What is Personality?
Personality… It’s a much debated and complex notion that preoccupies people over time, not only the scientists who address it in depth but also the ordinary people. Why does personality matter? Why is there a definition of personality and why do we have to understand this notion? What makes personality such an interesting concept?
“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are” (Anais Nin)
Personality, such a mystery…
Throughout the entire life course, from infancy to old age, the human being moves through a series of internal changes, tries to discover the philosophy of life and the possibilities he has as an individual, always having as the ultimate goal to develop an integrated personality.
At best, this endeavour implies the creation of a personality, full of:
It’s a vision that goes towards perfection. But is there a perfect personality? Being perfect in what? What is a perfect character?
“Your personality is what makes you sexy.” (Mollie King)
Personality, such a demanding course…
This specific path is, of course, a quite difficult and demanding course as this struggle takes place in an anti-education era, where the lack of educational progress, the lack of cooperation and communication as well as the lack of mutual respect and emotional support and the lack of sincerity in communication prevail and create a wrong self-image. Factors like the technological advancement, the environmental changes and the overall change in quality of life have a rapid and strong impact on the formation and the development of well-structured personalities that could fit in any social context. Furthermore, the inter-family relations, the economic conditions as well as heredity and intrauterine life are factors that may contribute to the personality formation and development.
“Personality is to a man what perfume is to a flower.” (Charles M. Schwab)
Man works on his self-development constantly, on a daily basis, striving hard to reach maturity building his own well-structured personality. It’s a constant, ongoing struggle in order to build a personality that will make him look unique and different from other people. Personality will be an integral part of himself, accompanying him over time, throughout life.
Is there a specific interpretation of personality as a concept?
The term of personality is usually associated with an attempt to interpret the expression of diverse behaviors in everyday life. To put it simply, personality is a whole way of thinking, behaving and feeling. Personality embraces moods, attitudes, and opinions and is most clearly expressed in interactions with other people. It’s all these features, these characteristics that create a person’s distinct profile and distinguish one person from another defining a person’s
- emotional status
- social and professional skills.
Psychology of Individual Differences or Differential Psychology is the field of study that examines these issues trying, for centuries, to interpret the individual aspects of personality through observations, research and evolving theories in an effort to understand how personality is formed. There is a widespread scientific belief that the development of a person’s personality should be supported, not only because this development takes place under adverse conditions and because this course towards maturity is not just a constant, ongoing condition but also because, on the contrary, it’s a gradual process, and also alternating between progress and regression.
The maturity of personality
Personality maturity takes place through the development of biological, social, psychological and mental aspects of human personality throughout man’s life, along with the influence of genetic factors, the impact of natural potential, environmental stimuli, parental background and emerging personal will.
Since there are many variables that should be taken into account, the interpretations regarding the process of personality development may change, depending on the approach to this issue, as, sometimes, more emphasis is being placed on the biological factors or on environmental ones. In other words, it’s a “nature or nurture” issue. However, why should the personality be formed only on the basis of one aspect of life, while in reality, it is influenced by all the above-mentioned factors? The way of interpreting personality has changed and any notion related to personality has been modified as well.
“I am what is mine. Personality is the original personal property.” (Norman O. Brown)
Despite the different interpretations of the notion of personality, it is concluded that, from a scientific point of view, personality cannot develop unilaterally. It takes inputs, several elements and man himself who will step in the heredity-environment correlation.
Is the development of personality an evolving process?
Throughout personality development, progressive changes occur. These changes result into the modification as well as the restructuring of the mental and physical capabilities of the individual which appear, gradually, at each stage, better organized. Personality is, therefore, the product of the development process which, ideally, has an ending. This ending is not the end of the development process; it’s the result, the outcome of a synthesis that leads to the dynamic development of the individual. This synthesis is the means of man’s survival.
“We continue to shape our personality all our life. If we knew ourselves perfectly, we should die.” (Albert Camus)
If we simplify things by following the logic of science as far as personality is concerned, then we will have to ask ourselves about the correctness and the accuracy of the elements we are given in the culture we live in each time. Is it true that these elements define our existence? How convincing are these elements? How convincing are the horoscopes that are published in the newspapers on a monthly basis? After all, how convincing are those tests that are published in magazines? At what percentage does the corporate profile during the job interview period coincide with our real self?
If we believe that, by getting simple answers to some questions, we may discover the real identity of the individual, we are deluded. Assuming that this will suffice to discover the real self of the individual, then, the notion of personality is underestimated. As we follow the above way of thinking, the concept of ‘core self’ is coming to light. It’s the component that defines each person with specific, static and permanent substances. That would probably be the definition that most people would give regarding the notion of personality and that’s where the wrong way of thinking lies.
“Glamour comes from within. My beauty regime begins with my personality.” (Barry Humphries)
Conducting research on personality development
First scientific researches
Until a few years ago, scientists believed that personality development was solidly established by the end of early childhood, that personality traits stopped changing in adulthood and that it occurred in the first years of life. This theory was based on the belief that certain personality traits of the individual were obtained in early childhood due to the impact of strong experiences during that period.
