Big 5 and Personality Disorders compares the five domains of a general personality with six personality disorders that are proposed for retention in the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 

The five domains of a general personality include openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism, while the six personality disorders are borderline, antisocial, schizotypal, avoidant, obsessive-compulsive, and narcissistic. 

Read on to know more –

Big 5 and Personality Disorders

Every individual showcases a unique personality for leading their life, which refers to specific characteristics they portray at the time of thinking, feeling, behaving, and relating to other individuals. While some tend to be introverted, quiet, and detached, others are extroverted, outgoing, and active. 

Some are undoubtedly more conscientious, efficient, and dutiful, whereas others might be negligent and unreliable. Moreover, there are even people who remain anxious consistently apart from being conscious of themselves and apprehensive, while the rest happen to be relaxed, assured, and unconcerned.

Personality traits refer to these characteristics that guide people in their routine activities of thinking, feeling, and building relations with others. Signs of these traits appear in one’s childhood, but they become more prominent once someone becomes an adult. The traits form an integral part of each individual’s sense of who they are. They take into consideration all those things that people value, their thoughts and feelings about various aspects, what they prefer doing, and how they carry out their duties in daily life.

Numerous personality traits exist and they can be categorized into broad dimensions that exist under the Five Factor Model of Personality. These dimensions are inclusive and none of the traits lie outside this model. 

Big 5 Personality Traits

Let us now briefly discuss the various components that make up these five traits in an individual’s personality –

1. Openness 

Openness is one of the traits under the Big 5, which involves working with creativity, and curiosity, and showing interest in gaining new experiences in life. Those individuals, who are high on openness, tend to embrace new ideas from others. They like pursuing new adventures and creative endeavors.

Moreover, people with high openness in their personalities are extremely proficient in thinking about and making contacts between various ideas and concepts.

On the other hand, an individual with low openness in their personality has a preference for maintaining a routine, following traditions and working under familiar conditions. They would look into new things with extreme caution and consistency. All those individuals who have low openness often tend to be close-minded and rigid. They find it tough to cope with changes.

2. Conscientiousness

When a person is conscientious, they can easily exercise discipline and control in their personality to achieve their goals. If this trait is on higher levels, then they would be organized, show determination in their behavior, and will manage to postpone the need for instant gratification. 

Alternatively, if someone is low on conscientiousness in their personality, then they would always give preference to having fun at present and push back all their duties and responsibilities for later dates. These individuals will portray themselves as a laid-back, casual, and relaxed person. It is highly unlikely that they would follow rules and will not be prone to make extensive plans. 

3. Extraversion

Extraversion is the third trait among the Big 5 personality traits which makes a person behave in an excitable, sociable, talkative, assertive, and emotionally expressive manner. People, who are high on extraversion in their personalities, tend to be outgoing and gain energy from socializing. They experience a lot of excitement by being with others.

When the extent of extraversion is low inside an individual’s personality, they tend to be reserved in their nature. They invest less energy in social settings and gatherings can tire them out. These types of individuals require spending time alone to feel good about themselves.

4. Agreeableness

This particular personality trait consists of attributes like altruism, trust, affection, kindness, and several other prosocial behavioral patterns. Individuals with high agreeableness show a great deal of interest in other people and cooperate with them to fulfill their responsibilities.

Moreover, they never shy away from showing empathy toward others’ conditions. Hence, they love offering their assistance and contributing to the happiness in people’s lives. 

Besides, when the level of agreement in one’s personality is on the lower side, then they will have very little interest in knowing about people’s lives. They do not bother to know the problems that keep coming across in their lives and the struggles they go through while dealing with them. Rather, they would not hesitate to insult, low down upon their conditions, and make them do whatever they want in life. 

5. Neuroticism

The final personality trait that completes the Big Five is Neuroticism. Its characteristics include dejection, sadness, and emotional instability. People who carry high neuroticism in their personalities have the habit of experiencing extreme mood swings, irritation, anxiety, and sadness.

They suffer from stress because of their habit of worrying about various things in their lives. These individuals get upset very easily and have problems coming out of stressful situations. 

Alternatively, people with low neuroticism in their personalities are more stable and have emotional resilience. They are good at dealing with stressful situations and overcoming them to reach their goals. Moreover, they embrace happiness so much that they hardly feel depressed, remain free from worries, and stay relaxed.

Personality Disorders in DSM-5

Whenever personality traits create a significant level of distress and make someone socially impaired, they are seen as a personality disorder. What constitutes a personality disorder is mentioned in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), whose current version is DSM-5. 

