The Big 5 Personality Traits provide a helpful framework to understand and categorize human behavior, making it easier to recognize and appreciate our differences.

These traits are extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism (emotional stability), and openness to experience and no one is just one trait.

We all have different degrees of these traits and unlike types, traits run on a continuum. They are like musical notes that can be played in many different ways and to different degrees. When all of the traits come together, they form the melody that is our personality.

One way to make sense of this melody is by unpacking it and looking at how each trait contributes to a personality. This is what SLOAN attempts to do. Its goal is to give a map that allows us to make sense of the melodies and to be able to write music.

Key Takeaways

  • The Big Five Personality Traits (extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism/emotional stability, and openness to experience) provide a framework for understanding and categorizing human behavior.
  • A person’s personality is not simply defined by one trait, but rather by the subtle interactions between these traits.
  • The combination of the Big 5 traits creates a unique personality melody that makes each individual distinct.
  • The system that extends the Big 5 Traits into understandable combinations is SLOAN.
  • By understanding how these combinations of traits impact the overall personality, we can gain insight into our own psychology, understand our internal conflicts, and have a map of resolving our challenges.
Sloan types

What is Personality and what are Traits?

Personality is the unique blend of traits, characteristics, and behaviors that define an individual. It gives shape to how we interact with others and respond to various situations in life. Traits are sub-personalities or elements of our larger personality that have their own set of perceptions, motivations, characteristics, and behaviors.

Brief Overview Of The Big Five Traits

The Big Five personality traits, also known as the Five-Factor Model (FFM), provide a comprehensive and well-researched framework to better understand personality.

The research started out with the assumption that personality is something we can describe using language. That language itself gives us a good map which leads to psychologists developing an inventory of personality traits, called NEO-PI.

Later in the 90’s psychologist discovered that all of these personality terms fell into five basic categories regardless. For example, words like smiling and happy went into the same category. Eventually, these Five were termed the Big 5 or Five Factor Analysis.

What are the Big Five Traits?

The Big Five Traits are:

  • Extroversion
  • Agreeableness
  • Conscientiousness
  • Neuroticism
  • Openness to Experience

Now let’s look at them on a continuum.

Sloan type social

Extroversion vs Introversion

Extroversion is one of the Big Five personality traits, which measures how energetic, outgoing, and sociable a person is. Individuals who score high in extraversion are often described as being gregarious, assertive, and seeking excitement.

They tend to engage more with others and enjoy social situations.

Some examples of how extroversion may manifest in day-to-day life include someone who enjoys attending parties frequently because they thrive on meeting new people and engaging in conversations.

Another example might be an individual who works well with others on group projects because they prefer collaboration over working independently.

On the other side of the spectrum are introverts, who prefer spending time one-on-one or in a more quiet environment.

Agreeableness vs Disagreeableness

Agreeableness is one of the five major personality traits that has been studied extensively by psychologists. Individuals who score high in agreeableness are often described as kind, empathetic, and cooperative.

They prioritize social harmony and tend to avoid conflict whenever possible.

Studies have shown that agreeableness is consistently linked to positive outcomes in both romantic relationships and friendships. For example, research has found that couples who share similar levels of agreeableness report higher relationship satisfaction than those who don’t.

Disagreeable people are more competitive, assertive, and more concerned with themselves than others.

High vs Low Conscientiousness

Conscientiousness is one of the Big Five personality traits that evaluates an individual’s self-control, responsibility, and dependability. Highly conscientious individuals are often organized and detail-oriented while demonstrating a strong work ethic.

They enjoy planning and have a natural inclination to follow rules and regulations. On the other hand, low conscientiousness can lead to impulsive behavior or lack of focus on long-term goals.

Research shows that Conscientiousness is associated with overall conservatism in politics. It means people who score high in Conscientiousness tend to be more conservative about social norms than people who score low on this factor.

People who are low in Conscientiousness tend to be more carefree, they don’t prioritize being organized or planning very well and can seem careless and neglectful of duties.

Sloan neurotic

Neuroticism vs Emotional Stability

Neuroticism is one of the five primary personality traits in the Big Five personality model and is linked to emotional instability, anxiety, and a low tolerance for stress or aversive stimuli.

