28 thoughts on “Personality”

  1. Personality has been a subject matter of study from ancient times yet we have failed to arrive at a universal concept of personality. Usually personality is defined as the unique and stable characteristics of an individual in behaviour, thoughts etc. Mischel has criticised this view on the basis that we show contrasting behaviour far too much and there is very little correlation between various the traits and behaviour (at best to the order of 0.3). Another difficulty is on the basis on which we define personality. Siegemund Freud has explained personality on the basis of sexual approach while others have criticized him and taken a different approach like social approach by Adler, spiritual approach by Carl Jung. Hence there is no single concrete approach to study personality which makes it utterly difficult to define.

  2. It is difficult to find a single definition for the concept of personality. It is because of the following reasons:

    1. There is no single definition which is acceptable to all the personality theorists. Different theorists have different view points towards the definition of personality because they have their own chosen method of exploration. Prominent theorist Sigmund Freud derived his conclusion not through experiments, but through observations (case studies).

    2. Personality not being physically measurable, it’s relatively hard to quantify and study its different aspects. There are not many scientific experiments which can be performed due to that reason.

    3. Apart from that, there could be so many different characteristics involved such as the general pattern of thinking, behaving, feeling, socio-cultural factors, genetics, etc. that it becomes more complex.

    However, there does exist a rough idea of what personality is.

    1. Point 2 is quite valid. The answer is precise. Methodological differences are not the major issue in defining personality, Are they?

  3. Personality is an abstract and broad topic and is seen as the unique and relatively stable ways in which an individual thinks, feels and behaves.
    Individual differences are the main aspect of this qualitative study that personality is.
    Since personality is not something concretely quantifiable it’s study is mostly based on various hypothesis.

    In a quest to understand and define personality, various psychologists have come up with their own viewpoints.
    Study of personality started with psychoanalytic perspective which focused solely on role of unconscious mind in developing personality.
    Then came behaviourist perspective which was based on theories of learning and effect of environment on personality.
    Humanistic approach focused on the role of each person’s conscious life experiences and choices in personality development.

    All these perspectives aim at defining personality but each counter argues the other and we can’t arrive at a definition that is adequate for personality.

    In essence its hard to define personality due to various intermingling characteristics such as feelings, behaviour, traits, personal beliefs, societal beliefs etc.

  4. Generally accepted definition of Personality is, ” unique and consistent behaviour and mental processes shown by an individual across situations and over time” .But, this definition has many errors in it.
    As Walter Mischel stated, people show so much variability across situations that we can’t make prediction of one’s behaviour.
    Also, sometimes, contrasting patterns of behaviour shown by a person may also mean the same thing for the person. For example, just because parents scold their children doesn’t mean they don’t love their children as in the case where they praise them. But, by both praising or scolding they want to lead their children down the right path.
    Also, as behaviour and mental processes of no two individuals is similar, we can’t generalise personality into categories and define it concretely.
    Sigmund Freud stated that it ‘Id’ is the driving force of our personality. Whereas Carl Jung stated that, spirituality along with sexuality are driving forces of our personality. Another psychologist, Alfred Adler, stated that social factors are a driving force for development of our personality.
    Due to differing views among psychologists and other contributing factors, personality is hard to define

  5. Today Personality is understood in terms of individual’s uniqueness which remain constant across different situations.
    Henry Murray said every individual has something common with others but still there are unique traits in all individual.
    However the problem is how to find which one is unique and which one is common? How know the consistency across all possible situations.
    A scientific study needs these questions to be answered.
    Walter Michel was of the view that people are so dynamic in changing their behaviour that it’s difficult to find a pattern. This further raises the question on consistency and also in uniqueness.
    Some of the initial studies were largely based on case studies. Psychodynamic approach is completely case study based.
    Sigmund Freud tried to define it in terms of the way Ego balances ID and super ego forces which has a negative view to individual. Further it keeps largely deterministic and no space for free will. The later neo freudians emphasised on positive view also ( Karl Jung- Self realisation). So it further complicates the situation that should we define personality in terms of determinism or free will or both.
    Humanist approach emphasis on free will as a determinant to personality and this we can change our personality. Abraham Maslow defined it on the basis of need from basic physical need to self actualization. According to Rogers it depends on our actual self and desired or expected self. They bring further dynamics to personality.
    However the outcome based approach of trait theorists have largely concluded that personality should be classified with degree of presence of all traits in all individual. Here we don’t enclose individual in one block but each individual will have some degree of each trait and that combination of degree will determine uniqueness of personality.
    However this too has a challenge to find the list of traits.
    Allport categorised personality in secondary traits (many in numbers), central traits (5-10) and cardinal trait (just one determining all behaviour) and Big5 determines just 5 traits namely, openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism( emotional stability).
    Thus it’s difficult to inculcate all findings on personality under one umbrella however the consistency in behaviour and mental process with unique in character still remains the central idea to define personality.

