Personality research has generated a variety of different theories that attempt to define and measure personality. The most widely accepted taxonomy of personality among industrial-organizational psychologists is the Big Five Personality Traits model, or the Five Factor Model of personality. The Five Factor Model breaks personality down into five components: Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Openness, and Stress Tolerance. Personality tests that are based on this model measure where an individual lies on the spectrum of each of the five traits.
Each trait measures a unique aspect of human personality:
- Agreeableness is a measure of an individual’s tendencies with respect to social harmony. This trait reflects how well the individual gets along with others, how cooperative or skeptical they are, and how they might interact within a team.
- Conscientiousness is a measure of how careful, deliberate, self-disciplined, and organized an individual is. Conscientiousness is often predictive of employee productivity, particularly in lower-level positions.
- Extraversion is a measure of how sociable, outgoing, and energetic an individual is. Individuals who score lower on the extraversion scale are considered to be more introverted, or more deliberate, quiet, low key, and independent. Some types of positions are better suited for individuals who fall on one side of the spectrum or the other.
- Openness measures the extent to which an individual is imaginative and creative, as opposed to down-to-earth and conventional.
- Stress Tolerance measures the ways in which individuals react to stress.