Five Major Personality Dimensions

Many researchers agree on five main personality dimensions.

Many psychologists and researchers believe that there are five main dimensions of personality traits. These five dimensions have been studied by numerous researchers over time and are considered the "Big Five" personality dimensions, or are often referred to as the "Five-Factor Model" of personality. This article will discuss these five personality dimensions, which include: openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism, often remembered by the acronym "OCEAN".

Openness to Experience

Openness to experience broadly refers to someone's interest level and appreciation for different experiences, art, new ideas, curiosity, and imagination. People who are high on this dimension are intellectually curious, enjoy trying new things, are open to emotions including their own emotional experiences, and are more creative.

People who score low on this dimension tend to be more conventional in their belief systems, more likely follow traditions, and more conservative.


Conscientiousness refers to one's level of organization, self-discipline and dependability. They tend to be more focused on achievement and prefer planning over spontaneity. People who rank high on the conscientiousness dimension are less impulsive and have more self-control than people who rank lower on conscientiousness.

Those who rank lower tend to be messier, less reliable and can be more forgetful about their obligations.


The personality dimension of extraversion refers one's sociability, energy, assertiveness and excitability in social situations. Those who rank high on extraversion tend to be more social, talkative and more emotionally expressive. They tend to be stimulated by social situations and energized by others.

People who are extraverted enjoy being in the spotlight. 

Those who rank low on extraversion are considered introverted. These people may be more socially reserved, require less stimulation than their extraverted counterparts and are quieter.


Agreeable people tend to be kinder and more optimistic. They value social harmony and, as the name implies, are agreeable, often getting along well with others. They are more likely to extend themselves to others, are trusting and trustworthy, and are interested in and more sympathetic with others. They may experience more empathy for others.

Those who are more disagreeable tend to look out for themselves before others. They are more detached from others and can be skeptical about others' motives. They are less trusting and can be uncooperative.


The dimension of neuroticism refers to the likelihood of experiencing negative emotions, such as anxiety, moodiness or irritability. Neuroticism is considered to be emotional instability.

Someone who scores high on neuroticism may experience high levels of stress. They can be emotionally reactive, easily frustrated and may experience slight disturbances as extremely upsetting. They tend to be worriers and pessimistic. For these reasons they may be more susceptible to mood disorders such as depression than people who rank lower on this dimension.

Those who are lower on the neuroticism dimension are considered more emotionally stable, are more resilient to stresses in life, are less reactive, more relaxed and worry less.


The five-factor model of personality has been well researched in a variety of populations including various cultures, genders, among clinical and non-clinical samples and in a number of other populations. Though it has been critiqued and is not the only model of personality, it is a greatly accepted one.


Digman, J M (1990). Personality structure: Emergence of the five-factor model. Annual Review of Psychology 41: 417–440.

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