Discovering Personality Course by Jordan Peterson Summary

This course covers the big five personality traits. It's essential for understanding yourself and mental illness.

Discovering Personality Course by Jordan Peterson Summary
Source: jordanbpeterson.com

Key Takeaways

  • The Myers–Briggs Type Indicator is radically out of date. It was made in the 1930s, before the modern understanding of biology, neuroscience, computational statistics, and data analysis. It also lacks trait neuroticism (negative emotion), which is a major flaw.
  • The Big Five personality test is the best personality measure.
  • All other personality tests are incomplete variations of the Big Five personality test.
  • The Big Five personality traits, IQ, and interest (in people vs things) are the best measures for knowing yourself.
  • Personality traits are highly genetically influenced.
  • From a Darwinian perspective, the way that organisms adapt to a complex world is by having all kinds of variations. That’s why we have personality variations. Some percentage of people will have the best personality traits for any given time and location.
  • Similarity in personality is preferable for romantic partners. Unless one is high in neuroticism, then it’s better for the other to be low in neuroticism.
  • Big Five personality test results can be more accurate if you get someone who knows you to take a second test and answer the questions as if they were you. Then compare their results with your original results.
  • For hiring, you want employees high in (1) general cognitive ability: openness, intellect, and IQ; and (2) conscientiousness (for managers).

Extraversion is the tendency to experience positive emotion. It is composed of two aspects: assertiveness and enthusiasm.

  • Extraverts tend to value the present more than the future. Introverts tend to value the future more than the present.
  • The biggest problem with extraverts is that they are impulsive and gamble more. They should try to delay gratification and think about the future more.
  • Introverts should find a career that is tailored to their strengths. They can also increase their extraversion to an extent by consciously working on their social skills.

Neuroticism is also known as negative emotion. It is composed of two aspects: volatility and withdrawal.

  • Anxiety exists because, evolutionarily, it’s better to be anxious than injured or dead.
  • Both anxiety and depression can be fixed with self-improvement. If clients still have anxiety or depression after their life is structurally sound, SSRIs can help.
  • Having a plan, developing a routine and habits, and incrementally exposing yourself to your fears can cure anxiety. Write an autobiography to understand your past.
  • Try to eat a food high in fat and protein when you feel your mood changing due to hunger.

Agreeableness is composed of two aspects: compassion and politeness.

  • Someone who is agreeable will value others’ interests more than their own, while the opposite is true of someone who is disagreeable.
  • The most common clinical patient has anxiety or depression. The second most common is someone who’s too agreeable and needs assertiveness training.
  • Extreme disagreeableness is the best predictor of violence and incarceration. Both incarceration and extreme disagreeableness are significantly more common in men.
  • While the distribution of the trait in each sex is not too far apart in the middle, the difference becomes apparent at the tail ends of the normal distribution model. Almost all of the most disagreeable people are men, and almost all of the most agreeable people are women.
  • Extremely disagreeable and aggressive people should get into competitive sports. They should also try to listen more and be more diplomatic.
  • The positive side of people low in politeness is that they’re blunt—they can say things that other people wouldn’t. Comedians often have to be low in politeness.

Conscientiousness is composed of two aspects: industriousness and orderliness.

  • Conscientiousness is one of the best predictors of financial and career success, second only to IQ.
  • It’s likely that trait consciousness is associated with the ability to delay gratification—to sacrifice today for a better tomorrow.
  • Industriousness is (possibly) associated with guilt and shame. Industrious people may work hard because they don’t want to be useless. Not working hard is not morally acceptable to them.
  • Highly industrious people can work too hard. Often, if they take more days off, their productivity improves.
  • The downsides of extreme orderliness are anorexia and OCD. Hitler was extremely high in orderliness.
  • Extremely conscientious people get extremely judgemental and they attach morality to their judgment. They should learn to be more understanding of others.

Openness to experience is composed of two aspects: openness and intellect.

  • People high in openness should become entrepreneurs and visionary founders.
  • Openness is associated with creativity and interest in aesthetics.
  • Intellect is associated with intelligence and interest in ideas.
  • People low in openness or intellect should consume more poetry, paintings, music, movies, books, and courses.

