Abstract It has been argued that the Openness (O) dimension from the five factor model (FFM) of personality may in fact be an associate of the ability domain more than the personality domain. This paper explores this hypothesis using a sample of 101 managers. Participants completed the NEO-FFI and a measure of ability assessing the construct as typical performance. This measure was an occupational specific measure of typical intellectual engagement (TIE), termed the “problem solving through challenge” PSC scale. A combination of LISREL CFA and hierarchical multiple linear regression (HMLR) indicated that in fact O was a distinct but related construct to the other four dimensions of the FFM (N, E, A and C), but that O was more strongly correlated with PSC than the other dimensions. These results are taken to indicate that O, while associated with personality, assesses something to do with problem solving as a personality trait. Further the results suggest that E linked O to the other personality scales.