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 Conscientiousness domain: competence, orderliness, dutifulness, achievement striving, self-discipline, and deliberate decision-making.
An individual who is high in competence feels capable, effective, and well-prepared to deal with life. Low scorers have a lower opinion of their abilities and frequently feel unprepared and inept.
High scorers on this scale are neat, tidy, and well-organized. Low scorers have difficulty getting organized and describe themselves as unmethodical.
Dutiful individuals adhere strictly to their ethical principles and carefully fulfill their moral obligations as they understand them. Low scorers are more casual about such matters and may present as somewhat undependable or unreliable.
C4: Achievement Striving
Individuals who score high on this facet maintain high aspirations for themselves and work hard to achieve their goals. They are diligent and purposeful and have a sense of direction in life. Very high scorers, however, run the risk of becoming workaholics. Low scorers are lackadaisical and perhaps even lazy. They are not driven to succeed. They lack ambition and may seem aimless, but they are often perfectly content with their low levels of achievement.
Self-discipline refers to motivation — an individual’s ability to begin tasks and carry them through to completion, despite boredom or other distractions. High scorers can motivate themselves to start and finish their work. Low scorers procrastinate, and are also easily discouraged and quick to quit. People with low levels of self-discipline may know what they should do, but cannot force themselves to do it.
The final facet of conscientiousness is deliberation — the tendency to think carefully before acting. High scorers on this facet are cautious in their decision-making. Low scorers are hasty and often speak or act without considering the consequences.