WHAT IS PERSONALITY?
THE FOUR MAJOR PERSTECTIVES ON PERSONALITY
PERSONALITY RELATED TOPICS
BIG FIVE PERSONALITY TRAITS
SIXTEEN PERSONALITY TYPES
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Personality is the particular combination of emotional,
attitudinal, and behavioral response patterns of an
individual. Different personality theorists present
their own definitions of this the word based on their
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Almost everyday we describe and assess the personalities of the people
around us. Whether we realize it or not, these daily musings on how
and why people behave as they do are similar to what personality
While our informal assessments of personality tend to focus more on
individuals, personality psychologists instead use conceptions of
personality that can apply to everyone. Personality research has led
to the development of a number of theories that help explain how and
why certain personality traits develop.
Definitions of Personality
While there are many different theories of personality, the first
step is to understand exactly what is meant by the term personality.
The word personality itself stems from the Latin word persona, which
referred to a theatrical mask work by performers in order to either
project different roles or disguise their identities.
A brief definition would be that personality is made up of the
characteristic patterns of thoughts, feelings and behaviors that
make a person unique. In addition to this, personality arises
from within the individual and remains fairly consistent
Some other definitions of personality:
•"Personality refers to individuals' characteristic patterns of
thought, emotion, and behavior, together with the psychological
mechanisms -- hidden or not -- behind those patterns. This
definition means that among their colleagues in other subfields
of psychology, those psychologists who study personality have a
unique mandate: to explain whole persons."
•"Although no single definition is acceptable to all personality
theorists, we can say that personality is a pattern of relatively
permanent traits and unique characteristics that give both
consistency and individuality to a person's behavior."
Components of Personality
So what exactly makes up a personality? As described in the definitions
above, you would expect that traits and patterns of thought and emotion
make up an important part. Some of the other fundamental characteristics
of personality include:
• Consistency - There is generally a recognizable order and regularity
to behaviors. Essentially, people act in the same ways or similar ways
in a variety of situations.
• Psychological and physiological - Personality is a psychological
construct, but research suggests that it is also influenced by
biological processes and needs.
• It impacts behaviors and actions - Personality does not just influence
how we move and respond in our environment; it also causes us to act in
• Multiple expressions - Personality is displayed in more than just
behavior. It can also be seen in our thoughts, feelings, close
relationships and other social interactions.
Theories of Personality
There are a number of different theories about how personality develops.
Different schools of thought in psychology influence many of these
theories. Some of these major perspectives on personality include:
• Type theories are the early perspectives on personality. These theories
suggested that there are a limited number of "personality types" which are
related to biological influences.
• Trait theories viewed personality as the result of internal characteristics
that are genetically based.
• Psychodynamic theories of personality are heavily influenced by the work of
Sigmund Freud, and emphasize the influence of the unconscious on personality.
Psychodynamic theories include Sigmund Freud’s psychosexual stage theory and
Erik Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development.
• Behavioral theories suggest that personality is a result of interaction
between the individual and the environment. Behavioral theorists study
observable and measurable behaviors, rejecting theories that take internal
thoughts and feelings into account. Behavioral theorists include B. F.
Skinner and John B. Watson.
• Humanist theories emphasize the importance of free will and individual
experience in the development of personality. Humanist theorists include
Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow.
Personality Vs. Traits and Character
•"Having closed in on a sense of what personality is, it may be helpful
to compare the concept to others with related meanings. Two concepts that
quickly come to mind are 'temperament' and 'character.' In everyday language
these terms are sometimes used more or less interchangeably with 'personality,'
and historically they have often been used in contexts where, in more recent
times, 'personality' would be employed. Within psychology, however, they have
somewhat distinct meanings. Temperament usually refers to those aspects of
psychological individuality that are present at birth or at least very early
on in child development, are related to emotional expression, and are presumed
to have a biological basis... Character, on the other hand, usually refers to
those personal attributes that are relevant to moral conduct, self-mastery,
will-power, and integrity."
What Is Personality?
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The study of personality is one of the major topics of interest
within psychology. Numerous personality theories exist, and most
of the major ones fall in to one of four major perspectives.
Each of these perspectives on personality attempts to describe
different patterns in personality, including how these patterns
form and how people differ on an individual level.
The Psychoanalytic Perspective
The psychoanalytic perspective of personality emphasizes the
importance of early childhood experiences and the unconscious
mind. This perspective on personality was created by psychiatrist
Sigmund Freud who believed that things hidden in the unconscious
could be revealed in a number of different ways, including through
dreams, free association and slips of the tongue.
Neo-Freudian theorists, including Erik Erikson, Carl Jung, Alfred
Adler and Karen Horney, believed in the importance of the unconscious,
but disagreed with other aspects of Freud's theories.
