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Using the BFAS

Basic Method

This article will show you how to type someone using the BFAS, an alternative to the more commonly used (and arguably less accurate) NEO.

As with most standard big 5 assessments, we will work with scores out of 100. We will use a fairly simple calculation. All you have to do is read the items for each of the 10 aspects and give a score out of 100 for each. There are 2 aspects per trait. To figure out the overall score for the trait you simply calculate the midpoint between the two aspects. We do this buy adding the 2 numbers and then dividing the sum by 2.
If the idea of adding and dividing 2 digit numbers is off-putting, simply sidestep the confusion by confining your options to divisibles of 10. The simplified calculation would look like this:

Enthusiasm: 30
Assertiveness: 70
100/2 = 50.

With this approach you can calculate percentage scores to a good degree of accuracy and still keep your calculations easy to do in your head. This is one of the advantages of using a 2 aspect system instead of a 6 facet system. Adding and dividing twice is a lot easier than adding and dividing 6 times.

Try to apply a percentile approach when creating the scores. Let's say you are typing someone who is messy in some ways, organised in some ways. How does the average person compare? Is your subject more orderly or less orderly? If they are pretty much on par with the average person then give your subject 50 for this aspect. They have totally average orderliness, so they belong in the 50th percentile. If you lined your subject up with 10 other random people, where would your subject rank in terms of orderliness? 8/11? Give them a 70. 1/11? Give them a 0 (and a good talking to).

This is not necessarily an easy or intuitive approach but try to apply this general principle, even if you do it in an informal manner. Think of it more as a ranking system than as a points based system. How does your subject compare to the average person or a general population? In a typical class of 33 people (not a remedial class or a detention session) it would be reasonable to give 10/10 to the 3 most orderly, 9/10 to the next 3, 8/10 to the next 3 and so on. Try to keep in mind this approach of assessing people in terms of percentiles, not in terms of absolute scores. If you are thinking "Well, no one ever really deserves a 0/100 or 100/100" or if you are thinking "Well, most people are somewhat agreeable so the real average is probably like 55/100" then you aren't applying your scores correctly.

You now, basically know how to work out someone's type using the BFAS. The rest of this article will be a sample analysis, for anyone who feels they need a more thorough explanation. It's pretty straightforward though. Just apply the above method in conjunction with the BFAS descriptions (in the BFAS chapter of this wiki).

Sample Analysis

This analysis will centre on the same made up person from the NEO analysis article, namely, one Richard Tyrrell. The BFAS descriptions will be pasted from the BFAS chapter, so we know exactly what metrics we are using to score Richard's personality.

E: Enthusiasm
High Scorers: Warm and friendly. Have fun and laugh a lot. Their happiness is conspicuous.
Low Scorers: Hard to get to know. Distant. Not excitable or enthusiastic.

Richard is a friendly guy but not exactly a big personality. He is known for having a fairly flat demeanour. He isn't really distant or aloof but his energy and enthusiasm levels are quite low. 30/100.

E: Assertiveness
High Scorers: Take charge. Charismatic and captivating. Happy to lead others. Persuasive. Pro-active.
Low Scorers: Not assertive. Not good at influencing others. Prefer to follow others. Hold their opinions.

Richard is far from being commanding, charismatic etc. He's not persuasive or a natural leader or pro-active. He's not exactly a "follower" though and he does tend to speak up when it seems appropriate. 20/100.

E Average: 25/100

N: Volatility
High Scorers: Can easily become angry, upset or agitated. Highly changeable moods.
Low Scorers: Rarely irritated or annoyed. Composed and controlled.

Richard becomes angry about as often as most people. He doesn't have a clear high or low tendency here. He's not easy to upset but not really imperturbable either. His moods seem pretty stable. He's slightly less volatile than the average person. 40/100.

N: Withdrawal
High Scorers: Beset by feelings of doubt, fear and worry. Often feel threatened, overwhelmed or discouraged.
Low Scorers: Rarely feel depressed or embarrassed. Comfortable with themselves.

