Trait Behaviors


1. Extraverts direct their psychological energy outward to the social world, whereas introverts direct it inward toward private thought and fantasy.

2. The extravert is outgoing, sociable, and enthusiastic, but also somewhat impulsive and heedless. The

introvert, by contrast, is more quiet and withdrawn, but also more contemplative, deliberate, and less likely to take bad risks.

3. Extraverts are more socially dominant than introverts. They exhibit considerable energy and enthusiasm in social situations. Therefore, we would expect that extraverts might have more friends than introverts. But introverts might have deeper friendships with a few people.

4. Extraverts talk more and sooner when they meet someone than do introverts and engage in more eye contact when interacting with another. Extraverts even show firmer handshakes than introverts.

5. Among college students, extraverts study in places that afford opportunities for social interaction whereas introverts seek out more secluded spots. Introverts are somewhat more likely to live alone. Extraverts do more gambling. Extraverts also tend to be more sexually active than introverts; extraverts are more permissive in their sexual attitudes than introverts, confess to higher levels of sex drive, and are less prone to nervousness and inhibition in sexual relations.

6. In the occupational realm, extraverts are drawn to and excel in occupations that involve dealing directly with other people, such as sales, marketing, personnel work, and teaching. By contrast, introverts tend to prefer more solitary pursuits, sharing many interests with artists, research scientists, mathematicians, and engineers.

7. Extraverts tend to show superior performance to introverts on tasks requiring divided attention, resistance to distraction, and resistance to interference. Relative to introverts, extraverted locomotive drivers show better detection of railway signal stimuli, extraverted post office trainees tend to perform better on a demanding speeded mail-coding task, and extraverted TV viewers show better short-term recall of television news broadcasts. Conversely, introverts tend to perform better on tasks requiring vigilance and careful attention to details. Some evidence suggests that introverts show better long-term memory for words and superior performance under conditions of very low arousal, as when deprived of sleep for long periods of time.

8. To the extent differences are found in learning styles, extraverts tend to show a preference for speed over accuracy, whereas introverts focus more on accuracy over speed. Accordingly, Brebner and Cooper (1985) characterize extraverts as “geared to respond” and introverts as “geared to inspect.”

9. Introverts appear to dwell on the negative and punitive features of certain social situations. Researchers report that introverts recall less positive information and rate others less positively in social situations, report interpersonal disagreements as being more aversive, and anticipate more disagreements between themselves and others than do extraverts

10. Extraverts are more likely than introverts to continue responding in the face of punishment and frustration. Extraverts typically fail to pause following punishment, pushing ahead to the next trial before they can learn from their mistakes. Impulsively seeking out rewards, extraverts may actually be motivated by punishment to work even faster and more impulsively, failing to reflect on the reasons for punishment. In some situations, therefore, extraverts may show an overly impulsive approach to problem solving, continuing to produce errors even after they are punished for doing so.

11. Extraversion is associated both with reporting greater positive affect and remembering even greater positive affect later than what was reported at the time. In a similar vein, Mayo (1990) found that extraversion was associated with the tendency to remember a greater number of happy scenes from the past. The tendency to recall the past in more positive terms than it was experienced at the time may contribute to the generally positive and upbeat emotional life that extraverts tend to experience.

12. In order to achieve an optimal level of arousal, extraverts must seek out stimulation, especially rewarding social stimulation. By contrast, the RAS of the typical introvert is set at a relatively high level. The introvert is more aroused to begin with, and more easily aroused to reach a level of stimulation that is so high as to be aversive. In order to achieve an optimal level of arousal, the introvert must often avoid social stimulation. Put simply, extraverts crave social stimulation because they are chronically under-aroused while introverts often avoid the same social stimulation in order to avoid becoming over-aroused.


1. Measures of chronic anxiety, depression, excessive emotionality, nervousness, moodiness, hostility, vulnerability, self-consciousness, and hypochondriasis all converge in this general factor, which is most generally described as a continuum from emotional instability to emotional stability.

2. This general personality dimension is concerned with individual differences among people in their experience of negative emotions, such as sadness, anger, fear, anxiety, guilt, and the like. Consequently, they label the dimension “negative affectivity.”

