The Big Five Personality Test Is Quick and Dirty (and Still Super Introspective)

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I won't hesitate to admit that I'm a sucker for personality quizzes. I am particularly fascinated by my results of the widely used Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (any other INFJs in the house?). I feel like it explains a lot and allows me to dig a little deeper into why I am the way I am—such as my tendency to avoid conflict at all costs. But Myers-Briggs isn't the only assessment you can use to get a clue about your personality.

While Myers-Briggs is an intensive self-assessment, the Big Five is quick and dirty (yet sufficiently introspective), taking no more than 3 minutes to complete. Myers-Briggs breaks down your personality traits into 16 different personality types, the Big Five—as you can tell by the name—has a narrower focus.

"The Big Five is a simple questionnaire which asks about a person’s preference and style, focusing around five personality traits," says Katy Caselli, an organizational psychologist who specializes in personality frameworks. "The tool can be used for individuals to learn about themselves and their strengths, or it can be used by organizations to predict success. Many organizations use it in order to gain insight on who will become a successful leader."

The quiz is often comprised of a series of prompts that ask you to select a response on a scale that ranges from something like "strongly disagree" to "agree strongly." As a result, you'll get to see where you are on a spectrum of 0 to 100 for each of the five traits: openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Instead of putting you in a box, this method factors in the understanding that sometimes you're not solely introverted or extroverted, for example, but rather somewhere in between.

"Personality assessments are helpful for self-discovery," Caselli says. "Aristotle is quoted as saying, 'Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.' Those who know their strengths can use them more, and those who know their weaknesses and understands their effect on others can start holding back on poor behavior."

Ready to take the quiz for yourself? Answer the questions on FiveThirtyEight, grab your results, then read up below on each of the five traits.

The Big Five traits, explained by organizational psychologist Katy Caselli.

1. Conscientiousness

Conscientiousness is a measure of person’s attitude towards doing the right thing, such as doing a full detailed job, even when the boss isn't watching. People who are high on a scale of conscientiousness tend to take on responsibility, take initiative to fix problems, and struggle through persistently until issues are solved. A person who is low on this scale may say things like "That’s not my job" and leave tasks incomplete, or finished in a shoddy way. Organization prize strength in this trait highly as it leads to higher levels of trust.

2. Agreeableness

Agreeableness is a reflection of how well people get along with others. It measures key behaviors like tolerance, friendliness, and cooperation. A person high on this scale is easy to approach, a good team player, and easily communicates in ways that bring people together. On the other hand, if a person is low on this scale, employers might expect argumentative, conflict-filled interactions that bring non-productive distractions that shut down productivity in the workplace.

3. Openness to experience

Openness to experience is a trait that measures creativity, learning, innovation, and the ability to ride out change and turmoil. Those who have a low score here have difficulty helping others and themselves to move in new directions. This can mean a loss of agility in competitive markets, a tendency to do things the same old way, and unnecessary resistance and hostility towards new ideas. Open people are good at learning, creating, and communicating new visionary ideas, which can lead to courageous change. People who are open to experience collect knowledge and use it for good.

4. Extraversion

Extraversion is a personality trait that generally reflects how easily individuals mix with and interact with other people. Extroverts tend to thrive in group situations—in fact it energizes them. They speak and engage easily with strangers. They network well and generally have a wide breadth of acquaintances and contacts. Speaking with people generates even more energy and ideas flow as they share information. Introverts, on the other hand, are more easily fatigued by interaction with people and are more likely to enjoy solitude and reflection. A richness of thought generates ideas and inspiration for introverts. Actually, though extroverted behaviors seems to lead to success in organizations, much evidence also shows introverts are just as effective and make great bosses as well.

5. Neuroticism

Neuroticism or emotional stability is a measure that speaks volumes about a person’s success. We've all noticed behavior in the workplace that seems very "out of place," such as foul language, fists pounding the table at staff meetings, and even tears and sudden no-notice departures. Employees who have a difficult time keeping their emotions in check are disruptive and even, at times, dangerous. A person who is consistent, disciplined, and professional requires less negative feedback and oversight, and engenders trust.

Here's how others see you, based on your personality type, and which personality traits emotionally intelligent friends tend to share.

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