Researchers have identified structural correlates in adult brains for four of the Big Five personality traits: extroversion, agreeableness, neuroticism, and conscientiousness. Describe the trait of openness. Why might this trait be the one that is not yet correlated with structures of the brain?
The Trait of Openness
The big five personality model provides us with a list of personality traits that are deemed to predict many aspects of our lives such as social behavior, academic performance, work, physical health, and mental health (Ozer & Benet-Martinez, 2006). One of those traits is openness. Openness is associated with having a vivid imagination, an appreciation of art and beauty, having emotional curiosity and intelligence, being attuned to both personal emotions and those of others, eagerness to undertake new experiences, and a readiness to examine social, political, and religious values. People who are considered open have been found to be questioning, unconventional, and emotionally literate (McCrae & Costa, 2010).
The trait of openness has been linked to divergent thinking and intelligence. This would explain why it is not localized in any specific part of the brain as it is more prevalent to verbal intellectual skills and knowledge as compared to executive functions. Thus, people who are open enjoy creativity and new experiences. Dopamine released in such occasions is seen as a reward specifically linked to aspects of novelty. For such people they look for the uniqueness of their everyday experience even in what one may consider familiar.
Openness is viewed in two ways – both structurally and motivationally – and is seen as how wide, deep and permeable one consciousness is. In terms of width open people are interested in many things, depth is looked at in terms of mental associationsand how ideas are connected to thoughts and feelings. On the other hand, permeability is described in terms of how content is both connected and separated. Open people make more conscious mental consciously and have less rigid boundaries.
From the research conducted it is clear that openness is a unique trait that is very specific in terms of its associations. It is not correlated to any structures in the brain as it is mainly based on experience and imagination. Being open reflects perceptions, fantasy, aesthetics and emotions.
Kaufman, S., Quilty, L., Grazioplene, R., Hirsh, J., Gray, J., Peterson, J. and DeYoung, C. (2015). Openness to Experience and Intellect Differentially Predict Creative Achievement in the Arts and Sciences. Journal of Personality, 84(2), 248-258.
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