Mirror. Mirror. On the wall, …

I have come to accept that “Professor-He-Knows-His-Name” has decided we are not getting out of his course this summer without learning something. (Yelp. That man is very, very serious.)

For our latest adventure in learning, he did the equivalent of taking us to the top of a mountain, handed us a copy of DeYoung’ (2014) Cybernetic Big Five Theory, then pushed us off while yelling: “Learn something on your way down.” (Ha! We adore him.)

Anyway. So, this is an account of what I think I learned.  Question: Who are you anyway?

How to define you

Let’s begin where DeYoung began by explaining that the mission of personality psychology is to understand the whole person. From there, he explained that, to understand the whole person, once must examine the predictable “persisting patterns of emotion, motivation, cognition, and behaviors” of a person as determined by how they react to certain stimuli.  In the case of his study, the stimuli of interest are goal setting and goal attainment.  DeYoung puts forth that homo sapiens are all pretty much alike in biological composition. However, where we begin to become distinctly different is in our personalities or predictable behaviors (p. 33-34).

DeYoung presents the Cybernetic Big Five Theory (CB5T) as the study of the human cybernetic systems, or personalities. Specifically, CB5T theorizes, we can be defined according to five inherent evolutionary humanistic principles:

  1. natures;
  2. dispositions;
  3. characteristic adaptions;
  4. subjective life narratives based on our personal experiences and cultural and social values and mores.  (Huh?)

Okay.  Let’s break this down further. DeYoung explained that we are who we as defined by:

  1. how we set and pursue goals;
  2. how we determine which actions we will take to obtain those goals;
  3. how we take those actions;
  4. how we interpret the outcomes of those actions; and
  5. our critical reflections regarding how we performed overall during this process (p. 34)

It all boils down to how you react

Skipping ahead, DeYoung’s categorized the various “hierarchical” personality traits into five dimensions: Extraversion, Neuroticism, Agreeableness; Conscientiousness, and Openness/Intellect (p. 35-38.) Further, he opined that CB5T aligns those personality types with the predictable “high” and “low” behaviors (traits) outlined below.

  • Extraversion.  Exploration, talkative, assertive, and gregarious when high but reserved, withdrawn, silent, and inactive when low.
  • Neuroticism. Defensive in the fact of uncertainty, threat, or punishment when low but self-confident, secure, hopeful, and unflappable when high.
  • Openness/Intellect. Cognitive exploration of goal using engagement and information when high but unimaginative, narrow-minded, and stubborn when low.
  • Conscientiousness. Organized, persistent, and responsible when high but unreliable and disorganized when low.
  • Agreeableness. Altruistic and cooperative, trustworthy, flexible, and sensitive when high but selfish, aggressive, argumentative, and impolite when low (Rasa, 2016).

DeYoung then explains how the five personalities react when faced with stressors and barriers while pursuing their goals.  For instance, Neuroticism and Extraversion personalities correlate strongly in their ability to adapt and remain positive in the face of adversity, while the other three personalities can become dysfunctional and unstable under pressure (p. 53-54).

Why it matters

DeYoung recommends that we strive to integrate and manage the high and low aspects of our personalities to avoid unnecessary destabilization and risk.  Otherwise, he warns, our distinct patterns of behavior will inhibited the “between-person”, or “within-person” selves, which is required to become well-aligned human beings. In order to accomplish this, however, DeYoung says we must abandon our “self-deceptions” so that we can make the personality adjustments necessary to continue moving forward toward accomplishing our goals.

Jennie’s Perspective

(Humph.) As a triple-diagnosed Myers-Briggs “INTJ” businesswoman and “scholar-under-construction,” my honest reaction is – whatever.  My usual position is – “Let’s just all get that work done right, okay?  We can play friends and be nice later.”

No.  These days, I do not particularly find myself engaged in a whole lot of self-deception often. Especially now that I am growing older.

I am not saying that I do not hope to stretch myself to maintain peace of mind within my space.  But, for now, I am who I am.  Moreover, I kind of like me.  As is.

Just sayin’ …


DeYoung, C. (2014). A cybernetic big five theory for personality psychology. Personality and Individual Differences60, S18. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2013.07.381

Raza, S. (2016, March 20). Personality Traits And The Dimensions Of Political Ideology. Retrieved from https://www.valuewalk.com/2016/03/personality-traits-and-the-dimensions-of-political-ideology/

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