All About Personality: Psychology Definition And Examples | BetterHelp (2023)

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People have been interested in personality since the beginning of time. People who lived in ancient China assigned personality traits based on a person's birth year. Those who believe in astrology think that a person's nature is defined by where the planet was in relation to other celestial objects during their time of birth. Hippocrates thought that personality was based on different body fluids, while some Greeks thought personality traits were associated with a specific disease. But what does science say about how our dominant characteristics come to be? Are we born with them or are they developed as we grow?

It turns out there is a broad area of psychological study wholly devoted to answering this 'nature vs. nurture' question.

Personality: Psychology Definition

Personality is a term that all of us are familiar with but is difficult to define. You're probably familiar with phrases like "I love her personality" or even the psychology term "personality disorder." Try to think of a synonym for the word personality. If you're like me, very few things come to mind instantly. This is because personality is a somewhat abstract concept.

Still, when it comes to understanding human behavior and personality psychology, a clear definition and examples are important to grasp. Knowing just how the different parts of a person come together to form a 'whole' can help you better understand yourself so you can grow in many different areas of life.

Personality comes from the Latin wordpersona, meaning mask. A persona was a stage mask worn by an actor to conceal the stage person's actual identity. It represented a certain trait of the character.

The American Psychology Association (APA) defines personality (psychology definition) as:

“Individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving.”

(Video) All About Personality: Psychology Definition And Examples |Psychology Facts & Tips

It can also be seen as a set of traits within a person that work in unison to influence their beliefs, motivations, emotions, and even the way they act.

Remember the synonyms we were trying to come up with at the top of this section? Character, makeup, nature, disposition, temperament, and identity all fit the bill.

10 Quick Personality Psychology Facts

  1. Science says that birth order can affect your personality and that only, first, middle and last children often have similar traits.
  2. Being in love can change your personality, reducing neurotic tendencies including worrying and being annoyed.
  3. Our personalities can alter as we get older; people tend to get nicer as they age.
  4. Certain foods are connected to personality disorders.
  5. Optimists might live longer! Accordingto research, thinking positively might lead to a longer life.

Personality: Psychology Theories In History

To truly understand personality, psychology definition experts say that you first must know about the history of personality theories throughout time. Although some may seem silly, each offers a piece of the puzzle that explains the compose our inner and outer personas.

An interesting thing about the following studies is that what most people believe is true about personality doesn't line up with scientific research. Let's look at a brief history of personality theory.

Galen's Theory (around 2000 BC)

Building on Hippocrates notions, Galen summarized that if your temperament was balanced, you were healthy. If not, then your bodily fluids must be out of whack. These fluids were called sanguine, choleric, melancholy, and phlegmatic. His description of personality came from the four elements of earth, wind, water, and fire. This theory was the most commonly accepted for over 1000 years. Although this theory has since been debunked, it is interesting to know that even 2000 years ago, the first scientists were interested in the human psyche. Immanuel Kant would take this theory even further in the 18thcentury.

Gall's Theory

In the late 1700s, a German physician named Franz Gall developed a skull-based personality theory called phrenology. According to Gall, measuring the distance between bumps on a person's head could reveal brain size and personality info (e.g. how friendly or mean someone can be). It was eventually ruled a pseudoscience but was very popular for many years.

Freud And Erikson's Theories

Sigmund Freud developed one of the most well-known personality theories. Freud's psychoanalytic theory outlines a series of stages and internal conflicts that help build a personality. Later on, Erik Erikson used Freud's work to build a similar argument. Although they differ quite a bit, both believe that early childhood events and stages affect personality.

Current Beliefs: Trait Theories

(Video) What is Personality? - Personality Psychology

Many researchers today believe that they are five basic personality traits. These traits are compiled from the research of many scientists. There are evenpersonality testsyou can take to help you determine your personality type.

Thefive categoriesinclude:

  1. Openness
  2. Agreeableness
  3. Neuroticism
  4. Extraversion
  5. Conscientiousness

It's essential to recognize that the traits are not terminal. It acts as a gauge or a spectrum that you can fall on.

People who are high inopenness:

  • Like to try new things and tackling new challenges
  • Are very creative and have artistic interests
  • Tend to be both emotional and intellectual
  • Are usually more liberal or progressive

Low levels of openness are marked by a dislike for change and a resistance to new ideas and creative projects.

Those who are veryagreeable:

  • Cares about others and helps them when in need
  • Feels empathy and concern, causing them to take a great
  • Interested in other people
  • Tries to get along with other people and contribute to their happiness

On the opposite end of the spectrum are people who tend to be less helpful and are more competitive, selfish, and manipulative.

