Big Five model

Measure and use personality

Reliable measurement and ethically sound use of information about personality.

Executive summary

Understand what differentiates strategies in measuring personality, which choices are better, and the subsequent effect on value generation.

Big Five traits, not types

In order to understand personality well, we need to understand the Big Five model of personality, and do factor analysis to extract the Big Five traits for any given population. Types and dimensions that are not Big Five are poor models for understanding personality. Tools that measure Big Five personality should use normative Likert scales. Ipsative question formats introduce noise, reduce validity, and should not be used. Still, most tools in use are based on ipsative question formats, and are not Big Five.

Purpose first

The Big Five model of personality has helped us to realise that no variations in personality are generally better or worse. We need to know what is more beneficial in a situation to know what variations to look for. Organization and job analysis are useful methods to achieve this.

When we wish to inspire greater understanding of each other, who we are and what we are capable of, we need to ditch stigmatising labels and begin describe each other in holistic and nuanced ways. Those that realize the value of this paradigm improvement stand to reap great benefits. Fortunately, we have achieved significant consensus in the science of personality psychology. We still have much more to learn, but we are already confident that we have a model that we can trust to describe the most stable and fundamental characteristics of a human being reasonably well. We also have a way to measure those characteristics that is already quite accurate, even though we can envision significant improvements over the next decades. We also have designed processes to utilise this understanding to great effect in the workplace.
Measure and use Big Five personality factors

In order for all this to work, we need to measure the positions of a person well, a daunting task. Fortunately, the combined efforts of the international research community mostly agree on some quite clear recommendations to help us choose tools to measure personality that are as reliable and valid as possible:  – use normative, Likert scale question format, do not use yes/no or ipsative questions  – do exploratory factor analysis on the relevant population, use the Big Five model  – correct for individual response patterns, so that those do not become noise

How can I spot the quality of a personality measuring tool?  – it needs to comply with the above three requirements.  – it must document the quality of its development, reporting reliability estimates, for example Cronbach’s alpha, for all measurements  – it needs to report response style artefacts so that those can be taken into account when reading the results. Human Content has done all this, and our tool B5-PLUS can document the highest levels of quality in the world of personality measuring tools today. In addition, Human Content has developed work processes that utilise the Big Five model and measurements in organisation work such as leadership, organisation design, recruitment, team dynamics and much more. Human Content has a library of documents that dive deeper into all the above topics, and document the assertions. Please get in touch to get access to our library of exceptional knowledge.