There is now a professional consensus that personality can be accurately described by five broad factors. The Five Factor Model, or Big Five, has evolved over fifty years through academic observation and scientific research. These five personality dimensions are stable traits that affect our behavior consistently over time, and consistently in a wide range of situations.

The Big Five:

  • Extraversion
  • Emotional Reactivity
  • Behavioral Control
  • Agreeableness
  • Complexity

Extraversion

Extraversion is generally associated with traits such as being sociable, gregarious, assertive, talkative, persuasive, spontaneous, and driven.

Extraverts are oriented towards the external world and usually enjoy being around people. They typically lean towards jobs that allow a high level of interaction with others. They are often assertive, outgoing and sociable. At the extreme, they can be overly assertive and socially insensitive or aggressive.

Low scores on this factor suggest social introversion and a more quiet, low-key social style. Introverts are more internally focused and tend to assume their work will speak for them, rather than to actively sell themselves and their ideas. The exaggerated state of this trait may result in a socially passive, nonassertive, overly cautious and under-communicative social style.

Low scores on this factor suggest social introversion and a more quiet, low-key social style. Introverts are more internally focused and tend to assume their work will speak for them, rather than to actively sell themselves and their ideas. The exaggerated state of this trait may result in a socially passive, nonassertive, overly cautious and under-communicative social style.

Emotional Reactivity

Emotional Reactivity is related to emotional stability and patience. It includes such traits as security versus anxiety, happiness versus stress-proneness and restraint versus impulsivity.

High scores on this factor suggest tendencies to be emotionally expressive and intense. They may also be associated with higher wariness, vigilance and energy, as well as with tendencies to be anxious and easily frustrated. Extreme scores here may indicate stress-proneness and a tendency to be overly reactive.

Low scores are usually associated with an even temperament and a tendency to be unflappable, even-keeled and self-secure. Very low scores sometimes indicate over-confidence and passivity.

Behavioral Control

Behavioral Control is associated with conscientiousness and is represented by traits such as being careful, thorough, responsible, traditional, conforming, procedural, organized, planful, and detail-oriented.

People with high scores on this measure are usually disciplined, deliberate, determined and conscientious. They typically attend to detail and follow through on tasks until complete. They are likely to be timely, organized and dependable in their work. At their worst, they can be rigid, inflexible and overly structured or procedure-oriented.

Low scores suggest a looser, more flexible and spontaneous style. They also may indicate a tendency to let details slide and to be undisciplined. People with very low scores may be unstructured, unconventional and lax on follow-through.

Agreeableness

Agreeableness consists of characteristics such as being courteous, flexible, good-natured, easygoing, cooperative, forgiving, and soft-hearted.

High scores are associated with an easygoing, accepting, approachable and tolerant demeanor. People with high scores are usually non-demanding and easy to get along with. They value harmonious relationships and may try too hard to avoid conflict and confrontation. At their worst, they can be passive and too nice for their own good.

People with low scores here often have a driven, energetic, intense and direct style. They are often highly achievement motivated, but they can also come off as impatient and demanding. Extremely low scores suggest insensitivity, bluntness and intolerance.

Complexity

Complexity is sometimes referred to as openness to experience, and is associated with traits such as being imaginative, innovative, broad‑minded, analytical, and academically inclined.

People with high scores on this factor are usually open to new information and ideas, and they gravitate towards intellectual complexity and challenge. Very high scores may indicate an overly academic or theoretical approach.

Low scores are more likely to be obtained by people who are focused on the immediate task at hand and who have more of a practical, applied or operational orientation. Very low scores are more typical of people who are tactically focused, possibly to the point of missing the strategic viewpoint.

The eTest® Technical Manual presents an in-depth description of these primary factors and their secondary sub-factors.