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How to use the NEO

If you have read the previous pages in this wiki you should now have a basic grasp of the five traits and some of their facets. But how do you actually apply them to a real world situation? How would you calculate the big 5 scores for yourself or someone else? If you have taken a big 5 test that uses the NEO then this is how your scores have been calculated: You have been asked a set number of questions (usually between 4 and 10) which calculate your score for a given facet. These questions are then summed to give you a score for that facet overall. These tests typically use a five-point scale where you agree or disagree with a statement. Selecting the middle option every time will yield a neutral score for that facet. Selecting any of the other options will raise or lower your score for that facet. The same process is carried out for the remaining 5 facets for that trait. Your scores for all 6 facets are summed and the resulting figure is your score for the overall trait. This process is carried out for all 5 traits. In this process all 6 facets are given the same weighting so your final score for that trait is a totally even balance of those 6 facets. This means that no matter how high you may score on one facet, you can still get a low score overall for that trait if you have scored low on the other 5 facets. This means that extremely artistic people can have low Openness. Very depressed people can have low Neuroticism. Very sociable people can have low Extraversion and so on.

When speculating on someone's big 5 scores it is very important to keep this principle in mind. Just because someone demonstrates very pronounced indicators of a high score for one facet, it doesn't necessarily follow that this person has a high score for that trait. Ideally you should consider and balance out the scores of all 6 facets before coming to a conclusion regarding a final trait score. Saying "This person have a very short fuse so they are clearly neurotic" may seem like a valid argument but it is an argument that will be instantly knocked down as soon as someone else comes along with an argument that indicates low scores for the other 5 facets of Neuroticism. You need to have considered all 6 (or at least 4 out of 6) facets in order to provide a robust argument concerning a trait score.

Here is a slightly technical but relatively straightforward method for emulating a big 5 test.

1. Using your knowledge of the facets (see the previous chapter for descriptions) give a score out of 5 for each facet. Use the following scoring convention: 1 = very low, 2 = low, 3 = moderate, 4 = high, 5 = very high.
2. Add up all 6 scores for a given trait (you will have one number between 1-5 for each of the 6 facets).
3. Subtract 6 (the minimum possible score of 6 1-5 scores).
4. Divide by 0.24 (The maximum possible score minus 6 and divided by 100).
5. You now have a percentage score (0-100) for that trait.
6. Repeat this process for all 5 traits.

Written and maintained by PDB users for PDB users.