Saturday, February 2, 2019

The Madness of Being (Part 2)

There is no such thing as an average person. They really are guidelines for people to grapple with the unknown, and we can always surprise expectations.- Daniel Tammet

The Big 5 assessment I took is available for a small fee at As noted in Part 1, this assessment goes a bit deeper into each of the Big 5 traits. And what it told me was that I am pretty much who I thought I was, only more so. Which isn’t necessarily a good thing. So here we go.

Openness to Experience

I expected to be above average on this one. But according to the assessment I am very high on this trait, 92 percentile. That means I am more “Open “ to new ideas and experiences than 92% of the population. The Openness trait is measured on two dimensions, Intellect and Creative Openness, and I am high on both of them. Intellect in this sense does not mean IQ, it reflects interest in abstract ideas. That would be me. That I also ranked so high on the Creative aspect of Openness was a surprise. I love books and music, but have never been particularly taken with art or the classics.

The most disturbing part of this high openness rating is that it tends to be more common in liberals than conservatives. I am liberal on some things, but overall fairly conservative. There must be some other stuff going on inside my head that counterbalances this disturbing left-wing openness trait I seem to possess.


The overall score here was a surprise and I was glad there were two dimensions to the trait. I scored only moderate on Conscientiousness, in the 45% percentile. That means 55% of people are more conscientious than me. That was a shock. I always considered myself above average, in fact, way above average when it comes to being conscientious.

But, this assessment measures conscientiousness in two ways: Orderliness and Industriousness. Turns out that I am way low on orderliness, 16th percentile; but high on Industriousness 77%. On those terms, it makes sense. I am a mess with a filing system that is mostly piles of paper and random folders on my computer. I spend a good deal of time looking for things. My closet is a mess and I only clean the garage once a year. I don’t mind chaos and working hard to keep things orderly just seems like a waste of time. (Exactly what an high Openness person would think). But I make up for it by being Industrious. According to the assessment, we “value work highly and typically want to be doing something useful…frequently figuring out how to accomplish more in less time, with fewer resources…having focus” (Just not when it comes to orderliness apparently, at least not in my case.)


Another somewhat surprising total score, but with almost polar opposite scores on the two dimensions of Extraversion. Overall I am in the 57th percentile, meaning I am more extraverted than 57% of the population. At first I thought maybe EXTRAversion was totally different than EXTROversion…but it’s the same thing. Psychology still uses EXTRA while the general population has migrated to EXTRO. I typically score more on the Introverted side. Not to the extreme but definitely not an extravert or extrovert, whichever you prefer.

But when I considered the dimensional scores, it made more sense. This assessment looks at Enthusiasm and Assertiveness as the key dimensions of Extraversion. I am extremely LOW when it comes to enthusiasm. 6 low. That means 94 percent of people are more enthusiastic than me. But when the assessment described what this means, it makes perfect sense. Those of us on the low end of enthusiasm are “very hard to get to know”, “prefer solitude and find it difficult to enjoy themselves around other people”, “private people”, “loners”. Sounds like an introvert.
But on the other dimension of Extraversion, Assertiveness, I am extremely high, in the 95th percentile. We “take charge”, put our “own opinions forward uncommonly strongly, and tend to dominate and control social situations.” We are “people of action”.

Combine this with my Industriousness and things get done. But I am apparently a person of extremes..either kicking ass and taking names or sitting alone by myself reading a book. That actually sounds about right.


I knew this one would be a problem. I am way, way low on Agreeableness…13th percentile. This trait is measured on two dimension, Compassion and Politeness. I’m actually a little better on Compassion, 36th percentile, but really low on Politeness, 4th percentile. The assessment comments how that “People with low levels of agreeableness are seen by others as competitive, colder, tougher and less empathic. They are less likely to look for the best in others, and are not particularly tolerant. People find them straightforward, even blunt.” Guilty as charged.

An interesting side note in terms of political leanings and agreeableness. Liberals tend to score high on compassion and low of politeness. Conservatives are just the opposite. Since I’m low on both, I’m guessing that makes me either an Independent or a Libertarian. I’m picking Independent.


I wasn’t real sure what this meant, but I was hoping my score wasn’t bad. It was, or at least moderately bad. I’m in the 69th percentile of Neuroticism. That means I am more Neurotic than 69% of the population. That would be cause for concern.

The assessment measures Neuroticism on two dimensions, Withdrawal and Volatility. Withdrawal is really about “anticipatory anxiety” and is associated with brain activity that regulates passive avoidance. Worry, doubts and certain phobias can are associated with Withdrawal. Fortunately, I am only slightly above average on this dimension. And this component of Neuroticism isn’t the big problem for me.

Volatility is the challenge. I am in the 77th percentile. That means I tend toward moodiness and being more easily irritated and frustrated. I am more likely to lash out verbally or even physically. (Remember in Part 1, the chicken and the wagon story?)

Next time, we’ll wrap this up with Part 3…and answer the big question…So What?

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