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Have you ever tested your personality?
Understanding personality science is the key to optimizing your behavior and getting to know yourself.
Plus… your personality science might surprise you. Along with our free personality test, you can read the descriptions of each personality trait below.
Take our official quiz to find out your Big 5:
Researchers have found that there is a science to personality. Every single person–regardless of gender, age or nationality — is made up of 5 basic traits.
Fondly known as the Big 5 Personality Traits, or OCEAN, these are incredibly helpful for understanding yourself. When you understand your own personality, you are able to ask for your needs, connect more easily, and optimize your behavior. Read on or watch the video to figure out where you fall on the personality spectrum.
Sections in this Article:
- The Big 5 Personality Traits and Heredity
- How Personality Affects Longevity
- What Our Faces Reveal About Our Personality
- The Facial Mapping Process
- Where Does Personality Come From?
- Personalities Within a Team
Is Your Personality Genetic?
Is your personality nature or nurture? Did you inherit your traits from your parents or create them in your childhood? The answer is…both.
Our personalities are complicated, multi-dimensional beasts. Based on four different twin studies, researchers believe certain traits are more heritable than others. For example, how adventurous you are is the most heritable trait, while how easy going you are is the least heritable. In other words, if your parents love trying new foods, you are more likely to enjoy that as well. But if your parents are laid-back hippies, you have less of a chance of being a hippie.
Here is an overview of the 5 traits and how ‘heritable’ they are.
Personality Trait #1: Openness
Openness is when someone is curious and openminded to new experiences and knowledge. People who rate high in openness are inventive and curious. People who rate low in openness are consistent and cautious. Do you agree or disagree with these statements?
- I love adventure.
- I am imaginative.
- I am the first to try new activities.
If you agreed, you probably rate high in openness. If you disagreed, you probably rate low in openness.
- Openness has 57% genetic influence
Special Note: If you rate high in openness, let people in your life know that you love to be challenged. Make sure you have creative outlets to express yourself. You also have to make sure your spouse or partner knows your level of adventure, so your needs are met.
Personality Trait #2: Conscientiousness
Conscientiousness describes how organized and dependable you are. People who rate high in conscientiousness are efficient and organized. People who rate low in conscientiousness are more easy-going and laid back. Do you agree or disagree with these statements?
- I am highly self-disciplined.
- I am very organized and always come prepared.
- I like to know the plan rather than be spontaneous.
If you agreed, you probably rate high in conscientiousness. If you disagreed, you probably rate low in conscientiousness.
- Conscientiousness has 49% genetic influence
Special Note: If you rate high in conscientiousness, you want to make sure the people around you respect your desire to have a plan. But don’t get too frustrated with people who rate low in conscientiousness–you can’t blame them for not being organized. It just doesn’t come as naturally.
Personality Trait #3: Extroversion
Extroversion describes how you interact with people. People who rate high in extroversion are outgoing and energetic. People who rate low in extroversion are more solitary and reserved. Do you agree or disagree with these statements?
- I am the life of the party.
- I don’t mind being the center of attention.
- I am usually the one to start a conversation with someone.
If you agreed, you probably rate high in extroversion. If you disagreed, you probably rate low in extroversion.
- Extraversion has 54% genetic influence
Special Note: If you rate low in extroversion, be sure to not force yourself to try being extroverted. Honor your introversion. You never want to try being something or someone you are not. Think of the places and people who get you excited and stick to those nourishing spots. This helps you stay true to yourself–let the extroverts go to the nightclubs!
Personality Trait #4: Agreeableness
Agreeableness is how you feel toward others. People who rate high in agreeableness are friendly and compassionate. People who rate low in agreeableness are more analytical and detached. Do you agree or disagree with these statements?
- I tend to trust people and give them the benefit of the doubt.
- I am extremely empathetic.
- I like to make other people feel at ease.
If you agreed, you rate probably high in agreeableness. If you disagreed, you rate probably low in agreeableness.
- Agreeableness has 42% genetic influence
Special Note: If you rate low in agreeableness, empathy doesn’t come as naturally to you. So, your partner might say things such as, ‘Don’t you understand me?’ or, ‘Why don’t you get me?’ That’s okay. Know that you have to make more of a mental effort to put yourself in their shoes.
