Openness

Openness to Experience

Openness (or openness to experience) is one of the Big Five personality traits. It is used to describe the human personality aspect, which is characterized by receptivity to new experiences and ideas. It is an indication of how open-minded one person is.

However, openness is not a measure of how well a person interacts with another person. It refers to the experiential or intellectual open mindedness of a person. This trait features such characteristics as imagination and insight.

People who are high in openness tend to have a broad range of interests. They are adventurous and creative, curious about the world and other people. They are also eager to learn new things and enjoy new experiences. People low in openness are often much more traditional and may struggle with abstract thinking.

Openness to experience is one of five dimensions of personality described as the Big Five. The other traits are conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.

High Openness

  • Very creative
  • Open to trying new things
  • Focused on tackling new challenges
  • Happy to think about abstract concepts

Low Openness

  • Dislikes change
  • Does not enjoy new things
  • Resists new ideas
  • Not very imaginative
  • Dislikes abstract or theoretical concepts

Facets of Openness

Openness to action (active participation in various events, interest to new experiences)
Openness to ideas (flexibility in information processing and environmental research, deep knowledge and understanding)
Openness to values (susceptibility to change, traditions and norms)
Openness to aesthetics (ability to evaluate various types of art)
Openness of fantasy (high level of creativity along with a developed picture of thinking)
Openness to feelings (ability to understand and interpret emotions)

Open People Are:

1. Creative and artistic

An open-minded person will use their skills to come up with significantly new ideas. A study from Columbia University found that open-mindedness correlates with creativity. The study stated that open-minded people are more likely to be creative than closed-minded people.

2. Intelligent

Numerous studies have shown that openness corresponds to intellect or intelligence. This has been backed by numerous studies which tried to establish a relationship between open mindedness and human intellect.

3. Adventurous and open to new experiences

Open-minded people are more likely to engage in adventurous activities. They are more daring by nature. It has been observed that this might be due to an increase in the dopamine levels of open-minded individuals. This might explain why open-minded people get satisfaction from novel events, people and places. The study concludes that “while dopamine release is often associated with the brain’s reward system, mounting evidence suggests that dopamine release might be linked more specifically to the rewarding aspects of novelty.”

4. Liberal and diverse

According to a study, openness is related to enhanced cognitive functions in individuals. This explains why open-minded people are likely to be liberal in nature. They tend to value diversity more than anything else and their outlook would also be the same. Another research showed people who are open-minded are more likely to express their personal political views and endorse liberalism.

How To Be More Open

Open-mindedness is seen as a desirable trait by most people. Having an open mind allows you to be receptive to new and different ideas, information.

Open-minded people also analyze information in a way where they explore all possibilities and causes. Many high paying jobs in the world value open-mindedness and quantify it as a necessary ability which enables a person to think rationally and critically.

Although most people can attribute their personality to genetics, there are ways in which we can train our mind to be more receptive. Some of these may include the following:

Learn to combat confirmation bias

Studies have shown that confirmation bias in individuals is one of the main reasons for closed-mindedness. This means paying more attention to the things we believe in and disregarding evidence about the things we do not. The first step here is to recognize that you indeed are biased in your thoughts. Then you can slowly start to evaluate more information, keeping in mind there can be endless possibilities.

Focus on your feelings

It is easy for us to share what we are thinking or feeling. Thus, this can be a good way to practice being open to others. Try to take notice of your feelings and share them with other people. If we understand where our different emotions come from and can convey the same about them, then we are teaching our mind to be more open around others.

Start asking more questions

Asking questions to not only others but also yourself helps to improve and open your mind. When you start asking questions about the information you already know, you tend to increase your broad mindedness. You try to understand your beliefs and question their sources, ideas and topics.

Try communicating in first person

Instead of using “you” in a sentence, you can try to use “I”. When you switch to first person, you are making yourself the main subject of the conversation. In this way you are letting people know of your thoughts and what you are trying to mean. This can be a good way to start practising for open-mindedness.

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