The Big Five: Alternatives

Here I will discuss various alternatives to the Big Five personality model, and I will show that they all fit into it in some way or other. They are:

The HEXACO model is essentially the Big Five model with an extra dimension of personality added on: Honesty-Humility (H, of course). The other letters refer to Emotionality (Neuroticism), Extroversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, and Openness to Experience.

The HEXACO site has a personality test that you can take, The HEXACO Personality Inventory – Revised. I score high in Honesty-Humility, and similar to scores in other Big Five tests (high on Conscientiousness and Openness, medium on Agreeableness, and low on Neuroticism and Extroversion).

The MBTI is likely the best-known model of personality outside of professional psychologists, and one can find numerous MBTI online quizzes. It features these four dimensions of human personality:

  • I/E: Introversion/Extraversion
  • N/S: iNtuition/Sensing
  • F/T: Feeling/Thinking
  • P/J: Perception/Judging

MBTI results are often summarized as being one of 16 types: INFP, INFJ, INTP, INTJ, ISFP, ISFJ, ISTP, ISTJ, ENFP, ENFJ, ENTP, ENTJ, ESFP, ESFJ, ESTP, ESTJ. This categorization many professional psychologists object to as unfounded, and actual test results show a continuum rather than discrete categories.

Some psychologists have discovered some correlations between MBTI scores and Big Five scores: I/E = E N/S = O, F/T = A, and P/J = C, O.

I myself am INTJ and close to INTP.

The Enneagram of Personality has nine personality types, and its name comes from the Greek word for nine.

What one does as each type: Reformer, Helper, Achiever, Individualist, Investigator, Loyalist, Enthusiast, Challenger, Peacemaker.

The major personality feature in each type: Orderliness, Helpfulness, Image Focus, Individualism, Intellectualism, Security Focus, Adventurousness, Aggressiveness, Calmness.

I can’t find anything in the professional literature relating the Enneagram to the Big Five or other personality models, however.

Here is an online Enneagram test. When I took it, I found that I am highest on Individualism and Calmness and lowest on Image Focus and Aggressiveness.

Finally, an oldie but goodie. The Four Temperaments, stated by the famous doctor Hippocrates some 2400 years ago. These were related to four body fluids or “humors”. This term is likely related to its most common present meaning by (body fluids) > (personality types) > (stereotypical personalities) > (stereotypes being funny) > (something funny). These four body fluids are, in turn, related to the traditional four elements: earth, air, water, and fire. Each of these elements is either hot or cold, and wet or dry. I will also relate these temperaments to two Big Five factors: extroversion and neuroticism.

  • Names: Choleric, Sanguine, Melancholic, Phlegmatic
  • Fluids: Yellow Bile, Blood, Black Bile (yellow bile + air), Phlegm (mucus?)
  • Personalities: Short-Tempered or Irritable, Optimistic and Social, Analytical and Quiet, Relaxed and Peaceful
  • Elements: Fire, Air, Earth, Water
  • Element Properties: Hot/Dry, Hot/Wet, Cold/Dry, Cold/Wet
  • Big-Five Values: E+N+, E+N-, E-N+, E-N-

One can make these identifications:

  • Extroversion: E+ = Hot, E- = Cold
  • Neuroticism: N+ = Dry, N- = Wet

I note in passing that melancholy is an old term for clinical depression (being very withdrawn and sad). Also, English speakers sometimes use “bile” as a synonym for hostility and that the French word for anger is colère.

Since I’m low on Extroversion and Neuroticism, I’m clearly Phlegmatic.

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