Conscientiousness in Personality: Definition & Overview

Conscientiousness in Personality: Definition & Overview
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  • 0:02 5 Facotrs of Personality
  • 0:58 Conscientiousness
  • 2:47 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Chris Clause
In this lesson, you will learn to define the personality trait conscientiousness as well as ways its exhibited in everyday situations. Following this lesson, you'll have the opportunity to test your knowledge with a short quiz.

Big Five Factors of Personality

Personality characteristics are often the first thing people think of when asked to describe someone they know. They use words like trustworthy, caring or hard-working. The number of possible descriptors is endless.

In the field of personality psychology, a model of personality has been developed that attempts to narrow that long list of personality traits down into something more manageable. One such personality model that has emerged over the years is called the big five factors of personality. This model suggests that a person's personality can be described using five traits: openness, agreeableness, extroversion, neuroticism and conscientiousness. According to this model, all characteristics of one's personality can be tied to one of these five traits. And everyone possesses all of these traits to some degree.

Definition of Conscientiousness

As mentioned, conscientiousness is one of the big five factors of personality; but what does it mean? Conscientiousness describes how organized and disciplined a person is and also how careful they are in certain situations.

Personality psychologists don't describe someone as being either conscientious or not conscientious. Rather, they are interested in the level of conscientiousness, and use that information to describe a person and make certain predictions about future behavior. Let's look at a couple of examples.

Mary is a college senior who has a 4.0 GPA and is the student body president. Without giving Mary a personality test, we can safely predict that Mary would score high on a measure of conscientiousness.

On the other hand, Stephen rarely shows up for class and is on academic probation. Without knowing anything more about him, it would be a safe bet that he will not score as high on a conscientious scale as Mary did.

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