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 Extraversion domain: warmth, gregariousness, assertiveness, activity, excitement-seeking, and positive emotions.
Warmth is the facet of extraversion most relevant to issues of interpersonal intimacy. Warm people are friendly, affectionate, and easily form close attachments to others. By contrast, low scorers tend to be more formal, reserved, and distant by default.
Gregariousness is the preference for other people’s company. Gregarious people enjoy the company of others and believe in the saying “the more the merrier.” Low scorers on this scale tend to be loners who do not seek out, and may even avoid, social stimulation.
Individuals high in assertiveness tend to be dominant, forceful, and socially ascendant. They speak without hesitation and often become group leaders. Low scorers prefer to keep in the background and let others do the talking. Very low scorers tend towards submissiveness.
Active people possess a lot of energy, feel the need to stay busy, and lead fast-paced lives. Low scorers, by comparison, are more leisurely and relaxed in tempo.
High scorers on this scale crave excitement and stimulation. They are sensation seekers. Low scorers feel little need for thrills and prefer a lifestyle that high scorers would probably find boring.
E6: Positive Emotions
The last facet of extraversion assesses the tendency to experience positive emotions such as joy, happiness, love, and excitement. People high in positive emotion are usually cheerful and optimistic, and laugh easily and often. Low scorers are less exuberant and less high-spirited.