The Five-Factor Model and Social Learning Theory

Topic: Psychology and Personality
Words: 2163 Pages: 7


Individual differences represent the variations among individuals regarding a single or a certain number of characteristics. Personality is part of individual differences and represents individual characteristics such as feeling, thinking, and behaving. The importance of the study lies within the perception of mental health and external factors as contributors to personality establishment. The five-factor theory of personality is used to evaluate personality trait patterns, including thoughts, behavior, and emotions, shaped by situations and experiences. On the other hand, learning theory evaluates mental health by examining social factors revolving around the individual.


The study aims to analyze the importance of the five-factor model and social learning theory and their impact on the establishment of personality. In order to discuss the given topics, the review research design was incorporated. The case study on the uncertain orientation will be used to support the arguments and provide a context where both variables play a key role in personality and mental health development. This study was conducted by Richard M. Sorrentino and dealt with uncertainty orientation research and its repercussions regarding personality and mental health.

The Five-Factor Theory of Personality

Among the most commonly recognized personality theory currently supported by psychotherapists is the Big Five Model, often referred to as the Five-Factor Model. The acronym of the theory is OCEAN, and it argues that personality may be reduced to five basic traits: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism (Soto & Jackson, 2020). However, it is noteworthy that each trait within the model includes subcategories (Rosebrock, 2019). For instance, the category of agreeableness vs. antagonism encompasses the characteristics of being naive vs. cynical, meek vs. aggressive, soft-hearted vs. insensitive, and unselfish vs. exploitative.

The Big Five Model contends that each character feature is a continuum, in contrast to other trait models that categorize people as either introverts or extroverts. Individual differences, according to World Supporter (2019), are the various ways in which individuals separate themselves from others. Every person has certain characteristics that have an impact on their emotions and ideas (Giulio, 2021). For example, when evaluating extraversion, a person would be put on a level to determine their amount of extraversion rather than being categorized as merely extroverted or introverted (Widiger and Crego, 2019). It is feasible to quantify individual variations in personality efficiently by rating people according to each of these attributes.

Furthermore, the Five-Factor Model has a great deal of scientific evidence as a systemic theory of personality. It encompasses cross-cultural repeatability, multidimensional behavioral genetics, developmental determinants, temporal stability over the lifetime, and synchronization with cognitive neuroscience (Fehrman et al., 2017). There is a widespread concern that few therapists are familiar with the Five-Factor Model. As per the opinion of Widiger and Crego (2019), many clinicians find different multidimensional characteristic models controversial due to a lack of empirical support and find them challenging to use. The model arrangement, nevertheless, is in line with how people often perceive characteristic personality descriptions (Souri et al., 2018). Most people who use the Five-Factor believe it to be quite simple in the application (Bagby and Widiger, 2018). In reality, there have been numerous studies comparing the therapeutic usefulness of the Five-Factor Model to the DSM disorders (Paliienko et al., 2020). Although some of these studies had a bias in favor of the diagnostic disorders, the findings were uniformly in favor of the Five-Factor Model. According to Barańczuk (2019), the five-factor personality theory is the most influential and prominent model in contemporary psychology. This is why for the understanding of psychological disorders, competent therapists choose the Five-Factor Model and multidimensional characteristic models.

As for the social aspects, the Five-Factor Model is applicable to all cultures and languages. Variation in personality and behavior exists across different people, and in some cases, it is associated with differences in genes and the environment, which alters and shapes people’s experiences (Kempermann, 2019). According to Barlow (2019), personality is partially biological and partly developed via life experiences, where one can say it is nurtured. However, no specific genes have emerged as determinants for personality, but research shows that 50% of personality is understandable by hereditary aspects (Johnson, 2019). On the other hand, personality changes through one’s experiences in the long term. According to Mõttus et al. (2020), personality is a significant explanatory and predictive factor for individuals’ behaviors, emotions, and thoughts. The model itself can also show the possible behavior in uncommon conditions, for example, when facing an uncertainty orientation. As it will be seen in the case study, one of the model’s components is crucial in changes of personality in the case of uncertainty orientation.

Nevertheless, this does not eliminate the idea that some alternative correlation patterns with different amounts of variables may be ubiquitous. For instance, numerous nations have adopted Eysenck’s three-factor and psychological six-factor frameworks (Allik & Realo, 2017). A framework based on a hierarchy of character qualities makes the compliance of systems with various numbers of elements obvious (Blitz et al., 2018). The hierarchy of qualities has three, five, or six reasonably stable features since it may be divided into different universality tiers.

Mental Health and Social Learning

Dissecting and recreating specific habits that are pertinent to mental health requires the use of social learning theory. Social learning takes into account the notion that one need not actually be in a setting to grasp its repercussions (Klechine et al., 2020). Others can provide the effects of the event, which is useful for learning, particularly in mental health. The theory attempts to clarify how social learning plays a significant role in the majority of human actions as well as mental health issues. In this sense, they result from having observed another person carry out identical actions (Lebow, 2021). People are more inclined to continue such activities if they have received encouragement or incentives for doing so (Akers, 2017). Some signs of mental health issues appear to be related to what an individual has learned from their surroundings.

