Using the Big Five personality test, will help give you insight into your toxic father traits and some of his habits, behaviours, also how to cope with them.
You can also use this information to better understand his strengths and weaknesses.
What The Big Five Personality trait is
This model is known as the “Big Five” and has so far received a lot of attention. The Big Five has been researched across many cultures and countries and is the most widely accepted theory of personality today.
The initial model was initiated by Ernest Tupes and Raymond Christal in 1961, but unfortunately was not widely accepted at first. It was not until the 1980s and 1990s that it started to take off and be accepted in academic circles.
It is now predominately used by psychologists or by Companies and Organisations when they are recruiting new staff members. They find that it provides a useful understanding of their potential employees’ personality traits, and would help them identify more clearly which jobs will suit them best or who will fit in their companies.
The Big Five Personality Model is also a useful way for you to understand your toxic father’s traits and lead you to understand more how it affects you and how you can respond to it.
It is advisable if you want to use this on yourself, to complete one of the many Personality Tests available on the Internet. I have listed a few below.
However, you can read through the descriptions of the particular Personality traits to get a general idea of your own toxic father’s traits.
How the Big Five Personality Model relates to Toxic Father Traits
Each of the Big Five personality traits is a very broad individual category that covers a wide variety of personality-related terms.
The theory identifies that we all have five factors in our personality traits:
- openness to experience (inventive/curious vs. consistent/cautious)
- conscientiousness (efficient/organized vs. extravagant/careless)
- extraversion (outgoing/energetic vs. solitary/reserved)
- agreeableness (friendly/compassionate vs. critical/rational)
- neuroticism (sensitive/nervous vs. resilient/confident)
Some people use the Acronyms CANOE or OCEAN to try and remember the different categories.
Each individual category contains two sub-categories: High relating to those personality traits relating to that category and then Low relating to those who have traits relating to that category.
Those two individual categories then include a list of other related characteristics.
For example, the broad trait Agreeable on the low side would be for example Stubborn and Demanding, etc. On the high side, you would find Modesty and Empathy.
Therefore, the Big Five while not completely exhaustive, cover virtually all personality-related terms.
A grasp on more about each personality trait and what it means to score low or high in that personality trait will give you some insight into his personality, without the need for your father to take the personality test.
A positive part of this when understanding your father’s personality is that it looks on our personalities on a spectrum rather than just black and white categories. It understands that none of us are on the far ends of the spectrum but we more than likely fall in between.
This relates to your father’s ability for imagination and insight. If your father is high in openness, he would maybe have a broad range of interests, he could have a good sense of adventure being curious about the world. Also, you may find him eager to try new experiences.
If he is low in openness, he could be very traditional, preferring to stick with what he knows and struggling with thinking imaginatively outside the box. You may struggle here with him if you are open yourself but he is low in openness.
This however doesn’t make him toxic if you are the opposite here. What could make him toxic is his inability to understand that you are different from him.
What can also make him toxic is if he is often irritated by individual differences or different points of view. Or even when you are polite it could make him very defensive.
Your father does not need to agree with everything you do but you will still know that he supports you as a person.
Your father could also be toxic if he is too open. Here you may find him quite insatiable and lacking in firm conviction of anything. Even when faced with facts and logic, they wouldn’t match to his opinion on what feels right for him.
The aspects of his personality trait on the high side would include thoughtfulness, good impulse control, and goal-directed behaviors. He would also tend to be very organised and detailed oriented planning ahead and conscientious of how they affect you and others
If your father is scoring lower in Conscientiousness he would be less structured and not organised. You may also find that he often procrastinates and misses appointments or events.
He can also make a mess (either emotionally or practically) but avoid fixing it and appear to dislike structure and schedules.
If your dad is extroverted he could be excitable, sociable, talkative, assertive, and very emotionally expressive. You may also notice that he gets a lot of energy from social situations and may enjoy being the center of attention. Being around other people makes him happy and energised but he may struggle to be on his own for a lengthened time.
Your dad as an extrovert may also speak before thinking about what he has said and be more confrontational.
If he is low in this personality trait, he would be classed as very Introverted where he would be more reserved. He would find it draining being in social situations and struggling to be around a group of people, especially if he doesn’t know them.
As an introvert, he would think more about what he needs to say and be less confrontational.
Here your father who is high in agreeableness would be more cooperative, shows a lot of interest in what you think, and actively shows that he cares about you.
You feel that he empathises with you (i.e he puts himself in your shoes to understand what you are feeling or experiencing). He seems to enjoy helping others and treats other people with respect and cares about what happens in the wider community.
If he is low in agreeableness, he doesn’t show much interest in you or other people. Even if he does, it is usually to get something back for himself. Doesn’t show that he cares about how you feel and doesn’t show any interest in your problems or difficulties.
He may also insult and degrade you either extroverted by the words he uses or introvertly by being passive-aggressive.
You may also find that he manipulates you to try and get what he wants from you or others.
Neuroticism is about your father’s ability to manage their emotions.
On the high side, most of the time you would find that your father experiences a lot of stress and worries about a lot of things. You may find that he gets upset easily, his mood is unstable and he seems to struggle to get back to ‘normal’ after difficult times.
In fact, you may continue to see him deteriorate or use alcohol or drugs to manage his feelings.
If he is on the low side, he would be good at managing stress, stable with his emotions, and very calm and relaxed. He would also worry and feel anxious but would know what is bothering him and have ideas of what to do about it.
There is nothing wrong with experiencing high Neuroticism from time to time in response to life challenges. If he is like that consistently and reacts to life disproportionally to what is going on or you feel that you need to walk on eggshells so as not to cause a reaction, he is clearly on the high side.