3. People who score high on this general trait have a tendency to be distressed and upset in many realms of their lives. They are chronically worried, nervous, and insecure, and they hold a low opinion of themselves. People who score low on N, on the other hand, are generally calm, relaxed, hardy, secure, self-satisfied, and rather unemotional.

4. N is consistently associated with reports of unpleasant moods, higher tension levels, and a preponderance of negative emotional experiences. People high in neuroticism are lonelier and less satisfied with interpersonal relationships in their lives than are people low in neuroticism.

5. Extraverts report high levels of good feelings, introverts report low levels of good feelings, persons high in neuroticism report high levels of bad feelings, and persons low in neuroticism report low levels of bad feelings.

6. Individual differences in N have been shown to predict a number of important behavioral and attitudinal trends. For example, N has been associated with complaints about poor health among men.

7. High levels of N are a significantly stronger predictor of psychological distress than are environmental factors, such as negative changes in one’s life situation.

8. Individuals high in N are likely to see the problems of middle age as a “crisis.” Among older adults, high levels of neuroticism combined with high levels of daily stress are especially predictive of poor quality of life. In a 50-year longitudinal study of 300 married couples, neuroticism scores of both husbands and wives were a major predictor of divorce.

9. First source of distress in high-N adults is that they tend to report a greater number of daily stressors than do low-N adults. Now one could argue that this is because high-N individuals complain more; perhaps they are overly sensitive and tend to report minor events that most other people would overlook. The results show, however, that the difference was not due to oversensitivity on the part of high-N adults, for reports from their spouses tended to support the accuracy of their own accounts of stressful events. In essence, then, high neuroticism appears to expose individuals to a greater number of stressful daily events. Especially significant in this regard were stressful events having to do with interpersonal conflict. Of the nine stressor categories, “argument with spouse” and “argument with other” were the two areas that showed the largest distinction between high-N and low-N adults.

10. A second source of distress was the respondents’ reactivity to stressful events. Not only did the high-N subjects report a greater number of stressful events, but their negative emotional reactions to stressful events were significantly stronger than the negative emotional reactions to stressful events shown by low-N respondents. In fact, reactivity to stressful events was twice as important as exposure to stressful events as an explanation for the link between N and distress. The authors argue that this reactivity in high-N adults is a result of ineffective coping strategies such as self-blame and wishful thinking. Rather than taking constructive steps to deal with stressful situations, high-N individuals rely on self-defeating strategies that do not relieve their anxiety, depression, and hostility in the face of daily setbacks.

11. A third source of distress among high-N individuals was unrelated to stressful events. The authors show that as much as 60% of the relationship between neuroticism and distress had nothing to do with either the bad things that happened to the high-N individuals or their overly negative reactions to these bad things. In addition to a greater exposure to stressful situations and a greater negative reaction to such stressors when they occur, it appears that there is a general negativity about life among high-N adults that cannot be explained by what happens on a daily basis. Even when bad things aren’t happening, neuroticism brings with it bad feelings.

12. Results suggest that persons high in N find it difficult to adjust their social behavior to meet situational demands. Neurotic individuals appear to be oblivious to social cues, perhaps too self preoccupied to note what their environments are saying to them.

13. N is the trait that is most strongly and consistently related to stress symptoms of various kinds. We have already seen that N is linked to negative emotional states and problems in interpersonal relationships. High levels of N are also associated with self-reports of illnesses and various somatic symptoms, though N does not itself appear to be a risk factor for serious diseases.

14. Individuals high in N report that they are more prone to carelessness and everyday errors in thinking. Automobile drivers high in N are more prone to stress in the form of anger, irritation, anxiety, and lack of confidence.

15. A study showed that individuals high in N tend to drink more alcoholic beverages, and to drink alone, on days when they experience negative interpersonal interactions.

16. Data suggests that N tends to cause stressful events, not the reverse. The researchers offer two reasons for this association. They argue that people high in N tend to react to a wider variety of events in negative ways. The very same event—say, finding yourself stuck for a semester with an obnoxious roommate—might represent a minor hassle for a person low in N but a major stressor for a person high in N.

