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Jordan Peterson on the Five Factor Model of Personality and the disadvantages of openness

Update 2022-08 – if you’re looking to understand the Five Factor Model more deeply, see also Jordan Peterson on the Five Factor Model of Personality (2): Going Deeper with The Big 5 and IQ, which contains indexed links to videos of Peterson’s 2017 lectures on this topic.

Here’s a quick summary of the Five Factor Model from Jordan Peterson (I was interested in the shorthand he used to some up each trait – there’s a slightly longer description of each further down) and an comment about the pitfalls of openness which rings true to me:

There are five personality traits [“The Five Factor Model”]:

Extroversion – that’s positive emotion;

Neuroticism – that’s negative emotion;

Agreeableness – that’s compassion versus predatory aggression;

Conscientiousness – that’s dutifulness, orderliness;

And then openness – which is intellect (interest in ideas) and creativity.

You might think, the more of that [openness] the better, but no – that isn’t how nature works. You can undo yourself by being open. People who are open have a hard time catalysing their identity, because they’re so… protean. They shift shapes constantly, they’re interested in everything. It makes it very hard for them to pursue one thing.

My observation is that if people are high in negative emotion – so they’re prone to anxiety, for example – then being open can be a curse because when you expose yourself to something that’s unknown… extroversion and openness can drive you forward as a function of curiosity and engagement, but the uncertainty is also… the uncertainty you pay a price for physiologically, because when you face something uncertain, like when you’re angry, your body had to prepare for anything. And that’s expensive and physiologically demanding.

Jordan Peterson on The Tim Ferris Show #502

Here’s a slightly fuller description from Britannica:

Extraversion*, sometimes referred to as surgency, is indicated by assertive, energetic, and gregarious behaviours.
Neuroticism is essentially equivalent to emotional instability and can be seen in irritable and moody behaviours. Openness to experience, sometimes referred to as intellect, indicates an individual’s inquisitiveness, thoughtfulness, and propensity for intellectually challenging tasks.
Agreeableness is indicated in empathic, sympathetic, and kind behaviours.
Finally, conscientiousness refers to an individual’s sense of responsibility and duty as well as foresight.

Encyclopedia Britannica

*Why the different spelling?

See also:
Jordan Peterson on the Five Factor Model of Personality (2): Going Deeper with The Big 5 and IQ
Seth Godin on difficult conversations
Agreeableness revisited
On (dis)agreeableness: Whose you?

I'd love to hear your thoughts and recommended resources...