Personality Traits: Big Five Personality Traits and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

Big Five Personality TraitsPersonality traits reflect people’s characteristic patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

These imply consistency and stability someone who scores high on a specific trait like Extraversion is expected to be sociable in different situations and over time.

Thus, trait psychology rests on the idea that people differ from one another in terms of where they stand on a set of basic trait dimensions that persist over time and across situations.

To understand and classify what makes people who they are has been a longstanding challenge in the world of personality psychology. Numerous theories and models have been developed over die years to better understand aspects of human personality.

Big Five Personality Traits

Ernest Tupes and Raymond Christal advanced the initial model, based on work done at the U.S. Air Force Personnel Laboratory in the late 1950s.

J.M. Digman proposed his five-factor model of personality in 1990 and Goldman extended it to the highest level of organizations in 1993.

The Big Five personality traits, also known as the five factors model (FFM), is a widely examined theory of five broad dimensions used by some psychologists to describe the human personality.

Each of these five factors is actually a sort of mega pair of opposites;

  1. Openness v. Closedness,
  2. Conscientiousness v. Spontaneity,
  3. Extroversion v. Introversion,
  4. Agreeableness v. Hostility,
  5. Neuroticism v. Emotional stability.

Let’s discuss all Big Five personality traits.

Big Five Personality Traits

OpennessBeing curious, original, intellectual, creative, and open to new ideas.
ConscientiousnessBeing organized, systematic, punctual, achievement-oriented, and dependable.
ExtraversionBeing outgoing, talkative, sociable, and enjoying social situations.
AgreeablenessBeing affable, tolerant, sensitive, trusting, kind, and warm.
NeuroticismBeing anxious, irritable, temperamental, and moody.


1. Openness to experience

Openness addresses one’s range of interests. Extremely open people are fascinated by novelty and innovation. It is a general appreciation for art, emotion, adventure, unusual ideas, imagination, curiosity, and variety of experience.

People who are high in this trait tend to be more adventurous and creative. People low in this trait are often much more traditional and may struggle with abstract thinking.

2. Conscientiousness

Conscientiousness is a tendency to show self-discipline, act dutifully, and aim for achievement against measures or outside expectations. It is related to the way in which people control, regulate, and direct their impulses.

High conscientiousness is often perceived as stubborn and obsessive. Low conscientiousness is flexible and spontaneous but can be perceived as sloppy and unreliable.

3. Extraversion

Extroversion reflects a person’s comfort level with relationships. Extroverts are characterized by excitability, sociability, talkativeness, assertiveness and high amounts of emotional expressiveness.

Introverts are less sociable, less talkative, less assertive, and more reluctant to begin a new relationship.

4. Agreeableness

The agreeableness trait reflects individual differences in general concern for social harmony. They are generally considerate, kind, generous, trusting and trustworthy, helpful, and willing to compromise their interests with others.

High agreeableness is often seen as inexperienced or obedient.

They value harmony more than they value their own say. Low agreeableness personalities are often competitive or challenging people, which can be seen as aggressive or untrustworthy. They focus more on their own needs than the needs of others.

5. Neuroticism

Neuroticism is the tendency to experience negative emotions, such as anger, anxiety, or depression. It is sometimes called emotional instability, or in reversed it is referred to as emotional stability. A high need for stability manifests as a stable and calm personality but can be seen as uninspiring and unconcerned.

A low need for stability causes a reactive and excitable personality, often very dynamic individuals, but they can be perceived as unstable or insecure.

The Big Five Model continues to attract the attention of both researchers and managers.

These researchers began by studying known personality traits and then factor-analyzing hundreds of measures of these traits in order to find the underlying factors of personality.

The potential value of this framework lies in the fact that it encompasses an integrated set of traits that appear to be valid predictors of certain behaviors in certain situations.

Big five personality traits were the model to comprehend the relationship between personality and organizational behaviors.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

Whereas the Big-Five has recently emerged from considerable basic research and has generally been demonstrated to significantly relate to job performance, the MBTI is based on a very old theory, has mixed at best research support, but is widely used and very popular in real-world career counseling, team building, conflict management, and analyzing management styles.

In the 1920s, based on the classical work of Carl Jung the Swiss Psychiatrist, the Myers-Briggs Type indicator ask people how they usually feel or act in particular situations.

