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OCEAN (The Big Five)

Apt research and self-understanding could walk hand in hand.

The "Big Five" (each trait exists on a high/low continuous scale) is the most used current psychometric measurement perspective in personality psychology. The positive take of each of the five dimensions are:

  • Openness – also: Culture, Originality, or Intellect
  • Conscientiousness – or Consolidation, or Will to Achieve
  • Extroversion – or Surgency
  • Agreeableness – or Accommodation
  • Non-neuroticism – without any overly Need for Stability, Negative Emotionality

Note: This is a streamlined way of presenting the five factors to show the five traits have a positive value in the list. Their opposite have a corresponding negative value.

What is called traits are like five strings or telephone wires between two poles. One pole is called positive, and the other negative. Many have a tendency to believe they are more positive than what they really are in the eyes of mates, peers and further. Who might conclude best? A test: a well designed and carefully filled in test. Tests are designed to detect where between the poles a bird will settle, one bird on each string. That is to say, the test helps to find out how open, conscientious, "outward-turning", accommidating and non-neurotic a guy may be.

One has two good ways to determine how one's traits are - to get a profile of them. One is to cross off on a scale. Another is to answer many questions, and then someone else or a computer tries to calculate or bring out a profile based on how you interpreted the questions, how you understood them at the moment, and how well the questions have a bearing on the five postulated traits. Statistics helps initial suppositions here.

A test is good if its resulting scores fit - to which degree the measures give a valid, reliable picture of the person. That is where the problem is now. One depends on statistics to substantiate it, and "self-enforcing" defects are possible.

If you try a fine test about it, you will find out something. The scores may not be perfectly accurate in telling how you are, traitwise, but may be of some or even much use all the same.

A free Big Five Personality Test is here:

History and a caveat

The recently developed OCEAN's five factors (an acronym for the Big Five) have emerged and are considered the most reliable personality factors - as statistically verified - today. They are statistically founded, and therefore good to verify by statistics - by surface means, where correlates are found. The traits have emerged "what this and that lexically understood term" have in common, and as verified by statistical means from there on..

The Big Five factors are rooted in statistical findings (and also go as far back as to Gordon Allport's thinking in the 1930s and later).

OCEAN has five dimensions, and they were crystallised from "cluster statistics". OCEAN is currently the most reliable and well-validated system of trait description – fit for times of peace, more unfit for war", because openness and agreeableness that are desirable in times of peace, may hinder combating, and extroversion too may not fit secrecy making and desorientation (lying) that often goes along with warfare. Compare the traits above. [More]

You can test yourself – find out a bit about your personality – by using the Big Five Personality Test. You can get a free personality test thereby:

The Big Five Personality Test:

The Big Five and the MBTI compared

The Big Five (OCEAN) is dominant and the MBTI needs reforming, because it is tendentious at present. As a data framework the Big Five is robust, it has empirical strength due to basic findings. However, the Big Five is weak in explaining why or how its data are as they are.

The two major models dominating personality testing today are the more recently emerging Big Five and the older MBTI. The MBTI consists of probings attuned to a theory. To the degree the theory at the bottom of it is good, the test may also be good. Theories rest on assumptions, and assumptions have got hard times for their lacks of verifications.

MBTI is an acronym for Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (1962). The MBTI was constructed by Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers. It is based on the typological theory proposed by Carl Gustav Jung. He had speculated that there are four principal psychological functions that humans experience the world by, namely "sensation, intuition, feeling and thinking", and that one of these four functions is dominant for a person most of the time, and influence interests, needs, values, and motivation. The MBTI is popular in the business world despite its poor validity and reliability - which means "Bad test!", in short, it is deficient. (Wikipedia, "Myers– Briggs Type Indicator")

The five core personality elements (traits) of the Big Five have been empirically found in multiple cultures by multiple researchers who have statistically analysed peer and self rated personality trait inventories.

The various Jung systems (MBTI, Kiersey, etc.) are thought to come closest in usefulness among other systems, but the MBTI contains nothing about the Emotional Stability (i.e. Neuroticism) element. So the two systems do not go so well together. Attempts to correlate them with each other result in blurred distinctions.

