Free Tutorial in Basic Psychology - Understanding Personality

Personality is a reflection of a person's thinking, feelings, behavior, and subconscious, and unconscious mind. This article will try to understand what constitutes a personality and how we characterise it.


In an earlier article in basic Psychology, we learned about Human Behavior which is one of those elements which makes the personality of a person. Now in this article, we will learn about what personality means and in Psychology how we define and understand this important human characteristic.

The word 'personality' is derived from the Latin word persona. In Latin language, persona means a theatrical mask worn by performers to play specific roles or disguise their identities.

What constitutes personality

Personality is a unique behavior mannerism and characteristics of an individual. There are many traits, manners, approaches, interactions, and other attributes that constitute a personality and give it that unique distinction. Based on personality we can distinguish a person from one another. The building up of a personality is based on various factors like heredity, upbringing, learning, environment, family atmosphere, social factors, etc.

Some fundamental characteristics of personality

Human traits, thought patterns, emotions, and mindset affect the behavior of a person and the same is reflected in one's personality. Certain aspects characterize personality. These are -
  • Consistency: Normally there is a regularity in the behavior of a person and it is easily recognized. That means people act or behave in the same way or more and less the same ways in many situations.
  • Psychology and physiology: Personality is a psychological construct where psychology plays the vital role but it is also influenced by biological processes and physical needs.
  • Behaviour and actions: Our behavior and actions are influenced by our personalities. How we move and act in our environment and varied situations is a manifestation of our personalities.
  • Multiple expressions: Our behavior is the main thing where our personalities reflect but there are other expressions also where it plays a role. Some of these are our thoughts, feelings, relationships, and social interactions.

Types of personalities

There are several theories about personality development and personality types. Some top theories are mentioned below -

The first theory known as Myers-Briggs theory identifies a personality based on four zones of characteristic patterns of personality as follows -
  1. Introverted, sensing, thinking, and judging (ISTJ): People falling in this group of personalities are logical and organized in their approach. They have also a tendency to be judgmental.
  2. Introverted, intuitive, feeling, and perceiving (INFP): These people tend to behave in an idealistic way and also are sensitive to their feelings.
  3. Extroverted, sensing, thinking, and judging (ESTJ): These people are assertive by nature and are concerned with following the rules.
  4. Extroverted, intuitive, feeling, and judging (ENFJ):. These people are known to be warm and loyal. They are overprotective by nature and are also known as 'givers'.

The second theory categorising personality in types suggests that there are mainly four types of personalities. These are -
  1. Type A: This type of personality has characteristics such as perfectionist, impatient, competitive, work-obsessed, achievement-oriented, aggressive, and stressed.
  2. Type B: In this category the personality has characteristics such as low stress, even-tempered, flexible, creative, adaptable to change, patient, and tendency to procrastinate.
  3. Type C: The personality characteristics in this type are - highly conscientious, perfectionist, and struggles to reveal emotions of all types.
  4. Type D: In this category the personality type is as worrying, sad, irritable, pessimistic, negative self-talk, avoidance of social situations, lack of self-confidence, fear of rejection, appears gloomy, and hopeless.

The third theory about personality is Trait Theory which says that personality is the reflection of internal characteristics and these characteristics are -
  • Agreeable: One who cares about others, helps others enjoys it, and feels empathy.
  • Conscientiousness: Having high levels of thoughtfulness, good impulse control, and goal-directed behaviors.
  • Eager-to-please: Ready to accommodate, passive, and conforming to situations.
  • Extraversion: Having excitability, sociability, talkativeness, assertiveness, and high amounts of emotional expressiveness.
  • Introversion: Being quiet and reserved.
  • Neuroticism: This is a condition in which one experiences stress and dramatic shifts in mood, feels anxious and worries about different things, gets upset easily and frequently, and struggles to bounce back after bad times or stressful events.
  • Openness: People having this trait are generally creative, open to trying new things, and focused on tackling new challenges and opportunities.

