Five Factor Model

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The Five Factor Model (FFM), otherwise known as the Big Five Personality Test, is the study by which all human personality is reduced to five elements, namely openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism


Five Factor Overview

The FFM, and the International Personality Item Pool Representation of the NEO PI-R (IPIP NEO) personality test, are noted for their predictive ability on personality identification and analysis. Personality traits identified under the FFM are often used by Human Resources departments for employment decisions, and for the study of specific groups of people.


Openness is described by the propensity for an individual to submit to new or unusual ideas. Individuals rated highly on the openness scale tend to be imaginative and creative, and express an appreciation for the arts. [1]


Conscientiousness relates to an individual’s need to be successful. Additionally, individuals with high levels of conscientiousness also tend to be more calculating and less spontaneous, planning actions more frequently.


Extraverts are noted to have high levels of friendliness and sociability. Extraverts also tend to have strong networking skills and have a more optimistic outlook on life. While introverts prefer to socialize in smaller groups, extraverts are found to enjoy large parties and events.

Agreeableness is best described by the degree to which an individual shows cooperativeness and compassion towards others. Agreeable individuals have a greater concern for their surroundings. Disagreeable individuals have greater interest in their own personal goals and well-being.


Neuroticism describes the degree of an individual’s emotional stability. Highly emotional individuals who react strongly to situations are categorized as neurotic, while emotionally stable individuals are less likely to become upset.

Practical uses of the FFM

The FFM has been used to study trends and correlations between individuals in various social and professional groups. Leaders and managers have been categorized and studied extensively under the FFM. The study of personality has also been conducted as it relates to entrepreneurship.


Self-reported surveys

Critics of the FFM cite origins of the personality traits themselves. Most personality designations are established by self-reported survey results. As with any self-reported survey, the honesty and accuracy of responses are questionable.

Self-reported surveys also introduce the issue of voluntary response, whereby the completion of each survey is optional. Trends and correlations may go unreported with voluntary response surveys.


  1. Zhao, H., Seibert S. E., et al. (2010). "The Relationship of Personality to Entrepreneurial Intentions and Performance: A Meta-Analytic Review." Journal of Management 36(2): 381-404.