People with elevated levels ofneuroticism:

  • Are quick to experience anxiety
  • Have mood swings
  • Have trouble getting over stressful situations
  • Tend to worry a lot

Those on the lower end of the neuroticism scale are rarely depressed, tend to stay relaxed and emotionally stable.

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(Video) Intro to Psychology Theories of Personality

Those with high levels ofextroversiontend to:

  • Enjoy being the center of attention and meeting new people
  • Feels energized around others and prefers being with friends rather than being alone
  • Says things before thinking/very talkative

Those who are not extroverted people pleasers (i.e. those on the low end) like to be alone, have difficulty making small talk, and find it tiring to socialize.

Conscientiousnessis a trait that describes people who:

  • Like to set goals, structure, and set schedules
  • Have high levels of self-control
  • Value attention to detail and finishing tasks right away
  • Plan and meet deadlines

Messy, “go-with-the-flow" people tend to be on the low end of the conscientiousness scale as they often procrastinate and avoid schedules.

Those in charge of personality psychology (definition listed above), have found these traits to be:

  1. Universal
  2. Biological

Although these traits can increase/decrease as people age, they are pretty much steady over adulthood.

Current Beliefs: 16 Personalities Theory

One well-known psychology theorist that contributed to the personality psychology definition is Carl Jung. Although I didn't mention his work earlier, Jung gave a good deal to the field of psychology. His work was the basis for the most celebrated personality test of all time:the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) instrument.

Created by Isabel Briggs Myers and her mother, Katharine Cook Briggs, the MBTI serves to help people understand themselves and others. The test categorizes people based on their thinking and then assigns them one of 16 four-letter personality types (I.e., ISTJ, ISFJ, ESTJ)

Each one of these acronyms categories the person based on the following:

  • Extroversion (E) or Introversion (I)
  • Sensing (S) or Intuition (N)
  • Thinking (T) or Feeling (F)
  • Judging (J) or Perceiving (P)

The MBTI has proved a solid way of helping people learn more about themselves, their partners, and even determine a career path. Because personalities are set in childhood, this test can also be helpful for teens trying to understand aspects of their personalities.

Personality Disorders

(Video) Measuring Personality: Crash Course Psychology #22

This brings us to an important part of personality: when abnormal development occurs. According to the APA, there are times when mental illness develops and affects a person's thinking and behavior. If we go back to the personality psychology definition, we understand why these types of issues are called “personality disorders.”

There are ten specific personality disorders treated by mental health professionals. These include:

Cluster A

  • Paranoid Personality Disorder
  • Schizoid Personality Disorder
  • Schizotypal Personality Disorder

Cluster B

  • Antisocial Personality Disorder
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Histrionic Personality Disorder
  • Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Cluster C

  • Avoidant Personality Disorder
  • Dependent Personality Disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive Personality Disorder

Although each of these disorders varies as far as symptoms and cause, they have one thing in common: they make it difficult to carry out day-to-day activities and have relationships with others. Many develop in childhood and are the result of a combination of genetics, trauma, and abuse.

Personality disorders are considered challenging to treat since personality is difficult to change. However, new therapies such as dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is showing promising results with certain disorders such as Borderline Personality Disorder. These treatment options work best when partnered with a professional counselor who is trained in helping resolve such abnormal thinking and behavior patterns. If you are considering options for professional help, you may want to consider online therapy. In one study published in 2018, researchers found online therapy to be as effective as traditional therapy but requires less time on average per session. According to the study’s authors, traditional therapy uses 7.8 times more therapy time than internet-delivered cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Participants in online CBT sessions reported high levels of satisfaction due to affordable rates, convenience, and flexibility.

As mentioned above, online therapy can be highly beneficial when conducted under the guidance of a licensed therapist. It is important to note that online therapy can be incredibly flexible when it comes to scheduling, modalities of communication, and affordable costs. If you are uncertain about face-to-face therapy, you can connect with a trained professional through phone calls, video conferences, or live messaging, which are options offered by platforms such as BetterHelp. The structure of online therapy lets you stay in the comfort of your own home without needing to drive to a physical building.

If you're struggling with parts of your personality or want to know how to develop certain traits, contactBetterHelpto be matched with someone who can help.

Here are just a few testimonials from people who used BetterHelp:

“Tamara Nixon is the first therapist that I feel really took interest in me, on a deeper level. Other therapists I went to were focused mainly on my problems, but not at all on my personal interests and hobbies and I feel this is really important in them understanding my personality and my likes/dislikes. Also I appreciate that she is proactive and she sends me things to read and worksheets to work on. I really feel safe with telling her about my issues.”

“Joy noticed aspects of my personality right away, and suggested a task-based plan that had clear goals for each step. She helped me isolate topics and stay focused when things were stressful and jumbled up in my mind. Her handle on the BetterHelp website is incredible--she has worksheets and goal marks and is very communicative via the chat. She made me feel heard from even my daily journals. Her attentive care was firm and self-assured, which helped me feel like I am in control of my life again.”