People with high levels of neuroticism tend to be easily hurt and frequently overwhelmed by negative emotions such as fear, anger, and sadness.

On the other hand, people with low neuroticism scores are often described as being emotionally stable. They tend to be more resilient in the face of stressful situations and less prone to unpleasant feelings like guilt or anxiety.

High vs Low Openness To Experience

Openness to experience is one of the five key personality traits, often referred to as the “Big Five.” It measures how receptive an individual is to new ideas and experiences and their willingness to explore them.

People with high openness tend to be curious, adaptable, imaginative, and creative.

Studies have shown that people who score high on openness tend to be more intellectually curious and engage in more diverse activities like reading books from various genres or exploring new places on vacations.

On the other hand, those low on this trait prefer routine activities over trying out something novel or challenging.

Sloan trait interactions

How do the Big 5 Traits Interact?

Personality traits are independent constructs, yet they interact with each other and make unique blends and combinations, like chords on a guitar.

For example, let’s take someone who is high in all of the traits, so they are high in Extraversion, Openness, Conscientiousness, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.

What could this dynamic produce?

  1. High Extroversion & High Openness: This is a dynamic combo and describes someone who is both assertive, social, charming, and creative. They have the natural ability to sell their own creations and inspire others with their unique vision.
  2. High Agreeableness: This ensures that our character will put others first. They might look to serve others instead of themselves. As a result, most likely they are not an Entrepreneur.
  3. Conscientiousness & Openness: This is a unique combo. Often times these two traits conflict as the creative side looks for new and innovative ways to solve problems while the conscientious personality prefers now to waste time and to do what is already proven to work. As a result, this can lead to inner conflict. The relationship can be dictated based on which trait is higher. More openness and all a sudden, this individual has the ability to carry out his creations.
  4. Neuroticism & Openness: Another notch against this is combo being an entrepreneur. These two traits conflict, as Openness is looking to novelty which means leaving behind the known stable world, in favor of creating something new. This is inherently destabilizing and makes the neurotic sub-personality feel very uncertain. This often leads to inner conflict of one part of the person wanting to try new things while another part is afraid.
  5. Neuroticism & Extroversion: One trait relates to negative emotions and perceptions while the other to positive emotions. The difference could very well be your self-esteem. So in our character, if the Extroversion is higher, he most likely has a positive self-image, higher self-esteem, and an easier time moving forward in the world.
  6. Neuroticism, Agreeableness & Conscientiousness: Now our character is high in all three. The positive here is that both Agreeableness and Conscientiousness are great an lower neuroticism. These traits can be used to decrease negative emotions. How? Conscientiousness leads to routines, schedules, and a clean environment which means that things are ordered and tidy so there is less to worry about. Agreeableness also contributes, by making our character more trusting, in other words, he is not worried about other people trying to take advantage. Another trait that can lower neuroticism.

Well, I hope this paints the picture. We have a basic outline and an understanding of what a person with these traits can be like.

Now, here is the key.

The degrees matter. A person’s cardinal trait plays the biggest role in their overall personality. In our example above, if their main trait is Openness, the picture is very different than if their highest trait is Conscientiousness or Neuroticism.

The interactions between different Big 5 personality traits are complex, but understanding them can shed light on how our personalities and behaviors develop and this is what the SLOAN Model attempts to do.

Sloan model

What is the SLOAN Model?

The Sloan model is a personality profiling system that expands the Big 5 Model by creating 32 Big 5 Trait combinations. Each Sloan Combination corresponds to a specific combination of traits, making it easier to understand how different aspects of our personalities interact with one another.

Understanding your SLOAN type can help you gain insight into your strengths and weaknesses when interacting with others. It can also give you a better understanding of which careers may be best suited for your particular blend of traits.

What are the SLOAN Dichotomies and How do they correspond to the Big 5 Traits?

The SLOAN system is an adaptation of the Big 5 personality traits model. Now each of the Big 5 Traits is on a scale from High to Low, as a result, there are 10 different dichotomies. SLOAN gives each of these dichotomies a unique name and letter, making it easier to use.

Sloan & Big 5 Traits:

So in our previous example, the personality we explored was a SLOAI. Next, let’s look at all 32 combinations.

What are the 32 Big 5 Personality Trait Combinations?