The Jungian-linked MBTI system also posits that everyone fits into 16 types - astrology does it too. Individuality and individualism has to counted in, in real living. The MBTI has been used on the public much longer than the Big Five. The MBTI could perhaps be well redesigned to fit Big Five's empirically had traits, and then rebranded as a Little Big Five, without measuring Emotional Stability (for practical reasons, not as a result of ignorance).

MBTI is based on a typology introduced by psychiatrist Carl Jung over a hundred years ago. By that, MBTI is based on the four elements that also go into the designs of astrology - and are embedded in the signs of the horoscope. The elements are linked to signs there. (Arrayo xxxx; yyyy)

The Big Five measures traits on dimensional scales, and the existing data suggests that traits are dimensional. Here is big problem for the MBTI. It creates types by meaning people suit sixteen ready-made entries. By MBTI, two persons who differ just one point on a scale, can end up being categorised as different types, while two persons who differ twenty points on a scale, can end up "in the same MBTI entry" as belonging to the same type. This is a formidable disadvantage for the MBTI.

The worth of any personality test is judged professionally by two basic criteria: validity and reliability. Validity indicates that a test measures what it says it measures and reliability indicates that a test delivers consistent results.

For the MBTI there are two types of validity that should be considered:

  • Construct validity - how well does the MBTI relate to other scales measuring similar concepts, if at all?
  • Criterion-related validity - how well does the MBTI predict specific outcomes related to interpersonal relations or job performance?

The National Academy of Sciences committee reviewed data from over 20 MBTI research studies and concluded that only one of the four scales used in the MBTI - the Intraversion-Extroversion scale - has adequate construct validity.

Overall, the review committee concluded that the MBTI has not demonstrated adequate validity although its popularity and use has been steadily increasing. The National Academy of Sciences review committee concluded that: "at this time, there is not sufficient, well-designed research to justify the use of the MBTI in career counseling programs," the very thing that it is most often used for.

Reliability is in it when a test measures what it is said to measure. Reliability can be measured by reliability coefficients.

Now, even though the MBTI claims to reveal a person's inborn, unchanging personality type, as many as 75% of test takers are assigned a different type when they take the Myers-Briggs a second time. This means the MBTI is dangerously unpredictive, really.

Professor Robert Spillane at Macquarie University says that efforts to predict performance from personality and motivation tests have been consistently and spectacularly unsuccessful, and that such tests "trivialize human behavior by assuming that (fake) attitudes predict performance." Good to know!

For all that, personality tests are likely to be part of the selection process og large corporations for the foreseeable future. The hope that those who selected the tests have realistic expectations of validity and reliability and manage to interpret the results properly, is a poor hope.

[Main source of the sections of MBTI's reliability and validity: [◦"Even Popular Personality Tests are Controversial". Psychometric Success, 2013]

I Had Enough of Silly Goadings

The two dominant personality tests today - Big Five and MBTI and/or its cognate Keirsey Temperament Sorter (KTS) - were debated a bit on a discussion board or three after fifty monastics left SRF during the years 2000-2005. One of participants had got hooked on the MBTI cognate, KTS, which is a self-assessed personality questionnaire. He is not the only one with such a faith. Bank of America, Allstate, the US Air Force, IBM, 7-Eleven, Safeco, AT&T, and Coca-Cola have used the KTS too. It is widely used, but not strong on validity. You have to take the test results or interpretations on faith. The temperaments have neither been measured for reliability nor validity so far.

The KTS links human behavioral patterns to four temperaments and sixteen character types. Each temperaments has two roles, he thinks, and each role comes with two types (role variants). These 16 types correlate with the 16 personality types described by Briggs and Myer (MBTI).

David Keirsey (1921–2013) divided the four temperaments that go into astrology among other things, into two categories (roles), each with two types (role variants). The resulting 16 types correlate with the 16 personality types described by Briggs and Myer's MBTI.

Both the MBTI and KTS relate to something Carl Gustav Jung published in 1921: the book Psychological Types. Keirsey provided his own definitions of the sixteen types, and related them to the four temperaments.

If the MBTI does not deserve a good reputation, its later cognate KTS hardly does it either. They are structured and handled in much in the same way.

The board participant who wanted to help SRF against its management of nuns, talked for applying typology on SRF managers. But did he check his weapon (typology talk), making sure it shot straight at the right targets (problems) and hit all right? In other words, was the test advocated reliable and valid? No, there is agreement that MBTI is not. Further, the Keirsey Temperament Sorter is a relative of it.

