What Kind of Personality Do You Have?

Learn about theories of personality and discover which personality traits you have.


What is personality? Well, the answer depends on who you ask. Personality may be part of our unconscious. It may consist of personal narratives that we build across our lives (Cervone, Shadel, & Jencius, 2001). Or, it may be the observable manifestation of our genetics. But overall, personality traits can be thought of as habitual individual differences in behavior, thought, and emotion.

Theory of Personality

It wasn’t until recently that we even knew we had personalities. Still, for a long time, we’ve used adjectives to describe people. For example, we might say someone is responsible, innovative, angry, or friendly. Each of these adjectives can also be thought of as personality traits.

​Interestingly, when researchers analyzed these common adjectives, they found that they clumped into five categories (Goldberg, 1993). These categories are now known as the Big Five personality traits. And each of these big five aspects of personality includes hundreds if not thousands of personality traits (Goldberg, 1993).

The Big Five are:

  1. Extroversion (versus introversion). This includes activity, assertiveness, attention-seeking, gregariousness, sociability, vigor, etc...

  2. Agreeableness (versus hostility). This includes cooperation, empathy, friendliness, sensitivity, nurturance, tolerance, warmth, understanding, etc...

  3. Conscientiousness (versus undependability). This includes achievement, autonomy, order, control, self-sufficiency, constraint, etc...

  4. Neuroticism (versus emotional stability). This includes anger, depression, anxiety, hostility, guilt-proneness, emotional intensity, etc...

  5. Openness to experience (versus close-mindedness). This includes creativity, novelty-seeking, thoughtfulness, imagination, etc... (DeNeve & Cooper, 1998).

Although there are only five primary personality traits, we can fall anywhere on the continuum of these traits. In other words, we are not 100% extrovert or 100% introvert. Rather, we might be mostly extroverted, mostly introverted, or somewhere in the middle.

To see where you fall on these Big Five traits, here is a short personality quiz with some of the questions used in research on the Big Five personality traits (Saucier, 1997; ipip.ori.org).

Extraversion

I am open about my feelings.

Strongly disagree Strongly agree

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

I take charge.

Strongly disagree Strongly agree

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

I talk to a lot of different people at parties.

Strongly disagree Strongly agree

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

I make friends easily.

Strongly disagree Strongly agree

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

I'm never at a loss for words.

Strongly disagree Strongly agree

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Conscientiousness

I do things by the book.

Strongly disagree Strongly agree

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

I try to follow the rules.

Strongly disagree Strongly agree

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

I believe laws should be strictly enforced.

Strongly disagree Strongly agree

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

I pay attention to details.

Strongly disagree Strongly agree

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

I like order.

Strongly disagree Strongly agree

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Emotional Stability

I seldom feel blue.

Strongly disagree Strongly agree

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

I am relaxed most of the time.

Strongly disagree Strongly agree

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

I feel comfortable with myself.

Strongly disagree Strongly agree

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

I am not easily bothered by things.

Strongly disagree Strongly agree

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

I take things as they come.

Strongly disagree Strongly agree

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Agreeableness

I feel others' emotions.

Strongly disagree Strongly agree

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

I have a soft heart.

Strongly disagree Strongly agree

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

I sympathize with others' feelings.

Strongly disagree Strongly agree

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

I am concerned about others.

Strongly disagree Strongly agree

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

I make people feel at ease.

Strongly disagree Strongly agree

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Openness

I enjoy the beauty of nature.

Strongly disagree Strongly agree

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

I believe in the importance of art.

Strongly disagree Strongly agree

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

I love to reflect on things.

Strongly disagree Strongly agree

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

I see beauty in things that others might not notice.

Strongly disagree Strongly agree

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

I need a creative outlet.

Strongly disagree Strongly agree

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

*Add up your score for each of the five personality factors. The higher your score, the stronger each of these personality traits is for you.

​Other Theories of Personality

Although the Big Five theory of personality is the most popular, you may also be interested in the social-cognitive theory of personality. This theory states that much of our behavior—what we might consider to be personality—arises as a direct result of social stimuli. While the Big Five theory of personality assumes that personality consists of our essential, unchangeable, innate qualities, the social-cognitive theory of personality argues that personality itself is dynamic and changes as a result of our circumstances (Cervone, Shadel, & Jencius, 2001).

Regardless of where personality comes from, it can be helpful for our understanding of ourselves to know where we fall and what traits we have.



References

  • Cervone, D., Shadel, W. G., & Jencius, S. (2001). Social-cognitive theory of personality assessment. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 5(1), 33-51.

  • DeNeve, K. M., & Cooper, H. (1998). The happy personality: a meta-analysis of 137 personality traits and subjective well-being. Psychological bulletin, 124(2), 197.

  • Goldberg, L. R. (1993). The structure of phenotypic personality traits. American psychologist, 48(1), 26.

  • Saucier, G. (1997). Effects of variable selection on the factor structure of person descriptors. Journal of personality and social psychology, 73(6), 1296.

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