Yesterday, we did a Czech version of the FFM a.k.a. the Big Five Personality Test in a workshop called Personality Psychology. Although I don’t think it’s necessary to give people labels and the results may not be 100% accurate, I believe the test can be of great value on one’s professional development journey.
Psychologists have identified the five fundamental dimensions of personality as openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism, often represented by the acronyms OCEAN or CANOE. I was curious to see where I stand.
Without further ado, here are my results (the percentile shows how I scored relative to other people who’ve completed the same personality test):
- Openness to experience: 97
- Conscientiousness: 45
- Extraversion: 54
- Agreeableness: 54
- Neuroticism: 4
I was rather surprised (and pleased) by the low score I got for neuroticism (4). However, once I looked closer at the other categories, the result is less astonishing:
- Openness => inventive/curious vs. conscient/cautious
- Conscientiousness => efficient/organized vs. easy-going/careless
- Extraversion => energetic/outgoing vs. solitary/reserved
- Agreeableness => friendly/compassionate vs. challenging/detached
- Neuroticism => sensitive/nervous vs. secure/confident
I don’t intend to generalize here but I’d say that if you get a really high score in one category, like I did in Openness to experience (97), it will probably be at the expense of another personality trait. In other words, if you are always busy considering new ideas, you won’t be too afraid to take risks, which probably isn’t consistent with being circumspect or cautious. In the same vein, if you are far from faint-hearted you can probably handle some stress.
Anyway, I’m quite happy that I scored only slightly above average in Extraversion (54). I’m saying this because I used to consider myself a pure extrovert but the older I get the more naturally ‘attracted’ I feel to the other side of the imaginary scale. I mean, talking to people does help me recharge batteries but I also like to be on my own doing stuff like reading, writing or just thinking. This has an important implication for my professional life; it helps me embrace introversion in the classroom.
Indeed, this minor personality shift perfectly reflects the difference between what I did in the past and what I do now as a teacher. For example, we definitely spent more time playing games as opposed to writing. I’m also a bit more patient when waiting for the slow finishers and I give my students more thinking time than I used to. I should add though that this change may have something to do with my teaching context as well. I used to teach young learners in afternoon courses but now I teach teenagers in the State sector of education.
As for agreeableness (54), I don’t think the score really corresponds to how people see me but to how I see myself. Most people, particularly those who don’t know me very well, tell me that they see me as the always smiling Hana. But I’m the one who knows what really goes on in my head. Either way, the result (of how other people really see me rather than the actual test score) is satisfactory given that I believe people should try to be nice to one another regardless of what they are going through.
To be frank, I wasn’t very happy with the score I got for Conscientiousness (45), simply because deep down I think teachers should be 100% conscientious. In other words, we shouldn’t preach water and drink wine. On the other hand, I’m old (and clever) enough to know that you can’t do everything perfectly. You need to blow off steam and for that, you need time and energy (does this even make sense?). So, although I do have a tendency to be organized and show self-discipline, it’s only in situations when I think it’s worthwhile and/or essential. I’d even say I exhibit a great degree of laziness as well as sloppiness when it comes down to something that I consider unimportant.
But personality is fluid and this ‘release’ probably comes with age and experience. As time goes by, you learn how to be efficient without destroying yourself. You learn how to let things go: your house is not as clean as you wish it to be, well, cleaning can wait.
A friend of mine, who had done the same test, said he’d used this trick: before he answered a question, he paused for a second and tried to imagine himself as part of a sample of participants. In other words, with each question, he kind of compared himself to others – his friends, colleagues, family members, etc. This juxtaposition helped him be in concordance with the answers, which he usually adjusted in his favor. I think this is a great strategy since we teachers tend to be over-critical to ourselves. It may distort the score a bit but it makes perfect sense to see yourself as part of a larger whole since personality is a social construct and “I am because you are”.
Finally, I wonder to what extent the ‘professional’ part of my personality has been shaped by my teaching context, my students, colleagues, the actual venue where I teach, my professional training, this blog, my PLN, etc. And has this ‘professional’ personality affected my personality overall?