The Big Five Project

“Ninety percent of the world’s woe comes from people not knowing themselves, their abilities, their frailties, and even their real virtues. Most of us go almost all the way through life as complete strangers to ourselves.”

- Sydney J. Harris (American Journalist and Author, 1917-1986)


Getting to know one’s self is no easy task. We know what we think about ourselves, and we do pretty well inferring general ideas about how other people see us, but recent books like Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious (Wilson, 2004) and Self-Insight: Roadblocks and Detours on the Path to Knowing Thyself (Dunning, 2005) reveal many human tendencies toward limited self-understanding. Indeed, seeking self-knowledge has been considered a difficult-but-rewarding task for thousands of years.

If you wanted to find a clearer understanding of yourself, where would you look? You might investigate you own personality, the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that characterize you. But as this is still a big task, you could start with the “Big Five,” a term coined by psychologists to describe five central, or core, dimensions of human personality: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Emotional Stability.


After you register a Personality Pad (it’s free and confidential), you will be guided through a straightforward process of generating multi-source (360°) feedback about your own personality. First, you will fill out a popular, 44-question measure of the Big Five personality dimensions from two perspectives: 1) “real” – how you actually are, and 2) “ideal” – how you would like to be. Next, you will have the opportunity to ask friends and family members to provide anonymous 3rd party perspectives on your personality using the same measure (this step is optional, but encouraged). The process is fully automated by PersonalityPad, and you will receive initial results on your Pad immediately.

Below is an example of Personality Pad feedback. Your results will include this type of information for the five “big” personality dimensions AND for each of the 44 questions on the Big Five Inventory. You will get your own space (a pad) for reviewing and interpreting your Personality Feedback Report. We will securely store your results and personal notes, available any time you log in.


We are interested in knowing if the Personality Pad process is an effective tool. We will strip your data of all identifying information, and then compile it with information from other personality pad users. Our goal is to continue to develop and improve these feedback strategies, and the anonymous results of your process on will help us learn what works and what doesn’t. Read about us here. Read our privacy policy here.


Below is an example of feedback on one of the 44 questions on the Big Five Inventory. This item is in the domain of “openness,” a measure of creativity, intellectual curiosity, and a preference for variety. You will get this type of feedback for each of the 44 questions and for the “Big Five” personality dimensions. You will also get interpretation guidelines and a personal space for taking notes and setting goals.