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Example of a NEO analysis

This page will guide you through an example of a thorough big 5 analysis. Instead of analysing a pre-existing personality this analysis will be of a hypothetical person. The reason for this is to focus on the method and the principles of this process and not get distracted by the issue of whether or not the following analysis is correct. The purpose is to illustrate the technique, not to argue about whether Sherlock Holmes has high or low conscientiousness. Our subject (thanks to a random name generator) is Richard Tyrrell. Refer to the explanatory pages in the previous chapter for more detail on each facet. For each facet there will be a sentence or two describing some relevant aspect of Richard's life or personality. This will be followed by a score out of 5 which utilises this scoring convention: 1 = very low, 2 = low, 3 = moderate, 4 = high, 5 = very high. A more thorough explanation of the calculation is available in the "How to use the big 5" page of this chapter.


Fantasy/Imagination: He doesn't daydream all day but he is creative and writes novels in his spare time. 4/5.

Aesthetics, Artistic Interest, Aesthetic interest: As well as having an interest in literature he listens to a lot of Rock music and watches a lot of films. 5/5

Emotionality, Emotional Orientation, Feelings, Interest in Emotion: Richard has always been inclined to mistrust feelings, to suspect that they lead him to make poor choices. He also notes the inconsistency in the feelings of others and tends not to place much value in emotions when making decisions. 2/5

Adventurousness, Exploration, Experimentation, Pursuit of Novelty: Richard has a constant craving for new experiences, new flavours, new bands, new movies. At the same time, he doesn't necessarily become bored with his routine life. 4/5

Ideas, Intellectual interest, Intellectualism, Intellect, Curiosity: Richard occasionally discovers some philosophical idea that intrigues him (e.g. The Ship of Theseus) but for the most part he is more interested in fiction than non-fiction and doesn't devote much time to the study of academic theories. 3/5

Liberalism, Tolerance of Diversity, Rejection of Traditional Values: Richard identifies strongly as a progressive. He is suspicious of traditional values and finds the idea of social norms oppressive. In college he briefly identified as an anarchist. This should suggest a very high score for this facet but it is worth considering that Richard comes from a politically progressive background and that his suspicion of social norms is pronounced to the degree that he tends to be intellectually intolerant towards anyone with strongly conservative values. Although he rejects traditional values and is "Liberal", his own cultural conventions were "Liberal" to begin with and he demonstrates a form of intolerance in his political attitudes. This suggests a high but somewhat ambiguous score for this facet. 4/5

Openness score: 3.7/5, 67%


Self-Efficacy, Self-Assurance, Competence: Richard has an odd habit of feeling pretty competent most of the time but of suddenly assuming that he doesn't know what he's doing as soon as someone asks him if he knows what he's doing. 2/5

Orderliness: Richard doesn't tend to plan his day very thoroughly but as he gets older untidiness and poor organisation bother him. His bedroom is very tidy and his book and music collections are all alphabetised. As a teenager he might have scored much lower for this facet but these days (let's say he's in his late 20s) his score is more like: 4/5

Dutifulness: Richard mostly keeps his promises but he finds certain social and familial obligations to be arduous and often tries to wriggle out of former commitments. 2/5

Achievement-Striving: Richard was never a very good student and tended to coast through his assessments with minimal exertion. He has a job in a book store about which he has mixed feelings but he tells himself that there are worse jobs he could be doing. His approach to writing his novels is casual and he has no strong ambitions to be a published writer. 1/5

Self-Discipline: As a student Richard tended to always put things off to the last minute but as an adult he has developed a habit of getting important things done in a timely manner. 3/5

Cautiousness, Prudence, Deliberation: Richard was never a spontaneous person but nor was he someone who worried much before making decisions. Recently however he has developed a habit of spending hours researching every online purchase before he buys. 3/5

Conscientiousness Score: 2.5/5, 38%


Warmth, Friendliness: Richard never appeared particularly warm or friendly but somehow he finds people easy to talk to and he has always had a moderately sized circle of friends and acquaintances. 3/5

Gregariousness: Richard never much cared for clubs and other noisy, crowded places. He always preferred to interact with a few friends in a quiet setting. He became more gregarious when he moved to college but once he graduated he returned to his old habits of smaller social gatherings with a few close friends. 2/5

Assertiveness: Richard will occasionally speak up if he thinks a situation is being mis-managed but for the most part he allows others to take the lead. 2/5

Activity Level, Busyness: Richard has a job, a reasonably active social life and a few hobbies, which he likes to remain focussed on. When new opportunities arise, like a job with more after-work commitments or a useful adult education course, Richard chooses to ignore these opportunities out of a desire to keep up his current interests and not become over-committed. 2/5