The Humanistic Perspective
The humanistic perspective of personality focuses on psychological
growth, free will and personal awareness. It takes a more positive
outlook on human nature and is centered on how each person can
achieve their individual potential.
The Trait Perspective
The trait perspective of personality is centered on identifying,
describing and measuring the specific traits that make up human
personality. By understanding these traits, researchers believe
they can better comprehend the differences between individuals.
The Social Cognitive Perspective
The social cognitive perspective of personality emphasizes the
importance of observational learning, self-efficacy, situational
influences and cognitive processes.
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What are the Theories of Personality?
What Are the 4 Perspectives on Personality?
Why Are You the Way You Are? Major Theories of Personality
Nature or Nurture
8 of the Best-Known Theories of Child Development
Who Were the Neo-Freudians?
What Is Personality and Why Does It Matter?
What are the Theories of Personality?
3 Important Theories of Development
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In psychology, the Big Five personality traits are five broad domains
or dimensions of personality that are used to describe human personality.
The theory based on the Big Five factors is called the five-factor model
(FFM). The five factors are openness, conscientiousness, extraversion,
agreeableness, and neuroticism. Acronyms commonly used to refer to the
five traits collectively are OCEAN, NEOAC, or CANOE. Beneath each global
factor, a cluster of correlated and more specific primary factors are
found; for example, extraversion includes such related qualities as
gregariousness, assertiveness, excitement seeking, warmth, activity, and
The Big Five model is able to account for different traits in personality
without overlapping. Empirical research has shown that the Big Five
personality traits show consistency in interviews, self-descriptions and
observations. Moreover, this five-factor structure seems to be found
across a wide range of participants of different ages and of different
A summary of the factors of the Big Five and their constituent traits,
such that they form the acronym OCEAN:
Openness to experience:
inventive/curious vs. consistent/cautious.
Appreciation for art, emotion, adventure, unusual ideas, curiosity,
and variety of experience. Openness reflects the degree of intellectual
curiosity, creativity and a preference for novelty and variety a person
has. It is also described as the extent to which a person is imaginative
or independent, and depicts a personal preference for a variety of
activities over a strict routine. Some disagreement remains about how to
interpret the openness factor, which is sometimes called "intellect"
rather than openness to experience.
efficient/organized vs. easy-going/careless.
A tendency to be organized and dependable, show self-discipline,
act dutifully, aim for achievement, and prefer planned rather
than spontaneous behavior.
outgoing/energetic vs. solitary/reserved.
Energy, positive emotions, surgency, assertiveness, sociability
and the tendency to seek stimulation in the company of others,
friendly/compassionate vs. analytical/detached.
A tendency to be compassionate and cooperative rather than
suspicious and antagonistic towards others. It is also a
measure of one's trusting and helpful nature, and whether
a person is generally well tempered or not.
sensitive/nervous vs. secure/confident.
The tendency to experience unpleasant emotions easily, such
as anger, anxiety, depression, and vulnerability. Neuroticism
also refers to the degree of emotional stability and impulse
control and is sometimes referred to by its low pole,
Big Five personality traits
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A personality test is a questionnaire or other standardized
instrument designed to reveal aspects of an individual's
character or psychological makeup.
The first personality tests were developed in 1920s and
were intended to ease the process of personnel selection,
particularly in the armed forces. Since these early efforts
of these test, a wide variety of personality tests have been
developed, notably the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI),
the MMPI, and a number of tests based on the Five Factor
Model of personality.
Today, personality tests have become a $400 million-a-year
industry and are used in a range of contexts, including
individual and relationship counseling, career planning,
and employee selection and development.
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Personality type refers to the psychological classification
of different types of individuals. Personality types are
sometimes distinguished from personality traits, with the
latter embodying a smaller grouping of behavioral tendencies.
Types are sometimes said to involve qualitative differences
between people, whereas traits might be construed as
quantitative differences. According to type theories, for
example, introverts and extraverts are two fundamentally
different categories of people.
According to trait theories, introversion and extraversion
are part of a continuous dimension, with many people in
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Personality psychology is a branch of psychology that studies
personality and individual differences. Its areas of focus
Constructing a coherent picture of the individual and his or
her major psychological processes
Investigating individual differences - how people are unique
Investigating human nature - how people are alike
"Personality" can be defined as a dynamic and organized set of
characteristics possessed by a person that uniquely influences
his or her cognitions, motivations, and behaviors in various
situations. The word "personality" originates from the Latin
persona, which means mask. Significantly, in the theatre of
the ancient Latin-speaking world, the mask was not used as a
plot device to disguise the identity of a character, but
rather was a convention employed to represent or typify that
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ISTJ - The Duty Fulfiller
Serious and quiet, interested in security and peaceful living.
Extremely thorough, responsible, and dependable. Well-developed
powers of concentration. Usually interested in supporting and
promoting traditions and establishments. Well-organized and
hard working, they work steadily towards identified goals. They
can usually accomplish any task once they have set their mind to it.
