Openness to Experience, a Trait of Exceptional People

27 September, 2020
Do you know a curious and creative person who always has something to contribute to, and learn from, different situations? This person is open to experience.

The study of human personality has always aroused great interest. Human beings tend to categorize themselves, and others, on the basis of different attitudes and traits. This is how one of the main personality classifications emerged, and one that we’re going to look into today: the openness to experience personality trait.

We could say that this is the classic characteristic of people who are curious, open, and eager to experience different emotions. They’re hungry for knowledge, have multiple interests, and always have something to contribute and learn.

Would you like to know more about how this trait manifests? Keep reading!

A woman with a magnifying glass.

Openness to experience, one of the Big Five personality traits

The Big Five personality traits model is one of the main ones used to understand and classify personality. It emerged from research conducted by Goldberg and resulted in the following attributes:

  • Openness to experience.
  • Responsibility.
  • Friendliness.
  • Extraversion.
  • Neuroticism.

As we mentioned above, today we’re going to talk about the first one on the list. Although it isn’t commonly known, it shapes human personality in an important way and endows those who possess it with certain advantages.

What’s openness to experience?

On one hand, people with a high openness to experience are fluid, flexible, and creative. They’re always seeking new stimuli, new knowledge, and new emotions. Because of this, they’re always ready to embrace change and are open to different ways of thinking and acting.

On the other hand, those who score low in this personality trait are less tolerant individuals. They’re attached to traditions and routines and have more conventional thinking patterns.

Aspects of the openness to experience personality trait

  • Creativity. Firstly, people who score high in this dimension are creative, imaginative, and have a rich inner world. They’re divergent thinkers and are able to associate ideas that don’t seem to have any apparent connection. They always find new ways to move forward. Moreover, their creativity isn’t limited to the artistic level. Great scientists, and professionals from all fields with innovative perspectives, show high openness to experience.
  • Intelligence and knowledge. Secondly, these individuals show great intellectual curiosity. They also tend to get involved in analyzing ideas and searching for answers. Because of this, they’re in a constant search for knowledge and are open to different points of view. In addition, they have multiple and diverse interests and enjoy learning.
  • Aesthetics. The appreciation for art, music, and beauty is very characteristic of these types of personalities. They seem to be more capable of giving their full attention to situations and entering states of flow. As a result, they’re more likely to be fully engaged in the here and now, and absorbed in whatever activity they’re doing.
  • Feelings. They’re more connected to their inner states and have a high capacity for introspection. Because of that, they aren’t afraid to get in touch with their emotions and allow themselves to fully experience then.
  • Values. They’re more open to different points of view and are more likely to question any dogma or belief, even their own. In addition, they don’t submit to any kind of authority without examining their values.
  • Actions. Finally, they’re more open to trying new experiences and activities. They’re willing to try new flavors, get to know different cultures, and step out of their comfort zone. In short, they seek stimuli and embrace change.
Some pink smoke and a frame.

Exceptional personalities

Openness to experience is characteristic of visionaries, innovative and open-minded people, and those who bring about change.

They’re people who are able to analyze, reflect, and re-examine everything that people take for granted. Moreover, they’re curious people and have an insatiable desire for knowledge and progress.

These people tend to experience more positive emotions, and, as a result, enjoy greater life satisfaction. As a result, they show us that it’s worth opening up, awakening our curiosity, and facing the fears change can cause.

  • Goldberg, L. R. {1981). Language and individual differences: the search for universals in personality lexicons. In: L. Wheeler (Ed.). Review of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 2, pp. 141-165. Sage: Beverly Hills, CA.
  • Stephan, Y. (2009). Openness to experience and active older adults’ life satisfaction: A trait and facet-level analysis. Personality and Individual Differences47(6), 637-641.