Introduction to personality

Personality has been derived from the Latin word “persona” which means “mask” used by actors to change their appearance. It is the combination of a person’s thoughts, characteristics, behaviour, attitude, ideas, and habits.

In philosophy, it means internal quality. But in social psychology terms, personality suggests neither external nor outward pattern nor does it suggests internal quality rather than an integral whole.

Personality develops during the process of socialization in a culture of a specific group/society. It is the sum total behaviour of the individual and covers both overt and covert behaviour, interest, mentality and intelligence. It is the total of physical capabilities and mental abilities.


“Personality is the dynamic organisation within an individual of those psychophysical systems that determines his characteristics behaviour and thought”.

Gordan & Allport (1961)

“ Personality is the characteristics/ blend of characteristics behaviour and thought”.

Weinberg & Gould (1937)

“ Personality is the constant pattern of thinking, feeling and action.


“ Personality is the totality of sentiments, attitudes, ideas, habits, skills, and behaviour of an individual”.

Ogburn & Nikoff


  • Temperament: Biological characteristic way of responding.
  • Trait: Fixedd, consistent and particular way of behaving.
  • Disposition: Tendency of an individual to behave in a way to a given situation.
  • Character: The overall pattern of consistent behaviour.
  • Habit: Over acquired mode of behaving.
  • Values: Goals & ideals that are considered important and worthwhile to achieve.


  • Personality is unique and consistent.
  • It has both physical and psychological element.
  • It’s relatively stable but dynamic in nature.
  • It helps in adjusting individual with environment.
  • Its main feature do not change easily with time.
  • It is dynamic in the sense of its features may change due to internal/external situational demands.
  • It’s adaptive to situations.


  • It’s something which is unique in each individual. Personality refers to internal and external qualities, few of which are basic and is unique to each person. It’s not possible for any other individual to reproduce/replicate the qualities of the personality of other individual.
  • It refers particularly to persistent qualities of an individual. Personality is mainly made of consistent or stable qualities that express in social behaviour and attempt to make adjustments in the environment.
  • It represents the dynamic orientation of an organism to the environment. The process of learning that takes place in reference to the environment. We don’t acquire all traits of personality all at once.
  • It’s greatly influenced by social interactions. Personality isn’t an individual quality. It’s the result of social interaction. It means that when we come in contact with other members of society, we acquire certain qualities while we exhibit certain others, all of which come to form personality.
  • It represents a unique organisations of persistent dynamic & social predisposition. In personality, various qualities aren’t put together but are integrated into one. This integration is nothing but a result of organisation which may be different from person to person.


•Sex differences •Nervous system PHYSIOLOGICAL STRUCTURE
•Physical environment
•Social environment
•Family environment •Cultural environment •School environment •Language
•Social role •Identification •Interpersonal relation
•Inner drive
•Being goal-driven
•Caring for good for all •Avoiding prejudice •Using strength and working on their weakness


Attitudes: Attitudes influence the psychic structure & later on biological (genetic) structures. These are set of emotions, beliefs, behaviour towards a particular object, person, thing/event. Attitudes are shaped by upbringing & experiences. They have a powerful influence on behaviour.

Traits: These are inherent as well as acquired qualities of an individual.

Sentiments, feelings, and emotions: Sentiments and emotions play a very vital role in the development of the personality. Human behaviour is greatly impacted by sentiments and emotions. Emotions are short-lived feelings that basically turn out to be emotions.

Values and Ideas: Also influences the development of personality to a large extent. Almost all our behaviour are more or less guided by values & ideals.

Basically, these factors are psychological factors. The psychology of an individual develops his/her personality in various means yet it influences is great an individual stands in society and behaves differently in different situations. Relates himself to situations and act or react according to his/her psychological makeup which forms a great impact of their personality.


  1. TRAIT APPROACH: Focuses on particular psychological attributes along which people tend to differ in consistent and stable ways. For eg: One person may be less shy, whereas another may be more; or one person may be less friendly whereas another may be more. Here “shyness” and “friendliness’ represent traits along which individuals can b related in terms of the degree of presence/absence of concerned behavioural quality of a trait.

2. TYPE APPROACH: Understands personality by studying certain vast patterns in the observed behavioural characteristics of individuals. Each behavioural pattern refers to one type in which individuals are placed in terms of similarity of their behavioural characteristics with that person.

3. PSYCHODYNAMIC APPROACH: Also known as dynamic psychology. It emphasizes systematic study of psychological forces that underlie the behaviour, feelings and emotions and how they may relate to past experiences. Freud’s theories are psychoanalytic whereas the term ‘psychodynamic’ refers to both his theories and those of his followers. Freud psychoanalysis is both a theory and a therapy.


  • Alder
  • Jung

Neo- Freudian

  • Anna Freud
  • Erich Fromm
  • Karen Horney
  • Erik Erikson
  • Sullivan

4. BEHAVIOURAL APPROACH: This approach does not emphasize on internal dynamics of behaviour. Behaviourists believe in data, which is definable, observable and measurable. Thus, they rely on the learning stimulus-response relationships and their reinforcement. According to them, personality can be best understood in terms of the environment. They see development being a change in response characteristics i.e., an individual learns new behaviour in response to new environments and stimuli.

  • B.F. Skinner
  • Ivan Pavlov
  • Bandura

5. HUMANISTIC APPROACH: It is a philosophical movement that emphasizes the personal worth of individuals and the centrality of human values. The approach rests on the complex philosophical foundations of existentialism and emphasizes the creative, spontaneous, and active nature of human beings. This approach is very optimistic and focuses on the noble human capacity to overcome hardship and despair.

  • Carl Rogers
  • Abhrahm Maslow

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