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Big Five Assessment

Quick Video Review of the Five Traits:
Use OCEAN or CANOE to remember the 5 traits:
  • Openness
  • Conscientiousness
  • Extroversion
  • Agreeableness
  • Neuroticism
Research Overview [Source:]

Personality psychologists are interested in what differentiates one person from another and why we behave the way that we do. Personality research, like any science, relies on quantifiable concrete data which can be used to examine what people are like. This is where the Big Five plays an important role.
The Big Five was originally derived in the 1970’s by two independent research teams — Paul Costa and Robert McCrae (at the National Institutes of Health), and Warren Norman (at the University of Michigan)/Lewis Goldberg (at the University of Oregon) — who took slightly different routes at arriving at the same results: most human personality traits can be boiled down to five broad dimensions of personality, regardless of language or culture. These five dimensions were derived by asking thousands of people hundreds of questions and then analyzing the data with a statistical procedure known as factor analysis. It is important to realize that the researchers did not set out to find five dimensions, but that five dimensions emerged from their analyses of the data. In scientific circles, the Big Five is now the most widely accepted and used model of personality (though of course many other systems are used in pop psychology and work contexts; e.g., the MBTI).
For the past several years, we have been using the Big Five to study personality in terms of how it changes over time and how it relates to other variables (such as self-esteem and music preferences). During this period of time, we have collected personality data from literally millions of people from around the world.
Analyses of the data have revealed a number of interesting findings about personality, and have allowed us to identify some major patterns in our personalities. For example, contrary to the then prevailing view, our findings suggest that personality is not “set like plaster” at age 30; instead it continues to change, with the exact pattern of change depending on the trait.
We want to emphasize that we are talking about generalizations here, and these generalizations don’t apply to all people. To illustrate, consider the generalization that men are generally taller than women. This does not mean that every man is taller than every woman. Instead, it means that, on average, men are taller than women. This same logic applies to the feedback that is given on this site. Even though, on average, people tend to become more conscientious as they get older, not everyone follows this pattern.
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