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Openness Aspect of Personality Development

The openness aspect of personality development is a basic personality trait indicating openness to new ideas and experiences. Openness in personality derives from the Five-Factor Model (FFM) or Big Five personality classification system. The Big Five measures the aspect of openness alongside Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism to define a person’s behaviors and inclinations. Openness and the other four aspects consequently exist on a spectrum that everyone exhibits in some capacity. People with high openness are imaginative, adventurous, tolerant, expressive, and intellectually curious. Conversely, people with low openness are more realistic, rigid, intolerant, stoic, and with fewer intellectual interests.

Openness of the Five Factor Model
Openness is one of the main aspects of the Five-Factor Model (FFM) of personality

The effect of openness on personality is broad due to the various ways people might exhibit open-mindedness. The influence is consequently neither negative nor positive as openness is a multi-dimensional measurement that can’t solely determine someone’s personality. That said, openness in psychology is able to measure a person’s inclinations toward six facets of openness and their associated characteristics. Firstly, imagination in openness scores creativity and inventive characteristics. Secondly, artistry describes aesthetic senses and the value of beauty. Thirdly, emotionality captures empathetic qualities and expressiveness. Fourthly, adventurousness is a measurement of one’s impulsivity and willingness to seek out new opportunities. Fifthly, intellect in openness gauges intellectual curiosities and inclinations. Finally, liberalism scores tolerant and accepting tendencies. All humans exhibit high, low, or moderate levels of the listed six facets of openness with the prevalence of high openness leaning toward people in their 20s and geographic locations in the West and Northeast United States of America.

The characteristics and facets of openness additionally offer different types of insight in psychology. For example, high openness correlates to problems of impulsivity, benefits of agreeability and tolerance, and risks of noncommittal tendencies that have the potential to affect daily life. Highly open personalities correlate to specific behaviors and social skills in the workplace as well as relationships with romantic partners and peers. Furthermore, the examination of the openness aspect of personality under the Big Five has the potential to offer insight into the connection to other personality classifications, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The MBTI and the Big Five are separate systems and further research is needed to understand their correlation, but it’s possible for individuals to glean insight from both on how their openness aligns with their MBTI types.

What is the definition of openness?

The definition of openness describes a dimension of personality that measures a person’s receptiveness to new ideas. Openness is one of five major aspects of the Five Factor Model (FFM) or Big Five traits, a personality framework and classification system. The concept of openness is additionally referred to as “Openness to Experience” and covers a spectrum of behaviors and tendencies alongside the other aspects of Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. Everyone demonstrates some degree of openness according to the Big Five framework. Therefore, there is a distinction between high, low, and moderate levels of openness and how individuals express the trait. People with high openness are more imaginative, adventurous, and accepting of other people’s values. Meanwhile, people with low openness are more grounded in reality, avoid change, and respectful of tradition and the status quo.

The modern definition of openness emerged with British-American psychologist Raymond Cattell in his 16 Personality Factor Model (16PF) during the 1940s. Openness was originally associated with “Culture” and described a person’s intellectual and artistic inclinations as well as their sense of curiosity. Openness evolved through the work of Lewis Goldberg, Paul Costa, Robert McCrae, and other researchers in the 1980s, building upon Cattell’s work to relabel Culture to Openness as a core dimension of personality. Contemporary psychologists use openness and the four other aspects of personality to understand an individual’s tendencies, behaviors, and traits better.

How does openness affect personality development?

Openness affects personality development by influencing an individual’s interest in new experiences and ideas. The effect of Openness on personality development and formation in psychology exists on a spectrum that all humans are impacted by in some capacity. Individuals with open personalities are imaginative, emotionally intelligent, adventurous, and liberal depending on where they fall on the spectrum. High levels consequently have an impact on personality by enabling greater impulsivity, adaptability, and tolerance. Meanwhile, people with a low degree of openness are more grounded in reality, preferring structure and routine over new ideas that bring change. As a result, low openness affects personality by leading to greater rigidity and intolerance of anything that challenges convention or goes outside their realm of interests.