FAQs

What is personality in psychology with example? ›

Personality describes the unique patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that distinguish a person from others. A product of both biology and environment, it remains fairly consistent throughout life. Examples of personality can be found in how we describe other people's traits.

What is personality and example? ›

Personality embraces moods, attitudes, and opinions and is most clearly expressed in interactions with other people. It includes behavioral characteristics, both inherent and acquired, that distinguish one person from another and that can be observed in people's relations to the environment and to the social group.

What are the 4 types of personality? ›

The four temperament theory is a proto-psychological theory which suggests that there are four fundamental personality types: sanguine, choleric, melancholic, and phlegmatic.

What is personality in psychology PDF? ›

Personality is a mirror of what you do and say. Essentially, your personality defines who are you. Your behaviour reflects your personality and informs how different you are from others.

What is a good example of personality? ›

Examples of Positive Personality Traits

Being honest and taking responsibility for your actions are admirable qualities. Adaptability and affability are great traits that can help a person get along well with others. Drive, determination and persistence can help keep a person going no matter what.

Which is the best definition of personality psychology? ›

Personality psychology is the scientific discipline that studies the personality system. The discipline seeks to understand a person's major psychological patterns and how those patterns are expressed in an individual's life.

What is the best answer for personality? ›

A suitable answer to a personality question should include strong words hiring managers want to hear. Some of these words include savvy, risk-taker, observant, energetic, creative, and organized. Others include courageous, honest, driven, result-oriented, positive, orderly, methodical, and adventurous, among others.

Why is a personality important? ›

Personality development helps you gain recognition and acceptance from the society as well as people around. Personality development plays an essential role not only in an individual's professional but also personal lives. It makes an individual disciplined, punctual and an asset for his/her organization.

Why Is personality important in psychology? ›

Why Is Personality Psychology Important? Personality psychology helps people better understand the factors that play a role in personality. It also allows us to know more about how certain personality characteristics affect behavior. For example, some traits are linked to higher levels of happiness and well-being.

What are the 3 factors of personality? ›

There are three main influences on personality development that we are going to look at in this lesson. Those are heredity, environment, and situation.

How are personality classified? ›

The Big Five is a taxonomy that classifies personality types based on the extent to which people exhibit each of the following five factors: extroversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness to experience.

What are the main personality types? ›

Common Questions About The Five Major Personality Types

The five major personality types are conceived to be Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Openness, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.

Who defined personality? ›

Thus, Allport defined personality as: the dynamic organization within the individual of those psychophysical systems that determine his unique adjustments to his environment (1937, p. 48).

What is called personality? ›

Personality refers to the enduring characteristics and behavior that comprise a person's unique adjustment to life, including major traits, interests, drives, values, self-concept, abilities, and emotional patterns.

Who defined term personality? ›

A number of definitions are given in respect of personality in order to give meaningful one. Let us extract some standard definitions. According to Gordon Allport, personality is “the dynamic organization within the individual of those psychological systems that determine his unique adjustments to his environment.”

How many types of personality are there? ›

Socionics is extraversion (E), sensing (S), thinking (T), judgment (J), introversion (I), intuition (N), feeling (F), perception (P). Socionics divides people into 16 different types, called sociotypes which are; ESTJ, ENTJ, ESFJ, ENFJ, ISTJ, ISFJ, INTJ, INFJ, ESTP, ESFP, ENTP, ENFP, ISTP, ISFP, INTP & INFP.

What is personality in psychology summary? ›

personality, Totality of an individual's behavioral and emotional characteristics. Personality embraces a person's moods, attitudes, opinions, motivations, and style of thinking, perceiving, speaking, and acting. It is part of what makes each individual distinct.

What is personality theory? ›

Personality theories study how an individual develops their personality and can be utilized in studying personality disorders. These theories address whether personality is a biological trait or one that is developed through a person's interaction with their environment.

How is personality formed? ›

According to social cognitive theory, personality formation occurs when people observe the behaviors of others. This leads to adaptation and assimilation, particularly if those behaviors are rewarded.

What is your personality example? ›

Example: "I am ambitious and driven. I thrive on challenges and constantly set goals for myself, so I have something to strive toward. I'm not comfortable with settling, and I'm always looking for an opportunity to do better and achieve greatness. I was promoted three times in less than two years in my previous role."

Who am I answer examples? ›

People can have many identities that they are proud of. For example, you could be a mother, a brother, an artist, a doctor, a teacher. These are all important aspects of who you are!
...
For example, you could be:
  • a daughter.
  • a wife.
  • a sister.
  • an artist.
  • an athlete.
  • a writer.
  • a businesswoman and.
  • a mother.
15 Feb 2022

Did you know facts about personality? ›

Personality Is Relatively Stable

In long-term studies of personality, some of the most core parts of personality remain stable throughout life. Three aspects that do tend to change as we age are anxiety levels, friendliness, and eagerness for novel experiences. According to researcher Paul T.

