The theoretical big 5 personality traits are extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness.

Trust is supposedly a subset of agreeableness but it isn’t because if you have a tendency to not trust someone then your neuroticism will increase, your openness will decrease, you will become less of an extrovert, and have a less agreeable attitude. About the only personality ”trait” which will remain relatively unaffected will be your conscientiousness. A tendency to trust others or be suspicious of humans is a far more important behavior attitude and behavior and trustworthiness can be considered to be a relatively independent and very important personality trait.

If you have a friendly helping attitude and behavior towards others and are empathetic, caring, kind, affectionate, and altruistic then it is not a subset of agreeableness only. You will tend to be more extroverted, less neurotic, more open, and more agreeable. So empathy, caring, kindness, affection, and altruism are not subsets of agreeableness. They are however a subset of conformity to accepted social norms for friendly helping behavior. Agreeableness is not a unique personality trait but merely a tendency to conform or a subset of conformity to accepted social norms.

Neuroticism is just a manifestation of neurosis which is basically too much anxiety with avoidance behaviors. Sadness, mood swings, and emotional instability are not common to all neurotics since healthy individuals also experience sadness and mood swings in various degrees. You don’t have to be sad or moody and be emotionally unstable. Neuroticism is not a personality “trait” but rather a dysfunctional way of handling the stress of everyday life.

Openness is basically an individual who welcomes the possibility of change and someone who is not open tends to resist change of any kind and is often in a status quo personal position and will almost dogmatically defend it. Openness if defined as a willingness to change or a willingness to be exposed to or try new things such as new ideas and new experiences would almost be acceptable. Openness then is an adventurous and curious attitude about life which creative individuals often need. Openness also implies an absence of secrecy or frank behavior so the definition of openness is very subjective since you can also be open to immoral or criminal behavior too. Openness is too subjective and complex a concept to have an accurate non contradictory definition and can’t be considered to be a well defined personality ”trait”.


Conscientiousness could be considered to be a relatively well defined personality trait because it is basically adequate caring and devoted effort to doing right.

Conscientious:  adj. adequate caring and devoted effort to do right


Extraversion could be a relatively well defined personality trait since some humans are more sociable and overtly expressive with other humans.

Extrovert: n. a sociable human with a tendency to be overtly expressive


Thus as you can see the big 5 personality “traits” have been watered down to only 2 big personality traits- extroversion and conscientiousness. The number one in importance is the personality trait of trustworthiness. There are actually the updated big 3 personality traits so far.

Trustworthiness: adj. having integrity and dependability and competence


Trait: n. a genetically inherited observable characteristic of an organism

Type: n. a subset


As you can see by the definition of trait it is really more accurate to call a personality trait a personality TYPE and not trait which is genetically determined and not conditioned behavior.


The updated big 3 personality TYPES are trustworthiness, extroversion, and conscientiousness.

It is also debatable whether conformity and changeability should not be added to form the updated new 5 big personality types and eliminate agreeableness and openness as valid classifications.

Humans have degrees of conformity in general and degrees of conformity to specific human behaviors such as empathy, kindness, altruism, secrecy, friendliness, helpfulness, habits, etc. Similarly humans have degrees of changeability in general and tendencies or degrees of change to specific behaviors such as habits, creativity, curiosity, morality, secrecy, honesty, friendliness, helpfulness, etc. Degree of changeability can also refer to the degree of changeability in ideas, beliefs, opinions, habits, etc. or anything which a human can do.

Thus conformity is really a subset of changeability which is a reflection of how much of a conformist you really are not subject to change. Thus you can make statements such as his degree of conformity to a belief is very large and the probability of change in that belief is very small. He tries to conform to the opinions of authority figures but the probability of change in his opinions is minimal. He conforms to the stereotype of a chronic gambler and the probability that he will change that habit is minimal baring a financial crisis.

Personality: n. 100% of the behavioral characteristics which make up a unique individual

From this definition you can see that a human personality has personality subsets or types and this is why many humans are stereotyped based on a dominant personality subset. The human has a dominant personality which is trustworthy, conscientious, extroverted, friendly, moral, creative, altruistic, and non conformist. Non dominant personality subsets are also used to describe someone’s personality and they are often inaccurate stereotypes so humans say that someone is kind, empathetic, clever, secretive, and helpful. etc. For some humans a non dominant personality subset such as helpfulness can become a dominant personality subset such as extreme altruism where you are helpful beyond the common human norms for helpful behavior.

It is more accurate to say that a human has an extroverted or friendly personality than to say that a human has a kind or helpful personality.This is because non dominant personality behaviors should usually not be thought of a personality stereotype which accurately reflects a person’s true personality as do more dominant personality subsets which represent a much larger and often more complex portion of a human’s total personality.

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