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Cybernetic Big 5 Theory of Personality Cheat Sheet by

theory     cbt5     personality     deyoung

Openness/ Intellect

It is a response to the problem of uncert­ainty. We are never sure what is out there and thus need to contin­uously update our repres­ent­ation of the world. One can do that using a broad lens and by abstra­cting or one can use a concrete lens and be narrowly focused . One can take things in parallel or consider inputs serially and in a logical fashion. Corres­pon­dingly, there are two aspects of this : Openness to experience that is broadly construed and intellect which is more narrowly construed. But at the end of the day this system is about attending to the world and about cognitive explor­ation and can be called an Attend system.


Here the challenge is unpred­ict­abi­lity- of self – and thus the need to regulate oneself. This could be done by either inculc­ating habits and routines or by exercising will power and top down control. Accord­ingly the two aspects are indust­rio­usness (chara­cte­rized by delaying gratif­ication and forgetful control) and orderl­iness ( following rules, routines etc). This is the domain of self regulation and motiva­tion.


Its there because rewards are present in the world and it codes for reward sensit­ivity. As long as rewards are there in the world and the organism acts to receive rewards, there would be individual differ­ences in how much the behavior is performed for the same reward. Thus though operant condit­ioning will guarantee that behaviors get coupled with reward contin­gencies in the enviro­nment, the degree of coupling will be a matter of individual taste. There are two aspects of Extrav­ersion: assert­iveness and enthus­iasm. Assert­iveness is related to wanting a reward and enthusiasm to liking a reward.


It is a response to a problem posed by con-sp­ecifics and signif­icant others. Here the self-other dynamic plays. On one hand you curb selfish impulses to co-operate ad share with con-sp­eci­fics, on the other hand the attachment system makes you automa­tically care and be compas­sionate about your kins and near and dear ones. The two aspects of Agreea­bleness are accord­ingly politeness (curbing impulses to be pro social) and compassion (genuinely caring about others) . This is colloq­uially the attach system , also made popular by Rick Hanson.


Its because there are punish­ments and threats in the world and it codes sensit­ivity to the same. As long as threats are there in the world, the organism will respond by defensive behavior that can be either active escape or passive avoidance. There are tow aspects of Neurot­icism: Volatility or active FFFS (fight, freeze, flight response) response and Withdrawal or BIS (behav­ioral inhibition system) like responses. On the flip side you have a calm person (flip of volatile) and a confident person (flip of withdrawn) . Volatility is active in nature while withdrawal is passive in nature


C.G. DeYoung

Person­ality Meta-T­raits

There are two broad personalty meta-t­raits: called stability and plasti­city. Like all person­ality traits these are on a continuum and someone low in Stability can be called "­Lab­ile­"; while someone low on plasticity can be called as "­Rig­id".

Meta-Trait 1: Plasticity

Is made up of the big 5 traits of Extrav­ersion also concep­tua­lized as behavioral plasticity and Openne­ss/­Int­ellect concep­tua­lized as cognitive. This is a behavioral and cognitive flexib­ility or plasticity and is related to a tendency to explore either behavi­orally one’s enviro­nment or cognit­ively one’s conceptual space to maximize learning. Thus while plasticity pole is a learning and explor­ation pole, the rigidity pole is perfor­mance or exploi­tation pole. In normal course of life one would need to both learn new stuff and leverage that to perform well using existing knowledge. Plasti­cit­y-r­igidity (imho) is the tradeoff and tension between too much learning and too much perfor­mance focus. This aspect of person­ality is purely in cognitive -behav­ioral domain and can be easily modele­d/r­epl­icated by machines.
Plasticity has nothing to do with neuro-­pla­sticity

Meta-Trait 2: Stabil­ity­-labile

Stabil­ity­-labile is somewhat of a mystery to many people. This is the part of person that feels, has motives and unders­tands and acts as if others too are conscious entities like him/her. This is the ghost in the machine. Stability is comprised of Big 5 underlying traits of Neurot­icism also concep­tua­lized as low emotional stability , Consci­ent­iou­sness concep­tua­lized as motiva­tional stability and Agreea­bleness concep­tua­lized as social stability. Stability here refers to the fact that one can exercise control over ones reactions to the enviro­nment. While labile, the polar extreme of stability, is charac­terized by reactivity to enviro­nment/ stimuli, giving in to impulses and is more toward the facet ‘Exper­ience’ of consci­ous­ness; stability on the other hand is all about effort­-full regulation of impulses, will power and control and related to ‘Agency’ part of consci­ous­ness.

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