The DSM offers a standard criterion and common language for classifying and making a diagnosis of different mental disorders. 

DSM-5 consists of ten personality disorders. They include the following –

  • Antisocial personality disorder
  • Avoidant personality disorder
  • Borderline personality disorder 
  • Dependent personality disorder
  • Histrionic personality disorder
  • Narcissistic personality disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Paranoid personality disorder
  • Schizoid personality disorder
  • Schizotypal personality disorder

A Comparative Analysis between Big 5 and Personality Disorders

Let us now briefly look into the links that the big 5 personality traits have with different personality disorders – 

The personality disorders mentioned earlier are a group of dysfunctional traits, rather than only one specific personality trait. Hence, personality disorders are also known as syndromes. 

The following table will help you get a better understanding of the relationship between the Five-Factor Model FFM and personality disorders, which even have combinations of neuroticism and agreeableness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness apart from many more.

Sl. NoPersonality DisordersConnections to Big 5 Personality Traits

Avoidant Personality Disorder is an extensive pattern of experiencing social inhibitions, suffering from inadequacy, and being hypersensitive to negative feedback.Neuroticism – It exudes high levels of self-consciousness, worries, and anxieties. Thus, people with avoidant characteristics usually have high neurotic tendencies.

Dependent Personality Disorder involves a submissive attitude, a tendency to cling to something, and also contains fears of separation. Neuroticism – The trait portrays uncertainty, a pessimistic approach, and helplessness.
Agreeableness (Antagonism -maladaptive) – It denotes that an individual is weak, submissive, and over-trustful. 

Antisocial Personality Disorder refers to a type of disorder that is extremely challenging and the person suffering from it portrays irresponsible, impulsive, and criminal behavior. They would also be deceitful, manipulative, and reckless, thereby not bothering about others’ feelings.  Conscientiousness (Low) – This trait is characterized by show of immorality, irresponsibility, and rash behaviors. 
Agreeableness (Antagonism – maladaptive) – It consists of manipulative behavior, portraying dishonesty, the tendency to exploit others, acting with callousness, and being merciless toward people’s sufferings.
4Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder denotes that a person will have a tough time feeling relaxed and always tend to remain under pressure. These individuals will also feel that they do not have sufficient time to undertake important responsibilities. Conscientiousness (maladaptive) – It shows traits belonging to a workaholic person or someone who always looks for perfection in whatever they do or carries the determination to achieve something.
5Schizoid Personality Disorder showcases a person’s inability to express their emotions and very little or absolutely no interest and ability to build relationships with others. They are happy staying confined to their world, nurturing their thoughts, and focusing on what they need to do. Extraversion (Introversion -maladaptive) – It shows traits that carry a positive correlation with an introverted person and a negative correlation with an extroverted person. In this case, an individual would be cold in their behavior, prefer leading an isolated life

Borderline Personality Disorder is a mental health problem that adversely affects an individual’s ability to tackle their emotions and feelings. The lack of emotional control can increase the chances of their impulsive behavior and affect how they feel about themselves. It can even hurt their relationships. Neuroticism – The trait depicts that an individual is emotionally unstable, has certain vulnerabilities in their personality, feels overwhelmed, and suffers from depression, anxiety, and self-destructive thoughts.

Histrionic Personality Disorder happens to be a psychiatric disorder. It signifies that people with these psychiatric disorders carry an extreme desire to attract others’ attention, which results in them making inappropriate and extravagant behaviors as well as emotions.Extraversion (Introversion – maladaptive) – This form of the trait denotes that a person would seek attention, seduce others into doing something they would otherwise not do, display melodramatic emotions for letting someone serve their hidden purpose as well, and show strong needs of attachment.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a condition in which an individual tends to think highly about themselves. They always desire to get lots of attention from others. It does not allow them to value people’s feelings and completely ignore their needs. Neuroticism – It denotes that an individual has the habit of showcasing reactive emotions, including shame and anger, apart from the need to receive others’ admiration. 
Extraversion – This trait signifies that a person would always be inclined to portray exhibitionism and the power they possess within themselves. 
Agreeableness (Antagonism – maladaptive) – People suffering from narcissistic personality disorder will also showcase antagonistic behavior, the maladaptive trait of agreeableness. Its results suggest that there will be a show of arrogance from their end and a lack of empathy toward others.
Conscientiousness – When someone suffers from narcissistic personality disorder, they would also look to receive appreciation from others. They would want people to recognize their work and encourage them to do better. 
9Schizotypal Personality Disorder refers to a mental health situation that carries a constant pattern of extreme discomfort, which an individual experiences while maintaining relationships with close people and also at the time of having social interactions. Neuroticism – When someone suffers from a schizotypal personality disorder, they are anxious and have loads of discomfort while dealing with people in society. 
Extraversion (Introversion -maladaptive) – The trait of extraversion becomes maladaptive and that results in a person portraying behavioral patterns that are visible among introverts. They would always try to keep themselves away from society and lead a secluded life. 
Agreeableness (Antagonism – maladaptive) – This trait of agreeableness becomes maladaptive, which results in a show of characteristics that are visible among antagonistic people. Even if they agree to someone’s idea, at the back of their mind, they will keep having suspicions. 
10Paranoid Personality Disorder is a sort of eccentric personality disorder in which a person displays behaviors that look odd or unusual. They would show their reluctance to confide themselves in others. It is also evident that a person having this personality disorder will bear grudges, and even quickly show anger and hostility toward others. Neuroticism – A person suffering from paranoid personality disorder tends to portray traits that lie under high neuroticism. They will show poor response to environmental stress, and consider normal situations as threatening and even minor irritations can be overwhelming for them. 
Agreeableness – This is another trait under the Big Five personality traits that people suffering from paranoid personality disorders portray in their behaviors. It is less likely that they would easily get along with others, trust them, and sympathize with all those who are deprived of basic needs in their lives.
Personality Disorders and their Trait Dispositions

