Psychological researchers often use a five-factor model to evaluate what are believed to be five core aspects, or traits, of an individual’s personality. Commonly referred to as the “Big 5,” these traits include:
They are sometimes referred to by the acronyms OCEAN or CANOE. Using questionnaire-based testing, psychologists measure the degree to which each of these traits is individually expressed.
The five-factor model is used to help understand and predict relationships between personality traits and success in social, academic, and professional circumstances. The model has been criticized for its limitations with respect to the number of personality traits evaluated and for the fact that it is a data-driven model and not based on a psychological theory. Proponents of the five-factor model argue that it delivers consistent results and that such a description of personality must come before, not after, a theory of personality.
A more recently introduced six-factor model known as HEXACO adds the factor of honesty-humility to the original five traits to incorporate a measure of ethical behavior into the mix when this trait is relevant to the research.