What Are the “Big Five” (OCEAN) Personality Traits?

What Are the “Big Five” (OCEAN) Personality Traits?

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Samantha McGrail
May 24, 2023

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The Big Five, also known as the five-factor model, is one of the most widely accepted personality theories psychologists hold today. The theory states that personality boils down to five core factors, typically called OCEAN or CANOE. 

The term "Big Five" was coined by psychologist Lew Goldberg in 1981. The five personality traits include; openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism (also referred to as emotional stability). They represent broad domains of human behavior and account for differences in both personality and decision-making. 

A valid OCEAN assessment provides valuable, in-depth insight into a candidate’s thinking. Organizations can use behavioral preferences to assess job candidates and make hiring decisions.

“The Big Five is often used to help companies better understand their job candidates and match them to job opportunities,” explains Marc Fogel, Director of Product, IO Psychology. “The traits do not measure how well you're going to perform in any particular job; they do measure characteristics that either help or make it harder to be successful in a given role.”

Let’s take a closer look at each of the Big Five personality traits.


Openness is a trait of a curious and open-minded individual to new experiences and knowledge. People who rate high in openness are inventive and curious, while those who rank low in openness are consistent and cautious. 

If you agree with the following statements, you likely rank high in openness. If you disagree, you likely rank low. 

  • I love adventure
  • I am imaginative
  • I am the first to try new activities


Conscientiousness is a fundamental personality trait that reflects the tendency to be responsible, organized, hard-working, goal-oriented, and adhere to norms and rules. 

Conscientious people have self-control and are reliable in the workplace and personal life. 

If you agree with the following statements, you likely rank high in conscientiousness. If you do not, you likely rank low.  

  • I am self-disciplined
  • I am very organized and always come prepared
  • I like to know the plan rather than be spontaneous


Extraversion includes being talkative, energetic, assertive, and outgoing. Social interaction is the key. Extraverts often take on leadership positions and are first to offer their opinion and suggestions. 

If you agree with the following statements, you likely rank high in extroversion. If you do not, you likely rank low. 

  • I am the life of the party
  • I don’t mind being the center of attention
  • I am usually the one to start a conversation with someone 


Agreeableness is a personality trait that describes an individual’s ability to put others' needs before their own. More agreeable people are more likely to be empathetic and enjoy helping and working with people who need more help. 

Agreeable people generally prefer cooperation over conflict, and scoring high in agreeable tendencies also means you can maintain relationships.

If you agree with the following statements, you likely rank high in agreeableness. If you do not, you likely rank low.

  • I tend to trust people and give them the benefit of the doubt
  • I am extremely empathetic
  • I like to make other people feel at ease 


A neurotic individual consistently experiences negative emotions, including anger, anxiety, self‐consciousness, irritability, emotional instability, and depression. Individuals with higher neuroticism respond more poorly to stress and interpret ordinary situations as threatening. 

According to the National Library of Medicine, neuroticism is one of the more well-established and validated personality traits, with a multitude of research to support its heritability, childhood antecedents, temporal stability, and universal presence. 

If you agree with the following statements, you likely rank high in neuroticism. If you do not, you likely rank low.

  • I stress out easily
  • I tend to be moody
  • I am a worrier 

“Understanding personality and matching individuals and jobs accordingly is a key component of long-term job engagement and satisfaction,” Fogel adds. “At the end of the day, people tend to be happier in jobs that match their personality.”  

Talent Select AI delivers the first truly non-invasive way to quickly and objectively understand your candidates’ psychology, personality traits, and core skills — including the Great Eight, the Big Five, and our own proprietary measures like grit and empathy.

Contact us today to learn how Talent Select AI can bring the power of AI to your hiring process.

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