Criticisms of the Big Five

Criticisms of the Big Five

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This is a discussion on Criticisms of the Big Five within the Big Five forums, part of the Other Personality Theories category; ...

  1. #1

    Criticisms of the Big Five

    I’m curious about what people disagree with in the Big Five and related theories.

    The main issue that comes to mind for me is its one-sidedness. Big Five sources tend to treat one side of each dimension as better than the other, and pay less attention to the weaknesses associated with the supposedly better side, or the strengths associated with the other side. The supposedly bad side of each dimension sometimes gets treated as simply lacking some good quality, even though there’s more to it than that.

    What are your criticisms? Share and discuss.
    Aridela, strawberryLola, Aelthwyn and 2 others thanked this post.



  2. #2

    I have to agree with you on that. I feel like some of the scales could have had more neutral names, and the descriptions usually seem too biased. And this is why I haven't looked very deep into this theory myself, because I always get put off by it.

    It's always irritated me that people often claim big five is better than meyers briggs when in my experience, it's a lot more "good types" and "bad types" within the actual descriptions themselves. Sure meyers-briggs enthusiasts can be biased about certain types, but the actual descriptions usually feel pretty neutral or balanced in the depiction of upsides and downsides to every type.

  3. #3

    Personally, I don't see how being closed off to experience could be a strength. Sure, it makes a person "orderly," but it does so by making them fearful, conformist, and weak-minded (essentially a cog in a mindless machine). I also don't see how being unconscientious could be a strength. Some would say that it makes a person more adaptable, but in my experience, the more people (as individuals or as a team) are able to plan, and stick to a plan, the more they're able to adapt and withstand what I call "peripheral happenstance." That would be the unpredictable stuff that happens while your attention is focused elsewhere. Typically, your attention is focused where it should be, but the stuff going on around you isn't working right. On a factory floor, this typically means machines breaking down or just not functioning right.

    When it comes to introversion versus extroversion, totally agreed. Big5 doesn't define those terms the way Carl Jung did. He coined those terms and was, himself, an introvert. Jung used the terms in relation to cognition, whereas Big5 uses those terms as they relate to how a person socializes. In fact, according to the Big5, I'm an extrovert.
    Last edited by Judson Joist; 08-08-2019 at 08:00 PM. Reason: typo
    Monadnock and Blazkovitz thanked this post.

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  5. #4

    Might make this into a stand-alone post but to summarize, the Neuroticism trait described by Big 5 and also Eysenck's Three Factors, is God-awful. It's alternately defined as "tendency to experience negative emotions", "emotional instability" and "emotional reactivity", none of which is the same thing. Why wouldn't highly reactive people also have stronger positive emotional reactions, and why wouldn't their "instability" (which is really just a pejorative synonym for "mercurial") cycle through positive emotions also?

    I'm guessing the Neuroticism trait is a leftover from an earlier time when heightened sensitivity to stimuli was 1. not well understood and 2. assumed automatically to be a negative thing only. I think this is what they were attempting to describe in a well-intentione but flawed way, and like the Diathesis-Stress paradigm, Neuroticism has simply been replaced by the more balanced, neutral Dandelion-Orchid paradigm.
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  6. #5

    It's always irritated me that people often claim big five is better than meyers briggs when in my experience, it's a lot more "good types" and "bad types" within the actual descriptions themselves. Sure meyers-briggs enthusiasts can be biased about certain types, but the actual descriptions usually feel pretty neutral or balanced in the depiction of upsides and downsides to every type.
    When people say Big Five is better, they generally mean as a scientific measure. Big Five predicts other traits someone may have better than Myers-Briggs, and the results of Big Five test are more easily replicated than Myers-Briggs. Could they do some rewording to make it sound nicer? Yes, but from a purely scientific standpoint it doesn't matter.
    Aridela and Dare thanked this post.

  7. #6

    I think it's only applicable if it's divided in not five, but 30 dimensions. For example, I score average on total openness. I have low openness to experiences while I have high openness to philosophy. It simply can't be narrowed down to 5 traits.
    Last edited by alanalicity; 08-09-2019 at 05:18 PM.
    Aluminum Frost, Judson Joist and Octavarium thanked this post.

  8. #7

    Sorry to disagree with you but Big Five facets are neutral (deals not in good or bad). As you I thank otherwise when I had a simple understanding of the theory.
    Each facets has its inconvenience within the environment you re in.

    Agreeable people can be popular empathetic sympathetic fits well with group work. But they have a hard difficulty to stand up for themselves and knowing what they want. Disagreeable people had the inverse difficulty. They can be egoistical narcissicistic and unable To create empathetic bond.