Introduction

There is a fair bit of personality in a newborn.

There’s a fair bit of temperament in its nascent form within the first 6 months.

That doesn’t mean you can’t learn new things. Some things will come easier to certain people and some things will be more difficult.

You should tailor your career to your personality. If you’re extroverted, for instance, you might do sales.

Wisdom is being able to expand your personality. An extrovert, for instance, should be able to become an introvert in the necessary circumstances.

Similarity in personality is preferable for romantic partners. Except if one is high in neuroticism, it’s better for the other to be low in neuroticism.

You have to be pretty tyrannical to have all of your children end up the same given the innate variability in childhood temperament. A good household should (as a result) have children that are different from one another.

You see this happen on a sociological scale: In more egalitarian societies there’s more difference between men and women. Because the egalitarian societies are largely less authoritarian. So people end up more different because their intrinsic temperament variability is allowed to manifest itself.

All of the other personality tests pale in comparison to the big 5.

Political leanings are generally dependent on personality. Liberals and conservatives are both right but at different times. That’s why we need both sides to constantly engage in dialogue to figure out which is correct at any given time.

Grit is a variant of conscientiousness.

Meyers Briggs is radically out of date (made in 1930s). Before the modern understanding of biology.

For hiring, you want employees high in (1) general cognitive ability: openness, intellect, and IQ; and (2) conscientiousness (for managers). These people are good at executing what’s already been implemented.

You also need entrepreneurs and creatives to come up with new ideas.

You can’t get everything you want in one employee.

In most businesses, the majority of the work is done by a minority of people (the top performers). You need to identify your top performers and hire more people like them and fire the bottom 10% of workers.

Poor nutrition in early life stunts cognitive ability development. If a child is well-nourished then they will develop as high an IQ as their biology allows.

Lecture 1

Introduction to Personality Psychology

Complexity: there are so many things that you don’t know. When your car breaks down you realize how complex the system is. At any location, there is someone who can come tow your car away or fix it. Or you could realize how complex a computer is.

  • How do you survive in the world with limited knowledge?

Everyone has a low-resolution map of everything. But sometimes, getting from point A to point B requires a more detailed map. That is when we realize that we have insufficient data to complete our task. That initially creates anxiety but it also creates opportunity.

People don’t like to have their belief system challenged because it questions their map’s validity in relation to the real world. And it can be a threat to your perceived social status and social status regulates your emotions on a biochemical level.

Your personality creates a framework for which you perceive relevant facts. There are too many facts to know all of them, so our personality screens facts for what seems relevant to us and matches our map.

Our perception is tied to our intent and our intent is tied to our values.

Humans reduce complexity by only focusing on one thing. That’s why people don’t notice the gorilla in the basketball video. When we only focus on one thing, we are blind to basically everything else.

In an argument, it is extremely difficult to get everyone on the same page because some people pay attention to other facts or words more and other people zone out and don’t hear certain parts. And their entire perception is colored by their values and intent.

What you see is determined by your value structure. So if you don’t like what you see, think about chasing your value structure.

Your personality is like a functional map of the world that increases the probability that you can rely on quick judgments to solve the complex problems that you will be faced with in a world beyond the comprehension of any individual. You come pre-programmed with sets of low-resolution general solutions.

A personality trait is simply a low-resolution solution to a complex problem.

Why would people vary in their personality traits? Wouldn’t they all be the same? The world isn’t the same all the time. So different personalities are better adapted at different times.

There are only 4 dimensions in the world: Height, width, length, and time.

Humans have 5 dimensions of personality. That makes them very complex.

From a Darwinian perspective, the way that organisms adapt to a complex world is by having all kinds of variations. So we have personality variations and some percentage of people will have the best personality traits for any given location and time.

Humans have evolved structures that help us process the world for it to be not overwhelming. These structures can be separated into motivational systems and emotional systems.

Lecture 2

The Five Factor Model: An Empirical Approach to Personality

Short-term tactics to increase profit can hurt a company in the long run.

The big 5 personality traits worked for predicting someone’s future behavior. Other personality tests don’t do this.