Based on the answers received, people are differentiated in terms of four general dimensions: sensing, intuiting, judging and perceiving. He felt that although people had all four of these dimensions in common, they differ in the combination of their preferences of each.

After around 20 years after Jung developed his theoretical types, in 1943 by a mother-daughter team of Isabel Myers and Katherine Cook Briggs developed about a 100-item personality test asking participants how they usually feel or act in particular situations in order to measure the preferences of traits. Here they said about 16 distinct types of personality traits.

Sixteen Primary Traits

  1. Reserved Vs. Outgoing.
  2. Less intelligent Vs. More intelligent.
  3. Affected by feelings Vs. Emotional more stable.
  4. Submissive Vs. Dominant.
  5. Serious Vs. Happy-go-lucky.
  6. Expedient Vs. Conscientious.
  7. Timid Vs. Venturesome.
  8. Tough-minded Vs. Sensitive.
  9. Trusting Vs. Suspicious.
  10. Practical Vs. Imaginative.
  11. Forthright Vs. Shrewd.
  12. Self-assured Vs. Apprehensive.
  13. Conservative Vs. Experimenting.
  14. Group dependent Vs. Self-dependent.
  15. Uncontrolled Vs. Controlled.
  16. Relaxed Vs. Tense.

The MBTI is a popular instrument used to assess personality types.

It is widely used in the selection process. As many as two million people are reported to be taking it each year in the U.S.A.; research suggests that the MBTI is a very useful method for determining communication styles and interaction preferences.

The survey is criticized because it relies on types as opposed to traits, but organizations who use the survey find it very useful for training and team-building purposes. In fact, the Myers & Briggs Foundation has strict guidelines against the use of the test for employee selection.

How Personality Traits Influencing Organizational Behavior

  • Self-Monitoring.
  • Self-Efficacy.
  • Proactive Personality.
  • Self-Esteem.
  • Locus of Control.
  • Risk-Taking.
  • Positive and Negative Affectivity.
  • Type A Personality.
  • Type B Personality.
  • Machiavellianism.
  • Motivation.
  • Work Ethic.


A personality trait that has recently received increased attention is called self-monitoring.

Self-monitoring refers to the extent to which a person is capable of monitoring his or her actions and appearance in social situations. High social monitors are sensitive to the types of behaviors the social environment expects from them.

Their greater ability to modify their behavior according to the demands of the situation and to manage their impressions effectively is a great advantage for them.

In general, they tend to be more successful in their careers. They are more likely to get cross-company promotions, and even when they stay with one company, they are more likely to advance. They are rated as higher performers, and emerge as leaders.


Self-efficacy is a belief that one can perform a specific task successfully. It is the belief that we can do something is a good predictor of whether we can actually do it. Research shows that self-efficacy at work is related to job performance.

This relationship is probably a result of people with high self-efficacy setting higher goals for themselves and being more committed to these goals, whereas people with low self-efficacy tend to procrastinate.

Hiring people who are capable of performing their tasks and training people to increase their self-efficacy may be effective. Giving people opportunities to test their skills so that they can see what they are capable of doing is also a good way of increasing self-efficacy.

Proactive Personality

Proactive personality refers to a person’s inclination to fix what is perceived as wrong, change the status quo, and use initiative to solve problems. Instead of waiting to be told what to do, proactive people take action to initiate meaningful change and remove the obstacles they face along the way.

Proactive people are valuable assets to their companies because they may have higher levels of performance.

They adjust to their new jobs quickly because they understand the political environment better and often make friends more quickly. Proactive people are eager to learn and engage in many developmental activities to improve their skills.


Self-esteem is the degree to which a person has overall positive feelings about his or herself. People with high self-esteem view themselves in a positive light, are confident, and respect themselves.

High self-esteem is related to higher levels of satisfaction with one’s job and higher levels of performance on the job (Judge, & Bono, 2001).

On the other hand, people with low self-esteem experience high levels of self-doubt and question their self-worth. They are attracted to situations in which they will be relatively invisible, such as large companies.

Locus of Control

Locus of control deals with the degree to which people feel accountable for their own behaviors.

The people who believe that they control their destinies have been labeled internals, whereas the latter, who see their lives as being controlled by outside forces, have been called externals.

Individuals with a high internal locus of control believe that they control what happens to them is their own doing, while those with a high external locus of control feel that things happen to them because of other people, luck, or a powerful being.