The SLOAN model is an adaptation of the Big Five personality traits that provides 32 unique personality types based on combinations of the five factors.

Here are all 32 SLOAN types with their corresponding Big 5 traits:

SLOAN TypeDescription: Sloan & Big 5 Traits
RCOAIReserved (Introvert), Calm (Emotionally Stable), Ordered (High Conscientious), Accommodating (Agreeable), Inquisitive (High Openness)
RCOANReserved (Introvert), Calm (Emotionally Stable), Ordered (High Conscientious), Accommodating (Agreeable), Non-curious (Low Openness)
RLOANReserved (Introvert), Limbic (Neurotic), Ordered (High Conscientious), Accommodating (Agreeable), Non-curious (Low Openness)
RLOAIReserved (Introvert), Limbic (Neurotic), Ordered (High Conscientious), Accommodating (Agreeable), Inquisitive (High Openness)
RLUAIReserved (Introvert), Limbic (Neurotic), Unstructured (Low Conscientious), Accommodating (Agreeable), Inquisitive (High Openness)
RLUANReserved (Introvert), Limbic (Neurotic), Unstructured (Low Conscientious), Accommodating (Agreeable), Non-curious (Low Openness)
RCUANReserved (Introvert), Calm (Emotionally Stable), Unstructured (Low Conscientious), Accommodating (Agreeable), Non-curious (Low Openness)
RCUAIReserved (Introvert), Calm (Emotionally Stable), Unstructured (Low Conscientious), Accommodating (Agreeable), Inquisitive (High Openness)
RCOEIReserved (Introvert), Calm (Emotionally Stable), Ordered (High Conscientious), Egocentric (Disagreeable), Inquisitive (High Openness)
RCOENReserved (Introvert), Calm (Emotionally Stable), Ordered (High Conscientious), Egocentric (Disagreeable), Non-curious (Low Openness)
RLOENReserved (Introvert), Limbic (Neurotic), Ordered (High Conscientious), Egocentric (Disagreeable), Non-curious (Low Openness)
RLOEIReserved (Introvert), Limbic (Neurotic), Ordered (High Conscientious), Egocentric (Disagreeable), Inquisitive (High Openness)
RLUEIReserved (Introvert), Limbic (Neurotic), Unstructured (Low Conscientious), Egocentric (Disagreeable), Inquisitive (High Openness)
RLUENReserved (Introvert), Limbic (Neurotic), Unstructured (Low Conscientious), Egocentric (Disagreeable), Non-curious (Low Openness)
RCUENReserved (Introvert), Calm (Emotionally Stable), Unstructured (Low Conscientious), Egocentric (Disagreeable), Non-curious (Low Openness)
RCUEIReserved (Introvert), Calm (Emotionally Stable), Unstructured (Low Conscientious), Egocentric (Disagreeable), Inquisitive (High Openness)
SCOAISocial (Extrovert), Calm (Emotionally Stable), Ordered (High Conscientious), Accommodating (Agreeable), Inquisitive (High Openness)
SCOANSocial (Extrovert), Calm (Emotionally Stable), Ordered (High Conscientious), Accommodating (Agreeable), Non-curious (Low Openness)
SLOANSocial (Extrovert), Limbic (Neurotic), Ordered (High Conscientious), Accommodating (Agreeable), Non-curious (Low Openness)
SLOAISocial (Extrovert), Limbic (Neurotic), Ordered (High Conscientious), Accommodating (Agreeable), Inquisitive (High Openness)
SLUAISocial (Extrovert), Limbic (Neurotic), Unstructured (Low Conscientious), Accommodating (Agreeable), Inquisitive (High Openness)
SLUANSocial (Extrovert), Limbic (Neurotic), Unstructured (Low Conscientious), Accommodating (Agreeable), Non-curious (Low Openness)
SCUANSocial (Extrovert), Calm (Emotionally Stable), Unstructured (Low Conscientious), Accommodating (Agreeable), Non-curious (Low Openness)
SCUAISocial (Extrovert), Calm (Emotionally Stable), Unstructured (Low Conscientious), Accommodating (Agreeable), Inquisitive (High Openness)
SCOEISocial (Extrovert), Calm (Emotionally Stable), Ordered (High Conscientious), Egocentric (Disagreeable), Inquisitive (High Openness)
SLOENSocial (Extrovert), Limbic (Neurotic), Ordered (High Conscientious), Egocentric (Disagreeable), Non-curious (Low Openness)
SLOEISocial (Extrovert), Limbic (Neurotic), Ordered (High Conscientious), Egocentric (Disagreeable), Inquisitive (High Openness)
SLUEISocial (Extrovert), Limbic (Neurotic), Unstructured (Low Conscientious), Egocentric (Disagreeable), Inquisitive (High Openness)
SLUENSocial (Extrovert), Limbic (Neurotic), Unstructured (Low Conscientious), Egocentric (Disagreeable), Non-curious (Low Openness)
SCUENSocial (Extrovert), Calm (Emotionally Stable), Unstructured (Low Conscientious), Egocentric (Disagreeable), Non-curious (Low Openness)
SCUEISocial (Extrovert), Calm (Emotionally Stable), Unstructured (Low Conscientious), Egocentric (Disagreeable), Inquisitive (High Openness)
SCOENSocial (Extrovert), Calm (Emotionally Stable), Ordered (High Conscientious), Egocentric (Disagreeable), Non-curious (Low Openness)