Pareto principle example: If you have 10 salesmen, 3 of them will make half of your sales. If you have 100 salesmen, 10 of them will make half of your sales. If you have 1000 salesmen, 30 of them will make half of your sales. A small number of people end up doing most of the work and a small number of people end up accruing most of the gain. There’s some overlap between those who do most of the work and those who accrue most of the gain but it’s not perfect.

In the 5 trait analysis, extraversion and openness clump together. So do agreeableness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism (but reversed—emotional stability).

The more traits you add, the more high resolution your results will be. The 2 trait is extraversion and openness. The 5 trait is the 5 traits from the test. The 10 trait is the extended version of the 5 traits. There are 2 traits that make up each of the 5 traits. A 100 question test can give you a pretty accurate 5 trait and 10 trait test.

There are 2 possibilities: (1) personality only has 5 dimensions. (2) personality only has 5 dimensions because of a limitation of language to represent personality.

A lot of the psychological measures don’t exist. They’re just a variation of the big 5. Self-esteem, for example, can be predicted with extroversion minus neuroticism. People with high self-esteem have more positive emotion and less negative emotion. It’s not about how you view yourself. It’s about the relative balance between positive and negative emotion and a huge chunk of that is biologically determined and part of your essential temperament. Also, it’s not obvious that more self-esteem is always better than less because you might be worried and anxious but that could make you more sensitive to threats in your environment. Other people who are not worried about threats could be more likely to be injured or die.

The big 5 theorists are arguing that they need to recreate the diagnostic scheme for personality disorders because the forms of psychopathology are actually extreme forms of the underlying big 5 personality trait structure. That argument has been going on for 30 years.

Anxiety and depression are highly correlated to neuroticism.

Impulsivity, being inattentive, and sociability are highly correlated with extroversion.

Being interested in people and wanting to take care of people—empathy is highly correlated to agreeableness.

Competitive and predatory are correlated with disagreeableness.

Orderliness and industriousness are correlated with conscientiousness.

Creativity and intelligence is correlated with openness.

The Big 5 and IQ are like a periodic table for personality.

High IQ and conscientiousness generally predict academic success.

Children have some innate personality. They typically develop more in adolescence and adulthood.

Lecture 3

Extraversion: Enthusiasm and Assertiveness

Extraversion is the tendency to experience positive emotion.

Extraversion is made up of assertiveness and enthusiasm.

This trait is normally distributed, meaning that most people fall somewhere in between these two extremes.

Extraversion trait descriptors:

  • Sociable vs retiring
  • Fun-loving vs sober
  • Affectionate vs reserved
  • Friendly vs aloof
  • Spontaneous vs inhibited
  • Talkative vs quiet
  • Make eye contact
  • Drawn to sales and personnel work like nursing and teaching
  • Impulsive (they discount the future more)
  • Gamble more

Assertiveness trait descriptors:

  • Take charge
  • Have a strong personality
  • Lack the talent for influencing people (reversed)
  • Know how to captivate people
  • Wait for others to lead the way (reversed)
  • See myself as a good leader
  • Can talk others into doing things
  • Hold back my opinions (reversed)
  • I’m the first to act
  • Do not have an assertive personality (reversed)

Enthusiasm trait descriptors:

  • Make friends easily
  • I am hard to get to know (reversed)
  • Keep others in distance (reversed)
  • Reveal little about myself (reversed)
  • Warm-up quickly to others
  • Rarely gets caught up in the excitement
  • I’m not a very enthusiastic person (reversed)
  • Show my feelings when I’m happy
  • Have a lot of fun, laugh a lot

Individuals low in extraversion (introverts) don’t like talking about themselves, rarely get excited, don’t show their feelings easily, and tend to hold back.

You can get people to change their personality to an extent. But at some point, you get diminishing returns. An extreme introvert, for instance, can become more extroverted but they will never be as extroverted as an extreme extrovert.

It’s a lot easier to adjust the job relative to you that to adjust you relative to the job. That means that you should find a job that suits your personality rather than trying to change your personality.

From a Darwinian perspective, you want to find a niche that allows your personality to thrive.

The world seems to favor extraverts at the moment but there are still niches for introverts to thrive. Blogging in the early 2010s or newsletters today, for instance.

