Some Of The Most Common Character Traits

Updated March 22, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Character traits are your defining characteristics. They can include qualities, temperament, emotions, competencies, talents, and habitual patterns of behavior. We each have many different character traits – some stronger than others. Some believe that character traits are relatively stable over the course of a person’s lifetime. While you can absolutely teach yourself new habits and behaviors, you can't change your character traits – but you can improve the negative ones.

Need Help Improving Your Negative Personality Traits?

The Big Five Personality Traits Classifications

Over the years, many psychologists have used a structure of character traits known as the “Big Five.” Each of the five factors is a category of character traits that contain the essential characteristics that set people apart from each other. Each factor contains two opposing sides of character traits, such as extroversion and introversion. Within each factor, there are many individual character traits.

Character Traits Factor I: Surgency (Extroversion)

Factor one of character traits has been labeled either surgency or extroversion. These are character traits that relate to how you interact with others in social situations, and character traits that determine whether you draw your energy from being with people or being alone. If you’re on the extroversion side of the spectrum, you might have the following character traits:

  • Friendly

  • Socially confident

  • Sociable

  • Assertive

  • Outgoing

  • Energetic

  • Talkative

  • Articulate

  • Affectionate

  • Fun-loving

  • Prone to action

  • Gregarious

If you’re on the introversion side, you probably have these character traits:

  • Quiet

  • Introspective

  • Reserved

  • Thoughtful

  • Silent

  • Passive

Character Traits Factor II: Agreeableness (Pleasantness)

Agreeableness is a character trait that describes the way you get along with and interact with others in most situations. An agreeable person has few, if any, enemies. People with these character traits are usually well-respected, admired, and liked by most people. If you’re on the agreeable side of this spectrum, your character traits include:

  • Altruistic

  • Trusting

  • Modest

  • Humble

  • Patient

  • Tactful

  • Polite

  • Moderate

  • Loyal

  • Kind

  • Helpful

  • Unselfish

  • Sensitive to the needs of others

  • Amiable

  • Considerate

  • Cheerful

  • Affectionate

  • Warm

  • Sympathetic to others, including to strangers

  • Benevolent

  • Traditional

  • Conforming

  • Grateful

  • Forgiving

People on the disagreeable side of the spectrum are hard to get along with in social situations. Their character traits include:

  • Blunt

  • Rude

  • Callous

  • Sarcastic

  • Antagonistic

  • Cruel

  • Abrasive

  • Hostile

  • Selfish

  • Distrustful

Character Traits Factor III: Conscientiousness (Dependability)

Conscientiousness, as a category of character traits, includes abilities and behavior patterns related to controlling impulses, acting in socially appropriate and acceptable ways, and engaging in goal-seeking behaviors. If you have conscientious character traits, you are excellent at delaying gratification, planning, organizing, and working within the rules. People who are conscientious tend to have the following character traits:

  • Planners

  • Persistent

  • Self-disciplined

  • Reliable

  • Resourceful

  • Hard-working

  • Energetic

  • Persevering

  • Predictable

  • Thorough

  • Ambitious

  • Consistent

  • Controlled

  • Goal-oriented

  • Determined

  • Organized

Those who fall lower on the conscientiousness scale tend to have these character traits:

  • Procrastinating

  • Being impulsive

  • Being flighty

  • Being impetuous

  • Being careless

  • Being negligent

  • Being unreliable

Character Trait Factor IV:

Emotional Stability (Neuroticism)

Emotional stability is one of the important character traits that represents how you function in life overall. People who have emotionally stable character traits are comfortable with themselves. They are:

  • Self-confident

  • Self-assured

  • Adventurous

The other side of this character trait spectrum is neuroticism. People who are high in this category may be:

  • Emotionally unstable

  • Overly sensitive

  • Easily angered

  • Self-conscious

  • Low in self-esteem

  • Insecure

  • Self-critical

  • Wary

  • Timid

  • Fearful

  • Nervous

  • Jealous

  • Moody

  • Anxious

  • Pessimistic

  • Awkward

  • Temperamental

Character Traits Factor V: Culture (Openness)

This character trait factor has been called culture, openness to experience, intellect, and imagination. These character traits involve your willingness to think differently from others, try new things, and be vulnerable. People who are open to experience tend to have these character traits:

  • Creative

  • Imaginative

  • Insightful

  • Interested in a wide variety of subjects

  • Original

  • Clever

  • Curious

  • Perceptive

  • Intellectual

  • Deep thinkers

  • Daring

People who have low levels of the openness character traits tend to:

  • Stick to set routines

  • Prefer what they already know to what they aren’t familiar with

  • Enjoy arts and entertainment that are less abstract

  • Shallowness

  • Imperceptiveness

Big Five Character Traits

Several character traits scientists have suggested practical ways to use the results of character studies. Lewis R. Goldberg recommended that the Big Five character traits system be used to predict job performance. The idea is that if you know someone’s character traits, you know more about how they’re likely to behave in their jobs. Researchers Barrick and Mount argued that conscientiousness was the Big Five character trait factor that would predict job success across all types of jobs and career fields. Another character traits’ researcher (Tett) found that the second character traits’ factor, agreeableness, was the best predictor of job performance. While there is still disagreement among scientists about how the Big Five should be used, many employers are aware of primary character traits and consider them when making hiring decisions.

Additional Tests

The Big Five is not the only classification system of character traits. There have been other systems with more or fewer recognized traits. 

