The Five Factor Theory

The Five Factor Theory

The Five Factor Theory

The Five Factor Theory

The Five Factor Theory Costa and McCrae recognized Eysenck’s significance in identifying extraversion and neuroticism as second-order personality characteristics, as well as in establishing the Maudsley Personality Inventory, the Eysenck Personality Inventory, and the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire as instruments for assessing these variables (McCrae & Sutin, 2018).They did, however, disagree with Eysenck on psychoticism. Initially, they proposed a separate component known as openness. When they addressed this with Eysenck, he thought openness was the polar opposite of psychoticism, while McCrae and Costa thought the elements were considerably different. Costa and McCrae have expanded on the third element of openness, adding two new second-order factors: agreeableness and conscientiousness.Costa and McCrae collaborated to create the NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI) to assess neuroticism, extraversion, and openness, and then the Revised NEO-PI, which additionally assesses agreeableness and conscientiousness (Costa & McCrae, 1988).

The Five Factor Theory

However, Paul Costa and Robert McCrae’s version is the most well-known today and the one that most psychologists think of when considering the five component model. The abbreviation OCEAN is frequently used to recall Costa and McCrae’s five components, sometimes known as the Big Five personality traits: Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism (Costa & McCrae, 1988). The trait of openness to experience encompasses an appreciation for art, emotion, adventure, unique ideas, curiosity, and a wide range of experiences. The degree of openness indicates a person’s intellectual curiosity, inventiveness, and appreciation for novelty and diversity. It is often referred to as a person’s level of creativity or independence. It denotes a preference for a range of activities over a tight schedule. Those with a high openness to new experiences favor novelty, whereas those with a low openness to new experiences prefer regularity (Boundless, n.d.).

Conscientiousness is defined as a proclivity for self-discipline, dutifulness, competence, attentiveness, and achievement-seeking. It differs from the moral implications of conscience in that it focuses on the amount of conscious intention and thought a person puts into his or her actions (Boundless, n.d.). Individuals with a high level of conscientiousness prefer planned rather than spontaneous conduct and are frequently structured, industrious, and trustworthy. Individuals with low conscientiousness have a more relaxed attitude, are more impulsive, and may be chaotic. Numerous studies have discovered a link between conscientiousness and academic achievement (Boundless, n.d.).

Extraversion is characterized by strong energy, pleasant emotions, talkativeness, assertiveness, friendliness, and a proclivity to seek stimulation in the presence of others (Boundless, n.d.). Low extraverts prefer alone and/or smaller groups, appreciate silence, prefer activities alone, and avoid large social situations. Because of their inquisitive and thrill-seeking character, persons who score high on both extraversion and openness are more inclined to participate in adventure and hazardous sports (Boundless, n.d.). Agreeableness assesses a person’s proclivity to be sympathetic and helpful toward others rather than distrustful and hostile. It is also a measure of a person’s trustworthiness and helpfulness, as well as whether or not that person is typically good-tempered. People with low levels of agreeableness are often regarded as unpleasant and uncooperative (Boundless, n.d.).

High neuroticism is defined by a proclivity to feel negative emotions such as wrath, anxiety, despair, or vulnerability (Boundless, n.d.). Neuroticism also refers to a person’s emotional stability and impulsive control. People with high neuroticism tend to be emotionally unstable and are described as furious, impetuous, and hostile.

They are more likely to interpret ordinary situations as threatening, and minor frustrations as hopelessly difficult (Boundless, n.d.). Their negative emotional reactions tend to persist for unusually long periods of time, which means they are often in a bad mood. These problems in emotional regulation can diminish a neurotic’s ability to think clearly, make decisions, and cope effectively with stress.

Critics of the trait method say that the patterns of variability across diverse contexts are key to determining personality, and that averaging across such scenarios to find an overarching characteristic obscures important distinction between individuals (McCrae & Sutin, 2018). Critics of the Five-Factor Model, in particular, contend that it has limits as an explanatory or predictive theory and does not explain all aspects of human nature. Some psychologists disagree with the concept because they believe it ignores other aspects of personality such as religiosity, manipulativeness, honesty, seductiveness, thriftiness, conservativeness, femininity, egotism, sense of humor, and risk-taking (McCrae & Sutin, 2018).Another common critique is that the Five-Factor Model is not founded on any underlying theory; rather, it is an empirical observation that various descriptors cluster together when factor analysis is performed. This indicates that, while these five characteristics exist, the underlying reasons are unclear.

The Five Factor Theory

Trait theorists have consistently demonstrated that characteristics are extremely resistant to change once they reach maturity (Costa & McCrae, 1988). This is especially true for Neuroticism, Extraversion, and Openness, as well as for men and women, as well as for Blacks and Whites (Costa & McCrae, 1988). While Costa and McCrae recognize that people can alter drastically, consistency is definitely more essential as a general rule. They also argue that this would be a time to be optimistic. Individuals should not be afraid of changing as they mature. If, on the other hand, a person of a younger age is lonely, sad, or suffers from another psychological ailment, they should be aware that time alone is unlikely to alter them, and that psychotherapy may be a more desired and successful course of action (Costa & McCrae, 1988).

The Five Factor Theory


Boundless. (n.d.). The Five-Factor Model. Retrieved from BOUNDLESS:

McCrae, R. R., & Sutin, A. R. (2018, January 15). A Five-Factor Theory Perspective on Causal Analysis. Retrieved from NCBI:

Costa, P. T., & McCrae, R. R. (1988). From catalog to classification: Murray’s needs and the five-factor model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 258–265.

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