The given theory plays a crucial role in the domain of mental health for several reasons. First, it is vital to recognize social learning theory as a useful paradigm for deconstructing mental health and providing guidance for behavioral changes, according to Rutherford & Milton (2022). One may utilize practical knowledge in practical settings due to the theory. With the help of this theory and its approaches, experts can evaluate the habits that lead to mental health illnesses (Smith et al., 2019). Furthermore, the theory emphasizes the value of the environment and mentors. The social learning theory describes how developmental disorder develops in younger individuals who face violence and go on to commit violent acts (Kruzan et al., 2022). Learning theory analyzes the social context of the individual in order to deconstruct the behavioral patterns that result in mental health issues (Volkow et al., 2019). The theory of social learning can help to clarify why somebody is at risk of acquiring phobias or a substance abuse issue. Using the theory, it is also possible to see the difference in how an individual is doing in the situation of uncertainty orientation.

Nevertheless, the social learning theory has certain limitations in its approaches and concepts. While the theory argues that all individuals are influenced mainly by their environments, it fails to mention the influence of other factors, such as biological ones (Walker, 2017). Furthermore, the theory does not accentuate the significant contribution of genetics, which is a vital part of people’s perceptions and character (Heiss, 2017). Thus, it is necessary to discuss mental health issues and attitudes in combination with other factors.

Case Study

The case study used in connection with previous hypotheses will deal with the research of the uncertainty orientation. This phenomenon is closely intertwined with both five-factor and social learning theories. The research, conducted by Sorrentino, proved that this concept influences personality and mental health heavily. When a person is struck between multiple personalities, his mental health is suffering, which can lead to serious repercussions. In the research, Sorrentino showed that individual behavioral variations are influenced by personality, particularly in terms of how well the person deals with uncertainty (Breakwell, 2020). According to several studies, openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, accommodation, and neuroticism are personality traits that are consistent over time and are determined by heredity (Heiss, 2017). Moreover, uncertainty inclinations are correlated with extraversion, compliance, responsibility, or neuroticism, as well as with the component of openness to experience. The issue of the uncertainty orientation shows how people can struggle with different personalities and how the mental health approach can be used.

Based on the common assumption that people’s dispositional affect would be more active than passive when their personal orientations to uncertainty match those of their society and mental states, as opposed to when they do not, Sorrentino’s case study hypothesis was founded (Breakwell, 2020). This case study gathered a number of datasets, including participant surveys and observational data to better understand phenomena. The generated datasets underwent independent analysis before being compared. Sorrentino came to the following conclusions based on the results. When these two orientations are in sync, people’s information processing is more comparable to that of other people in their community than when they are not. When personal orientations are in accord, it should result in a higher level of participation and, thus, a more active emotional experience than when they are not (Breakwell, 2020). To examine variations in personality characteristics (primarily neuroticism) and mental health issues, the study included 202 participants from Canada and Japan (Breakwell, 2020). The case study discovered that whereas Canadian participants were more uncertainty-oriented than certainty-oriented, Japanese participants were more certainty-oriented when the five-factor model and social learning were taken into consideration. Mental health issues have been emphasized as a significant factor in both uncertainty and steady growth of the individual in society, which also shows the applicability of social learning theory.

The Big Five’s five personality traits and uncertainty orientation are correlated with one another. According to the findings of the case study, people who are more confident tend to be more open to learning new information about themselves, while people who are more confident tend to be more intent on avoiding preconceived notions. The study is illustrative of how the individual can face uncertainty based on his personality. In the case study, however, the main emphasis is put on race (Japanese or Canadian), while personality is secondary to the authors.

From the mental health point of view, Sorrentino’s results are also indicative. Based on the social learning theory, social learning plays a significant role in the majority of mental health issues. As several studies suggest, personality and social learning are closely connected, and affecting one’s thinking can foster adaptation. By monitoring others’ alertness levels and how they perceive risk, one may learn how to react to circumstances by applying the principles of learning theory. There is a need for behavioral examination of mental health, as evidenced by the current therapies that result in effective mental health therapy among patients (Khechine et al., 2020). Dealing with uncertainty orientation can lead a person to construction of a completely new personality through social learning.


Individual differences are the variations observed from one individual to the other regarding certain characteristics. Psychological theories of individual differences are significant for critically evaluating these individual characteristics. Personality can be critically evaluated using the five-factor theory, which focuses on feelings, behaviors, and thoughts. Moreover, it can be evaluated using the social learning theory.

The case study employed proved the applicability of the theories and has shown the interconnectedness of the aspects. A person’s level of openness and neuroticism can be impacted by the permissiveness of their social milieu. Individuals can struggle between different personalities, which affect their mental health. Several approaches can be taken to help maneuver between personalities, such as monitoring others’


Hence, the five-factor and learning theories are significant psychological theories of individual differences. The five-factor model consists of five personality domains: agreeableness, openness to experience, neuroticism, extraversion, and conscientiousness. Nevertheless, the limitation involves the controversial nature of the multifaceted model due to the lack of an all-encompassing theory. On the other hand, mental health can be critically evaluated using social learning theory, which deconstructs and reconstructs the behaviors and conditions related to mental health by assessing the social factors around individuals. These both theories are closely connected with the research on the uncertainty orientation, an acute issue in the modern world. Using several methods, Sorrentino showed how a person can be stuck between different personalities, exaggerating mental health problems.

The case study of Sorrentino’s research on uncertainty orientation showed that the aforementioned theories could be used in connection with the phenomenon. Social learning theory emphasizes the importance of the surrounding environment, while five-factor model scenarios are employed in many studies on the topic. It has been shown that one of the model’s traits, neuroticism, is closely connected to uncertain orientation and is crucial in overall mental health evaluation. Similarly, society can provide additional positive and negative impacts.


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