Personality assessments seem to be all the rage lately. Instagram accounts, Subreddits, and Facebook groups centered around different personality types have all formed and they’re gaining plenty of traction.
People are beginning to seek self-growth and understanding, and they’re using different personality models to do it. So what are these different personality models? And why should we trust them to give us insight into ourselves?
Two of these models are the Big Five and 16-Personality Types. Both Big Five and 16-Personality offer personality insights that help people understand themselves and others. Whether you’re an employer looking to better understand candidates for an open position, a person trying to understand your friend, or just someone looking to understand yourself, personality models and assessments can give you a foundation for understanding people, which can help in every aspect of your life.
The Five-Factor Model, which is more commonly known as the Big Five, is the personality platform most commonly used for psychology studies and is widely considered the most scientifically validated.
Psychologists have identified 5 independent traits that do not correlate with each other across any population, each trait with its own causes and observable behaviors:
Each trait is represented by percentile, compared to the general population. For example, you may have higher Extraversion than 82% of the population, but higher Agreeableness than only 30% of the population.
The 16-Personality is one of the most well-known personality assessments. Based on the model of personality types developed by Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers, the 16-Personality model has become especially popular in modern workplaces to help companies better understand their employees.
This model has four distinct traits that represent differences in the way people think and behave:
Introversion (I) & Extraversion (E)
Intuition (N) & Sensing (S)
Feeling (F) & Thinking (T)
Perception (P) & Judging (J)16-Personality
Curious about your type? Check out Crystal's 16-Personality Test.
Strengths and Weaknesses
No single model for personality is perfect. As with all personality assessments, there are areas in which the Big Five and 16-Personality each do well, and areas in which they can improve.
Strengths: The Big Five model has been studied by psychologists and is considered to have the most scientific validity and reliability. Big Five has been proven to have precise, accurate measurements for its individual traits.
Weaknesses: Because the results are so individual and unique, it can be tedious to draw general insights and advice from test results making the practical application of the knowledge very difficult. The trait Neuroticism is also tied most closely to negative social outcomes so people are more likely to be upset with their results in regards to this trait.
Strengths: 16-Personality provides insight into our own actions as well as those of others, which allows us to remain more empathetic and open-minded around other people. Helping us get along with those who would otherwise be much more difficult to interact with. By having a better understanding of ourselves and those around us, we’re much more likely to make decisions that sensitively account for personality differences.
Weaknesses: While many people have used and appreciated the model, it has been criticized for a few notable flaws:
- Limited scientific validity and reliability: because it was developed through clinical observation, rather than controlled research, there’s no concrete data to back-up personality claims.
- Each personality trait is represented as a binary “either or,” rather than a normal distribution (i.e. a bell curve), which is how traits are actually spread across a population. This can lead a lot of people to find the results inaccurate for their personality. For example, if someone is outgoing, but also enjoys spending time alone, they’d likely feel they were somewhere in the middle of being an introvert or an extrovert. However, the 16-Personality model would type them as one or the other.
- There is evidence showing some of the trait differences are not in fact mutually exclusive. People might not be “thinkers” OR “feelers”; they can be both.
When should each be used?
Because each trait is represented by a percentile, Big Five’s measurement tends to be extremely reliable, accurate, and useful for the study of individuals; however, it is not as useful for application in relationships, communication, and business. It is best used for individual personality assessments, population-level personality studies, and counseling or therapy.
The 16-Personality can be helpful for opening-up conversations about personality, creating a deeper understanding of one another, and bringing awareness to our behavioral differences. It is often used by employers to help gain a general understanding of their employees’ strengths and weaknesses.
Personality as a Tool for Understanding
As an eagerness to learn more about ourselves continues to grow, many people turn to personality models to give them an easy-to-understand, straightforward, accurate understanding of how they think, feel, and act. Because we are complex, deep people, learning about personality is not always simple but by using personality insights you can begin to know yourself and others more deeply and communicate more effectively.