  6. The definition of Personality varies from person to person and across situations. There is no categorical fixed definition to it. However, it can be widely summarised as ” The uniqueness and consistency across time and different situations”.

    Various renowned and eminent psychologists have come up with their own statements.

    Sigmund Freud has said that the main driving Factor is “Sexuality”, which was very much criticised by other psychologists including Carl Jung, that sexuality alone cannot be the only factor.

    “Adler” came up with his own theory which states that not only Sexuality, rather Social aspects also come into picture. “Carl Jung” said that along with Sexuality, “Spiritually” and other factors are accountable for the same.

    Hence, it is quite controversial and difficult to conclude to a particular definition.

  7. Every individual is different from one another in every aspect and respond differently in different situations. In general terms this uniqueness and relatively stable patterns of behavior, thoughts and feelings shown by individuals is known as personality. But, this holds true only till some extent. Many psychologist like Siegmund Freud explained personality on the basis of sexual approach whereas Adler explained it in terms of social motivation while Carl Jung explained it as combination of both sexual and spiritual approach but all this definations cannot be considered ultimate. Therefore, personality is difficult to define because of complexity in human nature and unexpected behavior in different situations. But the given theories by psychologist makes us understand few aspects of personality.

  8. Personality can be,in general,referred as the psychological forces that make people unique.However defining the forces has been a herculean task.

    First, Sigmund Freud came up with his psychoanalytic approach contending that human behaviour is driven by the innate sexual tendencies present since childhood.This was soon contended by his own colleagues.Carl Jung contended that spirituality in humans also matters(collective consciousness).Alfred and Horney contended that the social forces also play a major role.
    Later, humanistic approach argued that normal human psyche is more focused on self realisation rather than the abnormal human psyche under consideration in the psychoanalytic approach.
    Then, behaviourist Skinner denying argued that all about personality can only be learned by observing overt behavior,a more scientific approach.
    As a compromise between the behaviourist and psychoanalytic approach,trait theory emerged.It focused on cardinal,central and secondary traits which according to Allport are the key features of personality.
    Also the social cognitive approach came up with idea of personal and independent reality.
    However these theories aren’t perfect in themselves and experientially not proven yet.With psychologist not having a common consensus on the idea of personality,it becomes difficult to define it.

  9. Personality of an individual refers to the consistency and uniqueness of a person’s behavior over different situations most of the time. The difficulty in defining personality stems from the fact that this consistency is not permanent; it is subject to situational differences. For example, a person who usually talks less may not be so quiet during a personality test for not talking won’t be appropriate in that situation.

    Different behaviors across different situations may still be functionally equivalent for that person (it may not be for an observer). This is another difficulty in defining personality holistically. Other than the above, some researchers do not even find sufficient correlation between personality and behaviors and ergo do not find sufficient merit in studying personality. This view, however, has changed considerably. Also, different researchers have given primacy to different motivational factors for studying personality, like sexual, spiritual, social, etc. which has led to ambiguity in arriving at a complete definition of personality.

  10. Personality is defined as an unique patterns of behavioral and mental processes and feelings in an individual.
    Since time immemorial personality has been referred to in ancient texts of philosophy, religion, etc. And now turning towards 21st century, when scientific subject of psychology is developed with its purpose and methods still it’s challenging to define the term Personality. Because from Sigmund Freud to Neo Freudian like Carl Jung, Alfred Adler to recent the focus hasn’t been on any single trait or characteristics that can define personality which will be acceptable to all. Other reasons are also that quantifying the personality has also been a challenge. The behaviour, feeling occurrence in every individual vary. Therefore defining the Personality is difficult but not impossible.