Each SLOAN type is a complex combination of traits, resulting in distinct personalities that can vary widely from one another.

traits

What is the best way to use SLOAN?

In the SLOAN model, each combination reflects how various combinations of the big five traits interact with one another.

The most important factor when using SLOAN is to rank order your traits. Your Cardinal Trait, or the trait that you’re highest in, will have the biggest impact on your personality. This is the part of you that is most pronounced and that best describes you most of the time.

After you have clarity on your Cardinal trait, consider what your next most extreme trait is. Your two highest traits will have the biggest impact on your overall personality. The further you go down the list the less influence that trait will have on you.

In the end, this should give you a very clear overall picture of what your personality looks like. You’ll be able to hear the melody and the individual notes and this can empower you tremendously.

personalty trait at work

How not to use SLOAN

Now, this is the most common mistake and that is to turn this model into a typology.

What does that mean?

You don’t want to think of the SLOAN combinations as types with clear boundaries. To do so, would be to take all of the nuance and depth out of the Big 5 Model.

The biggest problem with typologies is that they oversimplify personality. They don’t consider degrees, a person is either an Introvert or an Extrovert, which means that answering one question differently could lead to you being a different type of person. So we need to acknowledge that we are walking a very fine line.

Discussion On The Complexity Of Trait Interactions

The interactions between the Big 5 personality traits can be complex. For example, someone who scores high on extraversion might also score low on conscientiousness, and depending on how high and low they scored in each trait will determine what this combination looks like.

The easiest way to think about this is akin to temperature. When the temperature of a pot of water is high, it has more heat and more energy. It has a higher impact on whatever else you put in the pot.

In our example, if extroversion is very high and conscientiousness very low (both extremes) this can produce a person that is like Peter Pan, a character that likes to have fun, enjoy life, and avoid responsibilities.

Now, compare this to a person who is moderate in both traits. They are barely an extrovert and their consciousness is in the 49th percentile. Then the whole dynamic changes, because the odds are that neither of these traits is this person’s cardinal trait and it will be some other trait that is most pronounced.

personality relationships

SLOAN Types In Relationships: How Trait Interactions Affect Interpersonal Relationships

The way these traits combine within people is the same way they combine between people. Once you can see how these traits combine to form your overall personality you will begin to see this dynamic in others.

One area that this is valuable in is understanding conflicts. A trait combination that leads to an inner conflict for you can lead to a similar conflict with others.

Additionally, the differences in traits can play a big role in creating conflict with others. For example, if one person is High in Conscientiousness and another Low, the person who is more conscientious will always be the first to get irritated when there is a mess or a lack of organization. This won’t just happen once, it will happen every time. This inner irritation will spill outward and can cause conflicts in the relationship.

In this way, what is within projects outward?

It’s important to note that compatibility goes beyond just matching up with similar SLOAN types. Communication styles, personal values, and life goals all play a significant role in relationship success as well.

Big 5 Traits and Compatibility

Understanding compatibility between personalities is crucial in building and maintaining meaningful relationships.