The characteristics and tendencies of openness are neither inherently negative nor positive for personality development as every individual is unique and so is the effect on behavior. For example, openness links to creativity and thus the appreciation of art and abstract thinking which is neither good nor bad. Creativity additionally influences the pursuit of knowledge with high openness relating to the pursuit of new forms of learning. Conversely, low openness connects to practicality over theory and indifference to new ideas. This is neither negative nor positive as it’s not a measurement of intelligence but of different expressions of intellectual curiosity. We additionally see the behavioral effects of openness with politics in the 2018 study of Personality and Party Ideology Among Politicians by Joly, Hofmans, and Loewen. High degrees of openness relate to more tolerance and investment in diversity as seen in progressive left-wing politicians. Meanwhile, low openness relates to traditional conventions in right-wing politicians. That said, a multitude of factors impact openness’ effect on behavior. The function of openness is multi-dimensional and high or low openness alone doesn’t determine an individual’s proclivities. Furthermore, people display different degrees of openness at different life stages or circumstances with levels fluctuating as people’s personalities grow and change.

How is the openness aspect of personality determined?

The openness aspect of personality is determined through two primary methods. The first method consists of self-report questionnaires. Self-report questionnaires consist of taking a test based on the Big Five personality method, such as the Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO PI-R), and responding to statements designed to measure openness. The tests additionally measure the four other aspects of personality, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. Individuals receive a score depending on their responses. The score evaluates their inclinations toward the primary facets of openness and their associated characteristics. Consequently, some individuals may score high in one facet but low in another. The second method involves assessments by a professional such as a psychologist. Assessments are third-party observations in which an expert prepares a standardized framework to evaluate behavior and score aspects of personality. Such methods are more effective as they remove personal bias, enable consistent results, and provide professional input on someone’s personality development.

What is the prevalence of the openness aspect of personality development?

The openness aspect of personality development is more prevalent in younger people and the American East and West Coast states according to two separate studies. The first research paper is the 2008 study by Rentfrow, Gosling, and Potter, A Theory of the Emergence, Persistence, and Expression of Geographic Variation in Psychological Characteristics explores the geographic distribution and variation of the Big Five personality traits. The openness aspect is most common in the states of California, Oregon, Massachusetts, Washington, and New York in the Northeast and West Coast regions, while openness is least common in states such as North Dakota and Wisconsin in the Midwest and Alabama in the South. The second paper is Age Differences in the Big Five Across the Life Span: Evidence from Two National Samples, written by Donnellan and Lucas in 2009, which reviews age differences across the Big Five traits. Donnellan and Lucas report that openness is most prevalent in youths in their adolescent years and 20s but declines in older individuals in their mid-50s and beyond with older age samples demonstrating consistently low levels.

What is a high openness personality?

A high openness personality refers to a spectrum of behaviors and characteristics that denote a strong sense of open-mindedness. We generally understand high levels of openness as imaginative qualities, curiosity, and tolerance. Especially open individuals are daydreamers seeking to fill their lives with creativity and new experiences. They exhibit an adventurous streak and impulsivity by valuing novelty over routine and theoretical knowledge over practical knowledge. Additionally, high openness relates to high emotional intelligence as these individuals tend to lean into their emotions more. The emotionality of highly open personalities enables greater tolerance for ideas and values outside of their realm of experience which, in turn, nurses acceptance and diversity.

What is a low openness personality?

A low openness personality refers to characteristics of realism, practicality, and a fondness for structure and convention. We correspond low openness with people who are typically more rigid in their thinking. Such individuals present fewer imaginative qualities as they stay grounded in reality and lean toward logical, practical processes. Beauty and aesthetics additionally have less value to people with low openness as it’s not central to their lives. What is central to less open-minded people is stability, routine, and convention. Personalities with low openness aren’t adventurous as they tend to avoid change and are slower to embrace new ideas. Intellectual pursuits are consequently limited to practical applications and traditional lines of thought or lifestyles. Additionally, low openness gravitates to what’s familiar (such as the status quo) and exhibits rigidity or intolerance when faced with more liberal, diverse perspectives.