Personality Tests

Several tests of character traits have been devised over the years. Some were used mostly in conducting research, while others had more practical applications. Some character traits’ tests are the result of years of scientific research, while many of the character traits’ tests you find free online are put together on the fly with little or no scientific basis. The following four character traits’ tests are notable and well-respected.

Eysenck Personality Questionnaire

The Eysenck Personality Questionnaire is a short, 48-item character traits’ test that measures your level of extroversion and neuroticism. Several versions have been developed. Eysenck’s later version, the EPQ-BV (a 24-item test), has proven to be a highly consistent, valid, and reliable descriptor of character traits.

Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory

The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) is a character traits’ test that was developed in the 1940s and is still used around the world to measure character traits. Within the MMPI are several different scales that measure not only character traits, but also response attitudes, mental symptoms, and special problems the person might be having.

The MMPI character traits’ test is often used for people who are admitted to an inpatient psychiatric facility. It is also sometimes used for people starting therapy or for graduate students pursuing a degree in clinical psychology. People who have brain injuries sometimes take the character traits test to determine the extent of their injuries.


The character traits’ test that is designed to measure the Big Five Factors is the NEO Personality Inventory, or the NEO PI-R. This character traits’ test uses the five dimensions of emotional, interpersonal, experiential, attitudinal, and motivational styles. The test-taker answers 240 questions using a five-point scale. The character traits test is then used by mental health professionals, doctors, and educators. The NEO PI-R is considered reliable and valid.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

Perhaps the most popular character traits’ test is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The MBTI is a test that gauges your character type based on four pairs of opposites:

  • Introversion/Extroversion

  • Intuitive/Sensing

  • Thinking/Feeling

  • Judging/Perceiving

Many people take the MBTI when preparing to start or change their career. The MBTI test can help you determine your strengths and weaknesses to get an idea of the jobs you could do most successfully. You can take the test yourself through the Myers-Briggs Foundation.

Personality Lists

There are numerous character traits’ lists online, as well as in books and magazines. Some are used for writing assignments. Often the best character traits’ lists come from educational institutions, such as this one from MIT. These lists are interesting and can also be useful in a variety of contexts.

What Can You Do About Your Personality?

Your character traits are relatively stable over the course of your lifetime, as mentioned before. So, does this mean there’s nothing you can do about them? No, it doesn’t. While you may not be able to change your character traits, there are several steps you can take to make the most of your positive character traits and minimize the impact of your negative traits once you recognize which ones describe you.

Leveraging Your Positive Traits

When you understand your positive character traits, you can choose a career where you can shine as an individual. If you’re high in the openness to experience traits, you might do well in a creative or intellectual career. If you’re high in conscientiousness character traits, you are likely to make a great leader. By choosing a career compatible with your character traits, you increase the probability that you will be successful.

Dealing With Your Negative Traits

Need Help Improving Your Negative Personality Traits?

Negative character traits may be harder to deal with, but recognizing them can help you make better decisions. For example, if you’re low on the extroversion scale, you may be setting yourself up for failure if you choose a job as a salesperson. If you’re low on the agreeableness scale, you might be better off not trying for a job as an ambassador.

You can also learn to minimize your negative character traits and maximize your positive character traits by learning different ways of thinking and behaving. One way to do this is through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). In CBT, a counselor guides you as you examine your thoughts and actions. Together, you decide if they’re helpful enough to hold onto, or so unhelpful that you want to change them. Your overall character traits may not change, but the way you respond to the outside world can. A counselor can also help you take a character traits test and explain the results. Studies have found that CBT – including internet-based cognitive behavior therapy (ICBT) – can help you understand and improve depressed, negative, and anxious personality traits, as well as improve communication skills, social skills, and confidence. 

Navigating your own character traits and the puzzling results of a traits test is not easy for anyone. An online counselor can help you through this process. You might be skeptical about the efficacy of online therapy. It is always good to proceed with caution when dealing with heavy matters like mental health. But you should know that there is consensus in the mental health community that online counseling works. Studiesmany situations, online counseling is as effective as in-person counseling, while also being more convenient. With BetterHelp, you can connect with a professional therapist from the comfort of your home or office at a time that works for you, and you have the ability to message your counselor any time. 

If you need help dealing with mental health issues, you can talk to a licensed counselor at BetterHelp. You’ll be matched up with a suitable counselor after a brief questionnaire. Then, you can choose to engage in psychotherapy on your schedule. Your therapist will help you get to know yourself better and understand your character’s traits. Read what others have to say about their experience with BetterHelp below.

“Victoria has turned into my anchor during these crazy times! Being able to lean on her with whatever issues I’m coming across, she knows how to handle my big personality and how to calm me down. She does such a great job of keeping me accountable as well!”

“Victor has been very supportive towards my current with-standings and issues that have grown over the past few years. He has full understanding of my personality and certain areas I struggle with. I do feel I am healing slowly and surely after just 2 months of therapy. I am very hopeful that I will come out of this process feeling reborn and more like myself, well more connected to the part of me I have lost.”


Your character and personality traits are a large part of who you are. They set you apart from others in many different ways. You don’t have to live your life based on what a character test says about you. You can use such a test as guidance so that you can make the most of your character and live a more fulfilling, successful life. You can also learn to minimize your negative traits and maximize your positive traits by learning different ways of thinking and behaving. While your overall character may not change, the way you respond to the outside world can. A counselor can also help you take a test and explain the results. Whatever your character traits are, you are capable of leading a happy and well-functioning life. Therapy can help you learn to identify thought processes, behaviors, and instincts, then change them. You deserve to be happy, healthy, and to be someone you like. BetterHelp can help with all of that.

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