Personality Trait #5: Neuroticism
Neuroticism is how you deal with emotions. People who rate high in neuroticism are sensitive and tend to be more nervous. People who rate low in neuroticism tend to be more secure and stable. Do you agree or disagree with these statements?
- I stress out easily.
- I tend to be moody.
- I am a worrier.
If you agreed, you probably rate high in neuroticism. If you disagreed, you probably rate low in neuroticism.
- Neuroticism has 48% genetic influence
Special Note: If you rate high in neuroticism, you have to know your triggers–what makes you worry? And your calmers–what helps you calm down? So you can be more in control of your moods.
There are some other fascinating facts about personality science that might intrigue you.
How Your Personality Traits Affect Your Lifespan
A 75-year longitudinal study conducted by Joshua Jackson (no relation to Jonathan Jackson that I know of), determined that men with conscientious personality traits have been known to live longer.
Conscientiousness is the trait that describes how organized and dependable you are. People high in this trait have high self-discipline, are very organized and prepared and like to plan things out instead of being spontaneous.
This makes sense when you think about it. High-conscientious men would be less likely to do something spontaneous and potentially life-threatening. Further, being dependable and strict with self-discipline is a much safer lifestyle choice.
Extroversion describes how you interact with people. People who are high in extroversion (extroverts) are outgoing and energetic, while people who are low in extroversion (introverts) are more solitary and reserved, and typically require recharge time from social interaction. As it turns out, people who are more outgoing and sociable have the strongest immune system, compared to those who are more introspective and introverted.
Bonus: Think you may fall somewhere in the middle? You may be an Ambivert!
To test this, participants in a recent study had blood samples taken for measuring genetic factors and their immune system. They were then given a personality test to see where they fall on the Big 5 spectrum. Those who were labeled as extroverted appeared to have immune systems strong enough to deal with their socially oriented nature, where introverts had weaker ones.
This study proves that the bodies of extroverted people are primed to have stronger immune systems since they are more exposed to germs or sickness as they interact with more people on a regular basis.
Agreeableness is how you feel towards others. People who are high in agreeableness are friendly, compassionate and very optimistic–they are collaborative and team-players. Research has shown that people high in agreeableness and optimism have healthier hearts than those who are pessimistic or neurotic.
Even when adjusted to include socio-demographic characteristics like age, income, education and poor mental health, the results remained consistent: agreeable, optimistic people had better cardiovascular health. Not only that, but they were less stressed, had a healthier body mass index and were less likely to smoke–all of which are major factors that can affect your heart health.
Highly agreeable people are better at using coping strategies and because they are naturally more empathetic and compassionate, they’re also more likely to reach out for support when in need and help others.
Not high in these traits? Don’t worry! Even if you’re not high in these three specific personality traits, it does not mean you won’t live a long and healthy life. There are benefits for each trait no matter where you fall on the spectrum.
What Our Faces Reveal About Our Personality
Can you truly know someone’s personality just by looking at their face?
Yes, it’s called Facial Profiling.
A new Israeli startup will blow your mind. Faception, a private company founded in 2014, is a facial personality profiling company. They are a team of world-class experts in the field of computer vision, facial analysis, machine learning, psychology, technology and marketing. Their mission states:
“We believe that knowing and understanding people is key to improving communications and making the right decisions about the person right in front of you, or on the video screen. We also believe that our face reveals our personality. With the growth in social networks, smartphones and video cameras everywhere, facial images are readily available to use.”
Accurately reading faces can drastically help improve communication and help people make better decisions from first impressions. It could also revolutionize many industries. With their technology, one would be able to identify:
- A professional poker player
- Academic researcher
- Introvert or extrovert
- Pedophiles, and even white collar-criminals
One source even mentions that Faception has already signed a contract with the Homeland Security agency to help them better identify a terrorist. Now, this is the type of technology I would love to have in my back pocket!
Theory Behind this Masterpiece
Faception has declared that a person’s face can be used to predict personality and behavior. And this claim can be sectioned off in 2 main areas:
- According to social and life science research, personalities are affected by genes
- Our face is a reflection of our DNA
So according to social & life science, genes play a major role in determining key personality traits like social skills and learning. This is backed by a study that the University of Edinburgh conducted. The researchers at this institute studied over 800 sets of twins and found that genetics were more influential in shaping key traits than a person’s home environment and surroundings. The study tracked twins in the U.S., mostly over the age of 50 and used a series of questions to test how they perceived themselves and others. These questions included
- “Are you influenced by people with strong opinions?”
