What are the Big Five personality traits?

Your personality is unique to you and an important part of who you are. It includes your preferences, mannerisms, and behavior. Together, these can play a role in your friendships, relationships, career, and hobbies.

There are countless personality tests designed to help you better understand your own personality. They come in many formats and are based on different models. The Big Five model of personality, also called the Five-Factor Model (FFM), is one popular model.

The Big Five model represents five major personality traits, which you can remember using the CANOE acronym:

  • Conscientiousness
  • Agreeableness
  • Neuroticism
  • Openness
  • Extraversion/Extroversion

Read on to learn more about the Big Five personality traits, including how to find out your own results.

There are several websites that offer their own versions of the Big Five personality trait test. One popular option is called the Big Five inventory. This method uses your response to about 50 short statements or phrases.

You’ll be asked to agree or disagree, on a scale of 1 to 5, to each phrase. Based on your answers, your results will show you where you fall on a spectrum for each trait. For example, you might score high in conscientiousness and low in extraversion.

You can take the Big Five inventory for yourself here.


When looking at your results, remember that personality is incredibly complex. There are no right or wrong traits, and each trait is linked to unique strengths. These results also aren’t any kind of definitive statement about your personality. They may even change based on a range of factors, from your mood that day to whether you’ve got an important, nerve-wracking event coming up in the near future.

Conscientiousness describes a careful, detail-oriented nature.

High score

If you score high on conscientiousness, you likely:

  • keep things in order
  • come prepared to school or work
  • are goal-driven
  • are persistent

If you are a conscientious person, you might follow a regular schedule and have a knack for keeping track of details. You likely deliberate over options and work hard to achieve your goals. Coworkers and friends might see you as a reliable, fair person.

You may tend to micromanage situations or tasks. You might also be cautious or difficult to please.

Low score

A low score on conscientiousness might mean you:

  • are less organized
  • complete tasks in a less structured way
  • take things as they come
  • finish things at the last minute
  • are impulsive

A low conscientiousness score might mean you prefer a setting without structure. You may prefer doing things at your own pace to working on a deadline. This might make you appear unreliable to others.

Agreeableness refers to a desire to keep things running smoothly.

High score

A high score in agreeableness might mean you:

  • are always ready to help out
  • are caring and honest
  • are interested in the people around you
  • believe the best about others

If you score high in agreeableness, you you’re helpful and cooperative. Your loved ones may often turn to you for help. People might see you as trustworthy. You may be the person others seek when they’re trying to resolve a disagreement.

In some situations, you might a little too trusting or willing to compromise. Try to balance your knack for pleasing others with self-advocacy.

Low score

A low agreeableness score might mean you:

  • are stubborn
  • find it difficult to forgive mistakes
  • are self-centered
  • have less compassion for others

A low agreeableness score may mean you tend hold grudges. You might also be less sympathetic with others. But you are also likely avoid the pitfalls of comparing yourself to others or caring about what others think of you.

Neuroticism describes a tendency to have unsettling thoughts and feelings.

High score

A high score in neuroticism can mean you:

  • often feel vulnerable or insecure
  • get stressed easily
  • struggle with difficult situations
  • have mood swings

If you score high on neuroticism, you may blame yourself when things go wrong. You might also get frustrated with yourself easily, especially if you make a mistake. Chances are, you’re also prone to worrying.

But you’re likely also more introspective than others, which helps you to examine and understand your feelings.

Low score

If you score low on neuroticism, you likely:

  • keep calm in stressful situations
  • are more optimistic
  • worry less
  • have a more stable mood

A low neuroticism score can mean you’re confident. You may have more resilience and find it easy to keep calm under stress. Relaxation might also come more easily to you. Try to keep in mind that this might not be as easy for those around you, so be patient.

Openness, or openness to experience, refers to a sense of curiosity about others and the world.

High score

If you scored high on openness, you might:

  • enjoy trying new things
  • be more creative
  • have a good imagination
  • be willing to consider new ideas

A high score on openness can mean you have broad interests. You may enjoy solving problems with new methods and find it easy to think about things in different ways. Being open to new ideas may help you adjust easily to change.

Just make sure to keep an eye out for any situations where you might need to establish boundaries, whether that be with family members or your work-life balance.

Low score

A low openness score might mean you:

  • prefer to do things in a familiar way
  • avoid change
  • are more traditional in your thinking

A low openness score can mean you consider concepts in straightforward ways. Others likely see you as being grounded and down-to-earth.

Extraversion refers to the energy you draw from social interactions.

High score:

A high extraversion score might mean you:

  • seek excitement or adventure
  • make friends easily
  • speak without thinking
  • enjoy being active with others

If you score high on extraversion, you might consider yourself an extrovert. You might enjoy attention and feel recharged after spending time with friends. You likely feel your best when in a large group of people.

On the other hand, you may have trouble spending long periods of time alone.

Low score:

A low extraversion score can mean you:

  • have a hard time making small talk or introducing yourself
  • feel worn out after socializing
  • avoid large groups
  • are more reserved

A low extraversion score can mean you prefer to spend time alone or with a small group of close friends. You might also be a more private person when it comes to sharing details about your life. This might come across as standoffish to others.

Since its development in the early 1990s, the Big Five model has been used widely by researchers, business professionals, and others. This is partly because it’s an effective model.

While personality can continue to develop over your lifetime, a 2011 study suggests that the Big Five personality traits are, in general, mostly stable over a four-year period once your reach adulthood. Any changes that do happen are usual small and gradual.

In addition, a 2006 review of cross-cultural studies looking at the Big Five personality traits suggests that these traits tend to be found worldwide.

Some traits may be viewed as less important in some cultures than in others, and some cultures may value other traits this model doesn’t measure. But generally speaking, this model is considered universal.

Personality tests can sometimes help you understand yourself better. But they can’t completely define who you are as a person. A test won’t fully describe you, even if it gets some things right.

If you’d like to work on a specific feeling or behavior, or if you think one of your traits might have a negative effect on your relationships, you can always seek help from a counselor or therapist.

A counselor can help you uncover more about your personality and explore ways to achieve any changes you’d like to make.