Personality types and models
The human personality is complex and individual - and it is precisely this that makes it a fascinating topic. Over the years, many different models have been established to classify personality.
What influence does personality have on behaviour?
Personality traits are particular characteristics of a person that have a significant influence on their actions, thoughts and feelings. These traits are usually enduring and stable, i.e. they do not change fundamentally over time. Someone who is normally open to new experiences will, therefore, probably still be so in 20 years’ time. Nevertheless, it may well be that these traits manifest themselves differently depending on the situation. For example, if they are highly stressed, a person who otherwise avoids conflict can react irritably. Our predispositions, therefore, influence our behaviour to a certain extent, but situation and context also play an important role.
The "Big Five" model of personality
The best-known and most scientifically solid model is that of the “Big Five”, or the “Five-Factor Model”. According to this model, there are five dimensions by which the human personality can be classified. Awareness of one’s own personality structure can be helpful in reflecting on one’s own feelings and reactions in different situations. It is important to note that the classification of personality, according to this model, takes place on a continuum. For example, people are not necessarily either introverted or extraverted; instead, they are often somewhere in between.
People with a high degree of openness are often inventive and curious. They usually enjoy trying out new things, are innovative and prefer a certain variety in everyday life. People with a low degree of openness, on the other hand, tend to act conservatively and cautiously. They prefer what is already known and familiar as well as a safe environment.
People who are very conscientious usually act in an organised, careful and reliable manner. As a result, they may also tend to be excessively perfectionist. People who rate low in this dimension tend to be easy-going, spontaneous and sometimes careless. It is more common for them to forget things or make silly mistakes.
People with a high level of extroversion are sociable, active and good company. They are happy to approach other people and feel energised by being in a large group. Introverts, on the other hand, tend to gain energy from spending time in quiet environments, alone or with a few close friends. The prejudicial notion that introverts are always shy is not true. Extroverts can also be shy in social situations.
People who are very agreeable exhibit a high degree of selflessness and helpfulness. As a rule, they are empathetic and friendly towards others and show themselves to be cooperative at work, for example. Individuals who are low in agreeableness tend to be more prone to conflict, distrustful of others and competitive.
Individuals who have a high degree of neuroticism tend to be more emotional and vulnerable. They often demonstrate a degree of anxiety and sometimes irritability. People with low levels of neuroticism are self-confident and calmer. They are less likely to be irritated by external events and are also less likely to have negative emotions.