Authenticity of My Big Five

September 30, 2015

Extraversion, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, Agreeableness, Openness

A while ago I reported the results of a personality inventory of the “big five” characteristics. Today I took another one linked from the political blog fivethirtyeight, written from the standpoint of authenticity, Hillary Clinton’s in particular. Once I launched into this inventory, I imagined that results would constitute a check on the prior one.

The distributor of these factor markers is the International Personallity Item Pool which has a fuller scale 300 item version presented as having a high degree of pertinence and reliability. However, answering all these questions takes an estimated 30-40 minutes. Thus the quicker inventory has 50 questions.

The specific wording of these character descriptions seems to vary from my previous experience taking a123test®. This time I went through the statements twice in an effort to assure that I understood the measures fully and replied with corresponding accuracy. Each question calls for one of five possible responses – disagree, slightly disagree, neutral, slightly agree, or agree. These responses are the flip of the 123 version – strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree, strongly disagree.

My responses to the statements found me responding disagree 18 times, slightly disagree 2, neutral 2, slightly agree 9, and agree 19 times. I wanted to answer on the extreme ends of the responses; nevertheless, at times I found I could not. These predicaments and choices were based on my splitting hairs on just how each statement represented me when a more rigid approach would have sprung from all or nothing choices. Some example statements follow.

3. I am always prepared. I regard that I am usually prepared, but not always as fully as I like or at times learn from an experience that I  could have prepared better. So I only slightly agreed.

8. I leave my belongings around. Yes, sometimes, more than I would like. I don’t always hang my clothes up. I have a tendency to pile, not file building miscellaneous stacks because I am very archival. But I also have thousands of clippings, sheets of correspondence and writings. I own something over 6,000 volumes. Most of this is in order, but I am always behind and struggle to spend some portion of every day clearing my desk. Alas, I can only slightly agree.

16. I keep in the background. Well … I like the background, the vantage point, the retreat to do my thinking and rejuvenate the soul and its consciousness. But I speak out as needed; I serve on task forces; I conduct and speak out at forums; I do readings in front of audiences. I organize book clubs for years at a time. Lately, I have even sung in pickup choirs, something I have been leery of doing for over 70 years. Another slightly agree.

23. I get chores done right away. First off, what is meant by “chores?” I interpreted it to cover anything that is done on a routine or regular basis. That’s agree for me. However, most of what I do requires what I prefer to call mulling, especially matters of an intellectual nature which is where I spend most of my waking time. I cannot handle matters of this nature right away because they do not lend themselves to immediacy. Alas, most of the 13 novels I have attempted have never been completed because I haven’t resolved a satisfactory way to finish them. This time I slightly disagree.

37. I take time out for others. Yes, of course. But the time I spend is largely foundational in building up the community, the culture, or the civilization. I seek my own pleasure in so doing and I trouble whether anything I ever do will have a lasting effect. So I have to slightly agree.

Twice, I have taken the neutral position, something I have not wanted to do. But it seemed to me that was the only alternative since the statement does not really or fully apply to me as it stands.

41. I don’t mind being the center of attention. Okay, I don’t mind, but I do not seek to be at a noticeable center, and my preference remains to get out to the edge and stay there.

47. I make people feel at ease. Pardon me, but I have no gauge for determining an answer to this one.

So here is my resulting profile expressed for each trait. Scores run 1-5, low to high and show the relative dominance of personality domains. Percentiles show that portion of the population I score higher than, presumably better than to fit my own personality.

Neuroticism (elsewhere termed Natural Reaction) shows the tendency to experience and/or show negative emotions or neuroses. My score is 1.8, rather low, and at 9%.

Extraversion shows the orientation towards and satisfaction from other people. The score is 2.4, towards the middle, and at 24%

Conscientiousness reflects carefulness and order for one who is hardworking and reliable. I score 3.7. above the middle, and at 62%

Openness indicates how much I seek out new experiences. I score 4.5, very high, at 71%.

Finally, agreeableness points to how much a person likes and wants to please others. Here the score reaches my highest, 4.7, with 87% ranking lower than I find myself.

I remain unsure or confused as to whether this inventory coincides with others that seek personality identification. In the typologies based on Jung, extraversion-introversion reflect where the sense of oneself comes from and the consequent source of psychological energy.

Nevertheless, it seems the image and identification of my self holds. I see myself as one who has learned or practiced the control of his emotions. I can weep at a painting but remain controlled at the death of a friend or relative. I recognize and live my obligation to others but regard my role as distantly overarching and essentially far reaching, not intimate except with a few. I prefer the depth and nurture of solitude in a life that has numerous public demands. I want to be orderly, thoughtful and imaginative in creative and intellectual ways. I want to make my ideals real and grow through learning and the study required to reach desired levels of knowledge.

Alas, I am not completely satisfied that however much these ratings are in a desirable direction for me, they are not as ultimately on target as other inventories have been.

Copyright © 2015 by Roger Sween.

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