Personality traits are attributes of a person that are reasonably characteristic of the person, enduring over time, and relatively consistent across situations. Our patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving emerge from these “default settings.”

Psychological researchers (e.g., Costa & McCrae, 2010) have identified five primary personality traits that do a good job of describing an individual comprehensively. However, each of these “Big-5” traits can be broken down into sub-traits to allow for more granularity in describing a given individual. Sub-traits within a particular Big-5 domain, known as facets, frequently correlate with one another, but not always. For example, most people who are high in self-consciousness also tend to be high in anxiety, but this is not true for 100% of people.

This article examines the six facets within the Neuroticism domain: anxiety, angry hostility, depression, self-consciousness, impulsiveness, and vulnerability to stress.

N1: Anxiety

Anxious individuals tend to be apprehensive, fearful, prone to worry, nervous, and tense. Low scorers are calm and relaxed, and do not dwell on things that might go wrong.

N2: Angry Hostility

Individuals who are high in angry hostility are prone towards experiencing inner states of frustration, anger, and bitterness. Low scorers, in contrast, are easy-going and slow to anger.

N3: Depression

Individuals who are high in depression-proneness are more susceptible to feelings of sadness, guilt, hopelessness, and loneliness than the average person. They are easily discouraged and disappointed. Low scorers rarely experience such emotions.

N4: Self-Consciousness

Self-conscious individuals are quick to experience emotions of shame and embarrassment. They are shy, socially anxious, sensitive to criticism, and prone to feelings of inferiority. Low scorers, by comparison, tend to be less upset by awkward social situations.

N5: Impulsiveness

Impulsiveness refers to difficulty controlling cravings and urges. Individuals who are high in impulsiveness experience powerful desires and struggle to resist them, although he or she may later regret acting on these impulses. Low scorers find it easier to resist such temptations and have good frustration-tolerance.

N6: Vulnerability

The last facet of neuroticism is vulnerability to stress. Individuals who score high on this scale are easily destabilized by stress, and tend towards panic, hopelessness, and excessive dependence on others when facing difficult situations. Low scorers perceive themselves as capable of handling things well during tough times.