The challenge is that creating a compatibility chart is not enough to take all of the nuances and variations of personality into account. Additionally, compatibility goes beyond just matching up with similar SLOAN types. Communication styles, personal values, and life goals all play a significant role in relationship success as well.

For these reasons, we didn’t make a chart. Instead we created an entire framework, and an AI Application you can talk to and get personalized, nuanced answer for your relationship.

Do You Want to Improve Your Relationships?

Get Personalized Actionable Advice for Any Relationship based on your Personality & Theirs.

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SLOAN Types At Work

Understanding your SLOAN type can also provide insights into which career paths may align best with your personality traits. For this, we created an article for each SLOAN Type that does a deep dive into the most common combinations, overall characteristics, and ideal career choices.

And there’s one more thing.

We created Career Compass AI. Career Compass AI is able to take your Big 5 Trait Results, with all their nuance alongside your values and life goals, and give you personalized career recommendations. And that’s not all. It can even help you filter out jobs, and write your resume and cover letter!

Looking for Your Dream Job?

Career Compass AI can help you find and get the ideal career based on your Personality and Goals.

Career Compass AI

The Melody Of Your Personality

The combination of the Big 5 traits creates a unique personality melody that makes each individual distinct. A person’s personality is not simply defined by one trait, but rather by the subtle interactions between these traits.

It’s important to note that this unique personality melody can have both positive and negative implications for individuals.

Every trait is like a superpower that gives you its strength however, you also get its correlated weakness.

They are really a set of tradeoffs and the biggest one is that if you can’t be at all places, doing all things at once. You have limited energy and resources. If you are highly social, highly creative highly caring, and highly conscientious, well your attention is now diverted in four different ways, and that in itself has a price.

This naturally leads to a better way to think about our strengths and weaknesses. Here is a chart of each of the traits and its biggest strengths and weaknesses.

TraitStrengthsWeaknesses
ExtraversionSociable, energetic, assertive, outgoing, confidentDominant, attention-seeking, impulsive, talkative
NeuroticismEvery aware of risks, problems, and issues. More aware of others’ negative emotions.Anxious, moody, prone to stress, easily upset
ConscientiousnessOrganized, responsible, reliable, diligent, disciplinedPerfectionistic, rigid, overly cautious, workaholic
AgreeablenessCompassionate, empathetic, cooperative, tolerantSubmissive, overly trusting, conflict-avoidant, gullible
OpennessImaginative, curious, creative, open-minded, adaptableUnfocused, impractical, prone to overthinking, unpredictable

Our specific configuration will lead to our set of strengths and weaknesses. By definition, weaknesses are highly tempting, and effortless and can easily lead to negative habits.

Our strengths on the other hand take an effort to cultivate and to develop them to the point where we can claim the value they hold. Building good habits takes effort.

In these ways, we are developing our personality. We do what we can to minimize our weaknesses and build on our strengths and if we fail to do so, then there is a price to pay. We will fall prey to our weaknesses, they will grow like wild weeds and when we are at our weakest, it will take over our lives.

growth

Personality Development

The real value in understanding your own personality is to increase your awareness of how your traits impact every part of your life and then be able to take proactive steps to improve and change the areas that are not working.

Personality development is the process of assessing your own personality traits and how each of them leads to specific perceptions, habits, and life outcomes and then making a concentrated effort doubling down on what is working and fixing what is breaking.

Using our metaphor, when the song you singing is out of tune, changing the pitch is all it takes to get back to a perfect melody.

How To Develop And Expand Your Personality

Developing and expanding your personality allows you to become a more well-rounded and fulfilled individual. Start by increasing your self-awareness, which involves understanding your strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement.

Many times a small change can lead to a big effect. For example, if your Neuroticism is higher than your Extroversion, you might have lower self-esteem. You can then increase your self-esteem by addressing your negative self-talk and increasing your Extroversion by taking meaningful action toward something that you really want. In this way, we are earning our self-esteem through action.

To learn more about personality development we created a number of resources that help.

First here is a Guide to Understanding Personality Development.

Secondly, we created a Masterclass and a Journal that takes you step by step on developing your personality. You can learn more about Trait Master Personality Development Masterclass.

Lastly, we are creating an AI Assistant that can help you on your journey and make this process effortless. Personal Insight AI is like a personality development life coach and the AI’s purpose is to help you achieve your goals.