Excitement Seeking: Richard went through a brief phase of being very enthusiastic about mountain biking. He found the experience thrilling. He lost touch with his biking group and hasn't biked in a while but keeps meaning to get back to it. 3/5

Positive Emotion, Cheerfulness: Richard is known for his rather flat demeanour. Although he loves music and literature he rarely expresses strong opinions about them. His friends wonder how he can dedicate so much time to hobbies for which he demonstrates so little enthusiasm. When asked about his day or when asked to express an opinion, his most common response is "It was ok". 1/5

Extraversion Score: 2.2/5, 29%


Trust (in others): Richard has a tendency to believe what he's told. He's not gullible but he just doesn't have an instinct to assume that people are incompetent or trying to mislead him. 5/5

Earnestness, Sincerity, Morality, Straightforwardness: Richard has always been very honest and uncomfortable with the act of lying. However, he doesn't exactly wear his heart on his sleeve either and can tend to be reserved when telling people about himself, carefully skirting around embarrassing or compromising truths. 4/5

Altruism: Richard isn't known for his helpfulness. He tries to avoid being roped into helping with moving furniture or proof-reading a friend's essay. He helps out on occasion, when he can't think of a good excuse or when the task is not too demanding. 2/5

Cooperation, Compliance: Richard is not an argumentative person and doesn't like quarrelling over trivial details like where to eat or when to meet. "I'm not fussy" is a common pronouncement of his. 5/5

Modesty, Humility: Richard never really believed that art is subjective. He has strong opinions about music and tends to assume that people who don't like his favourite bands are a bit stupid, not as smart as he is anyway. He usually keeps this opinion to himself though. 2/5

Sympathy, Compassion: Richard is not known for his compassion. He tends to assume that homeless people are responsible for their condition and that they just need to take control and sort their lives out. When friends complain about disappointments and break-ups he tends to think "Sounds like first world problems to me". Once again, he mostly keeps these thoughts to himself. 2/5

Agreeableness score: 3.3/5, 58%


Anxiety: Richard doesn't have any issues with anxiety but he does get nervous when passing groups of teenagers in the streets at night. 2/5

Anger, Irritability, Hostility: No-one who knows him would say that he has a bad temper but he does have a propensity to become annoyed during arguments. 3/5

Depression: Richard has never suffered from severe depression. As a child he mourned the unexpected death of a cousin for an abnormally long time but since then he has rarely experienced low moods or extended periods of sadness. 2/5

Self-Consciousness, Awkwardness: Richard has always been very body conscious and always prefers to wear long, loose clothing out of a sense of embarrassment over his body. As a teenager he was frequently convinced that people were watching him, judging him. Those feelings abated in his twenties and now his awkwardness doesn't bother him too much. 3/5

Immoderation: Richard was briefly addicted to Marijuana in college. He stopped the habit and these days he doesn't even drink alcohol but he still feels that he over-indulges in chocolate and sugary snacks. Dieting and healthy eating are a struggle for him. 3/5

Vulnerability (to stress): Richard doesn't seem to get stressed often, but he also seems to have chosen a relatively low stress lifestyle without many commitments. Perhaps this is motivated by a desire to avoid triggering a natural propensity to stress. 3/5

Neuroticism score: 2.7, 42%


Here's the final summary of Richard's overall big 5 scores:

Openness: 67%
Conscientiousness: 38%
Extraversion: 29%
Agreeableness: 58%
Neuroticism: 42%

As you can see, his scores are fairly moderate and there are few or no extreme scores. This sort of distribution is common and people whose personality consists entirely of very high and very low scores are rare. When PDB users share their test results, scores in the 40-60% region are very common and scores below 10% or above 90% are not.

Richard's standout trait is low extraversion. All his facet scores were 3/5 or lower and his most pronounced facet was his lack of positive emotion.

His next most prominent trait is High Openness. His creativity, his love of Art, his propensity for trying new things and his anti-traditionalist values all suggested a high score. His tendency to mistrust emotions lowered his score slightly.

His score for Conscientiousness was slightly low. His sense of self-competence is shaky, his dutifulness is questionable and he seems to totally lack ambition. A highish score for Orderliness moderates his conscientiousness.

The scores for the final two traits were pretty moderate. He scored a 2 or a 3 for every neuroticism facet. His scores for agreeableness however were much more varied. He was trusting, sincere and compliant but his lack of altruism and compassion and some suggestion of arrogance resulted in a very moderate score.

The briefest summary which can still tell us a fair amount about this person is that he has low extraversion and high openness.

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