The “Big Five” factors are today one of the most-used scales for measuring personality; these factors are conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism, openness, and extraversion. However, despite the widespread use of this scale, it is still debated whether or not it, or any personality test, can truly offer a complete picture of a person. To test this, I will use one of my best friends, Amanda, as an example.
The first criterion, conscientiousness, differs from the common usage of the word. It is defined as being disciplined, careful, organized, and dutiful, and having a propensity to aim for achievement. The other end of the spectrum includes being disorganized, impulsive, and careless. Amanda tends to be high-achieving, but this is mostly due to the fact that she is intelligent. When it comes to things for which she actually has to study, she lacks some discipline, although not as much as some others I know. She does, however, have a significant sense of duty toward her family and friends. Her level of carefulness depends on the situation. For instance, she is meticulous in her photography, but one of the most terrifying drivers with whom I have ever ridden. Taking all of these things into account, on a conscientiousness scale of 1 to 10 (10 being very conscientious and 1 being not at all), I would give Amanda a 5.
The next scale, agreeableness, is also different than how people use the word in everyday conversation. We tend to think of it as non-argumentative, but for the Big Five personality factors, it connotes compassion, trust, helpfulness, and cooperativeness, versus ruthlessness, suspiciousness, defiance, and stubbornness. Amanda is known by her friends for being somewhat stubborn, but not all the time or in every situation. Much of this depends on the mood she is in, and usually only carries in trivial situations. On the other hand, though, she is one of the most compassionate people I know, and most of the time will do whatever she can to help someone in need, especially if the someone is a member of her friends or family. She also trusts people she knows fairly easily, so for an overall grade on the agreeableness scale (very agreeable being a 10), I would give her a 7.
Neuroticism is defined by the Big Five as emotional instability, insecurity, self-pitying, and anxiety. Neurotic people are very liable to expressing emotion, often exaggerated emotion, and the most neurotic end of the spectrum is generally filled with people who have psychological disorders. Emotionally stable people, on the other end of the scale, are calm, secure, and self-satisfying. While Amanda does cry quite a bit (for instance, at our senior girls’ Kairos retreat, I think she was crying for more of those four days than...