Big Five Personality Test: a good predictor for recidivism

In recent months the Real Life partners have created a picture-based version of the Big Five personality test. This test will be part of the Real Life training as part of phase 1, which focuses on the first 48 hours. Personality traits are a better predictor for recidivism than age and prior offenses. (Steiner et al., 1999).

The Big Five is a personality test that is based on five important traits, called the OCEAN model; Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism.  Openness to experience describes a person’s tendency to think in abstract, complex ways. Conscientiousness is about self-discipline and control in order to pursue your goals. Extraversion describes a person’s inclination to seek stimulation from the outside world, especially in the form of attention from other people. Agreeableness describes a person’s tendency to put others’ needs ahead of their own, and to cooperate rather than compete with others.

Neuroticism describes a person’s tendency to experience negative emotions, including fear, sadness, anxiety, guilt, and shame.

Considering personality traits to measure the likelihood of recidivism or job performance of ex-prisoners can be interesting. One study showed that the Big Five test can be used as a predictor for job performance. For example, conscientiousness was a constant predictor for job performance. Also interesting to mention is that a link has been found between outcomes of the Big Five test on certain traits and the rates of recidivism. For example, criminal behavior is related to psychopathology. Depression, fear and addiction are correlated with a high score on neuroticism, low conscientiousness and low extraversion Kotov et al., 2010).

In the next months Real Life partners will continue to develop the Big Five test and will start testing the validity of the developed test. For more information, email

Big five