Openness to experience is one of the ‘big five’ personality traits widely believed to be the building blocks of personality. It refers to the supporting, caring, trusting and nurturing side of people.
In Facet5 personality profiling, openness to experience is measured as Affection - and is simplified as the degree to which you are ‘self’ or ‘others’ focused. If you're familiar with the MBTI personality test, you may relate it to the 'thinking' or 'feeling' dimension.
People with a high Affection score on their Facet5 profile are typically;
- Warm and supportive
- Open-minded and receptive to new ideas
- Loyal and trusting
People with low scores tend to be;
- Pragmatic and business-like
- Quick to seize opportunities
- Encourage risk taking
There are three sub-factors that make up an individual's Affection score: Altruism, Support and Trust. This granularity gives people a greater depth of insight into the traits that are inherent in their personality.
Altruism: measures how likely you are to put other people’s interests first
People with high scores believe there is good in everyone, and that everyone deserves a second chance. Those with low scores see things in a more concrete way and tend to believe that most people are looking out for themselves.
Support: relates to the tendency to be helpful
People with high scores are warm, supportive and encouraging of others. People with low scores are better able to make a distinction between the needs of the people and the needs of the organisation.
Trust: relates to the tendency to take people at face value
People with high scores believe what people tell them and don’t expect people to lie. Those with low scores have a more questioning attitude and can be more realistic about the motives of others.
So what does an individual’s Affection score mean for what they are like as a manager and as a colleague? And what kinds of roles are likely to motivate and engage them?
Affection and management style
People with strong Affection are supportive, understanding and happy to see other people develop and advance. They are likely to encourage contributions from their team and make good listeners. They tend to be quick to offer help and understanding when things go wrong and will try to make allowances for others mistakes.
However, they may be seen as naive and too trusting, and the risk is that their team may take advantage of this. And this can impact the team performance.
People with low scores believe in a tougher, more focused world - "you get out of it what you put in." As a leader, this can make them more shrewd and business-like. They will be realistic about what is and isn’t achievable and will set clear deadlines. They are also more likely to encourage risk-taking.
While these traits might make them more effective at ensuring they deliver against objectives, they risk being seen as hard-nosed and tough. They expect their team to deliver - and can be critical if they don’t.
Affection and team work
High Affection employees tend to be non-judgemental, supportive of others ideas, and sensitive of their feelings. While it's great to be supportive of team mates, being too careful not to offend others can sometimes have a negative affect on performance. For example, if someone goes along with an idea because they don't want to hurt someones feelings, they are potentially wasting time that could be spent formulating a better approach. More cynical people may also see high Affection individuals as weak or soft - and underestimate their potential as a result.
Low Affection employees are good at challenging others ideas. The debate that arises may benefit the team performance by pushing them to a better approach or outcome. But it may also make them seem insensitive or cold to other team members who may feel targeted for being forced to defend their ideas.
Affection and work preferences
Individuals with strong Affection like to feel that they are contributing something to society and that the work they are doing has some meaning and value. This might make them more likely to seek altruistic careers where they can help others.
People with low Affection see their career in a more personally focused way. They want to see a return for their efforts - usually in monetary terms. For this reason, they may be more driven to build their own business so they can reap the rewards from it.
Affection is just one of the five building blocks of personality measured by Facet5. While the Affection score on gives people and organisations an insight into one element of their personality, it pays to look at the whole Facet5 profile when predicting behaviour. An individual with a high Affection score and low Control may display very different behaviours to someone with high Affection and high Control.
Personality profiling can help managers and organisations to understand their people in a whole variety of ways and in different situations; from what they will be like as a manager and a team mate, to what will motivate them, and more. These insights help people to understand their natural strengths and potential weaknesses, leading to improved individual, team and organisational performance.