Emily Marsh

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How to interpret emotionality in the facet5 model of personality

October 1, 2018

In recent posts, we’ve looked at four of the five factors that make up the Facet5 personality profiling model: Energy, Control, Will and Affection.

The fifth factor is Emotionality. And in many ways, this is the most important factor within the Facet5 model. Otherwise referred to as Neuroticism, Anxiety, Stress Tolerance or Stability, Emotionality affects how the other factors work.

The Emotionality scale

Emotionality refers to the level of tension and apprehension you experience in your everyday life.

Those at the higher end of the scale are more passionate, vigilant and vibrant. They always want to be the best they can be. However, they worry more and can lack confidence. In general, the higher the Emotionality score is the less predictable and consistent the picture revealed by the other four factors.

People with lower levels of Emotionality are more confident, consistent and predictable. They take things as they come and don’t get flustered or panicked. With Low Emotionality individuals, what you see is what you get. And the picture revealed by the other four factors is stable and consistent.

So are Low Emotionality individuals optimists and High Emotionality individuals pessimists? Not quite.

Think of Emotionality as the level of permeability to the outside world. Low Emotionality people are highly permeable and will be left intact by negative feedback. High Emotionality people are much less permeable. They are overly sensitive, always seeking to understand and alter their impact. 

Let’s not forget about those with midrange scores. Day-to-day they are usually fairly consistent - assuming everything in their world is going well. However, they do experience anxiety and tension, but it tends to be event specific and short-lived. In other words, they are sensitive to the outside world but are generally comfortable with who they are.

Interactions with other factors

At low levels of Emotionality, the other four factors (Will, Energy, Affection and Control) exist as clearly defined independent factors. What you see today is what you will see tomorrow. And as a general rule, a Low Emotionality score means we see more of the positive aspects of the other factors and fewer of the negative traits. For example, a person with Low Emotionality and High Will has the positive elements associated with High Will (determination and drive) but loses the negative elements (defensiveness and arrogance).

At high levels of Emotionality, the less clear-cut the relationship between Will, Energy, Affection and Control. People are less consistent, occasionally showing ‘out of character’ behaviour. This makes their behaviour more difficult to predict. They are more prey to emotions, and there is a tendency to see more of the negative or unconstructive elements of the other factors. For example, a person with High Emotionality and High Will is likely to take it personally if people disagree with their point of view, which can lead them to become increasingly defensive and stubborn.

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When it comes to people with Average Emotionality, the other factors will indicate the type of situations or events that might trigger stress or anxiety. For example, it would be reasonable to suppose that a High Control person would worry if they were going to be late for a meeting or found that a deadline had been changed.

Exactly how Emotionality interacts with each of the other factors can be quite complex. But these complexities only help us to gain a much deeper insight into the intricacies of an individual’s behaviour.

Let’s take Emotionality and Energy as an example. A person’s Energy score will usually determine how much of their Emotionality will be evident to other people. If someone has both High Emotionality and High Energy, it’s usually easy to tell what they are thinking and feeling. Their High Energy nature dictates that they will tell you with words and their body language.

However, a High Emotionality / Low Energy person can be much harder to read. You may liken them to a duck that appears to be gliding smoothly across the water, but is actually paddling frantically underneath. This is where personality profiling is so powerful in the workplace. It helps people to understand what isn’t always visible.

In summary

Emotionality provides a lens through which to view the other four factors in the Facet5 model. Low Emotionality flattens the behaviour - people seem more stable and less vibrant. High Emotionality amplifies the behaviour - people seem more complex and less consistent.

The Emotionality factor gives us a much deeper insight into an individuals personality and behaviours. It helps us predict how people might respond to potentially stressful or tense situations in the workplace. It helps us become aware of fluctuations (or not) in our own behaviours, as well as those of our colleagues and managers. In doing so, we can create a much healthier, happier and more productive working environment.

Beyond the Personality Test

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