  11. Personality is a wholesome concept which cover broad aspects of one’s characteristics like temperament, behaviour,beliefs etc.It deals with uniqueness and consistency one shows in reaction across different situations.However,the reactions to different situations are results of interplay of predispositional factors,motivation,expectation and experience etc.But It can’t be said with conviction which factor dominates.Also,Personality show dynamism.Thus increasing the complexity of the concept of Personality.

    Different theorists give importance to different factors.Sigmund Freud emphasized on balancing of demands of biological drives,reality and social principles whereas Adler focused on overcoming Inferiority Complex. Behaviorists gave importance to environmental factors whereas Humanists to organismic factors.

    At present,It is accepted that no single theory/approach alone can explain the concept and different aspects,dynamism of personality.However, Allport tried to inculcate different factors and present a working definition of Personality as follows:Dynamic organisation within the individual of those psycho-physical system that determine ones distinct/unique behavior and thought.

  12. Understanding the concept of personality is considered most important as this knowledge helps an individual to anticipate and cope with problems arising due to one’s own or others’ behaviour around us.Defining personality involves following questions:
    • “Is personality about assessing what individual actually is? Or what it appears to others?”
    • “Is personality stable or changes over a period of time?”
    • “Is it same or different across cultures?”
    • “Is personality a result of internal factors or external factors?”
    This complex nature of personality has resulted in psychologists to use different approaches and define it:
    • Psychoanalytic Approach: Freud stated that most of what we think and do is driven by unconscious processes. Carl Jung, spoke about collective unconscious,which is commom to all humans
    • Behaviourist Approach: Skinner believed personality is a result of learning that occurs through interaction of individual with the environment. Social learning considers personality is result of imitation.
    • Humanistic Approach: They emphasised on person’s creative potential and personal growth. Maslow and Rogers focused on self directing capacity of individual for positive growth.
    Despite many differences among psychologists in defining the characteristics and concepts of “personality”, there exists a consensus that it is unique characteristic behavioural pattern of an individual.

  13. Personality can be defined as the unique patterning of behavioral and mental processes that characterizes an individual and the individual’s interactions with the environment. Personality psychology looks for answers to numerous questions. In what ways do human beings differ? In what situations and along what dimensions do they differ? Why do they differ? How much do they differ? How consistent are human differences? Can they be measured?
    Situationalists propose that differences in human behavior are artifacts of the various situations in which human beings find themselves, as well as their cultural environments or social surrounds. Freud was followed by figures like Alfred Adler (1870–1937), who added the concepts of inferiority feelings and personal striving to the Freudian system. Then there was Carl Jung (1875–1961), who added numerous mystical elements, such as the collective unconscious shared by people across generations, archetypes of unconscious symbols, and a personality typology based on four functions of the mind—thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition. Karen Horney (1885–1952), variously classified as a neo-Freudian or social psychologist, produced her own brand of psychoanalysis focused on the striving child.
    Contemporary literature classifies personality in into three large groups:psychoanalytic, behavioral, and humanistic. but psychoanalytical theory is being considered as the most suitable explanation of personality which infers Self-regulating and independent unconscious processes make up the essence of personality. They operate though mental structures that are in continual conflict. According to Neo-psychoanalytic school (Alfred Adler, Carl Jung, Karen Horney) presonality is conscious individual, social, and interpersonal factors are powerful forces in shaping personality.

    Humanistic (Albert Ellis, Carl Rogers,Abraham Maslow) People are basically good and strive toward maximum personal development or self-actualization.

    Behavioral (John Watson,B. F. Skinner) Personality is the observable result of reinforcement.

    Genetic/Biological (William Sheldon, Edmund O. Wilson, Hans Eysenck) Genes, hormones, and neurochemicals in the brain regulate the greater portion of human personality.

    Trait (Raymond Cattell,Hans Eysenck) Differences among people can be reduced to a limited number of distinct behavioral styles or traits.

    Cognitive/REBT (Albert Bandura, Ulric Neisser Albert Ellis) Personality results from the interplay of learned and innate styles of thinking.

    Personality theory is the study of the ways in which people differ from one another. It focuses on those differences in the way people think, behave, and process information. And it is these differences that define personality itself. Despite all the definitions, personality is difficult to define precisely, as the many experts in the field of personality psychology differ in their standards and instruments of measurement. Throughout history philosophers, politicians, physicians, jurists, and psychologists have developed theories to explain how and why the differences among people occur. Most had the goal of explaining or predicting human behavior.