17. People high in N “bring it on themselves” sometimes. Their difficulties in social interaction may actually initiate negative events in their lives such as job loss, divorce, and other setbacks and failures.

18. Recent studies suggest that being high on N to begin with may predispose some people to major depressive episodes. In a 12-year longitudinal study of depression, Surtees and Wainwright (1996) showed that, out of many clinical, demographic, and social measures taken at the beginning of the study, one of the strongest predictors of poor outcome in treatment for depression was the trait of neuroticism.

19. Research suggests that individuals high in N go into a stressful situation with a negative view of things to begin with. They tend to appraise what is already a negative situation in even more negative terms. They tend to see themselves as having relatively few resources and relatively weak support systems to help them cope with the problem. Rather than adopting an action plan for coping with the stressful situation, individuals high in N may adopt “emotion-focused” or avoidant coping strategies. Instead of tackling the problem that is causing the stress, they may focus their efforts on soothing their fears and calming their nervousness, or they may simply seek to escape the whole problem through drinking, drug use, or even just staying in bed.

20. The low-N students managed their stress better than did high-N students. But, you may ask, how did the students perform on the exam? Here you may be surprised. The results of the MCAT exams showed that the two groups did not differ. Neuroticism itself was not associated with performance levels on the MCAT. While the students high in N suffered more stress and coped badly with the stress over the three-week period, they did just as well on the exam as did their low-N counterparts.

Openness to Experience:

1. Six different facets of openness: fantasy, aesthetics, feelings, actions, ideas, and values. Therefore, the person high in O may reveal a rich and elaborate fantasy life, may be especially sensitive to the aesthetic dimensions of life, may experience a greater range of personal feelings, may seek out a wider range of activities in life, may hold many different and even contradictory ideas, and may express a complex and highly differentiated value system. In the overall, persons high in O are described by themselves and by others who know them as especially original, imaginative, creative, complex, curious, daring, independent, analytical, untraditional, artistic, liberal, and having broad interests. Persons low in O are described as conventional, down-to-earth, uncreative, simple, incurious, non-adventurous, conforming, non-analytical, un-artistic, traditional, conservative, and having narrow interests.

2. It may be true that people with high levels of openness to experience to begin with might be more likely to obtain an education or more likely to find such an educational experience to be especially broadening.

3. People high in O appear to welcome challenge and change. Openness to experience, assessed via a questionnaire, was positively associated with anticipated change in life, as was age. In other words, older adults and adults scoring high in O anticipated more changes in their lives in the future.

4. Absorption is associated with an intense and vivid fantasy life. Persons who score high on absorption may become so immersed in their imaginative experiences that they lose all track of time, place, and identity. Research shows that absorption is positively related to reports of para-psychological phenomena, such as out-of-body experiences, as well as reports of naturally occurring altered states of consciousness. According to a factor-analytic study, absorption connects closely to those aspects of O that invoke aesthetic sensitivity, unusual perceptions and associations, fantasy and dreams, unconventional views of reality, and awareness of inner feelings. It is perhaps due to the presence of the trait of absorption within the broader trait domain of O that researchers have found O to be positively associated with mild forms of magical and bizarre thinking. Individuals high in O are also more likely to believe in “esoteric and dubious phenomena, such as astrology and the existence of ghosts.”

5. Wolfenstein and Trull (1997) administered self-report measures of O and depression to 143 college students. The students were chosen to comprise three groups—those who were currently suffering from depression, those who reported severe bouts of depression in the past, and those who reported that they had never experienced a bout of severe depression. The researchers found that those students who were currently depressed and/or who reported high levels of depressive symptoms on the self-report measures tended to score high on two of the facets of O: aesthetics and feelings. In other words, those students who showed a strong appreciation for art and beauty (aesthetics facet of O) and especially vivid and intense emotions (feelings facet of O) were more likely to be depressed than those students who scored low on the O facets of aesthetics and feelings. Although the results from only one study do not establish a well-documented finding, the study nonetheless reinforces the more general view that being high in O may bring with it both positive and negative characteristics and outcomes.