The fourth type of theory about personality is called Psychodynamic Theory. In this category 'the psychosexual stage theory' by Sigmund Freud and 'stages of psychosocial development' by Erik Erikson are worth mentioning. These theories are based on the influence of the unconscious mind on personality.

The fifth theory about personality is known as Behavioral Theory. As per this concept, psychologists believe that personality is a result of interaction between the individual and the environment. In this theory, more weightage is given to observable and measurable behaviors rather than internal thoughts and feelings. Some of the famous behavioral theorists in this line of thinking were B. F. Skinner and John B. Watson.

The sixth theory of personality is the Humanist Theory. In this theory, emphasis is on the importance of free will and individual experience in developing a personality. Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow were the main theorists in this stream of thinking.

Personality assessment

Personality can be assessed through specialized quizzes tests or questionnaires and helps in categorizing the personality of a person. It also helps in monitoring the personality of an individual and gives valuable data to the people engaged in research on topics related to personality development.

Personality disorders

As we discussed, personality is the reflection of our thinking, behavior, thoughts, subconscious, and unconscious mind. If there is some stress or disruption in the mind then it manifests as a disorder in personality. Many symptoms are quite evident in personality disorder condition. Some of these are - Aggressive behavior, Distrust of others, Delusional thinking, Flat emotions, Lack of interest in friendships or relationships, and Invading or violating others' boundaries.


Understanding the personality of an individual helps us understand his behavior, traits, and attributes. Personality assessment can be done using psychological tests and helps in modelling the personality of that individual. Human behavior is a complex process and reflects in one's personality. So understanding personality is necessary to decipher human behavior.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can we judge the personality of a person?
Personality is a characteristic of a person and just by observing the behaviour, manners, and such other attribute we can find a lot about the personality of a person.
Are personality tests accurate?
Personality tests are based on some responses of the particular person to queries and questionnaire. If the person is honestly responding then the results are quite accurate.
Why the name of Sigmund Freud is so famous in Psychology?
Sigmund fred was the first person who interpreted the behaviour and personality of a person to one's sexual feelings in subconscious mind. It got a lot of criticism also.
Can personality disorders be corrected?
It is not easy to correct such disorders but some psychiatrists suggest measures to control and correct them with limited success.


Author: DR.N.V. Srinivasa Rao19 Mar 2024 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 2

A good article from the author. Every human being will have his/her way of thinking and they will behave based on their thinking and understanding. When we meet a person whom we didn't know earlier, our knowledge about that person will be zero. But after spending some time with him/ her, observing will give us an understanding of his/ her personality as we will get an understanding of their personality from their behaviour. The following are some ways to understand the personality of the other person-
1. Having a conversation with the other person.
2. Observing him while performing his duties
3. Constantly following his body language
4. Watching him while he talks and keeping an eye contact
5. Sharing our details and getting his details.

However, human personality is a very tricky thing, and it may change from situation to situation.

Author: Neeru Bhatt19 Mar 2024 Member Level: Gold   Points : 1

It is true that by observing the behaviour and manners of a person we can deduce a lot about one's personality. There are many attributes and traits that constitute the personality of a person. The interesting thing is that even if the person is faking or pretending in his or her behaviour then it can also be found and that trait also becomes a part of the personality and people also come to know about that trait. The behaviour of a person might change from situation to situation but the perception of his or her personality would remain more and less same.

Author: Umesh20 Mar 2024 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 3

Personality is a very interesting topic. It evokes many personality types in our minds. When we meet a person, at times we are impressed by his personality. We often comment that the person had a towering personality, or a dominating personality or a humble personality. Such views about one's personality are actually based on one's behaviour that we experienced while interacting with that person.

The look, attitude, mannerism, and other appearances that we perceive in a person give us clues about his or her personality and we would look at him in future with that expectation only. Once an image of personality of a person is engraved in our minds it remains there and if we find a change in his or her behaviour the personality perception remains almost same as earlier. That is the reason, in my view, why personality is a characteristic of a person.

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