From the ancient Greeks to Shakespeare to Hollywood, humans have attempted to understand their fellow man through labeling and categorization. There was Hippocrates’s blood, phlegm, yellow and black bile; the classic dramatic archetypes of hero, ingenue, jester and wise man; and, of course, Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha and Miranda from the famous HBO series
More rigorously, psychologists have worked to develop empirical tests that assess core aspects of personality. The “Big Five” traits (extroversion, neuroticism, openness, conscientiousness and agreeableness) emerged in the 1940s through studies of the English language for descriptive terms. Those categories were validated in the 1990s as a scientifically backed way to evaluate a person’s character.
Through a series of questions, researchers learn whether you are high, low, or in between in each one of those qualities. For example, a person could be low in extraversion, high in conscientiousness and openness, and medium in neuroticism and agreeableness. The combination of where you fall on the spectrum of the five traits provides a window into your general disposition and potentially your future behavior. Different combinations of trait scores could indicate aptitude for a particular kind of job, the strength of interpersonal relationships and even the likelihood of developing psychological or physical health issues.
Read the whole story: Scientific American