6. O is positively associated with using intellectualization as a defense mechanism and negatively associated with using denial. People high in O are more likely to try to explain away their problems and to translate deeply personal issues into more abstract and depersonalized rationalizations. By contrast, people low in O are more likely to deny the existence of the problems in the first place or to distract themselves from paying concerted attention to the sources of stress.

7. McCrae and Costa argue that basic personality traits manifest themselves in times of stress by predisposing people to adopt certain corresponding coping strategies. While the choice of a coping strategy is likely partly determined by the nature of the stressful event and other situational factors, stable and internal personality traits such as E, N, and O also play an important determining role.

8. A substantial body of research suggests positive relations between authoritarianism and a number of attitudinal variables such as extremely conservative political values, anti-Semitism, distrust of outsiders, and highly punitive attitudes toward those deemed to be “deviant” in a society. Duncan, Peterson, and Winter (1994) found that authoritarian women and men espouse traditional sex-role attitudes and are hostile toward feminism and the women’s movement. Peterson, Doty, and Winter (1993) found that authoritarians hold hostile and punitive attitudes toward people with AIDS, drug users, and the homeless. Authoritarians tend to cherish the traditions of their own group but are highly distrustful of the traditions of other groups.

9.  Authoritarians tend to be highly respectful of traditional authority in their own society, and they find the questioning of authority to be highly distasteful. They have relatively little tolerance for those who disobey authority or whose lifestyle and viewpoints contradict or call into question the legitimacy of traditional authority.

10. The authoritarian personality is one manifestation of the low end of the trait continuum for openness to experience. For sure, not all people who score low on O would be classified as authoritarian. But authoritarianism tends to be highly negatively associated with O, meaning that there is a strong tendency for low scores on O to be associated with high scores on measures of authoritarianism.

11. Like authoritarians, people low in O are expected to value conventional norms and rules and to be suspicious of complex, imaginative, and nonconforming expressions of the human spirit—expressions that may threaten the security of the status quo. At the heart of the overlap between low O and authoritarianism, moreover, may be an intolerance of ambiguity.

12. The authoritarian personality, therefore, would appear to share some basic features with low levels of the trait openness to experience. Not only do empirical findings show a strong association between low O and authoritarianism, but the two constructs are defined in somewhat similar ways. Perhaps the most important commonality between the two is an intolerance for ambiguity. At the same time, there would seem to be features of authoritarianism that have little to do with O. For example, the classic definition of the authoritarian personality includes such characteristics as “authoritarian aggression,” “power and toughness,” and “destructiveness and cynicism.”

13. Authoritarianism may be something of a blend—combining low levels of O with trait constructs that are found in one or more of the other four trait clusters. The obvious candidate for inclusion in this regard is the Big Five trait domain of agreeableness (A). The low pole of A includes such descriptors as “aggressive,” “cruel,” and “tough-minded.” At minimum, the authoritarian personality may represent a trait combination of low O and low A.


1. Encompasses a great many characteristics of personality that center on how hard-working, self-disciplined, responsible, reliable, dutiful, well-organized, and persevering a person is. At the high end of the C continuum, people may be described as well-organized, efficient, and dependable (Goldberg, 1990). They approach tasks in a systematic and orderly fashion. They analyze problems logically. They provide concise answers to questions and perform according to exacting standards in their work and their play. You can depend on conscientious people. Self-disciplined and duty-bound, they are reliable and responsible in their dealings with other people. They are rarely late for meetings; they don’t miss class. Conscientious people plan their lives carefully, according to principles and goals. While they may seem overly cautious at times, they are, nonetheless, able to make hard decisions and stick by them when things get rough. They are persistent, steady, predictable, conventional, and thrifty.

2. At the other end of the continuum, people low on the C dimension tend to be disorganized, haphazard, inefficient, careless, negligent, and undependable. It is difficult to predict what they will do from one situation to the next, so erratic and inconsistent is their behavior. Life lacks plan and purpose. Low-C people may be lazy and slothful, indecisive and wishy-washy, extravagant and impractical. Un-conscientious people have little regard for serious standards of work or morality. While their spontaneity may seem like a breath of fresh air in the face of stale social conventions, their irresponsibility and utter inability to stand by others or stand for anything in the long run make them very poor risks in friendship and in love.