What are the characteristics of openness?

The characteristics of openness are split into six facets of personality. The six facets categorize tendencies and behaviors. All humans exhibit openness with characteristics varying according to the degree they present. The list provides an overview of the six main facets and associated characteristics of openness.

  • Imagination: The openness facet of imagination captures a person’s creative thinking and inventive characteristics. People with high open tendencies are daydreamers at heart, being easily bored with the mundane or practical function of the world. Such individuals display creative problem-solving skills. Meanwhile, people with low levels of openness are grounded and realistic. They prefer logic and practical solutions over abstract ideas.
  • Artistry: Artistry refers to one’s focus on aesthetics and enrichment of what they find beautiful. Highly open personalities appreciate creativity, maintain artistic interests, and seek to fill their lives with beauty. Personalities with low artistry demonstrate less of an interest in aesthetics and consequently find it unimportant to their life.
  • Emotionality: Emotionality describes characteristics and proclivities of emotional intelligence and empathy. Those with high degrees of openness value expressiveness and believe being open about one’s emotions is essential to life. People on the other end of the spectrum are less expressive. Less open individuals instead prefer to lean on more stoic qualities and are less inclined to allow feelings to dictate their actions.
  • Adventurousness: Adventurousness is a characteristic of openness defining someone’s willingness to seek out new opportunities. People who score high in openness are spontaneous as they tend to desire novelty experiences and dislike structure. Low openness, meanwhile, relates to structure. People with low openness are consequently respectful of routine, avoid change, and demonstrate less impulsiveness than more open personalities.
  • Intellect: Intellect in terms of openness isn’t a measure of intelligence but of intellectual curiosity and how someone engages with intellectual pursuits. People with a high degree of openness readily immerse themselves in new ideas, leaning into theoretical knowledge and debate. Meanwhile, personalities with low openness prefer practical applications over theory, valuing pursuits that are grounded in reality and align with their limited interests.
  • Liberalism: Liberalism is a characteristic of openness that measures tolerance and conventions. People who score high in openness are more accepting, tolerant, and interested in values and ideas outside of their own. Meanwhile, low openness relates to tradition and rigidness. Low scorers consequently demonstrate a need to stick to the status quo, rejecting values that oppose theirs and valuing the stability of convention.

What are the problems experienced with openness?

The problems experienced with openness primarily center on impulsivity in persons with high openness and rigidity in those with low openness. High openness relates to imagination and adventurousness but contributes to unrealistic thinking and impulsive tendencies. Such inclinations mean individuals with high openness tend to act and take risks without thinking, chasing after new experiences rather than focusing on or nursing long-term obligations. On the other hand, people with low openness are more structured but rigid and intolerant. They tend to struggle to think outside the box and are not as flexible as highly open people, resisting change in the process. Additionally, less open people experience problems regarding ideas, values, and interests outside of their comfort zone which, in turn, limits their intellectual pursuits and capacity for tolerance.

It’s possible for people with high or low degrees of openness to overcome problems by focusing on their weak points. For example, impulsiveness in high openness is overcome or managed through routine and discipline. Methods like setting clear goals, concentrating on smaller tasks over big projects, and investing in time management techniques help individuals stay focused. Doing so additionally helps highly open people consider the benefits of grander goals over the short-term gratification of adventurousness by providing more structure and healthy habits. Meanwhile, rigidity in low openness personalities overcome and cope with their weak points by stepping out of their comfort zone. Activities involving new experiences or new people broaden one’s perspective as you’re able to learn more and empathize with others. Additionally, moving out of one’s comfort zone aids in elevating fears about change. The more you break out of your routine, the less threatening or destabilizing new experiences become for those with low openness.

What are the benefits of having an open personality?

