A lot many times, we have seen the word ‘personality’ thrown around quite a bit. From the way people look, all the way to character defects, anything and everything is called personality. So what is it really? And what can you gain when you understand personalities?

Understand personalities

What is a personality?

Well, personality is a consistent system of behaviours you have developed over time. These behaviours play a huge role in success at home, work, the tasks you do, your relationships, how you feel about yourself and life in general. Understanding personalities is such an important concept, that there is an area of psychology, namely personality psychology, that is solely dedicated to studying that.

Earlier, theorists would often talk of personality in terms of opposing traits. For example, extraversion versus introversion. Later, they started to club the traits together for profiles, and studies were done to see if certain profiles suited certain careers. Now, the current standing of the field is that there are 5 factors to personality, the combination of all can lead to a personality pattern that maybe helpful or unhelpful, depending on your life situation.


This is called the Big 5 model, and the acronym OCEAN stands for these factors. Openness to experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism are the 5 factors.

The 5 personality traits are explained below:

Openness to Experience: This assesses your receptiveness to challenges and the willingness to get out of your comfort zone. This is an important quality for many professional and personal decisions.

Conscientiousness: This is the degree to which morality and ethics matter to you. Different careers require degrees of flexibility in this aspect.

Extraversion: Research is controversial when stating that ‘extroverts are better off in life’, but a lot of careers do require you to draw your energy from people and thus knowing where you stand on that is important.

Agreeableness: This is the degree to which others can talk to you and expect openness and collaboration and not rigidity and non-conformity. Agreeableness is important when working in team projects as well as is an important factor in relationships.

Neuroticism: This is the degree to which you are anxious or nervous and the level to which it disrupts your functioning. Ideally, people should not be high on this.


Effectiveness of these personality traits

Developed over years of research, there is a personality test that can help measure yourself on these 5 factors. The test is routinely employed at workplaces to assure person-organization fit and to understand employees better. Personality assessments are also a part of career guidance and counseling. These tests help people make the right choice about their careers and what would fit well with their personality attributes.

The NEO-PI can be taken from any reputed psychological testing centre. The report and counseling that follows can help you understand what your scores mean. There are also many research projects undertaken in order to study the use of the test better in different populations. These projects provide the test for free to participants, because they need scores to carry out the research.

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