3. The trait domain of C would appear to have extensive relevance for the world of work. Hogan and Ones (1997) identify the three central themes of C as control, orderliness, and hard work. McCrae and Costa (1997b) divide the C domain into the six facets of competence, order, dutifulness, achievement striving, self-discipline, and deliberation. People who score high on measures of C are described as hard-working, responsible, well-organized, and productive. These would appear to be characteristics of personality that would promote success in the world of work. Of course, there are many factors, both within the person and in the environment that can predict occupational success. But one is hard pressed to imagine a work situation in which being high in C would not be an asset.

4. Of the Big Five traits, C was the one that consistently predicted success across different organizations, jobs, and situations. Examining professional positions, police work, business managers, salespersons, and skilled and semiskilled jobs, Barrick and Mount found that employees scoring high on measures subsumed under C were rated more highly by supervisors on such dimensions as job proficiency and training proficiency.

5. C proves to be an even stronger predictor as the level of occupational autonomy increases. Barrick and Mount (1993) showed that as the level of autonomy and responsibility for a given job goes up, individual differences in conscientiousness become even more powerful predictors of job performance. Longitudinal studies indicate that high levels of C predict job success many years in the future. In a study of graduates of an elite women’s college, Roberts (1994) found that measures of C-related traits taken in college predicted successful participation in the paid labor force 20 years later.

6. Scales that measure personal reliability (another component of C) are negatively associated with irresponsible behaviors in the workplace. People who score low on these scales tend to miss work more often, tend to be recommended for counseling because of problems on the job, and tend to be fired more often from jobs. By contrast, those scoring high on personal reliability receive more commendations from their supervisors. Low scores on personal reliability are also positively associated with blood alcohol levels of persons arrested for drunk driving.


1. People high in agreeableness (A) are nice men and women. But they are more than nice. Agreeableness incorporates the expressive qualities of love and empathy, friendliness, cooperation, and care. Indeed, the term agreeableness may be a bit too meek for the A domain in traits, a domain that includes such concepts as altruism, affection, and many of the most admirably humane aspects of human personality.

2. Individuals at the high end of the A continuum are described as interpersonally warm, cooperative, accommodating, helpful, patient, cordial, empathic, kind, understanding, courteous, natural, and sincere. They are also described as especially honest, ethical, and selfless—peace-loving humanists, committed to their friends and their family, and to the social good.

3. Their counterparts on the other end of the A continuum, however, get some of the worst press in the entire Big Five lexicon. They are antagonistic, belligerent, harsh, unsympathetic, manipulative, disingenuous, scornful, crude, and cruel. While the low-Cs may be unreliable, the low-As are untrustworthy and malicious. They operate with wanton disregard of other’s feelings. They get in fights. They hurt people.

4. One study indicates that agreeableness is associated with career stability. Agreeableness is also a good predictor of job success in some situations. Along with low levels of N, high levels of A are strongly associated with positive ratings of employees working in customer service jobs. When exchanging merchandise or making inquiries about products, customers prefer to deal with emotionally stable and friendly service providers. Employees high in A also appear to work very well in teams. They cooperate well with other employees and they work hard to reach group consensus. By contrast, however, high A is negatively associated with ratings of creativity and autonomy among managers. Agreeableness can sometimes get in the way of innovation. Individuals who are especially kind, considerate, and cooperative may have a somewhat more difficult time formulating bold initiatives and carrying out independent courses of action. For these efforts it may sometimes help to be at least moderately disagreeable.

5. Agreeable people are easier to love than disagreeable people. They may also be better lovers, or at least better friends, collegial colleagues, caring caregivers. Part of their value in the realm of love is their sincere commitment to other people and their willingness to conform to the norms of interpersonal communion. Like people high in C, they play by the rules, but in this case it is the rules of intimacy, love, and personal commitment. You can trust them. They will not betray you. Nor will they go out of their way to disagree with you.

6. Trust, straightforwardness, altruism, compliance, modesty, and tender mindedness are the six facets of A.

7. An important component of A is what Graziano and Eisenberg (1997) call “pro-social tendencies.” Pro-social behavior is typically defined as voluntary behavior intended to benefit others. People who engage in high levels of pro-social behavior are typically described with trait words that fit well into the A domain, such as sympathetic, generous, kind, helpful, and considerate.