    Openness To experience people have in general artistic interest imagination but can appear weird, foolish, overthinking, heads in a cloud. Open people has enormous difficulties to make their ideas work. Whereas low Openness To Expérience people can be narrow minded but seen as driven by facts.

    Extraversion is completely neutral. Even if subjective Well being is more linked To Extraversion according a study I saw. Extraversion can be good depending on situations. But if you re a librarian it will destroy you from the inside. Same thing if you push an introvert to be a Sales Manager. (Exception exists though)

    Conscientiousness is a hard one. In our societies, company and work like conscientious people. Nevertheless, being conscientious is not advantageous in certain jobs (such as Painter for exemple). Plus, conscientious people are more judgmental, can be workaholic, and inversely correlated to intelligence. I would not point out the disadvantage of being low on C.

    Neuroticism finally is the worst trait I think but two things:
    First Neuroticism can be good in certain job and situations (fireman for example)
    Secondly, low people can be in danger or in difficult situations because they dont have unpleasant feelings.

    There was a lot to criticize about the Big Five but manicheism is not a part of it. But maybe this is the problem of website that delivers a profile without giving details about the facet. Moreover, each facets has its subfacets, and each subfacets has its minifacets.

    But MBTI is interesting in art or in fiction because profiles are archetypal. I use it To create character and their relationship. The cognitive fonction are cool but to me it deals with fiction. It does not describe reality. I made a great story about it!

    The criticisms I d make:
    -Very few information about facets and (above all) subfacets and how it belongs to each other statistically, about differences by age category, gender, etfc, about the correlation between facets
    - some website are fake because there is no database to compare your results
    - Does one action can be understood in multiple facets? Or just one action for one facet?
    -What are the intensity and duration of these action?
    - Knowing the Big Five has been created in Occident, what are the limits of it in term of cultural norm?
    -About neurology and big five what are the links?
    -Also (and this one is tough) Big Five deals with empirical statistical seen facets but what about the one we dont know (that are completely non conscient)
    - and What about the mini subfacets we dont know. And To what degree it is subjective to create and interpret a facet.
    Last edited by lecomte; 08-09-2019 at 04:31 PM.

  9. #8

    I don't like how many websites portray the Big Five as one-sided, but the Big Five model is not inherently one-sided. There are good and bad parts of each trait, and I wish more sources would capture that instead of showing one side as objectively better than the other. My biggest criticism of the Big Five is that it's so surface-level. It doesn't give any meaningful information for personal growth or advice for improvement, and it doesn't attempt to describe your thought processes (except for how many positive/negative emotions you have). This makes the Big Five a boring theory to study and I don't see much use for it except predicting stuff.
    Octavarium and L P thanked this post.

  10. #9

    Quote Originally Posted by Judson Joist View Post
    When it comes to introversion versus extroversion, totally agreed. Big5 doesn't define those terms the way Carl Jung did. He coined those terms and was, himself, an introvert. Jung used the terms in relation to cognition, whereas Big5 uses those terms as they relate to how a person socializes. In fact, according to the Big5, I'm an extrovert.
    The same thing happened to me when I took the Big 5 test. Tim Flynn of SimilarMinds has gone after the Big 5 because its Introversion/Extroversion definitions deviate so strongly from Jung's. The mistake Flynn makes is, he claims the same is true for the MBTI, as if he isn't aware that it's a lot more faithful. He made up his own personality test and labelled the Introversion/Extroversion Aspect "Materialism vs. Asceticism"; Materialism sounds exactly like Enneagram 3, Asceticism sounds exactly like Enneagram 5.

    Quote Originally Posted by lecomte
    conscientious is not advantageous in certain jobs (such as Painter for exemple)
    Can you explain this?
    Judson Joist thanked this post.

  11. #10

    Quote Originally Posted by Thunal33 View Post
    It doesn't give any meaningful information for personal growth or advice for improvement, and it doesn't attempt to describe your thought processes (except for how many positive/negative emotions you have). This makes the Big Five a boring theory to study and I don't see much use for it except predicting stuff.
    I can't say anything about the boring part because it is subjective.
    And no, the big five theory does not describe thought process. But I think this is actually the most challenging thing with it. We only know that the statistical trait is made upon what others would describe as the quality of a person. Digging about the how is really intriguing.

    Actually I disagree with you because the big five theory could be use for personal growth and that s because it predicts stuff. For example, when you understand the disagreement between the left and the right because of personality it gives you and insight about what people believe or act and why, what is his purpose. I use the big five to identify strenght and weaknesses and having a self authoring program about it, even meditate on it.
    I know for example that I am a very creative person and so I know that I would have an advantage in art for example

    Quote Originally Posted by Monadnock View Post


    Can you explain this?
    Yes, all the reading is here
    https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/ful...56797617724435


     
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