The Five Factor Model of Personality/OCEAN/Big 5

The Five-Factor Model, also known as the Big Five personality traits, has a rich history and has become a cornerstone in studying personality psychology. Ernest Tupes and Raymond Christal laid the groundwork for this model in 1961, proposing a framework that identified several personality factors. However, it was the work of Lewis Goldberg in the 1980s that brought prominence and empirical support to the model.

The FFM outlines five key dimensions that aim to capture the fundamental aspects of an individual’s personality, providing a comprehensive framework for understanding and categorising human traits. These traits are Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. Each dimension represents a continuum along which individuals can be positioned, offering a nuanced understanding of personality and containing contributing sub-traits/sub-facets. The acronym “OCEAN” is often used to remember these five governing traits:

  1. Openness: This trait reflects a person’s willingness to engage with novel and unconventional ideas, experiences, and ways of thinking, especially those outside of their norm. High scorers are imaginative and open-minded, while low scorers may prefer routine.
  2. Conscientiousness: Conscientious individuals are organised, responsible, and innately goal-oriented. They exhibit diligence, reliability, and a focus on achieving tasks.
  3. Extraversion: Extraversion measures the extent to which an individual is outgoing, social, and enthusiastic. Highly extroverted individuals seek social interactions, while persons falling closer to the lower end of this continuum tend to be more reserved.
  4. Agreeableness relates to a person’s tendency to be cooperative, empathetic, and considerate of others. A friendly and compassionate nature characterises high agreeableness.
  5. Neuroticism (Emotional Stability): Neuroticism refers to emotional instability and vulnerability to negative emotions. High scorers may experience anxiety and mood swings, while low scorers tend to be emotionally resilient.

The Five Factor Model is widely accepted and utilised in scientific literature and research due to its robust empirical support and applicability. It has proven valuable in psychology, sociology, and business management, providing insights into individual behaviour, attitudes, and preferences.

As the most widely researched personality theory, the Five Factor Model continues to be a foundational framework for understanding the complexities of human personality. Its enduring popularity in academic and applied settings underscores its significance in psychology.