Extraverts tend to value the present more than the future.

Introverts tend to value the future more than the present.

Personality traits are highly genetically influenced.

You actually don’t want to be happy all the time. Manic people are extremely happy—they don’t feel sadness during their episodes. But it can cause you to discount the future heavily which is not good for you in the long term. So you want to regulate your emotions—you don’t want to be happy all the time.

Being at the top of the hierarchy causes you to feel better at the biochemical level. Uncertainty makes you age faster. So when people are trying to cling to their position in the dominance hierarchy, they’re doing it in part because their life depends on it.

Match the punishment to the crime. Focus on the smallest possible unit of correction. Instead of saying that someone is a failure because they dropped a spoon, for instance, show them some tricks for holding spoons—give them the smallest change in information possible so that the map that they navigate the world isn’t shattered.

  • The way to do it is to come up with a small list of things they’re doing great at and then have one little thing that they could improve.

Depressed people think that any error is evidence of their incompetence. If they burn dinner, for instance, they think they’re incompetent and get suicidal. Their error mechanism is off because everyone who’s incompetent burns dinner but not everyone who burns dinner is incompetent.

Seeing progress is even more validating than moving towards your goal. It’s also validating (and often more so) because your map of navigating the world (your plan) is working and that means that you have the competence to conduct something that works. But the problem is that there is randomness in the world, so you have to not become overconfident after you’ve had success because your success could just come from randomness.

The more extroverted you are the more pleasure you feel per unit of success.

Mania, grandiosity, and narcissism are when success causes people to become over self-confident.

The two hemispheres of the brain are used for separate things:

  • Left: positive emotion and movement forward
  • Right: negative emotion and uncertainty

People who are depressed show more right hemisphere activation.

If extraversion is positive emotion, neuroticism is negative emotion. These emotions represent separate systems in the brain. Consider the following complementary questions: How happy should you be when things are going well? How upset should you be when things are going wrong? Fundamentally, there is no right answer to these questions. Best practices change depending on the environment, which explains why variation in these traits has persisted.

Lecture 4

Neuroticism: Volatility and Withdrawal

Neuroticism is also known as negative emotion.

In general, people are more sensitive to negative emotions than they are to positive emotions.

Defensive aggression [neuroticism] functions as protection against injury. Negative emotion helps us avoid pain and suffering by motivating us to act carefully. However, some people have so much negative emotion that they can become overwhelmed and even incapacitated by it.

Evolutionarily, it’s better to be anxious than injured or dead.

Withdrawal reflects a person’s sensitivity to physiological preparedness and the “freeze” tendency. An example of this is the expression “deer in headlights,” when a person is frozen by fear and anxiety.

People in chronic pain are often depressed. SSRIs can relieve depression and pain.

SSRIs mimic being higher up in the dominance hierarchy. That makes people feel better on a biochemical level.

Withdrawal trait descriptors:

  • Often feel blue
  • Filled with doubts about things.
  • Feel threatened easily.
  • Feel depressed
  • Worry about things
  • Easily discouraged
  • Become overwhelmed by events
  • Afraid of many things

Volatility reflects a person’s sensitivity to defensive aggression. People who are volatile are touchy and are more likely to hyper-respond to negative situations. An example of this might be someone who curses while driving or stuck in traffic.

Volatility trait descriptors:

  • Associated with defensive or predatory aggression
  • Get angry easily
  • Get upset easily
  • Can’t keep emotions under control
  • Change mood frequently
  • Moods go up and down easily
  • Easily annoyed
  • Getting easily agitated
  • Can be stirred up easily
  • Hyper-reactive to frustration, disappointment, and pain

Depression and anxiety disorders are more common in people with high levels of negative emotion. Both disorders can be treated by encouraging the person to take on manageable tasks that improve their lives.

When treating depression, it’s important to look at a person’s life situation as a whole:

  • Do they have a meaningful job?
  • Have they received enough education?
  • How fulfilling is their social life? (Do they have friends and/or an intimate relationship?)
  • Are they in good physical health?
  • Do they use their free time in a meaningful way?