Research Studies On Personality Disorders and Its Connection To Big 5 Personality Traits

The Big Five Personality Traits are a widely accepted framework for describing and measuring personality traits. The five traits are Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism (often referred to by the acronym “OCEAN”). 

These traits have been extensively studied in relation to various psychological phenomena, including personality disorders. Here are some research studies that have explored the connection between personality disorders and the Big Five traits:

  • Widiger, T. A., & Trull, T. J. (1992) – “Personality and psychopathology: An application of the Five-Factor Model.” Journal of Personality, 60(2), 363-393. This study examined the associations between personality disorders and the Big Five traits. It found that specific personality disorders were related to certain patterns of Big Five traits. For example, avoidant personality disorder was linked to low extraversion and low openness.
  • Samuel, D. B., & Widiger, T. A. (2008) – “A meta-analytic review of the relationships between the Five-Factor Model and DSM-IV-TR personality disorders: A facet level analysis.” Clinical Psychology Review, 28(8), 1326-1342. This meta-analysis explored the connections between specific facets of the Big Five traits and different personality disorders. The study found significant associations between specific facets and certain personality disorders. For example, avoidant personality disorder was related to lower extraversion and lower assertiveness.
  • Malouff, J. M., Thorsteinsson, E. B., & Schutte, N. S. (2005) – “The Five-Factor Model of personality and relationship satisfaction of intimate partners: A meta-analysis.” Journal of Research in Personality, 39(4), 124-141. While not specifically focused on personality disorders, this meta-analysis examined how the Big Five traits relate to relationship satisfaction. Since interpersonal difficulties are often associated with personality disorders, this study indirectly highlights potential connections between personality disorders and certain traits.
  • Saulsman, L. M., & Page, A. C. (2004). “The Five Factor Model and personality disorder empirical literature: A meta-analytic review.” Clinical Psychology Review, 23(8), 1055-1085. This meta-analysis reviewed existing research on the relationship between the Big Five traits and personality disorders. The authors found consistent associations between certain traits and specific personality disorders. For instance, borderline personality disorder was linked to high neuroticism and low agreeableness.
  • Thomas, K. M., Yalch, M. M., Krueger, R. F., Wright, A. G., & Markon, K. E. (2013) – “Initial construction of a maladaptive personality trait model and inventory for DSM-5.” Psychological Medicine, 43(7), 1-10. This study aimed to bridge the gap between the Big Five traits and the diagnostic criteria for personality disorders in the DSM-5. It resulted in a model of maladaptive personality traits that align with the Big Five. The study highlights the associations between personality disorders and specific facets of the Big Five traits.

These studies demonstrate the complex relationships between personality disorders and the Big Five traits. It’s important to note that while there are consistent associations between certain traits and disorders, personality disorders are multifaceted and influenced by a variety of factors beyond just the Big Five traits. Additionally, research in this field is ongoing and we may receive more information on this in the near future.

Summing Up from the “ThePleasantPersonality”

In this article, we have had a detailed discussion regarding the comparisons of 10 personality disorders that are mentioned in the DSM-5 module and each of their corresponding traits lying under Big 5 personality traits. 

Every disorder contains one or more than one trait of neuroticism, agreeableness, extraversion, and conscientiousness along with some of their maladaptive versions that are applicable.