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How the HEXACO Model of Personality Explains Behavior and Relationships

The Big 5 Personality Traits model, also known as the Five Factor Model, is a widely recognized framework for character analysis. Psychologists have been using it for decades to study individual differences in personality. The model categorizes traits into five broad dimensions: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism, conveniently remembered by the acronym OCEAN.


But in the early 2000s psychologists discovered evidence of a sixth personality factor, which led to a new model of personality called HEXACO. This multi-dimensional model expands upon the Big 5, providing a comprehensive look at human character and behavior with the addition of honesty-humility, a component of moral character.

HEXACO Six-Factor Model of Personality

What is the HEXACO Model?

The HEXACO model of personality is a six-dimensional theory that categorizes human personality traits. It stands for Honesty-Humility (H), Emotionality (E), eXtraversion (X), Agreeableness (A), Conscientiousness (C), and Openness to Experience (O). Developed by Kibeom Lee and Michael C. Ashton, the HEXACO model is considered to be an extension of the well-known Big Five or Five-Factor Model of personality.  In addition to the addition of honesty-humility, there are meaningful differences between the HEXACO model and the Big 5.

Honesty-Humility (H): This factor reflects an individual's sincerity, fairness, modesty, and willingness to avoid manipulation or exploitation of others. People high in Honesty-Humility tend to be honest, straightforward, altruistic, and humble, while those low in this trait may be more deceitful, manipulative, and self-centered.


Emotionality (or Emotionality/Neuroticism) (E): Emotionality refers to the tendency to experience negative emotions such as anxiety, fear, sadness, and anger. Individuals high in Emotionality may be more prone to mood swings, anxiety disorders, and other emotional challenges, while those low in Emotionality are typically more emotionally stable and resilient.


eXtraversion (X): This factor is similar to the Extraversion factor in the Big Five model and encompasses traits such as sociability, assertiveness, enthusiasm, and positive emotionality. People high in eXtraversion are outgoing, talkative, and enjoy social interactions, while those low in eXtraversion may be more reserved, introverted, and prefer solitude.


Agreeableness (A): Agreeableness in the HEXACO model is similar to the Agreeableness factor in the Big Five and reflects traits such as kindness, empathy, cooperativeness, and altruism. Individuals high in Agreeableness are typically warm, friendly, and considerate of others, while those low in Agreeableness may be more skeptical, competitive, and less concerned with others' welfare.


Conscientiousness (C): Conscientiousness in the HEXACO model is similar to the Conscientiousness factor in the Big Five and refers to traits such as organization, responsibility, diligence, and self-discipline. People high in Conscientiousness are reliable, hardworking, and goal-oriented, while those low in Conscientiousness may be more careless, impulsive, and disorganized.


Openness to Experience (O): Openness to Experience in the HEXACO model is similar to the Openness factor in the Big Five and reflects a person's willingness to explore new ideas, experiences, and ways of thinking. Individuals high in Openness are imaginative, curious, and creative, while those low in Openness may be more conventional, closed-minded, and resistant to change.


Happier Hour with Einstein by Melissa Hughes

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