Openness

05.11.2019 |

Episode #4 of the course Introduction to personality psychology: The Big 5 traits by Dr. Daniel McGrath

 

Welcome back! Take a minute and think about the extent to which you agree or disagree with the following statements:

• I have a vivid imagination.

• I believe in the importance of art.

• I get excited by new ideas.

If you find yourself leaning toward agreeing with statements like these, you may be higher in openness. Conversely, if you don’t agree with these statements, you may be lower in trait openness. Of course, the only way to find out for sure is to take a full Big 5 test, like the one I recommended in yesterday’s lesson.

Openness as a personality trait is related to seeking out novelty and change. Adjectives that describe openness are things like being insightful, intelligent, artistic, and independent. On one end of the spectrum would be highly creative people, while on the lower end would be people who enjoy conventional pursuits.

Now that we have a better understanding of what the openness trait is, let’s take a look at what high, average, and low openness looks like.

 

Being High on Openness

Psychology research has found that people high on openness are naturally creative, imaginative and artistic. Openness is also related to higher intelligence on average, and people high on this trait think more abstractly. If you are high on Openness, it is likely that you are probably more curious than other people and enjoy trying new activities. You are probably very aware of your feelings as well.

You may also be more likely to be open toward unconventional ideas. People who are high on this trait often gravitate toward careers that are more artistic. Not surprisingly, many artists and musicians are high on openness. Moreover, other careers that require creativity, such as advertising, are also attractive for people high on openness. However, individuals high on openness are also more likely to become bored with their job and as a result, are more likely to change careers than people who are lower on openness.

 

Being Average on Openness

Most people fall somewhere in the middle on openness. With average scores, you might describe yourself as someone who prefers familiar things to unfamiliar, but at the same time, you are not closed off to new ideas. You may appreciate new ideas and creative pursuits but also view things rationally and understand the importance of knowledge. You may also lean more conservative politically but are not likely solidly conservative in your beliefs. In short, you are more likely to strike a balance between the conventional and the eccentric and exciting aspects of life.

 

Being Low on Openness

Let’s take a look at below-average scores on openness. People who are lower on openness can be described as being straightforward by nature. If you are low on this trait, you may be more interested in knowing hard facts, appreciate tradition, and be comfortable with familiar routines. People low on this trait are often seen by others as being down to earth and conventional. In addition, they are also more likely to be politically conservative.

You may be more likely to want to stay with the status quo and adopt mainstream ideas and beliefs. You are likely not overly interested in the arts. You could be less interested in talking about your emotions openly with other people and are more closed off. Career-wise, lower openness is associated with success in professions that have less day-to-day complexity and change. People low on openness are more likely to crave routine and seek out careers that are more structured.

Today’s Task: So, at this point, you now have a good idea of your degree of openness. Does the description above fit your score on this trait? Do you have any interest in increasing your openness? Over the next few lessons, I am going to recommend simple behavioral strategies that may modify trait personality scores. These strategies were recently implemented in a psychology experiment conducted by Dr. Nathan Hudson and colleagues, which I will discuss in more detail in a later lesson. Challenges that you can try today related to openness are:

• Try something that is completely new to you (e.g., food, beverage, music, exercise).

• Ask an expert questions on a topic you don’t know much about.

• Spend five minutes meditating or just thinking about a philosophical question.

We’ll see you tomorrow for our lesson on the next trait, conscientiousness.

See you soon!

 

Recommended book

Creativity: The Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

 

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