The Five-Factor (or ‘Big Five’) Model is the most reputable and well-studied personality assessment out there. It measures a person’s level of openness to experience, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism—often remembered by the acronym OCEAN.
Breaking down terminology
Personality traits describe the frequency or intensity of feelings, thoughts, behaviours, attitudes, and motivators (relative to other people) and should remain relatively stable throughout your adult life.
The NEO PI-R is a concise test of the Big Five traits and the six underlying traits that define each of the Big Five. See the complete list of traits here.
Tips for interpreting your results
1. Don’t judge
Low, average and high scores are neither absolutely good nor bad. A level of any trait will probably be neutral or irrelevant for many activities, helpful in some circumstances, and detrimental for others.
Example: Although conscientiousness is the strongest predictor of job performance, those with high conscientiousness are likely to put work first over anything else. They are typically less adaptable and creative, and may face issues learning complex skills (especially early on) because they tend to focus on their performance instead of learning.
2. Pay attention to scores under 30% and over 70%
The computer program classifies you as low, average, or high in a trait according to whether your score is approximately in the lowest 30% or highest 30% of scores obtained by people of your sex and roughly your age. High- and low-score descriptions are usually accurate, but average scores close to the low or high boundaries might misclassify you as only average.
3. Think comparatively-it’s all relative
Your scores are in percentiles and compare you to other people in your demographic (sex and age and country).
Example: A score of “60” means that your level on that trait is estimated to be higher than 60% of persons of your sex and age.
4. See traits on a spectrum
The Big Five asserts that each personality trait is a spectrum or a matter of degree,
|Fun Fact: One of the reasons why other personality tests (like Myers-Briggs or the enneagram) are not reliable predictors of personality is because they sort people into false binaries (i.e. introvert or extrovert).|
5. Read the definitions of traits
Each personality tests have its own, specific (or “operational”) definitions of what they mean, which are listed directly in your results. Read through each definition to ensure you understand your scores.
6. Look at the full picture, not individual scores
Don’t look (and/or judge) individual traits. Instead, look at the full picture of your strengths profile and see the interactions between traits.
Example: If you have a high openness to experience, it’s normal to not be great at following rules and processes. Or, if you’re very optimistic and positive, it’s normal to not be great at setting realistic timelines. There’s no need to be ashamed!
7. Ask your friends & loved ones
If you’re questioning the accuracy of your results, show your report to people who know you well. See what they say. If everyone disagrees, try taking the test again in a few months. All tests (even valid and reliable ones have) margins of error. This is often due to how people are feeling and/or how people interpret various questions.
8. Remember: traits won’t dictate what you can achieve
Personality simply guides you in how you’re going to achieve it. Use your results to Think creatively about how you can meet your needs and goals with your strengths, including tapping into key resources and relationships with colleagues, friends and family. Achieving your goals is much easier when you’re not alone.
|Note: Many folks react negatively when seeing high levels of neuroticism. However, neuroticism is a superpower when paired with agreeableness and neuroticism predicts better performance in jobs where teamwork is involved, and high levels of neuroticism when paired with conscientiousness predicts better attention to detail!|