- “Are you disappointed about your achievements in life?”
By tracking their answers to these questions, the research team found that identical twins, who share the same DNA, were twice as likely to share traits compared with non-identical twins. Psychologists at the University have also stated,
“The stronger the genetic link, the more likely it is that these character traits are carried through a family.”
In another study, International Visible Trait Genetics (VisiGen) Consortium carried out a similar approach with over 10,000 twins by applying a genome-wide association (GWA) approach, with independent replication, finding DNA variants involved in facial shapes. Three of the five genes were thought to have roles in the arrangement of facial features, and their new research has confirmed their findings. Both of these studies tell us that genetic influence is the key to how successful a person will be in life and their ability to learn and develop.
Facial Mapping Process
Facial mapping has been a popular study of interest to researchers for over a thousand years and has reached a new high with Faception. Just watch what their technology can do:
First, Faception offers their technology to companies and allows them to embed the software to into their applications-> the application then runs on a cloud server-> local machine, video camera or any other scalable/ real-time device-> then conducts the image quality/ filter and analyzes the images-> once analyzed, the software provides a score and confidence level for various personality traits & types.
To show their technology off, they took the software to a poker tournament organized by the startup shares investors of Faception. During the tournament, Faception was able to predict two of four professional poker players that were among the event’s three finalists. Wow! Out of the 50 players they started out with, they were able to get the two finalists right.
Shai Gilboa, the chief executive at Faception, says that as they promote this technology to the world, there are some draw-backs, such as the artificial intelligence is trained to analyze images and it will only be as good it was trained on. Another could be that facial features can be accentuated due to facial hair, limiting the AI’s ability to make an accurate prediction. And if the data the computer has given is outdated, then the results will be inconclusive by the photo/person. But we look forward to how this company will progress in the future and how companies will use this technology.
Where does personality come from?
They have even found that there are physiological differences tied to each of the personality types. We are only beginning to understand the complex ties between our brain, body and personality, but here are a few findings that hint at how our chemistry effects our behavior:
- People high in extraversion have been found to carry long forms of the gene DRD4. This gene dictates how we produce dopamine. Those who carry the long form of the gene DRD4 have more dopamine production when they have a positive experience. In other words, high extroverts might be wired to seek more social experiences because they get a bigger chemical pleasure boost.
- People high in conscientiousness have been found to have more volume in the middle frontal gyrus in the left lateral pre-frontal cortex part of the brain. This is where we plan for the future and make decisions. In other words, people high in conscientiousness might enjoy planning and preparing more because they have more activity in that part of their brain.
- People high in agreeableness have been found to have less volume in the orbitofrontal lobe of their brain—this is where we process emotions and make decisions. One study also found that people who are highly agreeable have an easier time predicting the mental states of others. In other words, perhaps they are good at working in teams because they excel at understanding and forecasting behavioral and emotional states.
- People who are high in neuroticism have been found to carry long forms of the Serotonin Transport Gene. This gene helps us produce serotonin, which calms us down. High neurotics produce serotonin more slowly, so they have a harder time regulating their emotions after a negative event. They also feel their emotions more strongly and for a longer period. In other words, neurotics worry more because it physiologically takes them longer to recover from something bad happening to them.
Understanding the connection between our personality and our physiology is crucial. Why? It means that we cannot choose our personality orientations.
Don’t get mad at your spouse if they want to go out all the time—they might be wired for extroversion. Don’t be angry at your colleague for not being detail-oriented, their brain is not wired for high concientiousness.
Bottom Line: Accept people as they are. Don’t try to change the people in your life, try to optimize and understand them.
Your Personality Look
Carmen Lefevre is a research associate at the University College of London. Her research focuses on the biological motives of facial structure and skin color and how they play a major role in our personality and behavioral traits.