There are four overarching benefits of having an open personality that impact daily life. Firstly, individuals with high degrees of openness are more agreeable and emotionally intelligent. Such individuals consequently get along well with others, demonstrating greater empathy and communication skills in their friendships and romantic relationships. Coworkers and loved ones alike know they’re able to trust their feelings with highly open individuals due to the latter’s empathy. Secondly, high openness correlates to tolerance. The presence of tolerance enables highly open people to be more accepting of others’ views in relationships and the workplace. This in turn fosters an understanding of perspectives and values that broaden an open person’s worldviews and facilitate stronger collaboration. Thirdly, individuals with high scores of openness demonstrate keen adventurousness. They adapt to change readily, undertaking or introducing new opportunities to loved ones and professional connections. Fourthly, people with an open personality exhibit a vivid imagination. Open people come up with creative solutions through abstract thought processes and highly value aesthetics, promoting beauty and art in their lives.

What are the risks of having an open personality?

There are four risks of having an open personality that impairs daily life. Firstly, highly open individuals exhibit impulsive and overly adventurous tendencies. Open personalities desire new experiences, leading to spontaneous decision-making for the sake of curiosity, novelty, and short-term gratification. Adventurousness in open individuals additionally links to risky behavior, including a positive relation between openness and illegal drug use according to Weixi Kang’s 2022 study Big Five personality traits predict illegal drug use in young people. Secondly, people with high openness tend to be noncommittal. Impulsive behaviors destabilize long-term obligations due to restlessness, leading to open personalities growing dissatisfied in relationships or jobs if they’re unable to develop discipline. Thirdly, people with open personalities are daydreamers at heart. Consequently, individuals are less grounded in reality; they become easily distracted and maintain overly romantic ideas or expectations that don’t align with the reality of their relationships and workplace goals. Fourthly, individuals with high levels of openness are unstructured. Creative solutions and adventurousness come naturally, but staying on task and implementing ideas requires structure and routine, which open daydreaming personalities struggle with due to impulsivity.

What is the openness aspect of personality development’s relationship to MBTI classification?

The openness aspect of personality development’s relationship to MBTI classification requires more research because they’re different systems. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) defines sixteen different personality types alongside various subtypes. The MBTI assigns types according to an individual’s predisposition toward Extroversion (E) versus Introversion (I), Sensing (S) versus iNtuition (N), Thinking (T) versus Feeling (F), and Judging (J) versus Perceiving (P) dichotomies. Meanwhile, the openness aspect is part of the Five Factor model and defines a person’s openness to new ideas and experiences. Therefore, there isn’t an exact connection between the two because they’re separate systems, though there is evidence of some correlation. For example, a 2003 study exploring the The relationship between the revised NEO-Personality Inventory and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator by Furnham, Moutafi, and Crump found that openness aligns with Sensing (S) versus iNtuition (N). The MBTI’s dichotomy of Sensing and Intuition describes how individuals gather and process the world around them. Sensing indicates practicality with the individual staying grounded in reality and relying on concrete facts. Sensing consequently aligns with low openness’ preference for more practical applications and conventional perspectives. Meanwhile, iNtuition relates to abstract thinking with a focus on future ideas rather than present-day concerns. Highly open personalities think similarly through their creative and imaginative qualities. However, neither Sensing nor iNtuition is a measurement of a person’s open-mindedness but rather a measurement of how they process information.

Further research is needed to understand the overlap between the openness aspect and the MBTI. That said, both assessments offer perspectives on personality that could prove beneficial. Openness measures one’s willingness to try and do new things, while the MBTI assigns types and provides information on traits and attitudes under a broad archetype. Taking both the MBTI and the Big Five potentially helps to understand the overlap between your archetype and openness to new experiences, and how to develop your openness. For example, scoring high in both openness and Perceiving (P) suggests you’re a spontaneous person who’d potentially benefit from more structure or a career where adventurousness and creativity are encouraged like journalism or travel.

How is an open personality in a professional relationship?

