What are the strengths and weaknesses of the Big Five test model?

A strength of the Big Five test model is that it has proven to be fairly accurate in predicting patterns of behavior over a period of time, and a weaknesses is that it the model is limited by its universalism, as it cannot help us understand personality expressions specific to specific cultures, genders, or ages.

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The Big Five Personality Test, also known as the Big Five, is considered the epitome of modern personality tests. The Big Five focuses on five key personality characteristics: openness (creativeness), extraversion (talkativeness, outgoing), conscientiousness (reliability), agreeableness (friendliness), and neuroticism (worried, emotional). Although the use of the Big Five is increasing, the results of the Big Five can change for the same individual with time. For example, an individual might become more open and agreeable with time. Strengths of the Big Five include its popularity with academic researchers and theorists; it has made significant contributions in research involving gender differences, learning methods, academic success, cultural differences, personality disorders, career success, and heritability. The Big Five has proven to be an accurate predictor of an individual's personality.

Critics of the Big Five argue that the factors of the personality test are not independent of each other; for example, a pleasant person is more likely to be open and outgoing. The Big Five omits several important personality traits such as sense of humor, masculinity, femininity, honesty, manipulativeness, and frugality. Finally, The Big Five also presents the possibility of falsification and bias because the answers are collected through self-answered questions.

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The Big Five test model is a model to analyze an individual's personality by using five main categories and where that individual's identity falls along a spectrum of each of those traits. The categories are the following: openness, conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism, and extroversion. Depending on how much of each of these traits an individual has, an outside observer can predict their personality and actions.

To its benefit, this test model is extremely accurate at predicting overall behaviors and decisions in a person's life—psychologists have evaluated the trends and choices people have made using this model and are very consistent in their ability to predict well how their personality will guide them. However, it is very inaccurate when it comes to small details. On the daily scale, individual actions and choices can fluctuate wildly, based on a variety of external factors, and because of this, the Big Five test model is unable to accurately predict what decisions an individual will make on that scale.

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  • Since the 1990s there has been increasing evidence to support the Big Five traits (over other models)
  • Moreover, these traits seem to be the result of approximately equal influence from environment and hereditary circumstances
  • The Big Five traits seem to be prevalent in non-Western cultures
  • modified versions discuss five 'personality developments' rather than traits (this allows for fluidity with time)


  • the rankings of these traits change with time:

"Extroversion, Neuroticism, and Openness generally decrease as a person ages"

  • gender and birth-order have been found to be correlated with these traits (i.e. first-borns are generally less agreeable)
  • The five factors are not independent variables
  • rely on self-report methods - inherent self biasTherefore, factors like current health, or mood, can change a person's responses. However, Hirsh & Peterson (2008) have formulated a set of questions that seems immune to...

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  • self-enhancement - see psych-it link below.


  • Geert Hofstede's cultural factors seem to be correlated with the Big Five traits within particular countries.
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The Big Five test model is a set of theoretical assumptions and clinical practices emphasizing five core areas of human personality: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. The model includes strategies for assessment, diagnosis, and personal development. The model is the basis of numerous personality profile questionnaires, dating and romantic compatibility quizzes, and career aptitude assessments .

The Big Five model can accurately predict patterns of behavior over a period of time. Between 1940 and 1980, dozens of researchers were able to independently verify its predictive accuracy. In addition, the model accurately identifies correlating personality traits. In 1961, for example, U.S. Air Force psychologists used the model to identify strong correlations between agreeableness, dependability, and emotional stability.

The model cannot accurately predict any single specific behavior. Human behavior is based on many factors, not on personality alone. In addition, the model is limited by its broad universalism. It does not help us understand culturally-specific, gender-specific, and age-specific personality expressions. Feminist psychologist Carol Gilligan has argued that women experience openness, extraversion, and other personality traits differently than do men. She has criticized such personality models as normalizing men's experience while simultaneously marginalizing women's experiences.

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