It is possible that internals takes more responsibility for their health and adopt healthier habits, while externals may see less of a connection between how they live and their health. Successful entrepreneurs tend to have high levels of internal locus of control.


People differ in their willingness to take chances. It is the degree to which an individual is willing to take chances and make risky decisions. Their propensity to assume or avoid risk has been shown to have an impact on how long it takes managers to make a decision and how much information they require before making their choice.

High-risk taking managers make more rapid decisions and useless information in making choices in comparison with low risk-taking managers.

The tendency to assume or avoid risk affects a manager’s behavior’ in making decisions. In general, managers in large organizations, tend to be risk-averse, especially in contrast to growth-oriented entrepreneurs who actively manage small businesses.

Positive and Negative Affectivity

Some people seem to be in a good mood most of the time and others seem to be in a bad* mood most of the time regardless of what is actually going on in their lives.

This distinction is manifested by positive and negative affectivity traits. Positive affective people experience positive moods more frequently, whereas negative affective people experience negative moods with greater frequency.

Negative affective people focus on the “glass half empty” and experience more anxiety and nervousness. Positive affective people tend to be happier at work and their happiness spreads to the rest of the work environment. As may be expected, this personality trait sets the tone in the work atmosphere.

When a team comprises mostly negative affective people, there tend to be fewer instances of helping and cooperation. Teams dominated by positive affective people experience lower levels of absenteeism.

Type A Personality

The theory describes a Type A individual as ambitious, rigidly organized, highly status conscious, can be sensitive, care for other people, are truthful, impatient, take on more than they can handle, want other people to get to the point, proactive, and obsessed with time management.

The Type A personality generally lives at a higher stress level. This is driven by-

  • They enjoy the achievement of goals, with greater enjoyment in achieving of more difficult goals. They are thus constantly working hard to achieve these.
  • They find it difficult to stop, even when they have achieved goals.
  • They feel the pressure of time, constantly working flat out.
  • They are always moving, walking, eating rapidly, and they cannot cope with leisure.
  • They strive to think or do two or more things at once.
  • They hate failure and will work hard to avoid it.
  • They are generally pretty fit and often well-educated.

Type B Personality

The theory describes Type B individuals, as a contrast to those with Type A personalities.

People with Type B personality by definition generally live at a lower stress level and typically work steadily, enjoying achievements but not becoming stressed when they are not achieved. When faced with competition, they do not mind losing rather they enjoy the game.

They may be creative and enjoy exploring ideas and concepts. They are often reflective, thinking about the outer and inner worlds. This is driven by-

  • They work steadily, enjoying achievements but not becoming stressed when they are not achieved.
  • They never suffer from’a sense of time urgency with its accompanying impatience.
  • They play for fun and relaxation, rather than to exhibit their superiority at any cost.
  • They may be creative and enjoy exploring ideas and concepts.
  • They are often reflective, thinking about the outer and inner worlds.


Machiavellianism is another important personality trait. This concept is named after Niccolo Machiavelli, a sixteenth-century author.

In his book entitled The Prince, Machiavelli explained how the nobility could more easily gain and use power. Machiavellianism is now used to describe behavior directed at gaining power and controlling the behavior of others. Research suggests that Machiavellianism is a personality trait that varies from person to person.

Generally, high Machs manipulate more, win more, are persuaded less, and persuade others more than do low Machs. Yet these high Mach outcomes are moderated by situational factors. It has been found that high Machs flourish-

  • when they interact face to face with others rather than indirectly,
  • when the situation has a minimum number of rules and regulations, it allows freedom for creativeness, and
  • when emotional involvement with details irrelevant to winning distracts low Machs.


Sometimes it is difficult to understand what motivates a person.

Some people are motivated solely by money; if they are promised of a raise or bonus, they are likely to work harder. Other people prefer recognition among their peers, so celebrating their successes at a staff luncheon or sending out a recognition email to the staff could keep those employees working at full steam.

Other people are self-motivated, able to work hard for the personal satisfaction they receive when they achieve the goal. So firstly, the way of motivating the persons should be understood.

Work Ethic

A strong work ethic develops in employees who make their jobs a high priority. Some employees might perform adequately, but without fervor or any indication they are at work for more than a paycheck.

People with a weak work ethic often require more management and oversight to keep them focused on their work, while people with a strong work ethic typically work well with minimum oversight.

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