Hi! I am testing out posting videos on my website. This is an old video I made a few months ago about the big 5 personality test.
Have you ever taken a personality test before? If not, I encourage you to take two personality tests: (1) the MBTI (which stands for Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) and (2) the “Big 5” personality test. Now, I want to introduce you to the Big 5.
What are these tests and why should you care?
These tests are a great introduction to the wide and wonderful world of operationalization. To “operationalize” is a special way that psychologists define “constructs” of interest. As you can see, the terminology gets dense pretty quickly here.
From the perspective of the person answering a series of survey questions, test like these seem quite simple. However there is a lot of math and science stuff going on behind the scenes that the person taking the test never needs to know or understand.
To put it in everyday terms, “constructs” are the “things” psychologists are interested in. Personality is one of those things. Psychologists strive to define the things they are interested in with incredible precision. In fact, all scientists need to define the elements of their work with enough precision so that someone on the other side of the world could understand and replicate their work. But psychologists have the added difficulty of precisely defining highly abstracted concepts. This is where the challenge and the fun comes in for the psychologist!
MBTI versus Big 5?
The MBTI and the Big 5 are two different approaches to operationalizing personality. Personality is not everything. Personality does not capture everything that is going on with a person psychologically. Personality is an attempt to define the self only as its most essential and stable elements.
So, what are these most basic and most stable elements? The MBTI and the Big 5 have different answers for that. How did they reach two unique conclusions while both remaining “legitimate”? Well, they do have at least some overlap. In my opinion, the most important thing the these tests tell you is whether you are an introvert or extravert. But they are different because one test was “idea”-heavy in its development (MBTI) while the other was developed through “math”-heavy processes (Big 5).
Get started with the Big 5!
Hey kid, wanna take a psychology test? Okay then. If you would like to take the Big 5 Personality Inventory now, please take out a pen a paper. Number the paper from 1 to 44. You will be watching the above video and responding to each of the 44 items using the following scale: 1 = strongly disagree to 5 = strongly agree.
How to score the Big 5
Once you have written down your response to all 44 items, you will need to do a little extra leg work. Sometimes, psychologists “reverse code” the questions on the surveys they write. All this does is give the question the “opposite” meaning of what they psychologist is interested in finding out. These “reverse coded” items are usually sprinkled throughout a survey and surrounded by regularly coded items.
For the Big 5 Inventory, you will need to reverse your values for 16 of your items. Just scratch out your answer and write the new answer there. Reverse (e.g., if 5, then 1) items numbers:
2, 6, 8, 9, 12, 18, 21, 23, 24, 27, 31, 34, 35, 37, 41, 43.
Then, you get to compute your scores for each subscale. These summations need to include the reversed items in order to be correct.
SECOND STEP TO SCORE: sum each subscale.
Extraversion = 1, 6, 11, 16, 21, 26, 31, 36
Agreeableness = 2, 7, 12, 17, 22, 27, 32, 37, 42
Conscientiousness = 3, 8, 13, 18, 23, 28, 33, 38, 43
Neuroticism = 4, 9, 14, 19, 24, 29, 34, 39
Openness = 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 41, 44
Then, you can compute percentages for each subscale. For example, the maximum extraversion score is 40. If my hypothetical extraversion score is 10, then I’m only 25% extraverted. You don’t need technical training to see that 25% isn’t a high number.
Take a look at your percentages for each subscale. Note if anything is particularly high or low. You may have noticed that Neuroticism appears unique here in that it seems to be measuring a “bad” thing while the rest are measuring “good” things. (There is a big debate to be had over the positive effects of extraversion).
See here for a text version of the items and more information!