Insights From Our Editors

5 Personality Types to Help You Understand Employees & Patients

By Mark Wright, OD, FCOVD,
and Carole Burns, OD, FCOVD

March 27, 2019

The goal of studying personality traits is to understand what makes people who they are. Knowing this is an important endeavor because it helps us better communicate with others and better understand ourselves. When we understand personality traits, it improves our communication by helping us identify what other people value.

The study of personality goes all the way back to Hippocrates. From him, major contributions were made by Plato, Aristotle, Freud, Jung, Maslow & Rogers, Marston, Eysenck, Goldberg, and many others. Each time a major contribution was made, we advanced our understanding.

Myers-Briggs, with its 16 complicated possibilities, and the DISC, a four-possibility simpler system, are popular ways to attempt to determine the behavioral styles of people.

Although popular, these two systems are not as repeatable or scientific as the Big 5 Personality Traits model. The Big 5 Personality Traits (also known as the five-factor model) are: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism. (The acronym that works best to help you remember the Big 5 system is OCEAN.)

The advancement in thinking from Myers-Briggs and DISC to the Big 5 is that instead of putting people in “boxes” and claiming they are one “type,” the Big 5 is based on the concept that we all possess each of the five personality characteristics to some degree. Each of the traits (or factors) is independent of each of the others. That means we all have some (or a lot) of each. The sliding scale of each of the personality traits in the Big 5 better describes who we are than previous attempts at personality identification. The Big Five is the most mainstream and widely accepted framework for personality today.

We’ve combined the Big 5 traits in this one chart we created:

What would a Big 5 profile look like for an individual? Here’s an example:

A different person would have a different result because their “sliders” would be at different places. To see how the sliders may be in different places, see the Big 5 results for Mark below. (Using this web site , the test took Mark less than five minutes to complete and the results were almost immediate.)

Here are three free web sites where you can go to find out how you score on the Big 5 Personality Traits:
https://www.outofservice.com/bigfive/
https://openpsychometrics.org/tests/IPIP-BFFM/
https://www.truity.com/test/big-five-personality-test

With a little experience, you can begin to see the personality traits of others around you, including your patients and staff. When you can better understand someone else’s perspective, you can better give them what they need.

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