Agreeable and Neurotic

Which websites attract the agreeable and neurotic?

Following from last week’s post, ‘Which websites attract the extraverted and conscientious?’, today we’re going to look at the final 2 traits of the Big 5 Personality Traits: agreeableness and neuroticism.

Your comments

Before we begin, a few observations. This short series has attracted some interesting and mixed feedback from various LinkedIn groups where we’ve discussed the subject, with comments ranging from the cultural specificity of the research (it’s USA- and student-based) to the choice of websites used in the trial (some of them look like they’ve walked straight out of the 90s).

While every study has its flaws, what’s interesting about this one is that it marks a new approach for understanding visitor engagement, and with it, the potential for using a demographics’ overall traits to inform our digital offerings.

As an initial step into the world of personality-based personalisation, it’s an exciting one. With this in mind, let’s check out the last two traits.


To recap, this trait measures how invested you are in maintaining good social relationships. If you’re a high-scorer in agreeableness, you’re probably compassionate, friendly, trusting and cooperative, preferring to adapt to other people’s needs than risk rubbing them up the wrong way. If you score low in this trait, you’re likely to be more assertive and focussed on yourself. You’re less likely to compromise with others, and you’re less governed by societal norms and expectations.

Which websites attract AGREEABLE people?

According to research carried out by Kosinski, Kohli and Stillwell in the USA [1], people who score highly in the AGREEABLENESS trait tend to prefer trusting and cooperative websites that typically fall into the following categories (among others):

  • Reference & Education
  • Computers & Internet
  • Business & Logistics
  • Health

So for example subjects who scored highly in AGREEABLENESS liked these sites:


Which websites attract ASSERTIVE & COMPETITIVE people?

On the other hand, a low score in AGREEABLENESS was associated with a preference for assertive and competitive websites, the likes of which fall into the following classes:

  • Kids, Teens & Society
  • Health & Mental health
  • Science & Physics
  • Recreation & Pets

Examples of the sites the subjects preferred, include:



Sometimes referred to as emotional instability, this trait typifies people who tend to commonly experience mood swings and uncomfortable emotions such as anger, anxiety, guilt and depression. High-scorers tend to have a stressed and nervous disposition, whereas low-scorers are usually more calm and self-assured.

Which websites attract NEUROTIC people?

Kosinski et al. found that people who score highly in NEUROTICISM tend to prefer more ‘emotional’ websites, the likes of which typically fall into the following categories:

  • Recreation & Pets
  • Scouting
  • Science & Physics
  • Sports & Hockey

Examples of such sites include:


Which websites attract STABLE people?

Unlike their high-scoring counterparts, subjects who were rated as STABLE preferred websites that were more calm and relaxed, as reflected in the following categories:

  • Arts & Photography
  • Science & Maths
  • Business & Marketing
  • Business & Logistics

Examples of such sites include:


In conclusion…

I hope this mini series has contributed a new angle to the debate of web personalisation, and a glimpse into the potential for using a demographic’s overarching personality traits to inform our wider digital strategies.

Although this study isn’t perfect, it does offer an alternative path to designing personalised websites and (by extension) online experiences.

I’ll be watching with anticipation as this research makes its way to larger, more representative demographics, across a greater variety of platforms. And as always, I’ll be posting all the latest findings right here.



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[1] Kosinski, M., Kohli P. and Stillwell D. (2012) Personality and Online Behavior. Web Science, 12, June, pp. 1-7.

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Best-selling author of "Webs of Influence" (Pearson). International speaker, consultant, columnist at Marketing Week.