Five Factor Model (FFM) definition

The Five Factor Model (FFM) is a theory based upon the Big Five personality traits, identified as: openness to new experiences, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Each trait can be broken down into sub-traits, allowing minor variations in personalities to be standardised and tracked.

According to modern research, both heritability and environmental factors contribute to an individual’s scoring on the Big Five personality traits. Under the Five Factor Model, the Big Five personality traits are used in a range of disciplines as a framework, such as personality disorders, academic achievement, learning styles, social success and achievement in the workplace.

The FFM has been subjected to considerable research and has attracted praise and criticism. Some psychologists feel it is lacking in scope by failing to cover additional personality traits such as honesty, erotic capital and sense of humour. Another criticism is that it’s not based on underlying theory and is built from empirical evidence of observed traits.

Other models of personality include the HEXACO model of personality structure and the Revised NEO Personality Inventory.


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