The Big Five Personality Traits

The theory of the Big Five personality traits claims that we can describe ourselves with five main characteristics: open, conscientious, extrovert, agreeable, neurotic. Each of us varies in how much of each trait is shown in our personality. In order to understand what each trait really means let’s look at these five characters and how they cope after they rank their boat and are stranded on an island in the middle of the ocean. Open Odelia is excited and interested in exploring this beautiful island. The exotic nature inspires her.

She has collected stones shells and blossoms to decorate the entrance of the bamboo hut that she built for everyone. She feels this is an opportunity to learn so many new things! Claire is conscientious. She is not excited, she is concerned about the seriousness of the situation. She is glad she saved the survival kit from their ship.

As usual, she is prepared and starts the crucial tasks right away.

She feels that it is her duty to organize everyone and make sure that they will start looking for the things they need for survival: freshwater and food. Extravert Emile is thrilled because they all survived! He feels a strong need to talk and share his happiness. He gathers everyone to celebrate their survival and to tell them about his plan to explore the island together!

Agreeable Albert is kind by nature and despite being tired and thirsty, his main concern is Nora. He offers her a drink from his coconut. The others know that he usually agrees to everything and are not shy to ask for his help. Nora is neurotic and easily stressed. She has a total breakdown.

She sits down on the beach and cries: how are they ever going to get away from this island? To her the ocean around them looks endless, nature looks dark and dangerous.

She feels completely lost. After eight weeks two ships appear on the horizon everyone gets excited, Emil has the idea to make a fire. He calls the others to help.

Claire immediately starts to work, Albert brings more wood Odelia is holding up her beautifully arranged SOS sign while Nora screams desperately for help. Little do they know who is sailing on these ships… The first ship carries a group of psychologists who have been traveling the oceans since the 1980s.

They are investigating the big five personality traits which is also known as the five-factor or ocean model.

Captain Lewis Goldberg coined the term “big five”. He is thrilled when he sees the five friends at the beach each one matching exactly one trait: open, conscientious, extravert, agreeable, neurotic. Though he decides not to stop the boat, as a scientist he prefers to watch from afar. On the other ship are five pirates, all possessing the exact opposite traits of our friends.

Let’s see if you can recognize them? Pirate one is emotionally stable and very relaxed.

When she sees the survivors on the beach she says: we could help them! Pirate two immediately gets angry with her. He is not listening to anyone and is not willing to change his plans in order to help some strangers on an island!

Pirate three thinks this is a complex situation. He thinks that all possible outcomes need to be considered. He feels the need to be alone and think. Pirate four doesn’t care. He’s busy looking for the keys to his treasure chest which is lost again.

The captain is not open to any new experiences. He ends all discussions when he says our boat won’t stop! What do you think about the big five? Do you recognize your own personality in some of the traits? Or do you think this theory is flawed as we cannot describe an entire personality in five parameters?

If you watch this in class and you are not sure which traits you have, pick a friend and describe each other. Many of us are bad at describing ourselves, so an outside perspective is often helpful.

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