Number 5. Photo Credit: Fabio La Donna, MBTI and the Five Factors of Personality.

MBTI and the Five Factors of Personality

Number 5. Photo Credit: Fabio La Donna, MBTI and the Five Factors of Personality.
Photo Credit: Fabio La Donna. EyeEm – 583912727,

A few weeks ago, we talked about the Enneagram test, a personality test that complements the Myers-Briggs Type Indicators quite well. Today, we are going to talk about another measure of personality, the Five Factors of Personality (also known as Big Five). There are many similarities between MBTI and the Five Factors of Personality. This article gives you a brief introduction into the Five Factors, and how it relates to MBTI.

Five Factors of Personality

The Five Factors of Personality are based on the hypothesis that personality traits that are important eventually become a part of the language, and that the most important traits can be described by a single word. In this way, the Five Factors test uses linguistic associations that fall into five categories of personality. The five factors have been identified as openness (to experiences), conscientiousness (self-discipline), extroversion (engagement with the external world), agreeableness (social harmony), and neuroticism (emotional stability).

The Five Factors is most widely used by psychologists who study personality: (1) because it is translatable across cultures and languages with consistent results, and (2) emerging research shows a correlation between the Five Factors traits and neurological functioning. Those who favor Five Factors over MBTI argue that the traits are measured on a scale, making it less black and white than MBTI.  It has also been argued that the Five Factors have observable evidence, rather than being purely theoretical. Debate about which test is better aside, masterminds can combine the two approaches to create a model that works for us as individuals.

MBTI and the Five Factors of Personality

Anyone familiar with MBTI knows that it tests for 4 observable traits: introversion/extroversion, intuition/sensing, thinking/feeling, and judging/perceiving. As it turns out, MBTI traits correlate with the Five Factors, though not perfectly. MBTI introversion and extroversion match with Five Factors’ extroversion measure. MBTI’s intuition and sensing correlate (again, not perfectly) with the test for openness to experiences, whether it be through creativity or through more conventional methods. MBTI thinking and feeling fall into the agreeableness measure, with feelers measuring higher in agreeableness than thinkers. Finally, judging and perceiving fall under conscientiousness, which measures for discipline and adaptability. The only measure not correlated with MBTI directly is the emotional stability measure, neuroticism, which measures for negative emotions. However,, which uses their own model of MBTI combined with other personality tests, including the Five Factors, assigns a 5th dimension, assertive (emotional stability) or turbulent (emotional instability), which accounts for neuroticism.

For the Masterminds

If you’ve already taken MBTI test, then the Five Factors may seem like a rehashing of what you already understand. For those of us who like robust theory, it could be argued that MBTI gives us more measures to sink our teeth into with the added complexities of introverted and extroverted traits, and trait order placed in a cognitive stack. Nevertheless, Five Factors offers  the scientific rigor that detractors say is missing from MBTI. At this point, more psychologists have adopted the Five Factors and are doing personality research using the theory as a model, even though, as some point out, the two trait theories share a great deal of similarity. Ultimately, while psychologists may use slightly different lexicons to assess common personality traits, science is proving that brain activity can be related to different cognition styles. One biologically based example of this is the connection between serotonin and dopamine to individual Five Factors traits. Serotonin has been found to correlate to neuroticism, conscientiousness, and agreeableness, while dopamine relates to openness and extroversion. Research is still being carried out, but the evidence points to a possibility that some of these traits may even be heritable. Having solid scientific evidence to back up theories of personality brings us one step closer to better understanding ourselves.

For those of us on a mastermind journey, it may be helpful to use the Five Factors to gain a more clearly defined idea of where we fit on the scale for each of the personality traits so that we can better understand ways to improve, or at least to identify areas that require more mindfulness. The Five Factors shows a great deal of promise in terms of providing evidence of personality as a science; yet, we must wait for more research to be done in this area before we can make any claim to a conclusive system of personality definition. While there are promising signs that traits can be identified in a way that is respected scientifically, Five Factors is most useful when correlations can be applied as a basis to further research in other scientific areas such as neurochemistry.

It should be noted that the Five Factors test just shows the raw data. It’s up to the test taker to interpret the meaning behind their score. Scoring high, low, or moderately in the traits is neither good or bad.

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