Human Personality and Localized Content – The Big Five Personality Model

Subhajit Sengupta

Human personality is the sum total of the ways in which an individual reacts to and interacts with others. We all inherit a certain type of personality that helps us build our unique adjustment to the environment. The measurable traits that we exhibit through the interaction are quantified and categorized in various personality determinants.

Researchers have used these parameters to analyze personality and have developed many personality assessment tools. The Big Five Personality model, with its five factors, is one of those assessment tools that has gained popularity. Through this article, we will try to establish a link between this model and a localized help document, and gain some leaning through this association.

The five factors of personality are emotional stability, extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness.  Now, let us examine the five traits of this model from the point of view of localization.

1. Emotional Stability

Emotional stability is one of the most powerful personality dimensions that has a deep-rooted relationship with job performance. Any localized content that provides greater satisfaction through the right mix of quality information and local flavor can help customers understand and use features of a product or service efficiently, and, as a result, lead them to higher satisfaction and lower stress level. So, a positively- positioned and less hyper-vigilant localized information can always help build a stable personality with a less negative thinking and fewer negative emotions.

2. Extraversion

Extraversion is a relatively strong predictor of leadership emergence in groups. People with high extraversion are socially dominant, more assertive, and use their social skills to “take charge” of matters.

Localized content which has a balance of right information at a right place with an open forum for the customers to engage at the content development stage, or which provides references to the relevant information being hosted at various social sites, such as Twitter, Facebook, RSS feed and so on, encourages customers to be more socially acceptable and recognizable. In return, customers build up a long-term relationship with the product or the service that offers such localized content.

3. Openness

Openness promotes creativity. People with an open mind are more adaptable in changing contexts and can handle ambiguity effectively. This personality trait also propagates continuous learning.

A strategically well-visioned localized content always nurtures this dimension by encouraging the customers to better utilize the product or service through various ways of learning, such as a multimedia product tour or tutorial offered in the local language, or a product demo being hosted on sites like Youtube or Chirbit with voice-over in the local language. This type of holistic learning experience can bridge the gap of understanding between what customers want and what is being offered.

4. Agreeableness

Agreeableness has a positive relationship with social acceptance. A highly agreeable person is more compliant, conforming, and rule abiding, and, so, better liked by others.

Localized content which conforms to the rules and regulations of the region, yet does not deviate from the globally accepted standards, mitigates any non-compliance issue,  buys “peace of mind” for customers, and establishes them in line with the “think globally, act locally” policy.

5. Conscientiousness

Higher conscientiousness leads to greater effort and indomitable persistence, and makes people more disciplined and organized. It also helps people to be performance-oriented with the drive for superior results.

So, it is evident that localized content that is organized with high navigability, integrated search feature, and structured indexing can seed the concept of conscientiousness in customers’ mind and grow them as a matured users of the product. These days, the “think more, talk less” approach, being exercised by many localized content developers, is the true reflection of this personality dimension.

Although there is no established connection between these personality traits and localization, and neither does it guarantee impeccable quality of the content if certain are rules followed, but it definitely is a different perspective for examining human behavior and  tailoring the “help systems” to meet customer requirements.   I believe that future success lies in seamless research of these dimensions and their ever-growing influence in shaping the big world of localization.


About the Author

Subhajit began as a foreign-language professional, and grew into a globalization expert and information developer. He’s worked with American Express and  Xchanging, and is currently with IBM. His experience includes localization, globalization, localization packaging,and information development in domains such as insurance, banking, finance, CRM, and IT.  He is pursuing a General Management programme from IIM, Lucknow.

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