The Five Factor model (also known as the Big Five) is the most popular approach for studying personality traits. The Big Five theory, which originated in the 1970s with tests involving thousands of subjects, breaks human traits into five broad dimensions. Take the test online at or
Extroversion: talkative, energetic, assertive, ambitious
* High scorer: Knows how to captivate people
* Low scorer: Stays in the background
Agreeableness: sympathetic, kind, affectionate, trusting, cooperative, tolerant
* High scorer: Accepts people as they are
* Low scorer: Gets back at others
Conscientiousness: organized, thorough, methodical, dutiful, dependable, careful
* High scorer: Gets chores done right away
* Low scorer: Does just enough work to get by
Emotional stability (antonym: neuroticism): calm, relaxed, confident, easygoing, steady
* High scorer: Is not easily bothered by things
* Low scorer: Is often in the dumps
Openness to new experience: wide interests, imaginative, insightful, cultured, creative, broadminded
* High scorer: Believes in the importance of art
* Low scorer: Tends to vote for conservative political candidates
* Source: Tom Buchanan, University of Westminster, England
Can you guess which personality traits the following statements are measuring? Test instructions say to rate the items on how strongly you agree or disagree on a five-point scale.
1. There is always a better way.
2. It is important for me to do things as perfectly as possible.
Some people assume that extremely positive answers are best, while others think that strongly agreeing will make them appear "too much" of something. But there are no right or wrong answers, just what best fits the job.
No. 1 measures "results orientation," or a drive to achieve external standards. Strongly agreeing with the statement may be an effective trait for executives who need to develop new products. But it could be a handicap for a production manager whose job is to ensure consistency of manufacturing.
No. 2 measures "desire for achievement," or drive to achieve internal standards. For jobs where results are hard to measure (such as chief executives), an internal drive is vital. But it could be a hindrance in jobs where key standards are external. In such a job, a person who scores high in "desire for achievement" might deliver great products but miss deadlines.
Source: Bob Lewis, Personnel Decisions International

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