Behavioral Control is one of the major Big Five personality factors. It is often referred to as conscientiousness, and is a good predictor of successful performance in most jobs. This dimension is related to discipline, focus, tenacity and organization. People with high scores on this trait typically control their expressions of feeling and emotion and operate according to rules and structure. They often feel a keen sense of duty and responsibility. They are usually seen as disciplined, conscientious, tenacious, stubborn, inflexible and controlled. People with low scores here are often seen as spontaneous, adaptable, undisciplined, careless and not particularly detail-oriented. The subfactors associated with this overall dimension of Behavioral Control are presented below.
Disciplined. People with high scores on this facet are usually timely, prompt, priority focused, disciplined, organized, steady and task-focused. They do not procrastinate or tolerate a great deal of disorder.
Conforming. High scorers see themselves as conventional, traditional, conforming, conservative, by-the-book, rule-following, cautious, obedient, structured, etc. They do not describe themselves in such terms as unconventional, non-conforming, routine-hating or unstructured.
Detail‑Oriented. People with high scores on this sub factor are usually precise, detail-oriented, exacting, methodical, perfectionistic, procedural and structure-seeking.
No personality trait is inherently positive or negative. There are potential upsides and downsides to scores at any point along the spectrum. The further towards the endpoints (high or low), the more pronounced and observable the behaviors associated with the particular trait under consideration are likely to be. People with exceptionally high or low scores are likely to demonstrate both the positives and negatives associated with the characteristic under study. People with high scores on the measure of Behavioral Control are likely to be conscientious, structured, detail oriented and dependable. They can also be rigid and inflexible. People with low scores tend to be more reactive, seat-of-the-pants and loosely structured.
Traits are the hardwiring and factory settings of personality. While we can’t change our personalities to any significant extent, we can learn new behaviors and skills. We can get better at most anything, given the appropriate goals and the insight, resources and motivation to achieve them. Below are some suggestions for people with high or low scores on this trait.
- Make sure that your disciplined and determined nature does not lead you towards rigidity. You may benefit from occasional reality checks to help you back away and let things unfold in their own fashion.
- Be careful about getting pulled too far down into the weeds. Detail orientation is associated with conscientiousness, but it can also slow you down when quick but approximate solutions are called for. Make sure you understand and appreciate the difference between the perfect solution and the “good enough” solution.
- People with high scores here are sometimes overly conventional. Do what you can to keep a broad perspective and allow room for intuition and creativity.
- High scores are associated with a buttoned up and procedure-oriented work style. They can also be an indicator of difficulties adjusting to ambiguous or ill-defined circumstances.
- Make sure that you are not operating in a laissez-faire manner when situations call for more structured, organized and step-by-step behaviors.
- Be careful about coming off as overly independent. Extremely low scores are often seen in people who are perceived as organizational mavericks.
- Your administrative skills may need a little polish. You may need to pay particular attention to the development and use of structured methods to remain organized and to make sure that important details are not slipping through the cracks. You may be inclined to spin your wheels if you’re not careful.
- Don’t react too quickly to the heat of the moment. Make sure you’re performing full due diligence before making major decisions.
If you have a high score on the trait of Behavioral Control, people are likely to see you as conscientious and dependable but also as rigid and stubborn. Find ways to make allowances for people who may not be as structured, disciplined and procedure oriented. Loosen up when possible. If you have a low score on this factor, you may be spontaneous, flexible and creative, but others may also see you as undependable, distractible and flighty. Find ways to tighten up and to become more comfortable with schedules, details and procedures.
Regardless of your profile, remind yourself that others are wired differently and that they may be responding to the environment with very different experiences and reactions.