  14. Personality is so hard to define because there are so many different characteristics involved such as Thinking of Human , feeling,behaving emotions,behaviour etc there so many theories on personality and no single definition is acceptable to all personality theorists which makes it elusive

    In a quest to understand and define personality, various psychologists have come up with their own viewpoints.

    Study of personality started with psychoanalytic perspective which focused solely on role of unconscious mind in developing personality.
    Far as personality theories are concerned the ideological voew of each person differ and have own uniqueness.
    The ideographic generally a case study and gathering of information.
    Freud theorie:
    Freud gradually developed his theories of human personality, four level of 1)consciousness
    2) The structure of personality
    3) anxiety and defense mechanicsms
    4) psychosexual stages development.
    Whereas Carl Jung stated that, spirituality along with sexuality. Another psychologist, Alfred Adler, stated that social factors for development of our personality.
    It is quite difficult to conclude to a definition.

  15. Personality is difficult to define because:

    1. Multiple determinants (sexual-instinctual, social-cognitive, unconscious conflicts, etc) therefore different approaches, different methods of study are involved and hence difficult to arrive at a comprehensive definition.
    2. Dynamic nature and develops with age – adaptive depending on the internal or external factors. Hence consistency across time and situations is limited and hence the validity of definition.
    3. It has both physical and psychological dimensions. Not possible to empirically quantify all the time.
    4. Difficult to conclude how much of it is deterministic or by free will.

  16. Personality is an essential component of the study of Psychology, as it focuses on answering two very fundamental questions about individuals – why two people often show different behavioral traits in similar situations, and why sometimes an individual shows similar patterns of behavior across different situations. However, the vast scope of behavior patterns that need to be explained (ranging from attitudes, thought processes, feelings, social behavior) make it difficult for us to establish a universal definition of Personality. Moreover, most of the seminal research and study of Personality differs on what constitutes our personality.

    Freud and subsequent Neofreudians debated over the driving force of a person’s behavior within one’s ‘unconscious’ (sexual instincts in case of Freud, social interest for Adler, basic anxieties for Horney, and so on). On the other hand, psychologists subscribing to the Humanistic Perspective (such as Maslow and Rogers) differed from both the Freudian view of the unconscious being the driving force of personality and instead brought back the focus of personality on one’s conscious mind and its characteristics that make us uniquely human, such as our subjective emotions and freedom to make conscious choices.

    These unresolved debates over the central aspect and the primary deterministic factors of personality make it difficult for us to formulate a universally acceptable definition of personality.

  17. Personalitty is difficult to define as it is involves multidimensional aspect of an individual .
    Psychologists differ in their opinion while defining personalty depending on the parameter they focussed more on. Thereby it is more of a complete definition of an individual .

    For some Psychologists like Sigmund Freud it is the unconscious mind involving only id demands.
    For others involving more indepth perspective personality involves both conscious and unconscious mind .It involves the decision taking part of ego.

    Personality involves inherent and outwardly visible characteristics of an individuals and varies for different individual . A same person can be fat for one individual while bubbly for other.
    Hence it involves the perspective of bearer whos evaluating the individual as well.

    Thereby multi opinions make it difficult to define.

  18. using the construct of personality, psychologists try to bring out the unique and relatively consistent parameters in an individual. this definition is too broad. any effort to specifically define personality gets very difficult because there exists little agreements as to what constitutes these consistent and unique parameters… ( eg. Allport , Eysenck, Big-5….. all give different types or traits)

    another debate revolves around whether personality is innate ( trait theorists) or acquired( eg. walter mischel)… both trait and behaviourists lie at extreme ends of the continum of innate vs acquired with many others falling somewhere on the continuum.

    further apprehensions arise in getting an objective definition of perwonality because psychologists try to define it as per their own life experiences… Adler talked of inferiorities, Horney talked of basic anxiety, Sullivan talked of role of interpersonal relations as defining features of personality.

    Freudian personality gets shaped in beginning life years while erikson theory allows personality to develop till end of life. both theories have their own impact but speak very differently on some very important aspects of personality.

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