I hadn’t received my results for the Birkman Method assessment yet, so I decided to complete another personality test that I have read a lot about. “The Big 5” also known as the OCEAN test, measures a significant number of personality descriptors, which have been categorized into five dimensions or factors. The five factors are as follows:

Openness to experience/intellect: Is the tendency to show appreciation and curiosity for a variety of experiences. High scorers tend to be original, creative, curious, and complex, but can also be vulnerable to engaging in high-risk activities and lifestyles. Low scorers tend to be conventional, down to earth, pragmatic and data-drive, however can be perceived to have narrow interests, and be uncreative.

Conscientiousness: Is the tendency to display self-discipline and strive for achievement. High scorers tend to be reliable, well-organized, self-disciplined, high achievers and careful, but can also be seen as stubborn or obsessive. Low scorers are associated with spontaneity and flexibility, but can also appear disorganized, undependable, and negligent.

Extraversion: Is the tendency to be engaged in a breadth of high energy, external activities. High scorers tend to be sociable, friendly, fun loving, talkative, but can also be seen as attention seeking or domineering. Low scorers demonstrate a reserved, reflective personality, which can be perceived as introverted, aloof and quiet.

Agreeableness: Is the tendency to have concern for social harmony and express consideration and trust for others. High scorers tend to be good-natured, sympathetic, forgiving, and courteous, but are often perceived as naïve or submissive. Low scorers are often competitive and challenging individuals, but tend to be critical, or seen as argumentative.

Neuroticism: Is the tendency to experience negative emotions, and is also referred to as an individual’s emotional stability. High scorers easily experience anger, anxiety, nervousness, and insecurity, however can often be dynamic and excitable. Low scorers tend to be calm, relaxed, secure and stable, but can be perceived as both uninspiring and unconcerned.

The test is comprised of forty-six (46) statements from which you select your answer by indicating your level of agreement with each statement. An answer of one (1) indicates that your strongly disagree; an answer of two (2), that you disagree; an answer of three (3), neutrality; an answer of four (4), agree, an answer of five (5), strong agreement.

You are then asked to provide some general identifying information about yourself, such as age, gender, geographic area in which you grew up and currently reside, education experience and career background. The test compares your individual answers to the answers of a similar cross section of individuals (particularly with respect to gender/age) and provides a percentile result for each of the five factors.

A number of websites provide the initial quiz and percentile results free of charge, and then offer a more advanced report at a cost. Given that I have a pretty indepth report underway with the Birkman method, I elected for the free quiz to give me an idea of where I was at comparative to others. I then took my basic results and conducted a few additional internet queries for pages that provided a more detailed description of the factors. This gave me a fairly comprehensive understanding of my results.

Here’s a boiled down version of what I learned:

Openness: 59% : I typically don’t seek out new experiences.

Conscientiousness: 92% : I am very well-organized and can be relied upon.

Extraversion: 53% : I am neither particularly social or reserved.

Agreeableness: 27% : I find it easy to express irritation with others.

Neuroticism: 37% : I am generally relaxed.

My results for openness were pretty much what I expected. It’s true, while I’m a curious person when it comes to reading books etc, I don’t particularly seek out new and innovative experiences. Guiding Principle #7: Try New Things should help me improve in that area!

Conscientiousness. This score was a bit higher than I had anticipated: however, not entirely unexpected. This category aligns consistently with my Upholder tendency, but ironically I think this is an area I need to look at finding better balance, as it can become a real stumbling block to contentment. My “conscientiousness” can often translate to pursuing perfection, leaving me unsatisfied with the end result of my efforts. A quote from Gretchen Rubin’s “Happier” podcast that I have found particularly insightful for myself is “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” I silently repeat this quote to myself on a regular basis, so much that it’s become a bit of a personal mantra for me.

Extraversion plunked me middle of the road, which I think is about where I am. Despite my loathing of social settings (which looking at my results likely has more to do with the next category than anything else) my reluctance doesn’t come from an innate shyness. It comes from being irritated by other people. Not to say I am a gregariously outgoing person either, but I think 53% is probably bang on, I can hold my own in pretty much any setting without a second thought but I’m definitely not the life of the party.

Agreeableness. Okay, now here was the big surprise result for me. 27%? What? If you had asked me where me agreeableness level sat before I took this test, I would have told you that I was well above 80%. Why you ask? Well, it feels like I am agreeable, courteous and polite with EVERYONE………ALL THE TIME. Often to my own detriment, and frustration. I just find it easier to be agreeable, to nod and smile when people are expressing a viewpoint with which I don’t agree, or to chalk poor service up to the other person having a bad day, or to simply ignore a stupid comment. I act agreeable at work, in social settings, in the grocery store, you name it, and then I just vent my critical thoughts to my husband about it at a later time! I also don’t see the point of forcing my opinion down other people’s throats, and frankly it irritates the hell out of me when other people subject me to it (Yes, I know, I ‘m writing a blog, but no one is making anyone read this stuff!). I suppose I am also not the most trusting individual, I generally suspect people of having an agenda rather than doing things out of the goodness of their hearts. I’m pretty jaded that way, but I like to frame it as “I’m just not naïve”. Clearly the Big 5 test captured my true inner dialogue on the topic, and not the agreeable, courteous person I try to portray myself as.

Lightbulb moment! This could definitely be a huge factor in why I find social settings so unenjoyable. I feel this obligation to be socially polite, to listen and indulge other peoples concerns, opinions, and drama, but very rarely do I feel like I’ve gotten any value out of the interaction. Although I can’t see myself being brutally honest with people about my critical thoughts anytime soon, perhaps I could find a more balanced way of interacting with people. Maybe this would simultaneously improve my agreeableness and reduce my feelings of irritation? This may be an area I will have to delve into further in the coming months.

Neuroticism rang in at 37%. A little higher number than I would like when you read a word like neuroticism, but I suppose once I familiarized myself with how it was defined in this context, I was satisfied with the assessment of “You are generally relaxed”. That works for me.

If you want to take the Big 5 for yourself, check out this free website. To find out even more about the test, and a detailed description of the factors and origins of the test, Wikipedia has a great page on the topic, which you can check out here. Once you’ve completed your test, I’d love to hear from you! Drop me an e-mail or a comment with your test results and how accurate you think they are!