words describing personality

Want to see a wordcloud based on your personality? You can take a free assessment right now to see up to 100 words that describe your personality, your Big Five personality dimensions, and more.

Or, read on to learn more about the relationship between personality dimensions and the words we use to describe ourselves and others.

Table of Contents

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.

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.

High Openness Low Openness
imaginative traditional
philosophical unsophisticated
creative predictable
artistic conventional
eccentric provincial

Conscientiousness

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.

High Cons. Low Cons.
systematic impulsive
orderly haphazard
meticulous careless
dependable erratic
thorough frivolous

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.

High Extraversion High Introversion
talkative quiet
assertive shy
energetic inhibited
sociable reserved
bold bashful

Agreeableness

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.

High Agreeablness Low Agreeableness
warm cold
compassionate insensitive
polite demanding
considerate impersonal
helpful uncooperative

Neuroticism

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.

High Neuroticism Low Neuroticism
moody unemotional
defensive confident
nervous relaxed
high-strung unexcitable
fidgety patient

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.

words describing personality

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.