that provides information versus advertising that tries to generate emotions.

Social Media Usage

One study found that those high in extroversion and openness are more likely to use social media platforms. Those who were higher on neuroticism, agreeableness, and conscientiousness were more likely to reject the platforms.

Another study found that on Instagram, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and self liking were negatively associated with addiction to the platform. The self liking portion partially affected whether agreeable people became addicted to the platform and fully mediated whether conscientious people became addicted.

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