How personality affects your life? ›

Personality traits have been linked to health risk and life expectancy. Research finds that people who are higher in conscientiousness, extroversion, and agreeableness face a lower risk of dying, on average, while people high in neuroticism are at greater risk overall.

What is personality and its types? ›

Personality is the product of social interaction in group life. In society every person has different traits such as skin, color, height and weight. They have different types of personalities because individuals are not alike.

What is the most important thing in personality? ›

Being confident about who you are and what you are doing is the most important tip for personality development. Never doubt your capabilities and if there is something you need to work upon then put in all the effort so you can come over your fears and gain confidence.

What are the types of personalities in psychology? ›

These five primary personality traits are extraversion (also often spelled extroversion), agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism.

What are the 8 types of personalities? ›

Jung's 8 Personality Types
  • Extraverted Thinking.
  • Introverted Thinking.
  • Extraverted Feeling.
  • Introverted Feeling.
  • Extraverted Sensation.
  • Introverted Sensation.
  • Extraverted Intuition.
  • Introverted Intuition.
27 Jan 2020

What are the 5 major aspect of personality? ›

The five broad personality traits described by the theory are extraversion (also often spelled extroversion), agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism.

What are the 5 stages of personality development? ›

Freud proposed that personality development in childhood takes place during five psychosexual stages, which are the oral, anal, phallic, latency, and genital stages.

What are the two types of personality? ›

Type A and type B are two main personality categories. People with type A personalities may be ambitious, competitive, and aggressive. People with type B personalities may be patient, flexible, and laid-back. Personality refers to the pattern of emotions, thoughts, and behaviors that make each individual who they are.

Are personality types born or made? ›

Most modern personality models agree that the foundation of your personality is your biology. Your experiences and environment help you develop other aspects of your personality from that point on. In other words, you're not born with a set personality.

What are the components of personality? ›

The Five Factor Model breaks personality down into five components: Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Openness, and Stress Tolerance. Personality tests that are based on this model measure where an individual lies on the spectrum of each of the five traits.

What are personality characteristics? ›

Personality traits reflect people's characteristic patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Personality traits imply consistency and stability—someone who scores high on a specific trait like Extraversion is expected to be sociable in different situations and over time.

How many personalities are there in psychology? ›

With the advances of technology, but more importantly research with critical analysis and thinking, psychologists have defined four different types of personality.

Who discovered personality? ›

One of the most important psychological approaches to understanding personality is based on the theorizing of the Austrian physician and psychologist Sigmund Freud (1856–1939), who founded what today is known as the psychodynamic approach to understanding personality.

Who is the founder of personality? ›

Gordon Allport, in full Gordon Willard Allport, (born November 11, 1897, Montezuma, Indiana, U.S.—died October 9, 1967, Cambridge, Massachusetts), American psychologist and educator who developed an original theory of personality.

What is the introduction of personality? ›

Introduction to Personality. Personality is the unique combination of patterns that influence behavior, thought, motivation, and emotion in a human being. An individual's personality is the combination of traits and patterns that influence their behavior, thought, motivation, and emotion.

What are the 7 theories of personality? ›

The major theories include dispositional (trait) perspective, psychodynamic, humanistic, biological, behaviorist, evolutionary, and social learning perspective.

What words describe personalities? ›

Here is a list of English words that are often used to describe someone's personality.
  • brave - someone who isn't afraid of danger. ...
  • chatty - someone who talks a lot. ...
  • clever - good at learning things. ...
  • cowardly - (mildly negative) someone who is afraid of things. ( ...
  • easy-going - someone who is easy to get along with.

What is your personality? ›

Your persona, or personality, is unique to you. It's a combination of the behaviors, emotions, thought patterns, and motivations that define us. Research from the past few decades has pointed to the role of environment – including how we were raised – and our genetics in forming and shaping our personalities.

What is my personality means? ›

the quality or fact of being a particular person; personal identity; individuality. 3. a. habitual patterns and qualities of behavior of any individual as expressed by physical and mental activities and attitudes; distinctive individual qualities of a person, considered collectively.

What are 3 types of personality? ›

Emotional and impulsive:
  • Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD)
  • Borderline personality disorder (BPD)
  • Histrionic personality disorder.
  • Narcissistic personality disorder.

What is type theory of personality? ›

Type theory is a theory of personality that states that human beings have different temperaments and personality traits. Each personality type is defined by a set of stable characteristics: such as introversion or extroversion. Personality traits can be found within personality types: such as loyalty or generosity.

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