An open personality in a professional relationship is communicative, tolerant, and creative yet unstructured and unfocused. Coworkers with open personalities demonstrate strong communication skills due to their high scores of emotionality and personal investment in expressiveness. Professional relationships benefit from such a strength as it fosters collaboration and builds better professional boons. Additionally, high openness correlates to tolerance. Highly open professional relationships are consequently more accepting of other people’s ideas and perspectives, promoting an atmosphere where everyone feels heard and conflict is abated. Tolerance plays on the creative qualities of open personalities as well by inspiring experimentation and new paths of knowledge. People with high openness introduce new and imaginative ideas to their professional relationships—all of which promote discussion and innovation that employers readily rely on. That said, professional relationships struggle with open personalities as well. For example, open personalities are imaginative but unstructured and easily dissatisfied. People with high degrees of openness seek new experiences so employers sometimes struggle to trust their focus on long-term, central obligations. Moreover, the lack of focus in highly open personalities leads to misaligned expectations. Open personalities aren’t grounded in reality, so they sometimes miss the big picture which fosters frustrations in professional relationships.

How is an open personality in a workplace?

An open personality in a workplace exhibits strengths such as creative problem-solving, collaboration skills, and intellectual curiosity but struggles with focus and realism. For instance, people with open personalities demonstrate imaginative qualities. As a result, open-minded individuals bring their creative problem-solving into the workplace, coming up with new and interesting solutions that others have yet to consider. Creative inclinations are additionally furthered by greater intellectual curiosity—with highly open-minded people readily immersing themselves in new knowledge to inspire solutions. Furthermore, open personalities exhibit high tolerance which is pivotal for collaboration and conflict resolution. Workplace authority figures such as managers or team leaders with high openness are adept at encouraging collaboration through the sharing of ideas and experimentation. Additionally, they mediate conflicts effectively through empathetic communication and tolerant views. However, the strengths of open personalities are tempered by struggles and issues in the workplace. For example, highly open people are impulsive and impractical. Consequently, individuals exhibit less focus than those with low openness as they struggle with self-control and staying on task. Moreover, highly open personalities’ creative senses aren’t always grounded in workplace sensibilities. Individuals don’t always have realistic tools or methods to enable their solutions, leading to issues in more stringent workplaces that prefer quick results over innovation.

How is an open personality in a romantic relationship?

An open personality in a romantic relationship demonstrates both strengths and struggles. An example of a strength is the heightened emotionality of open personalities. People with higher levels of openness value emotions, enabling greater empathy and understanding of their partner’s feelings. Communication is straightforward as highly open people are willing to discuss needs and desires in a relationship. The strengths of openness additionally correlate to sexual attitudes with high levels relating to mutual sexual satisfaction according to a 2022 study by Jirjahn and Ottenbacher called Big Five personality traits and sex. Other strengths include tolerance and adventurousness. Open-minded individuals are more tolerant of others’ views which extends to appreciating and accepting their significant other’s ideas. Additionally, the adventurous qualities of open personalities add an element of excitement for romantic relationships. Open personalities are willing to try new things and undertake new experiences with their partner because they value novelty and spontaneity. However, the adventurousness of open personalities correlates to impulsivity, noncommittal tendencies, and not being grounded in reality—all of which present issues for romantic relationships.

The impulsiveness of open personalities erodes the stability of the relationships as highly open people are more willing to take risks that could potentially affect their partners. For example, a person with high levels of openness might plan a romantic getaway when neither they nor their partner can afford it. Noncommittal tendencies present another struggle for romantic relationships. People with open personalities are more easily dissatisfied with structure and routine which, in turn, affects their long-term commitment to established relationships and desire for new, novel experiences. Additionally, open personalities are imaginative which means they’re not always grounded in reality. Expectations for romantic relationships are consequently not practical or fair due to open individuals seeking novel experiences in their romantic relationships.

How do open people communicate with peers?

Open people communicate effectively and competently with their peers. High openness correlates to greater degrees of emotionality. As a result, open people are more emotionally intelligent which aids in effective communication as they’re able to understand other people’s feelings and experiences. The 2023 research paper by Zohoorian, Zeraatpishe, and Khorrami Willingness to Communicate, Big Five Personality Traits, And Empathy, supports a positive connection between communication skills and openness, denoting a slight correlation between the two in its findings. A second research paper published by Hassan, Sumardi, and Abdul Aziz in 2009, The Influence of Personality Traits on Communication Competence, supports the findings by highlighting a significant and positive relationship between openness and competent communication skills. Communicating with peers is additionally improved by the higher levels of liberalism and tolerance in open people. Such individuals are more accepting of others, being willing to listen to, discuss, and accept new ideas from people outside of their social circle or culture. That said, the tolerant tendencies of high openness don’t inherently ensure clear or amenable communication for every peer. All humans experience strife and even highly open people sometimes struggle to communicate depending on their peers or situations.

