In this post, I’ll describe one way to find the right words to accurately describe your personality. I’ll give you a short overview the Big Five Personality framework, and I’ll give some examples of how the Big Five relates to words we commonly use to describe ourselves and other people. Finally, I’ll show you a simple tool to automatically generate a list of words to describe you, based on your unique blend of Big Five personality dimensions.
Table of Contents
- How to describe your personality
- The Big Five Personality dimensions and related words
- Using TraitLab’s free assessment to find the right words
How to describe your personality
If you had to choose 10 words that describe your personality, what would they be?
This can be a lot harder than it sounds! Most people will easily describe themselves in terms of basic facts: their job, hobbies and interests, or the places they’ve lived.
But describing your own personality — your characteristic ways of thinking, behaving, and feeling — is often more difficult, because it requires you to take a big step back and to evaluate yourself objectively, in comparison to other people.
Modern personality assessments are designed to solve exactly this problem. Among scientific researchers, who study these sorts of problems for a living, there is one system, or framework, for viewing personality that has wide acceptence: the Big Five.
The Big Five isn’t the only way psychologists think about personality, but it’s arguably the one that has the most scientific research behind it. Research studies have connected the Big Five to just about everything: our relationships, career preferences, moods and temperment, music preferences, physiology, and, of course, the words we use to describe ourselves and other people.
Let’s take a quick look at the Big Five personality dimensions, and some of the descriptive adjectives related to each them.
The Big Five Personality dimensions
The Big Five Personality dimensions are Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion (or Introversion), Agreeableness, and Neuroticism, or OCEAN, for short.
For every dimension, you may be on the low end, the high end, or, like most people, somewhere in the middle. Knowing where you stand on all five dimensions gives you a richer understanding of your typical patterns of thinking, behaving, and feeling, and how you are similar to, or different, from others.
Below, I’ve given a simple description of each dimension, and some examples of words used to describe people who are either high or low on that dimension.1
Openness to Experience
Openness describes your preference and tolerance for new experiences, ideas, and feelings.
Highly open people tend to be highly imaginative, curious, have diverse intellectual and artistic interests, and are more likely to have unconventional habits, ideas, or beliefs.
Less open (or more traditional) people gravitate towards more familiar experiences, are generally less interested in novelty, and hold more conventional interests, ideas, and beliefs.
Adjectives related to Openness
|High Openness||Low Openness|
Conscientiousness describes your planning, impulsivity, and tendency to follow socially accepted norms and rules.
Highly conscientious people tend to be highly organized and systematic, create detailed plans, are less easily distracted, and more likely to closely follow rules and guidelines across many situations.
Less conscientious (or more spontaneous) people are less systematic in their planning and decisions, are less focused on long-term goals or achievements, are less likely to conform to socially accepted norms and rules, and are generally more spontaneous across situations.
Adjectives related to Conscientiousness
|High Conscientiousness||Low Conscientiousness|
Extraversion or Introversion
Extraversion or Introversion describe your tendencies around social engagement and positive emotionality.
Highly extraverted people tend to actively engage with others, be more assertive, active, and talkative, and generally experience more positive emotions (e.g., joy, happiness, enthusiasm) across most situations.
Less extraverted people (or highly introverted people) tend to engage in more solitary activities, gravitate towards less stimulating environments, be more passive, inhibited, and reserved, and generally experience positive emotions less frequently and less intensely across most situations.
Adjectives related to Extraversion and Introversion
|High Extraversion||High Introversion|
Agreeableness describes your motivation to maintain positive relationships with others
Highly agreeable people are strongly motivated to maintain warmer and friendlier relations with others, seek to reduce or resolve interpersonal conflict, maintain or increase group cooperation, and control negative emotions around other people.
Less agreeable (or more demanding) people are more strongly motivated to pursue personal goals over positive relations with others, in doing so, are more willing to create conflict and disagreement, attempt to impose their will on others, and display or express negative emotions to others.
Adjectives related to Agreeableness
|High Agreeablness||Low Agreeableness|
Neuroticism describes your emotional variability and tendency to experience negative emotions.
Highly neurotic people have more frequent mood swings, have greater tendency to worry, are more easily irritated and susceptible to anxious or depressed moods.
Less neurotic (or more emotionally stable) people worry less and are less reactive to stress, experience less depression and anxiety, and are generally more easy-going.
Adjectives related to Neuroticism
|High Neuroticism||Low Neuroticism|
Find the right words with TraitLab
The examples above are only fraction of the hundreds of words related to the Big Five dimensions. When you complete any of the free Big Five assessments available on TraitLab, your results include up to 100 adjectives describing your personality.
After calculating your position on each of the Big Five dimensions, TraitLab compares your results to published research on the words people use to describe themselves and others, ranking over 400 words based on their similarity to your unique blend of traits. Finally, it generates a wordcloud of your most similar words sized by similarity (bigger words are more similar to you).
Here’s an example of an real result. Based on the Big Five assessment, this person was very high on Introversion and Openness to Experience, a little above average on Agreeableness and Conscientiousness, and average on Neuroticism.
Want to see yours? You can try it out for free, no signup or email address required!
1: In a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers asked participants to rate hundreds of words based on how well each word described them. These participants also completed a measure of the Big Five personality dimensions. Researchers found that the words people used to describe themselves were consistently to their combinations of five personality dimensions. The research findings included the list of words used in the study, and their statistical relationship to the Big Five dimensions.