Dr. Peterson’s clinical experience has shown that if a person answers yes to all of these questions and still experiences depression, they’re likely to benefit from antidepressant medications. However, if the patient is unfulfilled in these basic life areas, medication is unlikely to make a difference in their depression. Instead, they may greatly benefit from lifestyle improvement.

SSRI medications are also used as painkillers, which illustrates how deeply the emotional and physical pain systems are intertwined.

There are three possible ways to deal with anxiety as an adult:

  1. Have a plan. Finding a simple yet motivating plan of action can reduce anxiety.
  2. Don’t underestimate the utility of routine. Even simple routines like going to bed and
    eating at the same time each day can help reduce anxiety.
  3. Expose yourself to unfamiliar situations voluntarily. Anxiety is best cured by a voluntary confrontation with the fearsome things. Like the children in Dr. Kagan’s assessment, increasing your proclivity for dealing with new “threats” or situations can reduce anxiety as you become more familiar with those situations.

Both anxiety and depression can be fixed with self-improvement. If clients still have anxiety or depression after their life is structurally sound, SSRIs can help.

Lecture 5

Agreeableness: Compassion and Politeness

Agreeable people can be described as kind, warm, polite, and accommodating, while disagreeable people can be described as selfish, ruthless, and vengeful.

Agreeableness is the tendency to weigh others’ interests against your own. Someone who is agreeable will value others’ interests more than their own, while the opposite is true of someone who is disagreeable.

Conservatives tend to be higher in politeness and lower in compassion. Liberals tend to be the opposite.

Women are higher in compassion and politeness than men.

Clinical psychologists’ most commonly seen illness is negative emotion—anxiety and depression. The second is people who are too agreeable who need assertiveness training.

The trait is composed of two aspects: compassion and politeness.

People who are high in compassion are interested in others’ needs and problems.

They are sympathetic and generous with their time, and they are more likely to take the interests of others into account. Compassionate people often:

Compassion trait descriptors:

  • Feel others’ emotions
  • Inquire about others’ well-being
  • Sympathize with others’ feelings
  • Not indifferent to the feelings of others.
  • Take time for others.
  • Take an interest in other people’s lives
  • Have a soft side
  • Like to do things for others
  • Interested in other people’s problems

People who are high in politeness have respect for authority. They are not pushy or insulting and are careful with their words.

Politeness trait descriptors:

  • Respect authority
  • Don’t believe I am better than others
  • Hate to seem pushy
  • Don’t take advantage of others
  • Avoid imposing will on others
  • Rarely put people under pressure
  • Avoid insulting people
  • Avoid conflict
  • Not out for personal gain

The downside to this behavior is that people who are high in agreeableness may be too caring, and excessively agreeable behavior among adults is a somewhat counterproductive strategy. Over time, agreeable people can become resentful or passive-aggressive.

To combat high levels of this trait, clinical psychologists use assertiveness training to help their patients learn to put their own interests forward. As an example, assertiveness training can help people learn to negotiate for better salaries at work.

Conscientiousness and agreeableness increase with age.

Siblings play an important role in the development of social behaviors, including autonomy.

Children and adults who have agreeable parents should work to develop their own autonomy.

Over-supervision of children inhibits their ability to become fully autonomous.

Disagreeable people are often described as stubborn, callous, ruthless, and vengeful. Although these descriptions sound very negative, there are some advantages to being low in agreeableness. For example, disagreeable people get paid more on average for the same work (because they ask for higher wages), are unlikely to be used by others, and do not become resentful because they don’t do things they don’t want to do.

Excessively low agreeableness often translates to violent and criminal behavior: extreme disagreeableness is the best predictor of incarceration. Both incarceration and extreme disagreeableness are significantly more common in men.

Many men who have predatory aggression also have the capacity to be maternal.

While the distribution of the trait in each sex is not too far apart in the middle, the difference becomes apparent at the tail ends of the normal distribution model. Almost all of the most disagreeable people are men, and almost all of the most agreeable people are women.

Competitive sports are abstractions of hunting.

Competitive sports show the positive side of predatory aggression.

Lecture 6

Personality Differences: Men and Women

The biggest differences between men and women in Big Five personality traits are in agreeableness and neuroticism, with women scoring higher in each. This is true cross-culturally.

