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What constitutes a "moderate" score?

It's important to know what qualifies as a moderate score. Many people have a tendency to overestimate Openness in their subjects because high Openness can be a conspicuous trait but low Openness doesn't seem to draw attention to itself. If we take Artistic Interest as an example; People who choose to become artists, who spend all their time studying and creating art probably warrant a high score for Artistic Interest. But normal people still have some degree of interest in art. The average person may not write poems or paint landscapes, but they might read a lot of novels, they probably like some music, they probably like watching films, they are probably not averse to strolling round an art gallery every now and then. People with low scores will not offer any conspicuous indicators of not being interested in art. How often do we hear someone saying that they can't stand to watch films or that they never listen to music? Not very often. If someone shows some interest in some art then it's reasonable to give them a moderate score. If you are scoring a subject and are not aware of them demonstrating any interest in art then it is reasonable to give that person a low score for this facet. If the only time you give a low score for that facet is when you hear someone actively express a negative opinion of Art as a general concept then you will almost never give a low score for that facet. As you use the big 5 more often, try to distribute your scores in a balanced fashion. When scoring lots of different people on one facet (e.g. artistic interest) it's ok to give lots of middling scores and to save very low or very high scores for rare occasions but if you find that you are mostly giving out all mid to high scores and are almost never giving a low score for a given facet then that suggests that you have misunderstood the scale on which the facet operates.

The same principle is true with much of neuroticism. Depression and Anxiety are conspicuous traits but we rarely take note of people simply for the fact that they aren't depressed or anxious. A moderate score for depression should indicate the amount of depression found in most people. You should expect someone with a 3/5 for depression to become depressed when things become very difficult or when they receive bad news but to have a more normal state of mind most of the time. If you know someone who you have never known to be depressed then it is reasonable to give that person 1/5 for depression.

Try to keep this general principle in mind when calculating these scores. Start by thinking "What are most people like in terms of this facet?" and whatever the answer is will give you your benchmark for a 3/5 score. Most people demonstrate some imagination, some sense of adventure, some mild interest in intellectual matters, some degree of organisation, some modest ambitions, some degree of prudence, some sociable tendencies, some degree of cheerfulness; they're honest much of the time but maybe not 100% sincere, they help out on occasion, they're sympathetic towards some people but not others, they get angry when pushed but it doesn't happen often, they overindulge on occasion, they sometimes get stressed but not to any extreme degree and so on. Having a good sense of how the average person behaves in regard to a specific facet will give you a good benchmark by which to score an individual on that facet.

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