ISTP - The Mechanic
Quiet and reserved, interested in how and why things work.
Excellent skills with mechanical things. Risk-takers who they live
for the moment. Usually interested in and talented at extreme sports.
Uncomplicated in their desires. Loyal to their peers and to their internal
value systems, but not overly concerned with respecting laws and rules if
they get in the way of getting something done. Detached and analytical,
they excel at finding solutions to practical problems.
ISFJ - The Nurturer
Quiet, kind, and conscientious. Can be depended on to follow through.
Usually puts the needs of others above their own needs. Stable and
practical, they value security and traditions. Well-developed sense
of space and function. Rich inner world of observations about people.
Extremely perceptive of other's feelings. Interested in serving others.
ISFP - The Artist
Quiet, serious, sensitive and kind. Do not like conflict, and not likely
to do things which may generate conflict. Loyal and faithful. Extremely
well-developed senses, and aesthetic appreciation for beauty. Not interested
in leading or controlling others. Flexible and open-minded. Likely to be
original and creative. Enjoy the present moment.
Quietly forceful, original, and sensitive. Tend to stick to things
until they are done. Extremely intuitive about people, and concerned
for their feelings. Well-developed value systems which they strictly adhere
to. Well-respected for their perserverence in doing the right thing.
Likely to be individualistic, rather than leading or following.
INFP - The Idealist
Quiet, reflective, and idealistic. Interested in serving humanity.
Well-developed value system, which they strive to live in accordance with.
Adaptable and laid-back unless a strongly-held value is threatened.
Usually talented writers. Mentally quick, and able to see possibilities.
Interested in understanding and helping people.
INTJ - The Scientist
Independent, original, analytical, and determined. Have an exceptional ability
to turn theories into solid plans of action. Highly value knowledge,
competence, and structure. Driven to derive meaning from their visions.
Long-range thinkers. Have very high standards for their performance, and the
performance of others. Natural leaders, but will follow if they trust
INTP - The Thinker
Logical, original, creative thinkers. Can become very excited about theories
and ideas. Exceptionally capable and driven to turn theories into clear
understandings. Highly value knowledge, competence and logic. Quiet
and reserved, hard to get to know well. Individualistic, having no
interest in leading or following others.
ESTP - The Doer
Friendly, adaptable, action-oriented. "Doers" who are focused on immediate
results. Living in the here-and-now, they're risk-takers who live fast-paced
lifestyles. Impatient with long explanations. Extremely loyal to their
peers, but not usually respectful of laws and rules if they get in the way
of getting things done. Great people skills.
ESTJ - The Guardian
Practical, traditional, and organized. Likely to be athletic. Not interested
in theory or abstraction unless they see the practical application.
Have clear visions of the way things should be. Loyal and hard-working.
Like to be in charge. Exceptionally capable in organizing and running
activities. "Good citizens" who value security and peaceful living.
ESFP - The Performer
People-oriented and fun-loving, they make things more fun for others by
their enjoyment. Living for the moment, they love new experiences.
They dislike theory and impersonal analysis. Interested in serving others.
Likely to be the center of attention in social situations. Well-developed
common sense and practical ability.
ESFJ - The Caregiver
Warm-hearted, popular, and conscientious. Tend to put the needs of others over
their own needs. Feel strong sense of responsibility and duty.
Value traditions and security. Interested in serving others. Need
positive reinforcement to feel good about themselves. Well-developed sense
of space and function.
ENFP - The Inspirer
Enthusiastic, idealistic, and creative. Able to do almost anything that
interests them. Great people skills. Need to live life in accordance
with their inner values. Excited by new ideas, but bored with details.
Open-minded and flexible, with a broad range of interests and abilities.
ENFJ - The Giver
Popular and sensitive, with outstanding people skills. Externally
focused, with real concern for how others think and feel. Usually dislike
being alone. They see everything from the human angle, and dislike
impersonal analysis. Very effective at managing people issues, and
leading group discussions. Interested in serving others, and probably
place the needs of others over their own needs.
ENTP - The Visionary
Creative, resourceful, and intellectually quick. Good at a broad range of things.
Enjoy debating issues, and may be into "one-up-manship". They get
very excited about new ideas and projects, but may neglect the more
routine aspects of life. Generally outspoken and assertive. They enjoy
people and are stimulating company. Excellent ability to understand
concepts and apply logic to find solutions.
ENTJ - The Executive
Assertive and outspoken - they are driven to lead. Excellent ability to
understand difficult organizational problems and create solid solutions.
Intelligent and well-informed, they usually excel at public speaking.
They value knowledge and competence, and usually have little patience
with inefficiency or disorganization.
High-Level Description of the Sixteen Personality Types
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