Your personality can affect numerous aspects of your life, including your relationship (see Cooper & Sheldon, 2002 for a review). In fact, research has shown that your personality is associated with how satisfied you are with your relationship and the amount and quality of intimacy you feel with your partner (White, Hendrick, & Hendrick, 2004). Researchers have identified five main personality characteristics, which they call the Big Five Personality Traits.
These traits fall into five broad dimensions, which include:
- Extraversion: talkative, energetic, & assertive
- Agreeableness: affectionate, sympathetic, & kind
- Conscientiousness: thorough & organized
- Neuroticism: anxious, tense, & moody
- Openness to Experience: insightful, imaginative, & having a wide range of interests
When it comes to relationships, some of the most compelling research has found strong associations between neurotic individuals and numerous relationship variables, with high neuroticism usually damaging a married couple's level of relationship satisfaction (e.g., Robins, Caspi, & Moffitt, 2002; Watson, Hubbard, & Wiese, 2000; White et al., 2004). When looking for a romantic partner, most individuals tend to search for people who are low in neuroticism and high in openness (Zentner, 2005). Additionally, research has shown that as an individual's extraversion and agreeableness increases, their relationship satisfaction and feeling of intimacy in their relationship also increases (White et al., 2004).
Interestingly, research has revealed that individuals don't always desire relationships with people who have personalities similar to their own. Instead, individuals tend to place more value on how similar their potential mate's personality is to their idealized romantic partner's personality (Zentner, 2005).
You can find out where you fall on each personality dimension by taking this online survey.
- Cooper, M. L., & Sheldon, M. S. (2002). Seventy years of research on personality and close relationships: Substantive and methodological trends over time. Journal of Personality, 70, 783- 812.
- Robins, R., Caspi, A., & Moffitt, T. (2002). It's not just who you are with, it's who you are: Personality and relationship experiences across multiple relationships. Journal of Personality, 70, 925- 964.
- Watson, D., Hubbard, B., & Wiese, D. (2000). General traits of personality and affectivity as predictors of satisfaction in intimate relationships: Evidence from self and partner ratings. Journal of Personality, 68, 413- 449.
- White, J. K., Hendrick, S. S., & Hendrick, C. (2004). Big five personality variables and relationship constructs. Personality and Individual Differences, 37, 1519-1530.
- Zenter, M. R. (2005). Ideal mate personality concepts and compatibility in close relationships: A longitudinal analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 89, 242-256.
For more information about the Big Five, see the following resources:
- Recognizing Your Big Five Personality Traits
- Measuring the Big Five
- Psychological Testing: The Big Five Personality Traits
Click HERE to take another one of my "monday morning surveys."