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Thread: The Case against Big Five

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    Default The Case against Big Five

    Most people are aware that the Big Five personality inventory measures people on very subjective terms. Agreeableness/disagreeableness? Come on. Oh yeah I can see it now: "We'd better not take Stan to the movies because he's disagreeable, therefore he'll disagree with our choice and we won't be able to decide on a movie to actually watch."

    Let's go ahead and take that to a further extreme.

    "If we don't get out of this burning building, we're either going to be burned alive or choke to death or be crushed beneath it when it collapses."

    "I disagree."

    Which is the whole point of the anti-Big Five argument: taken objectively, it is an absurd notion. A person that disagreeable is not just argumentative; they are outright autistic. If a person is disagreeable, then it probably means that they disagree with the aim of the group around them, and probably for a plausible (though not necessarily probable) reason. What this means is, Big Five must be useful for some other reason.

    Imagine you are UDP for a moment. You're trying to get people to work together on an important project. Some people seem willing to find common ground and to compromise on their positions, while others aren't. Now let's say that you don't really understand the rationale for the others' disagreement, because hey, everyone thinks like you on this point at least. Those other people are agreeing, right? So then, why aren't they?

    You come up with an ingenious solution: there are agreeable types, and disagreeable types. You just say "hey, those people are disagreeable, so we don't need to listen to them." The group moves forward, and the disagreeable types react however they feel disposed to do so. This works, you think, and has made the group more functional, at least. And oh yeah: you've made a system which describes how people behave: there are disagreeable people, and agreeable people. You have, you think, discerned something integral to human nature. But just to be on the safe side, you go on by asserting that there are a lot of people in between too, just so you aren't caught off guard unnecessarily.

    Now a new problem comes before you; or maybe, you hadn't noticed it before. Some of the people seem to be quieter than the others. Maybe they're shy? They seem really withdrawn compared to the rest of the group, which is really talkative and outgoing. They seem introverted, you think, while the others are extroverted. You try talking to them a bit more, and maybe put some well-meaning pressure on them to speak up a bit. And they do. So now you've got a scale of people whom keep to themselves, and those who are outgoing. But you also recognize that if you don't talk to people, they'll clam up and keep to themselves more; and if you talk to them more, they become more confident towards you and more talkative. You observe that you can't really say thus, that people are clearly one or the other; you observe them instead as on a sliding scale between two extremes.

    So now you have two demonsions of personality: introversion/extroversion and agreeable/disagreeable. We'll stop there and move on to our main point: these traits only appear in the context of a group. To an individual, they mean nothing. Thus only people whom define themselves in terms of the group finds these classifications genuinely descriptive of their person. This observation in turn unravels the riddle of Big Five's acceptance despite its inattention to individuality. The reason, no less, that it is called "Big Five", and is the only "agreed upon" or "consensus" personality inventory, is that it was assembed by consensus leaders themselves. Because the consensus seeker only naturally finds identity in the group they are a part of, they are ill disposed to observe traits which do not appear in the context of the group. They observe that people have different roles, but from an organizational standpoint it is better to look to others to find their own roles as opposed to determining those roles for them. And it is that very abdication of responsibility, that is the downfall of Big Five.


    Note: my reference to UDP should be interpreted in the context of a parallel universe UDP whom has no awareness of socionics. In fact, I think that socionics enables UDP beyond the capabilities of a most leaders of our time.
    Last edited by tcaudilllg; 08-13-2008 at 04:50 AM.

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    Ti centric krieger's Avatar
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    Disagreeable is commonly understood to mean "unpleasant", not "inclination to disagreeing".

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/disagreeable

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    The Big Five was created after an analysis of all the words in the English language used to described behaviour. Five distinct dichotomies were found.

    It is pretty comprehensive.

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    Quote Originally Posted by labcoat View Post
    Disagreeable is commonly understood to mean "unpleasant", not "inclination to disagreeing".

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/disagreeable
    Well duh, but that's not how it's used in Big Five.

    Subterranean: stop shooting off your mouth about stuff you know nothing about.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tcaudilllg View Post
    Well duh, but that's not how it's used in Big Five.

    Subterranean: stop shooting off your mouth about stuff you know nothing about.
    You act like a master of psychology and yet you clearly don't know what you are talking about.

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