The ‘Big Five’ personality test is based on the OCEAN or Five-Factor Model (FFM) – the most common model used when creating personality tests. These five personality traits are designed to capture all core human personalities, capturing your preferences, mannerisms, and behavior – they try to represent who you are.
The OCEAN model is similar to creating personality tests using the Enneagram Personality Types.
However, while the Enneagram is a bit more flexible, we recommend the OCEAN model as our preferred model. With only five instead of nine outcomes, it’s much easier to create a ‘Big Five’ personality test.
Are you new to creating personality tests?
No problem at all – we’ve got you covered.
We recommend you download our FREE eBook “Quizmaster” – our cofounders Boris and Mike provide the inside scoop to help you create a personality test, including:
- How many result types?
- What’s the best number of questions?
- How to write compelling, insightful peresonality results?
We’re big fans of the OCEAN model – so our free book provides detailed (and free) instructions on how to create personality tests using that ‘Big Five’ personality traits model.
No time to read Quizmaster?
Just dive in and read this handy blog guide – it will help you create your first ‘Big Five’ personality traits quiz.
‘Big Five’ personality test – start with the results
Right, let’s dive in. Just like any personality test you create, you should start by creating all the result types first.
You can use Riddle’s quiz maker tools for this – our personality test module is designed around the OCEAN model.
Our quiz creator makes this easy; we’ve made the result creation as the first step.
- When you make a new personality test, we’ll show you a range of pre-made personality test templates.
- We suggest to pick a template to learn how these tests are set up – from scoring to crafting good questions and insightful OCEAN-based personality result types.
- Our favorite example you will find is the “What breed of dog are you?” personality test.
- It’s a light-hearted topic but it’s also the most complex quiz we have – so you can really sink your teeth into how we configured our ‘Big Five’ personality test around this topic.
Example ‘Big Five’ personality test – “What breed of dog are you?”
You can take our sample ‘Big Five’ personality test below.
Check out how our questions are both subtle and fun, while gathering enough detail to give each quiz taker an accurate result.
What are the traits for a ‘Big Five’ personality test?
The big five OCEAN personalities are:
Creating a personality test that is based on this model has a very high likelihood of presenting an accurate result to the test taker. The challenge when making an OCEAN personality test lies in mapping your desired results to one of these five big personality traits – use the descriptions and the table below to explore the core personality traits of each result type.
How to write good personality test results?
Okay – let’s get into the nitty-gritty about actual crafting good results for a ‘Big Five’ personality test.
You have two strategies:
- Make your own OCEAN test – you can always just create your own version of the OCEAN personality test, using the same topic and results (e.g. “Openness”, “Neuroticism”, etc.). This doesn’t offer very much flexibility – you are limited to the five OCEAN results. Since there are many templates online, we won’t cover this in more detail.
- (Recommended) Create your own ‘Big Five’ personality test – by far the most flexible and effective option, you can make a quiz around any topic (like our ‘What kind of dog are you?’ or ‘What’s your leadership style?’). You’ll just craft the results around the five overarching OCEAN personality traits.
We’re going to focus entirely on option #2 – it’s much more fun and flexible, plus it applies to the widest range of topics and use cases.
Create (at least) five possible results – similar to the five OCEAN types
- You can use the descriptions below to get a good understanding of these five personalities.
- Try to use our handy table of high and low scoring key traits down below.
Don’t worry – you don’t have to stick to five results for your ‘Big 5’ personality test. We’ve seen successful tests range from 4-8 results – or even 16 like our ‘What breed of dog are you?’ example.
Two approaches for your ‘Big 5’ personality test results
It might sound like this model is rigid and inflexible. But nothing could be further from the truth – check out these two common alternate approaches to creating a successful OCEAN or ‘Big 5’ personality test:
- Be positive (4 results only) – Many quiz creators decide to leave out the “Neuroticism” result type since this trait has a negative vibe.
- If you want to give your audience a purely positive experience, you might not want to include this at all.
- People tend to not like getting this result – which can mean unhappy quiz takers.
- Combine result types (5 results or more) – People are complicated – and often don’t fall into just one personality type.
- Creating more results means you get to think up results that are a mixture of the five traits.
- We did this with our “What breed of dog are you?” example above. This test has 16 different outcomes, each a mix of 2 or more OCEAN personalities.
- It produces surprisingly accurate results, but was also extremely difficult to create. We had a whole team of PhD psychologists help write it – including animal psychology guru Dr. Russ King, and then optimized it over several months with tens of thousands of quiz takers.
Start with exactly five results for your first ‘Big 5’ personality test and find good OCEAN matches for your results.