The differences are great enough that if you picked a random man and a random woman from the population and guessed that the woman was more agreeable, you would be right 40% of the time.

The highest difference between men and women is in compassion, with women scoring higher than men. In order of highest differences, women also score higher than men in withdrawal, politeness, volatility, openness, orderliness, and enthusiasm. Men score more highly in assertiveness than women.

It is important to understand that there is more personality diversity within men and women than there is between them. The same is true when it comes to race and ethnicity. This means that diversity is not to be found in group identity, rather, diversity is found in individual differences in personality.

It is important to understand that even a small difference in means is magnified at the tails of the distribution. For example, almost all of the most disagreeable people are men. Extremely low agreeableness is a good predictor of incarceration, and there are fifteen times as many men in prison as there are women.

A related theory called the greater male variability hypothesis argues that the greater variability in traits seen in men is a consequence of the fact that men are more disposable as they are less likely to reproduce successfully. This theory may explain why IQ is more variable in men: men are overrepresented in extreme deviations in IQ (both high and low).

From where do sex differences in personality derive? There are two major theories that may help answer this question:

  1. The first theory is social constructionism, which argues that differences in personality arise due to differences in the way men and women are socialized.
  2. The second is the biological hypothesis, which argues that differences in personality are linked to biological differences such as genetic differences.

Few theorists endorse pure social constructionism or pure biological determinism and instead believe that the differences arise from elements of both culture and genetics.

In this lecture, however, Dr. Peterson makes a compelling argument for favoring the biological hypothesis. Researchers ranked countries by how egalitarian their policies were between the sexes. They then administered the Big Five to people from these countries and related the results to how egalitarian the countries were rated. Contrary to their expectations, they found that personality differences were the largest in the most egalitarian countries. Since these countries have tried to minimize cultural influences on sex differences, this is compelling evidence that differences in personality are biologically rooted.

How do sex differences in personality affect occupational choices?

  • Personality psychologists have discovered a trait-like behavior called interest that helps us understand sex differences. There are two major categories of interest: interest in people versus interest in things. This is one of the largest documented personality differences between men and women; men are more interested in things than people, and women are more interested in people than things.
  • Men and women do not differ significantly in measures of IQ or conscientiousness, which are the two biggest predictors of long-term success. Thus, Dr. Peterson argues that it is interest, not ability, that mediates differences in occupational choice between men and women. The most male-dominated occupations include engineering, mechanics, and repairs, all of which reflect an interest in things. The most female-dominated occupations include nursing, teaching, and childcare, all of which reflect an interest in people.

Lecture 7

Conscientiousness: Industriousness and Orderliness

Conscientiousness is associated with work and organization.

Conscientious people are careful, reliable, organized, self-disciplined, and persevering. Unconscientious people are carefree, laid-back, happy-go-lucky, messy, and inattentive.

Orderliness is associated with political conservatism.

Orderliness is related to disgust sensitivity.

Social policy can be based on mitigating pathogen prevalence. Like sexual temperance in the late 1800s or mask usage in response to COVID-19. This is partially why conservatives like closed borders.

Industriousness is (possibly) associated with guilt and shame. Industrious people may work hard because they don’t want to be useless. Not working hard is not morally acceptable to them.

Conscientiousness is composed of two aspects: industriousness and orderliness.

Industrious people carry out their plans, avoid wasting time, finish what they start, and always know what they are doing. They are typically hard-working.

Industriousness trait descriptors:

  • Carry out my plans
  • Don’t waste time
  • Don’t find it difficult to get down to work
  • Finish what I start
  • Get things done quickly (don’t postpone)
  • Always know what I’m doing
  • Not easily distracted

Orderly people keep things tidy, use a schedule, and like routines and details. They are often described as clean and organized.

Orderliness trait descriptors:

  • Tidy
  • Like order
  • Bothered by messy people
  • Want everything to be just right
  • Bothered by disorder
  • Like routine
  • See that rules are observed
  • Want every detail taken care of

Conscientiousness is one of the best predictors of life success, second only to IQ. Despite its high predictive utility, conscientiousness has continually evaded the efforts of personality psychologists to link it to other theories. Dr. Peterson’s research team initially believed conscientiousness would map activity in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is associated with the human behavior of planning. However, when they investigated this hypothesis, they found no correlation. Dr. Peterson and his students then tried to link conscientiousness to a variety of tasks having to do with detail orientation, delay of gratification, and IQ, but again, found no correlations.

