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Factors Of Big Five Personality Traits And Job Performance

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The relationship between personality and job performance has been a frequently studied topic in industrial psychology in the past century (Barrick, Mount & Judge, 2001). Understanding its people is as important to a company as understanding its operations and processes. Behaviors can come from different influences like environmental factors or personality traits. Many different theories and models on personality traits exist, like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator that separates people out into 16 different personalities.

Another model is the Big Five Personality Model (OCEAN), which puts forth the idea that human personality is made up of five basic dimensions. Because of its validity and wide acceptance the big five has been extensively utilized in recent organisational and other applied research (Barrick and Mount, 1991; Hurtz and Donovan, 2000; Judge et al., 1999; Judge et al., 2002; Salgado, 1997). Therefore, it is important to establish the relationship between the big five and vital organisational behavior variables, including competitiveness, work motivation and job satisfaction. The big five consists of the following traits: neuroticisms, extraversion, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness (Digman, 1990).


Openness to Experience includes active imagination, aesthetic sensitivity, attentiveness to inner feelings, a preference for variety, intellectual curiosity and independence of judgement. Those who are in this group have the attitude or mindset that is open to any ideas or opinions. Openness to experience include traits like imaginative, cultured, curious, original, broad minded, intelligent and artistically sensitive (Barrick & Mount, 1991). Openness may not be a valid predictor of job performance and may be moderated by organizational factors. This trait can vary with job requirements.

Individuals high on openness to experience enjoy grasping new ideas, and they have an intrinsic interest in and appreciation for novelty. Open individuals are curious about both inner and outer worlds, and their lives are experientially richer. Research has shown that Openness to Experience is related to success in consulting (Hamilton, 1988), training (Barrick & Mount, 1991; Vinchur et al., 1998) and adapting to change (Horton, 1992; Raudsepp, 1990).

Openness to experience is a personality type which has been a subject of controversy among researchers (Costa & McCrae, 1997; Hough & Ones, 2001). People scoring low on Openness tend to be conventional in behaviour and conservative in outlook. They prefer the familiar to the novel, and their emotional responses are somewhat muted. Openness to experience also has consistently reported the lowest average true score correlations across criteria and occupations (Barrick, Mount & Judge, 2001). Agreeableness and openness to experience are not good predictors of job performance (Barrick, Mount & Judge, 2001). . In contrast, (Johnson, 1997) and (Hayes, Roehm, & Castellano, 1994) found that successful employees obtained significantly lower scores on Openness.


Conscientiousness refers to self-control and the active process of planning, organising and carrying out tasks (Barrick & Mount, 1993). Conscientiousness is the tendency to show self-discipline, act dutifully, and aim for achievement. The trait shows a preference for planned rather than spontaneous behavior. High scorers avoid trouble and achieve high levels of success through purposeful planning and persistence can be compulsive perfectionists and workaholics, often viewed as stuffy or boring. However, impulsive employees ignore options, may socialize excessively and are easily distracted; accomplishments are scattered and inconsistent. Conscientiousness individuals tend to form relational contracts in their exchange relationship with the organization (Raja, Johns & Ntalianis, 2004). Relational contracts are long term contracts as they not only include purely economic exchange but also include terms for loyalty or growth in an organization (Rousseau & MacLean Parks, 1993).

People who are high in conscientiousness generally perform better at work than those who are low in conscientiousness. Conscientiousness is manifested in achievement orientation (hardworking and persistent), dependability (responsible and careful) and orderliness (planful and organised). On the negative side, high Conscientiousness may lead to annoying fastidiousness, compulsive neatness or workaholic behaviour.


Extraversion includes traits such as sociability, assertiveness, activity and talkativeness. Extraverts are energetic and optimistic. Extraversion is a personality type which exhibits traits such as talkative, sociable, active and expressive (Barrick & Mount, 1991). They have a strong desire for praise, social recognition, status and power (Costa & MacCrae, 1997)

It was found that Extraversion is a valid predictor of performance in jobs characterised by social interaction, such as sales personnel and managers (Barrick & Mount, 1991; Bing & Lounsbury, 2000; Lowery & Krilowicz, 1994; Vinchur et al., 1998). Johnson (1997) found a positive relationship between Extraversion and job performance of police personnel, and explained this relationship in terms of the high level of interaction in the police service.