This will help you craft results that test takers will find believable and accurate, giving them insights into their personality.
Let’s talk about a real world example. Imagine you wanted to create a ‘Big 5’ personality test for a shoe company called “What shoe are you?”.
- First, you’d want to come up with five distinctive shoe types, each mapped to one of the ‘Big 5’ personality traits.
- This 1:1 relationship will make creating the questions and putting the test together much easier.
- For example, one shoe type result might be “Crystal studded high heels” – which you could map to “Extraversion” as the core OCEAN personality trait.
- “Classic Oxford” on the other hand would be a typical shoe for someone whose strongest personality trait is “Conscientiousness”.
Your ‘Big 5’ personality test – each trait in detail
When creating a ‘Big 5’ personality test based on the OCEAN personalities, you will need to understand the core traits of every personality – so you can match each core personality trait to your desired results.
We’ve included the key characteristics of each personality, along with some helpful statements that someone with that personality may say about themselves.
- Pro tip: We highly (!) recommend using these statements to help create questions.
- For example, one of the key statements of someone who scores high on Conscientiousness is “I never forget my belongings”.
- You could turn this statement into a question – like our example below.
- Question: “You are late for a meeting. When you leave your house in a hurry, you…”
- Answer options:
- “Will be right on time – your keys and wallet are right where they are supposed to be.”
- “Need a few minutes to search for your keys and wallet – they never seem to be where you put them the night before!”
- You could give anyone who selects A) points “Conscientiousness”.
- Everyone who picks B) would not get a score for any of the five personality traits as “losing your belongings” has no straight match with any of them.
- IMPT: Don’t be afraid to not give any points for a certain answer if it does not apply to your ‘Big 5’ personality test results.
People that rank highly on openness to experience tend to have a general appreciation for art, emotion, adventure, unusual ideas and a variety of experiences.
They are intellectually curious, open to emotion and sensitive to beauty. However, while this type of person is willing to try new things, they are often perceived to lack focus.
People who rank highly on ‘Openness’ in a ‘Big Five’ personality test would tend to classify themselves with these phrases:
- I have excellent ideas
- I use difficult words
- I am always full of ideas
- I am quick to understand new things
- I am not interested in or easily understand abstract ideas
People that score high on conscientiousness have a tendency to display self-discipline, act dutifully and always try to meet other peoples expectations.
They strive for achievement and display planned rather than spontaneous behaviour. According to the OCEAN model, people who score high on conscientiousness are not very flexible and spontaneous, but are regarded for their reliability by their peers.
They would classify themselves with these phrases:
- I pay attention to every detail
- I like order
- I am always prepared
- I get things done the right way
- I follow a schedule
- I never forget my belongings
- I always end up being helpful
- I give attention to my duties and I am exacting in my work
People that score highly on extraversion on an OCEAN or ‘Big 5’ personality test often enjoy a wide range of activities compared to focusing on just a few things.
This type of person enjoys interacting with people; they appear to be full of energy, coming across as enthusiastic and action-oriented. In a group, they like to be the ones doing the talking and are highly visible and thus appear to be more dominant in social settings.
They would classify themselves with these phrases:
- I am the life of the party
- I enjoy being the center of attention
- I feel comfortable around people and love to start conversations
- I talk to a lot of people at parties
- I enjoy drawing attention to myself
- I have no fear of speaking in front of crowds
People that score highly on the OCEAN model’s agreeableness trait place a high value on getting along with others.
They are considered to be kind, generous, trusting and trustworthy with a marked concern for social harmony. You’ll find that people who rank for Agreeableness place getting along with others above their own self-interest, and tend to trust and cooperate with others.
They would classify themselves with these phrases:
- I have a soft heart
- I take time out for others
- I make people feel at ease and I feel others’ emotions
- I am interested in people and sympathize with others’ feelings
- I will not insult others
- I am interested in other peoples problems and feel concern for others
Probably not a surprise, but folks who score high on neuroticism often experience negative emotions such as anxiety, depression or anger.
They have a low tolerance for stress and react emotionally. Neurotic people are more likely to interpret ordinary situations as threatening and perceive minor frustrations as hopelessly difficult, which diminishes their ability to make decisions, think clearly and copy effectively with stress.
They would classify themselves with these phrases:
- I get upset easily
- I get stressed out easily
- I have frequent mood swings
- I worry about things and get irritated easily
- I often feel blue
- I am not very relaxed most of the time
Table view: the five OCEAN personality types
All these personality types might sound complicated, but don’t worry – it’s easier than it sounds.
We created this handy table below to help our teams when creating the results and questions for each OCEAN or ‘Big 5’ personality test.
