Big Five Personality Trait relevant to Organization
Psychologists have identified literally thousands of personality traits and dimensions that differentiate one person from another. But in recent years, researchers have identified five fundamental personality traits that are especially relevant to organizations. Because these five traits are so important and because they are currently the subject of so much attention, they are commonly referred to now as the “big five” personality traits:
- Negative Emotionality
Agreeableness refers to a person’s ability to get along with others. Agreeableness causes some people to be gentle, cooperative, forgiving, understanding,and good-natured in their dealings with others. But it results in others being irritable, short-tempered, uncooperative, and generally antagonistic toward other people. While research has not yet fully investigated the effects of agreeableness, it would seem likely that highly agreeable people will be better able to develop good working relationships with coworkers, subordinates, and higher-level managers, whereas less agreeable people will not have particularly good working relationships. This same pattern might also extend to relationships with customers, suppliers, and other key organizational constituents.
Conscientiousness refers to the number of goals on which a person focuses. People who focus on relatively few goals at one time are likely to be organized, systematic, careful, thorough, responsible, and self-disciplined as they work to pursue those goals. Others, however, tend to take on a wider array of goals and, as a result, to be more disorganized, careless, and irresponsible, as well as less thorough and self-disciplined. Research has found that more conscientious people tend to be higher performers than less conscientious people across a variety of different jobs. This pattern seems logical, of course, because more conscientious people will take their jobs seriously and will approach the performance of their jobs in a highly responsible fashion.
The third of the “big five” personality dimensions is Negative Emotionality. People with less negative emotionality will be relatively poised, calm, resilient, and secure. But people with more negative emotionality might be expected to handle job stress, pressure, and tension better. Their stability might also lead them to be seen as more reliable than their less stable counterparts.
Extraversion refers to a person’s comfort level with relationships. People who are called extraverts are sociable, talkative, assertive, and open to establishing new relationships. But introverts are much less sociable, talkative, and assertive, and not as open to establishing new relationships. Research suggests that extraverts tend to be higher overall job performers than introverts, and that they are also more likely to be attracted to jobs based on personal relationships like sales and making positions.
Finally, Openness refers to a person’s rigidity of beliefs and range of interests. People with high levels of openness are willing to listen to new ideas and to change their own ideas, beliefs, and attitudes as a result of new information. They also tend to have broad interests and to be curious, imaginative, and creative. On the other hand, people with low levels of openness tend to be less receptive to new ideas and less willing to change their minds. They also tend to have fewer and narrower interests and to be less curious and creative. People with more openness might be expected to be better performers, owing to their flexibility and the likelihood that they will be better accepted by others in the organization. Openness may also encompass an individual’s willingness to accept change. For example, people with high levels of openness may be more receptive to change, whereas people with low levels of openness may be more likely to resist change.