8. Cross-cultural research shows that children who are routinely expected to assist in caring for other family members are more pro-social than children from cultures in which such expectations are not stressed. Moreover, children are more likely to engage in pro-social actions when they have been exposed to altruistic models or when they have been instructed in the virtues of putting others’ welfare on a par with their own. An important body of research has sought to articulate the main features and determinants of the “altruistic personality” in adulthood. Strong predictors of altruistic behavior among adults are measures of sympathy, social responsibility, mature perspective taking, and high moral standards.

9. In the realm of direct care-giving, we would expect that mothers and fathers who are dispositionally high in A might be more effective in their parenting roles than parents low in A. administered trait measures to mothers and fathers when their children were 10 months of age and then observed the parents as they interacted with their children in their own homes when the children were 15 and 21 months old. They also obtained measures of transient mood states and daily hassles reported by the parents just before the 15-month and 21-month assessments. Their results indicated that being an agreeable parent (high A) contributes to high levels of positive mood and thereby to high levels of cognitive stimulation and low levels of neglect and detachment in interactions with children. A was an especially strong predictor of quality of parenting in mothers. The trait of neuroticism was also implicated. High levels of N contributed to negative moods and to experiencing daily hassles, which were associated with insensitivity in interactions with children. The researchers concluded that “from a child’s perspective, it would appear that one is better off—in terms of the pleasure of everyday interactions with mother—having a parent who is agreeable and not neurotic.”

10. In the realm of friendship, research suggests that agreeableness is associated with interpersonal sensitivity and conflict resolution. Young adolescents high in A manage to avoid fights and conflicts with others and are much less likely to be bullies or targets of bullies, compared to those low in agreeableness.

11. When faced with conflict situations, those high in A exhibit behavioral strategies aimed at defusing the conflict and maintaining warm and friendly relations with others. Agreeableness is also associated with efforts to moderate one’s own strong emotions in order to keep relationships running smoothly.

12. The traits of extraversion, conscientiousness, and agreeableness influenced the number and quality of the students’ social relationships, whereas strong changes in these relationships had no effect on any of the Big Five personality scales. Being high in extraversion led to developing relatively large social networks, spending more time in social interactions, and feeling that one has more social support from friends. In addition, extraverts were more likely to fall in love over the 18-month period than were introverts. Conscientiousness predicted higher levels of contact with family members. The authors speculated that the more conscientious students may have felt stronger bonds and more obligations to their home families than students low in C. Agreeableness predicted levels of conflict. Students high in A were less likely than those low in A to experience conflict in their relationships with members of the opposite sex. Agreeable people are predisposed to turn the other cheek in times of interpersonal stress and avoid serious conflicts with those they love. They do not antagonize their lovers, and they are not readily antagonized. In the tumultuous world of love, people high in agreeableness are able to maintain relative harmony and peace.


 The above information is directly from a textbook.



The benefits of conscientiousness and agreeableness may go beyond the worlds of work and love. Recent research suggests that high levels of C and A may enhance overall quality of life and even promote longevity. McCrae and Costa (1991) showed that self-report measures of C and A are positively correlated with psychological well-being. In a sample of 429 adults, both conscientiousness and agreeableness were positively related to reports of positive affect, negatively related to reports of negative affect, and positively related to total well- being. McCrae and Costa suggest that high levels of conscientiousness and agreeableness create life conditions that promote well-being. They write:

Although personality traits may directly affect the tendencies to experience positive or negative emotions, they may also have indirect effects on well-being: Certain traits may be instrumental in creating conditions that promote happiness or unhappiness. In particular, the dimensions of A and C might be hypothesized to have instrumental effects on well-being. Agreeable individuals are warm, generous, and loving; conscientious people are efficient, competent, and hard-working. The interpersonal bonds that A fosters and the achievements and accomplishments that C promotes may contribute to greater quality of life and higher life satisfaction. This is perhaps what Freud meant when he suggested that Liebe und Arbeit, love and work, were the keys to psychological health and happiness.


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