Pro tip: You should alternate questions that test for high and low scoring traits. This gives your test a more natural, engaging feel for your quiz takers – the more interesting your quiz, the higher your completion rates.
(By the way, 70-80% is our recommended target for quiz completes – check out our guide to starting, sharing, and other quiz stats here.)
|Trait||Description||High scoring on:||Low scoring on:||Example|
|Open||Openness, or openness to experience, refers to a sense of curiosity about others and the world. A high score on openness can mean you have broad interests. You may enjoy solving problems with new methods and find it easy to think about things in different ways. Being open to new ideas may help you adjust easily to change. Just make sure to keep an eye out for any situations where you might need to establish boundaries, whether that be with family members or your work-life balance.||Leonardo DiCaprio|
|Conscientious||If you are a conscientious person, you might follow a regular schedule and have a knack for keeping track of details. You likely deliberate over options and work hard to achieve your goals. Coworkers and friends might see you as a reliable, fair person. You may tend to micromanage situations or tasks. You might also be cautious or difficult to please.||David Bowie|
|Extraverted||Extraversion refers to the energy you draw from social interactions. If you score high on extraversion, you might consider yourself an extrovert. You might enjoy attention and feel recharged after spending time with friends. You likely feel your best when in a large group of people. On the other hand, you may have trouble spending long periods of time alone.||Yoko Ono, Emma Watson, Gwyneth Palto|
|Agreeable||Agreeableness refers to a desire to keep things running smoothly. If you score high in agreeableness, you you’re helpful and cooperative. Your loved ones may often turn to you for help. People might see you as trustworthy. You may be the person others seek when they’re trying to resolve a disagreement. In some situations, you might a little too trusting or willing to compromise. Try to balance your knack for pleasing others with self-advocacy||Alicia Keys|
|Neuroticism||Neuroticism describes a tendency to have unsettling thoughts and feelings. If you score high on neuroticism, you may blame yourself when things go wrong. You might also get frustrated with yourself easily, especially if you make a mistake. Chances are, you’re also prone to worrying. If if things are going well, neurotic people find things to worry about. But you’re likely also more introspective than others, which helps you to examine and understand your feelings.||Woody Allen|
‘Big 5’ personality test – writing the questions
Now that you got your quiz result types covered, you need to come up with compelling questions and answers.
For a classic, five result OCEAN ‘Big 5’ personality test, we recommend:
- 12 questions
- 3-5 answer choices per question
Why? This is just a guideline – but we’ve found:
- More than 12 questions, many people start losing interest and leave the quiz before their results.
- Less than 12, you won’t have enough data to give each possible result type a chance to get sufficient points to be a clear winner.
Remember, this is why we recommend using a personality test maker like Riddle. We’re a bit biased of course (it’s our blog, after all) – but seriously, to create a good ‘Big 5’ personality test, you’ll need the flexibility to assign distinct point values to each answer to various results.
For example, in our ‘What breed of dog are you?’ personality test, we assigned different points to several results for each answer:
This won’t work well if you can only give all points to just one result type. All or nothing scoring isn’t really suited for the complexities of people’s personalities.
Use situational questions in your ‘Big 5’ personality test
Situational questions are both powerful and much more engaging.
Compare “Where would you be at a crowded cocktail party?” with the typical (and boring) questions “On a scale from not very likely to highly likely, where do your rate yourself” you get on most personality tests.
We’ve found these situations questions work better – they get each test taker to imagine himself in a certain setting. This results in a more accurate answer – especially as it’s a little harder to predict which answers will match to which results.
That’s one of the most significant grumbles we have with the standard ‘Strongly disagree to strongly agree’ type of scales – people naturally start to figure out which answers will be scored to which results.
There’s a natural tendency for people to try and ‘game the system’ – to get the most flattering result.
Situational questions are more subtle – and can help hide the link between answer options and result types, giving more accurate overall results for each quiz taker.
Pick answer options that easily match with your result types
Right – so you can tell we’re big fans of these types of situational questions.
That’s only half the equation, of course. You next need to come up with insightful answers that can easily be matched with your result types.
For example, going back to our “What kind of shoe are you?” example personality test, someone answering “Behind the bar, trying new cocktail recipes”:
- Will score high on “Openness” (this mapped to the ‘Beat up old tennis shoe’ result)
- People who rank highly on “Openness” are experimental, creative and open minded.
- This answer option should get 10 points.
But each answer can also map to several different results with varying results.
You might decide that choosing “Behind the bar, trying new cocktail recipes” also means you’re showing signs of “Agreeableness”, since “Always willing to help out” is a strong character trait for that OCEAN type.