What are the books about the openness aspect of personality development?

There are two notable books about the openness aspect of personality development. Firstly, The Big Five Personality Factors: The Psycholexical Approach to Personality published in 2000 by Boele De Raad dives into the history of the Five Factor Model, including the evolution of openness in personality theory. De Raad provides an overview of the contention between openness, its naming, measurement of intellectual curiosity, and whether one’s intellect is part of the realm of personality. De Raad additionally highlights the implications of openness as a tool for psychiatry and its relevance to learning strategies. Secondly, the sixth chapter of the Handbook of Child Psychology, Social, Emotional, and Personality Development  published in 2007 examines openness in the context of childhood development. Avshalom Caspi and Rebecca L. Shiner explore the precursors and behaviors of openness through the lens of child development, highlighting data that suggests openness is measurable as early as age 6 or 7. Caspi and Shiner additionally provide an overview of the Big Five personality traits.

What are the careers and jobs suited for the openness trait?

Below is a list of careers and jobs suited for those with openness according to their tendencies.

  • Journalism: Journalism is suitable for people with high openness as it leans on their emotionality and more flexible intellectual qualities. Journalism allows individuals to explore new perspectives, express their ideas, and connect with others over matters they care about.
  • Pilot: A career in travel such as a pilot is suitable for a personality with high degrees of openness because it suits their adventurousness. Pilots travel all over the world, embracing new experiences that mesh well with the restless tendencies of open personalities.
  • Graphic design: Graphic design is suitable for individuals with high openness as it suits their imaginative qualities and creative thought processes. The career calls for innovation and out-of-the-boxing which feeds highly open-minded personalities’ interest in new ideas and novelties.
  • Education: Education is suited to low-openness personalities because it requires structure and routine. Additionally, personalities with low openness tendencies are adept at building a familiar environment and limiting change which, in turn, provides a sense of stability and consistency for both teachers and students.
  • Accounting: A career in accounting suits low openness personalities as it calls for structure and regulation as well as a stoic approach to managing finances, leaving little room for emotionality or abstract thinking.
  • Contracting: Contracting suits low openness individuals because the work generally involves following regulations and plans as well as being routined and practical—all of which low openness personalities demonstrate proclivities for.

Is the openness trait hereditary?

Yes, scientific evidence suggests that the openness trait is hereditary. A 2015 study on the heritability of the Big Five personality traits by Power and Pluess called Heritability estimates of the Big Five personality traits based on common genetic variants found that openness and neuroticism significantly correspond to genetic factors with openness being more prominent. Meanwhile, a second study published in 1996 by Jang, Livesley, and Vemon called Heritability of the Big Five Personality Dimensions and Their Facets: A Twin Study studied heritability through a twin study. The researchers found that levels of openness out of 123 pairs of identical twins and 127 pairs of fraternal twins demonstrated the most significant genetic influence.

Is openness correlated with where you live?

Yes, openness correlates with where you live. The 2008 study A Theory of the Emergence, Persistence, and Expression of Geographic Variation in Psychological Characteristics by Rentfrow, Gosling, and Potter on the geographic prevalence of the Big Five personality traits indicates that openness is more common in Northeast and West Coast states. Parts of these regions, such as California, Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts, and New York, are historically more liberal than other parts of the United States, which aligns with the correlation between high openness and progressive, left-wing alignments. One’s environment additionally factors into the connection between personality and where you live. The 2020 study by Ayoub and Roberts Environmental Conditions and the Development of Personality denotes a moderate influence between personality traits and environmental factors that compound over time. Therefore, the openness of one’s location reasonably influences the openness of one’s personality.