Recent scientific researches
This opinion was contradicted by recent specific research conducted at the University of Edinburgh, in Scotland. After having conducted a research study where the sample consisted in a large percentage of the population, it has been found out that the changes in personality traits do not stop; instead, personality traits change continuously as the individual grows older. Being more diligent and conscientious, more disciplined and being a person with increased organizational skills are some of the changes that are being observed, especially between 20 and 30 years of age. Over the next decade in age, there is an increase in emotional empathy, prosocial behavior and satisfaction with life. (Published in British newspaper “Daily Mail”.)
Researchers and psychologists report that “As teenagers, many of us are less conscientious, more impulsive, moody, temperamental and irritable. As we grow up we usually become more sociable and more conscious”.
By observing the people who participated in this multi-annual research, it has been found out that there were personality changes over time, sometimes in a small percentage, sometimes in a larger one. One of the researchers in this specific research, Professor Wendy Johnson, brought up that:
“Very broadly, adolescents become rather less conscientious, more impulsive, more willing to take risks and seek adventure, more moody and irritable, and more social for a few years, then reverse those trends as they move into adulthood. First jobs and then parenthood tend to accentuate the trends toward general maturity and better and more stable mood. In older age, people tend to become more accepting of themselves and all that goes with that”.
“The ‘self-image’ is the key to human personality and human behavior. Change the self- image and you change the personality and the behavior.” (Maxwell Maltz)
Conclusion on the personality development
Therefore, personality is not something permanent or stable. It is constantly changing and the individual elements that form personality are changing as well. By referring to the individual elements of personality, we mean:
• the change in the way of thinking
All of the above elements of personality interact with one another, they are connected and they overlap.
“Personality for me is the strongest statement.” (Salvador Dali)
Explaining the notion of personality through a comparison
Consequently, man is a whole that is composed of individual parts. To make this clearer, let’s take the example of removing: if one removes a part of one’s body and replace it with another, this person is still the same individual. However, if one replaces one’s memories or convictions with new ones, will he be the same person? Certainly not!
“Personality is the glitter that sends your little gleam across the footlights and the orchestra pit into that big black space where the audience is.” (Mae West)
Each person’s personality is composed as any other component of the universe: by following an equation method, according to A. Freedman’s suggestions. Water consists of compound molecules made up of 2 hydrogen atoms and 1 oxygen atom. This is why it’s called H2O. Water will always have 2 times the number of hydrogen atoms as oxygen atoms. Thus, H2O= WATER. If an extra atom of oxygen is added to H2O, the equation will not form “water”. We are going to get “hydrogen peroxide”. That is Η2Ο2= HYDROGEN PEROXIDE.
On the basis of the above, it can be concluded that, in the universe, everything exists due to individual components based on the right proportions. The same goes with personality too. Each personality is the product of its individual components. Personality is not a separate part that simply coexists with the other elements, but is the assembly of its own individual components, its individual parts.
Personality, an illusion?
Is, therefore, personality an illusion? Although some psychologists, such as Bruce Hunt and Thomas Metzinger, assume that, given the above facts, personality is an illusion, the specific term of illusion is not probably perfectly suited to interpret this phenomenon.
If, for instance, we think of a river that flows, it is not static and it constantly changes either its course and its flow rate or its direction. It is sometimes full, sometimes dry, depending on the environmental and weather conditions. The fact that the river does not have the same condition throughout its life does not mean that it does not exist and it is just an illusion. On the contrary, it is something that has a flow, a past, a future and it has coherence. It’s simply an evolving process. So does personality. Over the years, personality changes its course, its way of thinking, its direction, but it still exists at a given moment in a specific form.
The above example refers to the fact that the mental and physical condition in which the individual is at a certain time plays an important role in the individual’s behavior, considering the individual’s personality characteristics at that time period.
“Personality has power to uplift, power to depress, power to curse, and power to bless.” (Paul Harris)
.. Let’s not forget that life is unpredictable, full of sudden surprises and situations that keep you on the move. Life changes its form and quality and each personality changes as well. Everyone is in a continuous interaction with life and its components. Components like:
• the family
• the social system
• the cultural conditions
• the existing thoughts
Furthermore, you will have the opportunity to learn more about:
1. the notion of personality
2. the different factors that affect personality
3. the development of personality
4. the personality types
So, you can rank yourself in one or more of them. In this way, you will have acquired all the knowledge that is necessary so that you can learn more about the people around you as well as about yourself – and this is much more important for you.
Who are we really? Are we really who we think we are? Why are we what we are? Can we change who we are? Learn yourself better and use this knowledge in order to have a better and more positive and advantageous life. This information is the key to understanding behaviors and, eventually, to the importance of personality formation and development.
If you want to know what personality category you are classified in, follow the link below and do the personality test.