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The Big Five Personality Traits: Lost in the OCEAN!


The theory of the Big Five personality
traits claims that we can describe
ourselves with five main characteristics:
open, conscientious, extravert, agreeable,
neurotic. Each of us varies in how much
of each trait is shown in our
personality. In order to understand what
each trait really means let’s look at
these five characters and how they cope
after they rank their boat and are
stranded on an island in the middle of
the ocean. Open Odelia is excited and
interested in exploring this beautiful
island. The exotic nature inspires her.
She has collected stones shells and
blossoms to decorate the entrance of the
bamboo hut that she built for everyone.
She feels this is an opportunity to
learn so many new things!
Claire is conscientious. She is not
excited, she is concerned about the
seriousness of the situation. She is glad
she saved the survival kit from their
ship. As usual, she is prepared and starts
the crucial tasks right away. She feels
that it is her duty to organize everyone
and make sure that they will start
looking for the things they need for
survival: freshwater and food.
Extravert Emile is thrilled because they
all survived! He feels a strong need to
talk and share his happiness. He gathers
everyone to celebrate their survival and
to tell them about his plan to explore
the island together! Agreeable Albert is
kind by nature and despite being tired
and thirsty, his main concern is Nora. He
offers her a drink from his coconut. The
others know that he usually agrees to
everything and are not shy to ask for
his help. Nora is neurotic and easily
stressed. She has a total breakdown. She
sits down on the beach and cries: how are
they ever going to get away from this
island? To her the ocean around them
looks endless, nature looks dark and
dangerous. She feels completely lost.
After eight weeks two ships appear on
the horizon everyone gets excited, Emil
has the idea to make a fire. He calls the
others to help. Claire immediately starts
to work,
Albert brings more wood Odelia is
holding up her beautifully arranged SOS
sign while Nora screams desperately for
help. Little do they know who is sailing
on these ships… The first ship carries a
group of psychologists who have been
traveling the oceans since the 1980s.
They are investigating the big five
personality traits which is also known
as the five-factor or ocean model. The
captain Lewis Goldberg coined the term
“big five”. He is thrilled when he sees the
five friends at the beach each one
matching exactly one trait: open,
conscientious, extravert, agreeable, neurotic.
Though he decides not to stop the
boat, as a scientist he prefers to watch
from afar.
On the other ship are five pirates, all
possessing the exact opposite traits of
our friends. Let’s see if you can
recognize them? Pirate one is emotionally
stable and very relaxed. When she sees
the survivors on the beach she says: we
could help them! Pirate two immediately
gets angry with her. He is not listening
to anyone and is not willing to change
his plans in order to help some
strangers on an island! Pirate three thinks
this is a complex situation. He thinks
that all possible outcomes need to be
considered. He feels the need to be alone
and think. Pirate four doesn’t care. He’s
busy looking for the keys to his
treasure chest which is lost again. The
captain is not open to any new
experiences. He ends all discussions when
he says our boat won’t stop! What do you
think about the big five? Do you
recognize your own personality in some
of the traits? Or do you think this
theory is flawed as we cannot describe
an entire personality in five parameters?
If you watch this in class and you are
not sure which traits you have, pick a
friend and describe each other.
Many of us are bad at describing
ourselves, so an outside perspective is
often helpful.

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