PREVIOUS: What is CHARACTER ? (#1)
a. Personality – can be defined as a dynamic & organized set of characteristics that —> motivate us, & uniquely influence the way we think, feel & act in various circumstances.
The word “personality” originates from the Latin ‘persona’, which means mask. Allport believed that personality develops as a function of learning to adapt to social situations, using our fundamental qualities, while trying to achieve our needs. Interesting list:
“16 Personality Factors” ∼ psychologist Raymond Cattell.
b. Traits – In Science: Physical characteristics as an expression of a gene or many genes, such as height, eye color, the ability to roll your tongue….
In Psychology: a consistent, long-lasting tendency in behavior, as distinguishing qualities of your personal nature, such as hostility, boldness, faith….
They are aspects of personality, background, or physique that make us better at some activities & worse at others.
TRAIT THEORY: In 1936, psychologist Gordon Allport (one of the first to focus on the study of Personality) identified almost 18,000 words in various dictionaries that described differing personality traits, 4,000 of them in just one.
Common Traits – abstract ones used to measure one’s personality or some portion of it
Individual Traits – later renamed “dispositions”- unique traits which give us insight into how a person is organized – the “morphogenic study of the individual”. (MORE…)
Allport noted that what people do is a great clue to their personality traits. If people like to run, hike, & ride bikes we can infer they are ‘Athletic’. He grouped traits into three levels:
✤ CARDINAL traits : A single characteristic that has one general focus motivating a person & guiding most of their activities. It dominates the life as their ruling passions/obsessions, such as a need for money, fame, security…. Someone can be so power-hungry that they are solely driven by that need for control.
• Some people are known specifically for such traits, so that their names become synonymous with the quality. Consider the ones that made these ‘names’ become household words, by their descriptive term: Freudian, Machiavellian, narcissistic, Don Juan(ish), Christ-like…. Cardinal traits are rare (not present in all of us) & tend to show up later in life
✤ CENTRAL: these are the 5 to 10 pervasive traits found to some degree in everyone – which govern people’s day to day interactions. They’re the basic building blocks of personality that shape most of our behavior, but not as strongly as the Cardinals. They are the obvious characteristics most often used to describe someone, such as: “Sammy is intelligent, honest, shy and anxious….” (LIST of Traits)
✤ SECONDARY: the traits that reflect more “situational or opportunistic expressions”. They aren’t as incorporated into one’s personality as the others, particular likes or dislikes that only a very close friend would know about. They’re attitudes or preferences that only tend to show up under specific circumstances, & must be included to provide a complete picture of human complexity. EXP:
• getting anxious when in a group, being impatient while waiting in line
• a preference for ice cream or chocolate, dislike of modern art or jazz
Traits (CT) are expressed in degrees
People express their strengths in different ways & in different amounts, depending on the event or setting, rather than having a trait or not.
Social Psychology tells us that the details of the specific situation influences actual behavior. We may normally be very Responsible, but not always, like being late for an unpleasant meeting, or being flaky because of who we’re with, how much money we have at the moment, how upset or ill we are….
The degree to which a trait is expressed can also depend on the people we interact with. We may BE :
• Restrained with a shy person or unsafe authority figure
• Expressive with good friends or children
• Diligent at work, but Carefree on vacation
DRAW on our
• Love & Kindness when with family
• Self-regulation & Prudence when eating
• Social intelligence & Curiosity with casual friends or acquaintances
• Teamwork & Perseverance at work….
NEXT: PRINCIPLES of CHARACTER