Big 5 Personality Traits

Submitted by:  Jimmie Jo Fitzwater

From Chapter 6 Attachment and Personality



Personality traits are defined by our textbook as “the tendency to behave, think, and feel in certain consistent ways” (Bergin & Bergin, 2012).   Researchers have been working for decades to come up with some sort of consensus regarding personality dimensions.  What they discovered is now known as “The Big 5.”    The Big 5 are “five broad clusters of traits used to model and evaluate people’s personalities:  Openness (sometimes referred to as “Intellect”), Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism” (Fournier, 2008).  The Big 5 personality traits “do not represent a particular theoretical perspective but were derived from analyses of the natural-language terms people use to describe themselves and others” (John and Srivastava, 1999).  Each of the 5 personality traits “describes, relative to other people the intensity of a person’s feelings, thoughts, or behaviors.  Everyone possesses these traits to a greater or lesser degree” (psychometric-success, 2013).

The Big 5 Personality Traits can be described as follows (and can be remembered using the word OCEAN):

Openness:  Open people are imaginative, adventurous, emotional, and artistic.  They tend to be intellectual.  They have broad interests.  People in this category are often open minded and love to debate.  They do not mind challenging authority or tradition.

Conscientiousness:  People who fall in this category have high levels of self-discipline.  Conscientious people believe they have the self-control to achieve success.  They tend to be cautious, orderly, reliable, and responsible.

Extraversion:  Extraverts are friendly, assertive, and have high activity levels.  They are cheerful and enjoy the company of others.  People who score high in this category make friends easily and then form close relationships.  Extraverts lead a busy life and are often involved in many activities.

Agreeableness:  Agreeable people are cooperative, modest, and moral.  They believe that most people are fair and trustworthy.  They do not like confrontations.  They are willing to compromise to in order to get along with others.  People with this trait are highly sympathetic and compassionate.

Neuroticism:  People who fall in this category tend to be anxious and angry.  They are sensitive and often feel as though they are being treated unfairly.  They are easily embarrassed and feel that others make fun of them.  Neurotic people often feel depressed.  Neurotic people have a hard time resisting impulses and urges.  They often feel helpless when they are under pressure.  (psychometric-success, 2013)


Bergin, C.C. & Bergin, D.A. (2012).  Child and Adolescent Development in Your Classroom.  Belmont, CA:  Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.

Fournier, Gillian (2008).  The Big Five Personality Traits. Retrieved on September 21, 2013 from

John, Oliver P. and Srivastava, Sanjay (1999).  The Big Five Taxonomy:  History, Measurement, and Theoretical Perspectives.  Retrieved on September 21, 2013 from

The Big 5 Aspects of Personality (2013). Retrieved on September 21, 2013 from

Discussion Questions:

1)       What implications do personality traits have for teachers in the classroom?

2)      How can the Big 5 personality traits be used to motivate students in the classroom?

3)      What traits do you fall into?  How does this affect your teaching style?

4)      How can the knowledge of the Big 5 personality traits help you to better reach and build relationships with your students?


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4 Responses to Big 5 Personality Traits

  1. Brooke says:

    3) What traits do you fall into? How does this affect your teaching style?
    I think I would fall into the following three traits: open, extrovert, agreeable. I think that I am open because I am imaginative, adventurous and possibly (hopefully) artistic. I have a broad range of interests and like to encourage the students to explore and broaden their horizons as well. I also think that I am a teacher who likes to discuss and facilitate debates about topics. One of my favorite topics is persuasive writing and I always encourage students to have an opinion, I certainly do not mind challenging authority or tradition. I also really enjoy people and working in groups. I create a lot of learning opportunities that incorporate partner and group participation. I also feel like I am a trustworthy individual and do not like confrontation. I think all of these attribute contribute directly from my teaching style. While I have a routine in my classroom, no day is ever the same. I think these attributes contribute to my laid back teaching style and student centered approach to learning. While I think my teaching style is good for most students, there are some who are not like me and do not feel comfortable in my class. I have to make a conscientious effort to remember my introvert students and the people who are not like me. While I pride myself on being student centered, I also feel like I do a good job working and making accommodations for students who do not share my same personality traits.

  2. escp7160 says:

    3) What traits do you fall into? How does this affect your teaching style?

    I am definitely in the openness category primarily. I also have some traits from the extroaversion category as well. I tend to be open to new things, I have a broad range of interests stretching from music, art and reading to sports like football and baseball. I also have high energy at times and I am always busy with something (school, work, extracurricular activities). I tend to form close friendships with others. Once you are my true friend I will do just about anything for you. In my relationships with people I enjoy making my friends and family happy.

    I believe in my practice, this helps me be open to trying new methods of teaching in the classroom. I also feel that it gives me the flexibility to accept changes and modify things for my students. I am very centered around my student’s needs. They are my first priority!

    My personality traits naturally direct me toward motivating my students. What is sometimes hard for me is when a student and I struggle to form a working relationship together. Most students I feel I can connect with and make progress with because we have mutual respect. But when that is a challenge, it stresses me out and makes me worry!

    Michelle Peterson

  3. Sorry the above comment logged me in as escp7160 from when I left my blog post so my name was not attached to the post except at the end. The previous reply was from me 🙂


  4. Katie Williams says:

    What traits do you fall into? How does this affect your teaching style?

    This is a fun questions to answer! When I read this post, I instantly knew I was in the extraversion category. I have friendly yet assertive personality, which I think are important qualities for teacher leaders. I have high energy, which keeps my going. I think that is probably why I enjoy teaching early childhood; high energy is necessary for keeping up with them! I enjoy getting to know new families each year. Our Open House was Thursday, and I was so excited about getting to see those families. I also think the extraversion trait is what makes me a good mentor. My life is also very busy. I am involved in many extra activities from school to church.

    This trait translates to my teaching style because I like to teach my students how to work together in cooperative groups. I like to be the facilitator in the room because that means that I get to spend time with everyone. I am not the old school “pour in the knowledge” type of teacher. I want my students to be able to construct knowledge for themselves. This student centered environment makes it easy to differentiate instruction to fit the needs of all students. I like to think of my classroom as controlled chaos.

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