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How the Big Five Personality Test Increases Self-Awareness

Danielle Dahl, Lead Contributor

The Big Five Personality Test is a series of situational and behavioral questions that assesses five personality traits: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. The term “Big Five” originated with Lew Goldberg and was originally associated with studies of personality traits used in natural language, however now it typically refers to the study of personality traits.

The test itself will give you a score, based on how you answer the questions, and if you want to take it, you can click here. Taking this test will reveal a lot about your personality and knowing how open, conscientious, extroverted, agreeable, and neurotic you are will help you increase your self-awareness.

“People need to know that they have all the tools within themselves. Self-awareness, which means awareness of their body, awareness of their mental space, awareness of their relationships – not only with each other but with life and the ecosystem.” – Deepak Chopra

What is self-awareness, and why should you work on improving it?

Self-awareness is the degree to which you are aware of different aspects of yourself. This includes recognizing character traits, behaviors (and the motives behind them), feelings, and desires. It is a psychological state in which we become the focus of our attention, essentially being more conscious of who we are.

How the Big Five Personality Test Increases Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is important because it is one of the first steps in creating our self-concept or the idea of who we are. Self-awareness improves our understanding of ourselves, enabling us to enjoy the things that make us unique. It then empowers us to seek meaningful change by harnessing our areas of strength and identifying areas where we have an opportunity for growth.

Knowing who you are as a person helps you form beliefs and values. Knowing what you believe and value helps you live life on your terms and not conform to the beliefs of others. Having your own identity will help you know your path in life. When you take a detour, this sense of self will help you realign with your identity.

When people are dissatisfied with where they are in life, or how they spend their day, it can cause anxiety and depression. This takes us further from becoming self-actualized, or a fully functioning person, as Carl Rogers would say. Developing self-awareness is a tool that clearly affects your life, but how do the Big Five Personality traits help you build a better awareness of self?

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“No matter what happens, always be yourself.” – Dale Carnegie

Openness

The Big Five Personality Test measures the open-mindedness of a person. According to 123test.com, people who score higher in the openness trait “are imaginative, curious, and open-minded.” However, people “who are low in openness to experience would rather not try new things. They are close-minded, literal, and enjoy having a routine.” Being open to taking the personality test itself, and viewing the results objectively, will get you a result that might just help you be more self-aware by itself!

Openness, both with other people and ourselves, is a character trait that can help develop your self-awareness in several ways. Part of being open to other people means listening to their stories. Practicing active listening skills like paying attention, providing feedback, and deferring judgment helps us listen patiently. This method enables us to respond in a way that is objective and caring.

When we grow these behaviors, we also learn to listen to our internal dialogue in a more productive way. This can help us form opinions, beliefs, and values, as well as being kind to ourselves in life situations. When we are open to new ideas and concepts, we learn more about how our own actions and reactions impact situations we find ourselves in. Becoming less defensive, and more open to our role in things is a big part of being self-aware.

“Renewal requires opening yourself up to new ways of thinking and feeling.” – Deborah Day

Conscientiousness

The Big Five Personality test measures conscientiousness as it relates to a person’s degree of self-discipline. 123test.com explains, “Conscientiousness is about how a person controls, regulates and directs their impulses.” Self-discipline and impulse regulation also play a key part in determining who we are, and it is easy to see how understanding this trait can improve your self-awareness.

Your level of conscientiousness will help determine which types of careers and activities suit you better. Knowing the types of careers that suit your personality best is a benefit of self-awareness and will help you be more satisfied with life. There have been studies that show being conscientious can improve your overall health and increase your productivity.

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“Conscientious people are apt to see their duty in that which is the most painful course.” – George Eliot

Extraversion

This trait of the test measures how outgoing and social a person is. Do you like being the life of the party and engaging in social gatherings? People who score high on this portion of the test enjoy interacting with others and the outside world. They thrive on excitement and are enthusiastic people who like being the center of attention.

You might initially think you are extroverted or introverted, but taking a personality test like the Big Five might surprise you. Answering these questions authentically requires self-awareness. Just because you do well in group situations, doesn’t mean that you recharge your energy by engaging in them. When are you most energized and at peace with yourself? Knowing this will lead you to know more about what you need in life and relationships, increasing what you know about yourself.

“I‘m an introspective person. I’m not an extrovert.” – John Thaw

Agreeableness

People who score higher in the agreeableness section of the Big Five Personality test are usually warm and kind. Their optimism fuels their dreams and desires, shaping how they see the world. It is an indicator of how well you will get along with others. It determines how cooperative you are, as well as how manipulative some of your behaviors might actually be.

This is another area where your level of self-awareness is important. Being cognizant of how you mesh with other people is a critical life skill. Do people find you to be warm and friendly? Do you think you put the interests of others ahead of your own? If your perception of how agreeable you are doesn’t match how agreeable others actually find you to be, that will probably cause some stress in your life.

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“Working together on solving something requires a high level of humility and a high level of self-awareness.” – Paul Polman

Neuroticism

123test.com explains that neuroticism, or emotional stability, “refers to a person’s ability to remain stable and balanced. At the other end of the scale, a person who is high in neuroticism has a tendency to easily experience negative emotions.” These negative emotions could be things like fear, doubt, and guilt.

In your quest to become more self-aware, ask yourself how often you let fear, doubt, or guilt hold you back from pursuing things that interest you. Are you worried about failure or not being perfect? Do you question what others think about your decisions? Why? Scoring on the higher end of the scale means you are more reactive to emotional situations and may struggle to remain calm. This trait directly affects your relationships and how you navigate challenges, playing a key role in how you see yourself.

“If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand if you don’t have self-awareness if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.” – Daniel Goleman

Taking the Big Five Personality test will help you become more in tune with where you stand regarding these traits. Each of these traits plays a part in who you are as a person and exploring them in further detail can help you become more aware of the things you may not have realized about yourself. Even when we think we have a grip on who we are as a person, it can always be helpful to learn more and strive for a higher level of self-awareness.

It might also confirm your strengths, which can boost your confidence and help you become more aware of who you are as a whole person. Did you go take the Big Five Personality test? This test will have you exploring feelings we tend to bury and ignore. Did you feel the results were accurate? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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