Richard isn't predisposed to doubt or fear. He seems to experience depression less often than the average person. He has struggled with social awkwardness and self consciousness. 40/100

N average: 40/100

C: Industriousness
High Scorers: Accomplish their plans and do so in a timely fashion. Self-assured in their competence.
Low Scorers: Waste time. Procrastinate. Make mistakes. Don't concentrate. Become distracted.

Richard has become better at doing things on time as he has gotten older. He tends to be pretty self assured. He doesn't tend to waste time or procrastinate. He's quite cautious and good at focussing on tasks. 80/100

C: Orderliness
High Scorers: Like order, tidiness and routines. Enforce rules. Precise.
Low Scorers: Leave things lying around. Not bothered by messiness and disorder. Dislike routines.

Richard tends to prefer order and tidiness these days. He doesn't bother too much with routines though. He doesn't worry much about rules or precision. 60/100

C average: 70/100

A: Compassion
High Scorers: Ask about others' well-being. Sympathetic. Feel other's emotions. Interested in the lives of others. Do things for others.
Low Scorers: Disinterested in the feelings, lives and problems of others. Don't make time for others. Don't have a soft side.

Richard isn't terribly interested in the lives/feelings of others. He's not particularly sympathetic. He's not generally in touch with the world of emotion. He tends to avoid helping out. He's not generous and not a "touchy-feely" type. 10/100

A: Politeness
High Scorers: Respect authority. Don't want to be pushy. Don't want to impose on or pressure others.
Low Scorers: Insulting. Think they are superior. Take advantage of others. Enjoy conflict and confrontation. Prioritise personal gain.

Richard tries to avoid trouble. He's quite reasonable and compliant. He's not at all pushy. He never pressures anyone. He's polite. He does tend to feel that he's smarter/better than most people. He would never like to take advantage of people. He avoids conflict. He's not especially selfish or selfless. 80/100

A Average: 40/100

O: Openness
High Scorers: Perceive and enjoy the beauty of art, music, poetry and nature. Like to reflect and ruminate. Need a creative outlet.
Low Scorers: Tend not to enjoy or respond emotionally to poetry and art. Tend not to daydream or become lost in thought.

Richard is into various forms of art though he doesn't necessarily gravitate towards the most cerebral or sophisticated material. He has no particular interest in nature. He's not especially thoughtful but he is creative. His passion for art tends not to be highly emotional in nature. He's not a daydreamer or deep thinker. 50/100

O: Intellect
High Scorers: Quick thinkers. Adept with complexity and large amounts of information. Broad vocabulary.
Low Scorers: Slow learners. Struggle with abstraction, philosophy and challenging reading material.

Richard is intelligent and is regarded as smart, but he isn't inclined to dedicate much time to intellectual interests. He definitely has a wider vocabulary than most people. He did well at school despite being a mediocre student. He can grasp complex ideas when he tries but such things don't hold a great degree of interest for him. 60/100

O average: 55/100

So here are the total scores for our made up character:

O: 55%
C: 70%
E: 25%
A: 40%
N: 40%

This would indicate a vote for RCOEI on the PDB SLOAN system, an engine that only allows for high/low scores and which (unfortunately) cannot collect nuanced information, like exact percentages. When writing big 5 analyses, try to follow the above convention of calculating an exact percentage for each trait as this has always been the broad convention by which the big 5 is applied. The PDB convention of just choosing one of 32 types or of simply listing facets and saying "high, low, high high", is a fairly obscure and inaccurate way of applying this system. Doing your best to evaluate each trait, referring to items, aspects, facets and descriptions, to generate an overall percentage for each trait, must be regarded as the gold standard for any big 5 analysis. Whether you are using the NEO or the BFAS, some variant of this approach is optimal. You may wish to have a spreadsheet set up for big 5 calculations as this will make your assessments much quicker and easier, regardless of which system you are using.

Written and maintained by PDB users for PDB users.