So maybe - just maybe - Coca Cola and other big firms have erred too in using a documentedly poor test when they hire managers. And SRF managers have not been hired for lots of money - not directly, at any rate - they have entered a cloister.

First check that your test and accompanying words are as little speculated up as may be. Second, apply with discretion, and not anonymously. Third, try not to get defensive if a certain lack of skill and aplomb shines through for others to see. We are not born typewriters either. Going for some success by good means - that is good.

First discern what is possible. SRF - a conservative, monastic environment - is hardly built for making great changes. When some liberal changes were called for from inside the SRF belly of it, so to speak, one third of the SRF monastics left after hard struggles against the rest. The monastics that were allowed to leave should be thankful for that, but some had problems with sleeping at night and further. Lola Williamson has written about SRF and its upheavals in her recent book, Transcendent in America: Hindu-Inspired Meditation Movements as New Religion (2010).

On the discussion board for disappointed SRF monastics and others, I did recommend the Big Five for its consistency or superiority in characterisations. It seemed to be to deaf ears. However, in my past I administered and did educational research that included tests too; I have explored both the MBTI, Keirsey and Big Five a little; and have not forgotten all about it. So I thought I it would be a good thing to pour cold water in the blood of a Keirsey adherent by telling which personality test is "best in test". And still better:

Utilise the mind for something worthwhile, and as the practice of ◦Transcendental Meditation grows, so the inner happiness increases, peace increases, and contentment increases. (Yogi, 2011, p 52)


Big Five, Ocean, five factor model, Literature  

There may not be so much to get from superficial one-layered typologies and simple schemes. Even Carl G. Jung expressed that: to him, individuality is the foremost thing. These books cover much ground to the eager beginner in astrology and some typologies, at any rate.

Arroyo, Steven. Astrology, Karma and Transformation. Vancouver: CRCS Press, 1978. ⍽▢⍽ Arroyo is one of the best-selling authors of modern astrology books worldwide, and much translated also. Complex concepts are explained and combined - and then woven together into a horoscope. The language is concise and simple.

Arroyo, Steven. Chart Interpretation Handbook: Guidelines for Understanding the Essentials of the Birth Chart. Sebastopol, CA: CRCS, 1989. ⍽▢⍽ This handbook, already described as a classic in its field, teaches the basics of astrology and how to cast a horoscope. The birth chart is examined as a set of building blocks set up to shape us and keep us thinking and growing.

Jung, Carl Gustav. Psychological Types. Tr. Helton Godwyn Baynes, London: Kegan, Paul, Trench, Trubner and Co., 1946. (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1923). ⍽▢⍽ The four postulated types are dealt with in chapter 10.

Keirsey, David. Please Understand Me II: Temperament. Character. Intelligence. Del Mar, CA: Prometheus Nemesis, 1998.

Quenk, Naomi L. Essentials of Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Assessment. 2nd ed. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley & Sons, 2009. ⍽▢⍽ Dr Quenk provides guidance for applying this method of assessing personality.

Steiner, Rudolf. Astronomy and Astrology: Finding a Relationship to the Cosmos. Comp. and ed. Margaret Jonas. Forest Row, UK: Rudolf Steiner Press, 2009. ⍽▢⍽ A profound Austrian brings what is termed spiritual perspectives to modern astrology, and if you like mental challenges where good proofs are rare, there are some view-points ready there for you.

Williamson, Lola. Transcendent in America: Hindu-Inspired Meditation Movements as New Religion. London: New York University Press, 2010. ⍽▢⍽ Both Yogananda's SRF and Maharishi's world-wide TM movement are treated.

Yogi, Maharishi Mahesh. Transcendental Meditation with Questions and Answers. 3rd ed. Madhya Pradesh: Maharishi Vedic University - MIPD, 2011.


  1. (a) Satyeswarananda. "Yogananda". San Diego, CA: Sanskrit Classics. Nd. Online.
    (b) Satyeswarananda. "Talabya Kriya, or Khecharimudra, its far reaching implications and Yogananda." San Diego, CA: Sanskrit Classics. Nd.
  2. Satyeswarananda. "Differences between the Original Kriya Tradition and the Modified Kriya Trend". San Diego, CA: Sanskrit Classics, Nd. Online

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