One of the many ways Lefevre is addressing these traits is through our facial structure, known as the facial width-to-height ratio. In Carmen’s research, she has found that having a wider face produces high levels of testosterone, which is correlated with having aggressive and dominant characteristics. So what does this mean for both males and females? Well, for males with a higher width-to-height ratio, they are perceived as being physically more aggressive. Whereas, females are known to be more verbally aggressive.
Test out the facial width-to height ratio for yourself by going to a mirror and measuring your bone structure. What does it say about you? Does your facial width-to-height ratio signal dominance or aggression?
And speaking of facial width-to-height ratio, Lefevre conducted a study back in 2014 on 29 U.S. Presidents and how their width-to-height ratio could be linked to dominance, aggression and power–which are all important traits to have when making political decisions. She took 29 Presidents that had front facing photos and compared the distance from ear-to-ear (width) with the distance between the top part of the eyelids and the highest point of the upper lip (height). Once Lefevre and her team took the measurements, they had judges rate them in several factors like:
- Poise & Polish
- And many more…
The results on these former Presidents extends to other research studies on the width-to-height ratio, which rated their dominant traits as highest in ambition and drive.
The Attractiveness Structure
While there is not significant research to back up attractiveness solely focusing on the facial structure, there have been recent studies to show that skin color is an important factor in the perception of being attracted to others.
In one study, Lefevre and her team took 15 of the 45 women who participated in their study, and combined 3 individual facial images, blending them together to make one facial baseline. Once the digital image was created, the team then took the faces and transformed the skin tone to a carotenoid color, which is associated with an excessive intake of carrots and other vegetables. The team then transformed more images to have deep melanin coloration, which gives off the effect of darker skin tones.
The results highly favored the participants with carotenoid skin coloration over melanin coloration, which is likely to be a cue of health. The research shows that it’s more attractive to have a glow to your skin verses getting a fake tan at the tanning booth.
The Acuteness Structure
There was one study that found we have an innate ability to read people’s intelligence just by looking at their faces.
At Charles University, 80 people–40 men and 40 women took part in the in-depth examination of IQ. Each person had to take photo of themselves with a neutral expression on their face. After the photos were established, the team at Charles U then placed the images on a computerized grid for the judges to make their assessment. It was found that faces with a broader distance between the eyes, nose and upper part of the lip were perceived to have a higher level of intelligence. Whereas the narrower the face, the less intelligent a person was perceived. The research found no significant correlation with facial features and the actual IQ of a person. However, both men and woman were able to accurately predict the intelligence of the men by their visual cues that are not explainable from the shape variability of a man’s face.
As you can see, there is so much more to ourselves than just appearance, skin tone and a brilliant mind. We can’t change our genes or who we are, but if you look in the mirror, you will see a perfectly designed miracle that has great significance in this world. So go forth and do great things!
Your Personality Can Change Your Vote
Your personality shapes your political opinions more than we realize. What do you think:
Who is higher in openness? (Openness is How much we like new ideas, imagination and trying new things.
Who is higher in conscientiousness? (Conscientiousness is How organized we are, how much we like details and plans.
According to a study in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology here is the answer:
Who is higher in openness?
Who is higher in conscientiousness?
Liberals are more likely to be:
• High open
• Low conscientious
Conservatives are more likely to be:
• High conscientious
• Low open
This tells us a lot. It tells us why:
“Make America Great Again”
Resonates with conservatives and not liberals. If you are low open you do not want change, you want to bring back the good old times.
This tells us why:
“Change We Believe In”
Resonated with liberals. They are high open and crave change.
There are so many forces that affect our choices.
Working With Different Personalities on a Team
I want to help you identify the personality traits of your colleagues. The best option is to send this quiz to your colleagues and share your results.
If you want to guess how your colleagues rank, get out a piece of paper or open a note-taking app and write out the word OCEAN. Go through the high and lows of each trait so you can figure out who on your team fits each.
We’re going to start with openness. Ask yourself these questions to determine the highest open person on your team You can think about friends and family too but, try to stick with colleagues for this activity:
The person answered these questions is the highest open person you work with.
Someone who is low open prefers tradition and routine. So, think about the person who loves doing things the exact same way. They start their day checking their email and then they work on their main project then they go to lunch then check email again etc. If you made them do the project before the email their brains would explode. Low open people are focused on things staying the same and are change averse. Who fits that description on your team?
Write down the person on your team who is your highest open and the person who is your lowest open.
