The Public Relations BlogCreativityCognitive PerformanceI Took a Personality Test and Failed Miserably

I Took a Personality Test and Failed Miserably

I'm done being conscientious and ready to embrace openness.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer


Two years ago, I took the Big Five Aspects Scale per­son­al­ity test. 

I’ve been strug­gling with per­son­al­ity issues since adolescence. 

The prob­lem? There was a mis­match between my exist­ing tal­ents and my ambi­tions in life.

I read self-help books to get to the bot­tom of my per­son­al­ity prob­lem, but none addressed my par­tic­u­lar issues. Maybe I found the wrong books; I don’t know.

At one point, I even dealt with men­tal burnout. I took the SSRI drug Sertraline (Zoloft) for nine months. (Result? I did­n’t like it.)

I had to find a dif­fer­ent approach:

Taking the Big Five Aspects Scale Test

Two years ago, I decided to take the most researched and well-doc­u­mented per­son­al­ity test, the Big Five Aspects Scale. 1See my test res­ults: The Identity Project: My Big Five Aspects Scale Test Results.

What did I learn?

I’m excep­tion­ally high in Openness to Experience (Openness and Intellect) and mod­er­ately low in Conscientiousness (Orderliness and Industriousness).

And sure enough: all my tal­ents are typ­ic­al for people high in Openness. No sur­prise there, perhaps. 

However, I also real­ised that my ambi­tions in life depend on being high in Conscientiousness — which I’m not.

So, Openness to Experience is in my wheel­house.
Conscientiousness isn’t.

The weird thing is that I thought I would be high in Conscientiousness.

Suppressing Openness to Experience

I’ve always admired people who are excep­tion­ally high in Conscientiousness. They’ve been my role models.

Have I been admir­ing these people because they demon­strate qual­it­ies that I lack? And has this admir­a­tion some­how giv­en me stand­ards I can­’t live up to?

Being very low in Volatility and Enthusiasm has allowed me to pre­tend to be high in Conscientiousness well enough to fool even myself.

Conversely, I’ve sim­ul­tan­eously been sup­press­ing my Openness-type talents.

This “intern­al per­son­al­ity battle” between my great but repressed Openness traits and my lim­it­ing but idol­ised Conscientiousness traits has been caus­ing me severe prob­lems for decades.

Scary — but also good to know.

How I Changed My Life Accordingly

So, how did identi­fy­ing my strengths and weak­nesses via the Big Five Aspects per­son­al­ity test help me take action?

  • I’ve accep­ted my lack of con­scien­tious­ness. Lowering my expect­a­tions to a more reas­on­able level allows me easi­er wins. And I feel bet­ter about rais­ing the bar ever so slightly instead.
  • I no longer idol­ise con­scien­tious per­son­al­ity types. I’ve real­ised that people high in con­scien­tious­ness need me just as much as I need them. Instead of becom­ing “one of them,” I now seek ways to coöper­ate and draw from each oth­er­’s strengths.
  • I embrace my per­son­al open­ness to exper­i­ence. I’ve star­ted to con­sider myself a curi­ous and cre­at­ive per­son. I’m slowly get­ting used to such ideas, which makes me feel bet­ter about myself.
Signature - Jerry Silfwer - Doctor Spin

Thanks for read­ing. Please sup­port my blog by shar­ing art­icles with oth­er com­mu­nic­a­tions and mar­ket­ing pro­fes­sion­als. You might also con­sider my PR ser­vices or speak­ing engage­ments.

Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at Spin Factory and KIX Communication Index. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Cover Photo

The cover photo isn't related to public relations; it's just a photo of mine. Think of it as a 'decorative diversion', a subtle reminder that there is more to life than strategic communication.

The cover photo has



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