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High extraverts are positively associated with extrinsic career success (Judge et al., 1999). Extravert is a personality types which is positively related to performance in jobs that require interpersonal skills (Barrick & Mount, 1991; Barrick, Mount & Judge, 2001). Extraversion is a valid predictor for occupations such as management and sales which involve social interaction. Extraversion is also a valid predictor of performance in jobs characterized by social interaction, such as sales personnel and managers (Johnson, 1997)


Agreeableness include traits such as courteous, flexible, trusting, good natured, cooperative, forgiving, soft hearted, and tolerant (Barrick & Mount, 1991). The behavioral tendencies typically associated with this factor include being courteous, flexible, trusting, good-natured, cooperative, forgiving, soft-hearted, and tolerant. Agreeable individuals value getting along with others. They are generally considerate, friendly, generous, helpful, and willing to compromise their interests with others. Agreeable people also have an optimistic view of human nature.

In organizational contexts, agreeable employees show higher levels of interpersonal competence and work effectively when combined action is needed. According to (Tett et al, 1991), Agreeableness is a significant predictor of job performance. The co-operative nature of agreeable individuals may lead to success in occupations where teamwork and customer service are relevant (Judge et al., 1999). However, some researchers conclude that, Agreeableness is not strongly related to any other criterion or occupational group except for teamwork (Barrick, Mount & Judge, 2001). Moreover, agreeableness consistently reported the lowest average true score correlations across criteria and occupations (Barrick, Mount & Judge, 2001).


Neuroticism includes traits such as anxious, depressed, angry, embarrassed, emotional, worried, and insecure (Barrick & Mount, 1991). Neuroticism is a personality type which is limited in social skills and avoids situations that demand taking control (Judge, Locke & Durham, 1997).

They experience more negative feelings in life than other individuals (Magnus, Diener, Fujita & Pavot, 1993). These negative emotions and lack of alternatives will make them stick to the organization because of the costs associated with leaving the jobs, which would lead to negative work related behaviors and attitudes. Neuroticism is very closely related to negative affectivity (NA) (Watson & Tellegan, 1985). Neurotics are also positively related to continuance commitment (Erdheim, Wang & Zickar, 2006) and continuance commitment is proved to be negatively related to overall job performance (Meyer et al., 1989).

Neuroticism is socially expressed trait associated with poor social skills and lack of trust in others (Goldberg, 1992; McCrae & John, 1992). A high Neuroticism score indicates that a person is prone to having irrational ideas, being less able to control impulses, and coping poorly with stress. Persons who are high on this dimension are usually anxious, depressed, angry, embarrassed, emotional, worried, and insecure. They feel more apprehensive about facing a new work environment that could provide even harsher experiences (Erdheim, Wang & Zickar, 2006).

People with high neuroticism are vulnerable to situations that demand high social skills (Judge et al., 1997). It is expected that the social aspect of job will further enhance or reduce the effects of job scope. A cognitively demanding situation will be particularly threatening to neurotic individuals if it also requires high social skills.


In an organization, the Big Five personality traits are strong predictors of future performance. In 2014, research by Sackett and Walmsley emphasised that of all traits, conscientiousness and agreeableness make the most efficient employees. A conscientious employee refers to a self-motivated individual who sets and achieves her own ambitious work goals and always completes the tasks assigned. This can also be done through flexible and remote working, which many forward-thinking organizations encourage today. Along with this, an employee should also be encouraged to have a flexible, tolerant and accommodating attitude. This includes the willingness to adapt and work with team members from diverse backgrounds or cultures.

Understanding what personality components drive the behavior of subordinates is a highly useful informational data point for management that can be used to determine what type of assignments should be set, how motivation should be pursued, what team dynamics may arise, and how to best approach conflict and/or praise when applicable. The big five personality traits allow you to look at how well someone fits with your organization. This should be coupled with a healthy co-working attitude and positive team spirit. To reduce negative interactions between teams and employees, and to improve processes and increase transparency.

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Factors Of Big Five Personality Traits And Job Performance. (2021, September 29). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 31, 2023, from
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