  • Despite this, conscientiousness continues to predict life success (in terms of financial and career success) better than almost any other psychological construct.

There are two main mental disorders associated with excessive conscientiousness: anorexia nervosa and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

  1. Anorexia nervosa is a kind of hyper-obsession with bodily purity (or disgust with one’s body), and mostly affects upper-middle class women. Dr. Peterson believes this may be related to the fact that members of the upper-middle class are more likely to be conscientious. They often believe that any amount of fat on the bone makes them “fat” or overweight.
  2. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a mental illness that often fixates around germs. It is common for OCD patients to wash their hands excessively because they feel contaminated. The illness is more complicated than this, but the link between OCD and orderliness is fairly obvious.

There are two main types of people who will help a business to succeed: conscientious and open people.

  1. Conscientious people are good at implementation and management, especially if they are also high in IQ.
  2. Open people are good at thinking up new ideas and changing the direction of the company. Businesses need open, creative, and entrepreneurial people to make sure they aren’t missing out on potentially fruitful opportunities.

Successful businesses tend to capitalize on the complementary strengths of both highly conscientious and highly open people.

Lecture 8

Openness to Experience: Intellect and Openness

Openness to experience is associated with intelligence, creativity, abstract thinking, and artistic interest.

Openness to experience is composed of two aspects: openness and intellect. Openness is the Big Five personality trait that is most closely linked with IQ and is closely associated with creativity.

Open people are described as original, imaginative, creative, complex, curious, and having broad interests. People who are high in openness to experience are motivated by ideas and/or aesthetic experience for its own sake and tend to orient their worlds around such pursuits. They enjoy the beauty of nature, believe in the importance of art, are reflective, become deeply immersed in music, enjoy poetry, are highly emotional, need a creative outlet, and see the beauty in things that other people may not notice. Openness is associated with creativity and interest in aesthetics.

People who are lower in openness are described as conventional, concrete, uncreative, simple, incurious, and have narrow interests.

People who are high in intellect are quick to understand abstract ideas, can handle a lot of information, solve complex problems, enjoy philosophical discussions, read often, and think quickly. The aspect of intellect is the personality reflection of IQ. People who are intelligent tend to seem interested in and competent at manipulating ideas. Intellect is associated with intelligence and interest in ideas.

IQ is one of the most reliable measures in all of psychology.

You can create a rudimentary IQ test by gathering a large library of questions that can be about anything as long as they cover a range of topics. If you randomly select one hundred questions, administer them to one hundred people, then sort by how many questions they answer right, you’ll be able to rank order them by IQ. You’ll get the same rank order if you ask the same people a different set of questions. IQ is one of the most reliable tests ever created, and it is remarkably stable across time.

The U.S. military has done a lot of research on IQ because they want to be able to easily identify competent people. Their research revealed that there is no way to train someone with an IQ lower than 83 that would make them more useful than burdensome, so it is illegal to induct a person with an IQ under 83 into the U.S. Army.

The army is one of the most eager employers--they don’t turn people away without a good reason. It is therefore very difficult to find a suitable job for people with extremely low IQs; often, no such jobs exist. A walloping 10% of the population meets this criterion, and it is a real struggle for them to get by in the world.

Openness trait descriptors:

  • Enjoy the beauty of nature
  • Believe in the importance of art
  • Love to reflect on things
  • Get deeply immersed in music
  • Like poetry
  • Seldom mention the emotional aspects of paintings and pictures
  • Need a creative outlet
  • Tend to get lost in thought
  • Daydream frequently
  • See the beauty in things that others might not notice.

Intellect trait descriptors:

  • Quick to understand things
  • Understand abstract ideas
  • Can handle a lot of information
  • Like to solve complex problems
  • Find interest in philosophical discussion
  • Like difficult reading material
  • Have a rich vocabulary
  • Think quickly
  • Learn things quickly
  • Formulate clear ideas