Conscientiousness is a fundamental personality trait—one of the Big Five—that reflects the tendency to be responsible, organized, and hard-working; to be goal-directed; and to adhere to norms and rules. Like the other basic personality traits, it has multiple facets; conscientiousness comprises self-control, industriousness, responsibility, and reliability.
Considered an outgrowth of self-regulation processes, conscientiousness is related to impulse control. It influences whether people set and keep long-range goals, deliberate over choices, behave cautiously or impulsively, and take obligations to others seriously. (The other Big Five personality traits are extraversion, agreeableness, openness, and neuroticism.)
Conscientiousness is generally a key ingredient for success—in love as well as at work. It's also a major predictor of health, well-being, and longevity.
People normally differ in the degree to which they are conscientious, and there is evidence that the trait reflects both constitutional factors and socialization experiences during childhood. Those people at the higher end of the spectrum of conscientiousness may be at risk of perfectionism and workaholism and fare poorly under conditions of high stress. Those low in conscientiousness may exhibit flexibility and spontaneity, but they may also tend to unreliability and carelessness.