Highest Open: _____________
Lowest Open: _____________
Now let’s get into conscientiousness. Your highest conscientious person is someone who loves to-do lists and routines. They’re highly organized and they always have an agenda. Who is the highest conscientious person you work with?
Your low conscientious colleague is someone who prefers big ideas. To-do lists and things that are detail-oriented are actually going to be overwhelming for them. They talk in vague, big-picture ideas but this isn’t a bad thing. Low conscientious people tend to be great at creating strategies because they’re able to look past all the little details involved in projects and see what needs to be done in the long-term.
Think of your highest and lowest conscientious people on your team.
Highest in Conscientiousness: _____________
Lowest in Conscientiousness: _____________
Next up is extroversion. This is probably the trait that you are most familiar with. The highest extrovert you work with is the person who loves chatting. They stop by your cubicle, they want to go out to lunch, they love planning happy hours. They’re the ones who plan office birthday parties. Many extroverts even have lots of little games and pictures at their desk to capture your attention lure you in for conversations. Bringing treats to share with people at work is another thing they’ll do to engage people in casual conversations. Think about the highest extroverted person you know.
If you have a low extrovert on your team, often called an introvert, they might keep to themselves a little bit more so they might not be as chatty at the office. Depending on how social their job is they also might actually need downtime after work so they might or might not go to the happy hour or office birthday party. If they go, they’ll often only stay for a little bit of time because they have to go home to recharge. If you catch them eating lunch alone, it’s probably not because they’re antisocial or something is wrong; they likely needed few minutes to themselves because that is how they process.
Identify the high extroverts and introverts on your team.
Next one is agreeableness. Agreeableness is how you work on a team. The highest agreeable person you work with is the person who says yes a lot, is very empathetic, and loves being a team player. If you say “Hey! Want to do this?” A high agreeable will respond with “Sure, I’ll try it!” Who is the highest agreeable, the most cooperative person you work with?
If you have low agreeable on your team, they’re a little trickier. They are data-driven and highly analytical. They want to see stats, charts, and facts to back up every claim and if you tell them something that you heard on the news or the radio, they’re first instinct is to google it to verify. If you have a low agreeable person, keep in mind that they are going to want written information with lots of data to back it up before they are willing to say yes. Think about the highest and lowest agreeable people on your team.
High in Agreeableness: _____________
Low in Agreeableness: _____________
The last trait is neuroticism. Neuroticism is how your colleagues worry. Think about if something bad were to happen at the office, maybe a frustrated email from a client comes in or the office has to close early or the copy machine breaks. In scenarios that are problematic but not extremely so your high neurotic person is going to be the most freaked out. They’re going to be like “‘Oh my gosh! What are we going to do? The client is going to drop us and our reputation is going to fall apart. We’re not going to be able to fix it!” They worry the most and they are worried for the longest.
On the contrary, the lowest neuroticism responds to difficulties by saying ‘It’s all going to work out just fine.” Low neurotics aren’t really worried about things happening in the moment or in the future. They can be a good balance for high neurotics because having someone who worries and someone who rarely gets stressed out by problems means that when you work together you can find a balance. Think about the highest and the lowest neurotic person on your team.
High Neurotics: _____________
Low Neurotics: _____________
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Bouchard, Thomas J., and Matt Mcgue. “Genetic and Environmental Influences on Human Psychological Differences.” Journal of Neurobiology J. Neurobiol. 54, no. 1 (January 2003): 4-45. doi:10.1002/neu.10160.
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Ode, Scott, Michael D. Robinson, and Benjamin M. Wilkowski. “Can One’s Temper Be Cooled? A Role for Agreeableness in Moderating Neuroticism’s Influence on Anger and Aggression.” Journal of Research in Personality 42, no. 2 (April 2008): 295-311. doi:10.1016/j.jrp.2007.05.007.
Caspi, Avshalom, Ahmad R. Hariri, Andrew Holmes, Rudolf Uher, and Terrie E. Moffitt. “Genetic Sensitivity to the Environment: The Case of the Serotonin Transporter Gene and Its Implications for Studying Complex Diseases and Traits.” Foc Focus 8, no. 3 (May 2010): 398-416. doi:10.1176/foc.8.3.foc398.