So in this case, we’re going to assign the ‘Beat up old tennis shoe’ (Openness) result 10 points for this answer, but only 3 points for ‘Fuzzy house slippers’ (Agreeableness).
Following this train of thought will get you writing questions and answer options in no time.
- Just think of situations where you can present the test taker with reactions that match the result types.
- Be creative and go off-topic – every question doesn’t have to be focused on the main test theme.
- Remember our cocktail example? That has nothing to do with shoes – yet still helps gather insights about the quiz taker.
Adopting this wider range of questions will keep test takers on their toes – and make them wonder how a particular question will relate to their results.
But it obviously won’t hurt to throw in topic-related questions, as long as you make them situational.
Ask situational questions – both on (and off) topic
We recommend creating a mix of 60% on topic and 40% off-topic questions – and keeping them 100% situational.
For example, here’s a situational – yet topic-related – question that you could ask:
Question: You are meeting up with friends for a round of tennis and realize you forgot your tennis shoes. What do you do?
- Tell my friends to get started, while I rush home to get my tennis shoes. Gotta have the right shoes to play (Conscientious)
- Play with whatever shoes I am wearing right now, worst case making fun of myself when slipping and sliding around the court (Openness)
- Play barefoot (Extraversion)
- Afraid to hold up my friends, I will tell them to get on with their game, while I just watch from the sidelines (Neuroticism)
Scoring your ‘Big 5’ personality test
Riddle’s quiz creator gives you a scale from zero to twenty points for each answer option. You assign points for each answer across one (or many) result types – the quiz taker receives the result with the most points.
You can also show users how they did on the other personality results with our ‘extended personality results’ feature. For example – user A might get “Openness” as their result in your ‘Big 5’ personality test. However, you could also show they got 41% “Conscientiousness”, 17% “Extraversion”, and so on.
Check out this example from our “What breed of dog are you?” personality test:
We find that boosts engagement and sharing – people enjoy finding how not just their main result, but how they scored across all of the other possibilities.
Riddle’s personality test – weighted scoring
Our personality test responses use a weighted response system, with a range of 21 options for each choice.
- 0: No association
- 1-7: Weak association
- 8-14: Medium association
- 15-20: Strong association
As you move the slider for each response, each ‘tick’ increases the points assigned for that response.
- A tick on #12 (medium) is worth less than a tick on #13 (medium), for example.
- At the end of the personality quiz, our system counts up the points for each result type – then assigns the user the particular result with the most points.
When creating a test, make sure that each of your OCEAN results has a chance to win.
- Tally up the potential points for each results and check if each of the results have roughly the same potential points.
- It’s easy to end up with one result that has a disproportionate share of the possible points – which means too many quiz takers will get that result, and it won’t feel accurate.
- Balancing each result type is much easier when creating a personality test with five results vs. one that has 16 results.
- For very complicated tests, we suggest to create an outline in Excel first to make sure your scoring makes sense.
- Keep it to 10 points – max: we recommend using 10 points as the highest score for most results option.
- Save the maximum 20 points for ‘extremely strong’ indicators: This should be your ‘big gun’ – used only when a particular answer option means someone is definitely that result type.
- If you assign the full 20 points for a certain result, it’s almost certain to give the quiz taker that result in a typical 10 or 12 question test.
Test, test, test your test out
Okay – when you’re finished, it can be tempting to just click publish and share your ‘Big 5’ personality test.
But we highly, highly recommend giving it a couple of run throughs – to make sure everything looks and feels ‘right’.
You should also play through your test, and answer the questions trying to get a particular results. Make sure that the outcome you get is what you aimed for.
If you’re not getting the OCEAN result you were trying for, check your scoring. You probably have one question where the answer options give too many points to a particular result type.
Any questions about making a ‘Big 5’ personality test? Just ask us!
No surprise, right? We’re huge quiz and customer support geeks at Riddle – ask away, either with support chat or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Our whole team of coders and quiz nerds, from our co-founders Boris and Mike on down, race each other to respond to questions first.
Good luck with your OCEAN test!
Further reading @ OCEAN personality tests
Brace yourself (and get some coffee) – crafting a really good, highly insightful personality test around the big five personality traits can be a challenge.
Sure, the mechanics are easy, especially using our quiz maker. However, there’s an art and science to creating really good personality tests (check out this handy guide from our chief quiz guru).
It’s very much worth it – personality tests have the best lead generation opt-in and social share rates of all 15 of our Riddle content types.
We’ve found these are great resources to help you learn more about the psychology behind the OCEAN and ‘Big five’ personality tests: