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Understanding Personality

Question:

Psychology of personality 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?

Personality is considered as a combination of qualities as well as characteristics that define the attitude and the behaviour of an individual. In the words of Buss & Plomin (2014), personality can be considered as a set up various habits that an individual possess by which a character can be defined. The essay discusses the concept of personality and the issues that are normally related to the topic. Various questions emerge from personalities such as the difference between two human beings and the dimension that differentiates their behaviour. The essay talks about such issues and focuses on related theories that help in understanding the concept in a better manner. Apart from this, the factors that affect the personality of an individual is also defined that highlights the identifiable traits based on which personality can be defined. The essay analyses the personality traits of an individual to understand the effect personality have on the life and behaviour of the person.

According to Hancock (2016), personality can be defined as a characteristic that individuals possess that evolve from the exposure to biological and environmental factors. It is a set of habitual behaviours, cognitions and emotional patterns that are based mainly due to the behaviours that an individual is exposed to. It can often be referred to as characteristics or thinking pattern of individuals that help to distinguish one person from another. Jones & Paulhus (2014) stated that while studying personality, psychologists have to keep in mind a couple of areas. The first of these areas include understanding the differences that individuals have related to a particular characteristic. These characteristics include the ability of an individual to be sociable and the ability of an individual to be irritable.

Such characteristic trends are imposed on an individual by the society by analysing the level of interaction that is maintained. The other area that psychologists focus is about understanding the manner in which an individual develops itself in the society. The behaviour and attitude of an individual are analysed to conclude regarding this area of personality development. In this regard, certain scholars argue that personality may arise in an individual from the exposure it has with the society (Parks-Leduc, Feldman & Bardi, 2015). However, an argument has been made against this statement, stating that personality of an individual is subject to change with the change in environment (Mõttus et al., 2017).

Factors Affecting Personality


In this regard, it can be said that personality can also be defined as the study that aims to explain the tendencies behind the certain behaviour of individuals. The learning, motivation and interaction that they have with the environment often play a key role in defining the personality trait of an individual. Hence, personality raises certain questions that need to be solved so that the issues that are related to it can be analysed in a proper manner. In this regard, it can be said that the issues related to personality can be defined in a broader manner that highlights the necessary questions while understanding the personality of individuals.

As observed by Judge & Zapata (2015) the personality of an individual can be a subject to various questions that need to be solved in order to conduct a perfect analysis. The difference in a human being is one such question that needs to be defined while analysing the personality of the individuals. Individuals tend to change their behaviour with the changes in the situation. It is to be noted that every behavioural trait of an individual is largely based on the stimulus it receives from the environment. The manner in which the people are treated in a social environment plays a key role in the development of personality of every individual. Spielberger et al., (2017) is of the view that family behaviour also plays an important role for developing the personality of the individuals.

The two dimensions of family and social environment provides psychologists with the idea to assess the personality characteristics of the people. The difference in the behaviours of the people is attributed to the treatment that they receive. For example, a person growing up in an abusive and hostile environment both socially and in terms of the family may have an angry and hostile personality. This behavioural trait may lead the person to be an outcast in an environment that is friendly and casual about life. In this, case, however, Soto, Kronauer & Liang (2015) stated that the personality of the individual may change as being a part of a society is one of the motivational factors that drive a human being.

Hence, it can be said that the consistency of the human behavioural differences cannot be measured as such due to the variety of factors that are needed to be considered. These factors help in analysing the personality traits and provide an overview of the requirements that psychologists need to analyse to understand the personality of the individuals. It is to be noted that the questions related to the personality of the people may often lead to the factor that helps in influencing the personality of an individual. Hence, analysis of the factors can help in determining the causes behind the existence of various personality traits among individuals.

Theories of Personality

Debates exist about the place in which the personality of an individual develops. The maturity level of a child, the interaction with the society and the experiences encountered by an individual are some of the factors that lead to the growth of personality (Piedmont, 2014). It has been seen that stable ways exist in the environment that triggers the growth of thoughts, feelings and behaviours of an individual.


Generic factors: Most scholars consider heredity as the major factor that leads to the growth of personality. It has been stated that the manner in which an individual interacts with the family members help in the development of personality. Studies have also shown that 15% to 50% of the personality traits in an individual are inherited from the parents (Judge et al., 2014).

Early experience: Like in the development of children, the early stages of growth act as a triggering factor in the personality of an individual. The experiences individual witness from an early childhood period accounts for the development of personality traits within an individual. The experiences can be in the form of social-environmental factors as well as experiences gained within the family.

Primary groups: O'Boyle et al., (2015) found that family involvement plays a crucial role in the development of personality of an individual. This is mainly because of the fact that children spent most of their time with the family rather than the outside social environment. It has been seen that some of the hostile personality that has been developed within individuals have been due to traumatised childhood experience. This leads to an emotional imbalance between individuals.

Culture: The cultural factor can be considered as a social trend that aids in the development of personality. It is expected that individuals need to behave in the manner demanded by the society. A prime example of this is the behaviour showed by boys and girls. However, criticism has been made that defines the un-uniform manner in which cultural differences exist in an individual.

In order to understand the effectiveness of personality, it is important to analyse the theories related to the concept. One such theory that can be related to personality is the psychoanalytic theory. According to Choi, Oh and Colbert (2015), this theory tries to explain the behaviour of individuals based on the interaction of different components. The human personality can be divided into three components such as id, ego and super ego. The id is defined as the principle that demands gratification no matter the situation that is at hand.

Measuring Personality: Psychoanalytic Theory, MBTI, Big Five

The ego of an individual is developed to find out the reality of the issue and the manner in which it can be aligned with the demand in the changing market. The super ego also called the conscience imposes moral judgements and social rules on the ego of an individual. According to Salem et al., (2015), the interaction of these three components makes up the personality of an individual. Apart from this theory, the Myer-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is one a way of measuring the personality of an individual. This theory together with the Big Five Personality model complements one another in understanding the personality of an individual. The characteristics that these two models focus on are almost similar to one another.

A questionnaire is provided to the individuals that are collected in the form of a survey. Based on the answers provided by the individuals, five traits are identified. These traits include openness, neuroticism, consciousness, agreeableness and extraversion. In the MBTI model, the traits that are used to analyse the personality traits include the level of extraversion and introversion, sensing and intuition, thinking and feeling along with judging and perceiving. The traits are interrelated to one another and a test result suggests major differences among people. In the words of Nielsen, Glasø & Einarsen (2017), the Big Five model and the MBTI model together provide an effective way of analysing the personality and finding out the three levels that exist in the analysis of the concept.

According to Sutin and Terracciano (2016), every individual has different levels of personality that define the behaviour and thought process of the person. The three levels that mainly define the personality of people can be analysed and the best personality practice can be traced after the analysis. The levels include:


Neurotic level: It is considered as the healthiest level of personality trait that can be present among an individual. People that have strong neuroticism have intact reality thinking and are always aware of the presence of other people. These people are also self-conscious and rely on defence mechanisms that are more matured and calculated. As observed by Barnett et al., (2015) these type of people can distinguish between the real world and the virtual world in a clearer manner. These people can analyse their strengths and weaknesses that lead them to be more effective in terms of having a strong personality.

Psychotic level: This level is at the opposite level of the dimension. The psychotic level is often termed as a personality trait that promotes disorganised behaviour. These people compromise reality and have an inconsistent awareness about self and others. Like the neurotic level, people belonging to this level also use defence mechanism for their argument. However, the maturity level of the arguments is weak and people remain delusional about the environment that is around them. The biggest disadvantage in this level is that people do not have a clear sense of the nature of their strengths and weaknesses.

Levels of Personality Traits

Borderline level: This exists in the middle of the dimension. People possessing this type of personality are cautious and the level of reality testing of an individual is generally intact. According to Nolen-Hoeksema and Rector (2015), people in this level have a fragmented image of self and others. This leads them to have a fragmented view of themselves and fail to understand the strengths and weaknesses that exist in their personality. Thus, the three levels of personality broadly define the dimensions in which human beings can be classified. Based on the three levels an analysis can be made of the personality of an individual.

To gain a more practical perspective about personality I had conducted a personality test on my friend. The test was based on the MBTI theory and a questionnaire was provided to my friend. The results of the personality showed that my friend had an ENTP type personality. ENTP denotes Extravert, Intuitive, Thinking and Perceiving. The result of the test shows that my friend prefers to be more extroverts to an introvert. This suggests that he can be described as an outgoing and talkative person. Larsen et al., (2017) opined that an extrovert person likes to have a fast-paced life and interact more with the others. My friend possesses such a quality as he often tries to work with other people while solving problems or for doing any work.

Figure: Test result of MBTI

(Source: Created by author)

My friend is also more intuitive than sensing which signifies that he can imagine the possibilities of the way things can be. One of the talents that an intuitive person possess is the fact that they can notice the big picture and understand the manner in which it connects the people and the things (Revelle, 2017). My friend also likes to provide a description of events and things but in a more poetic manner. This helps him to make ideas and concepts for the sake of balancing work and life. Apart from this, the test result shows that my friend prefers to think rather than feel things. This signifies that he makes decisions using logical manner in an impersonal manner.

This result suggests that he provides value to justice and fairness and enjoy finding flaws in the work done by other people. Beck, Davis & Freeman (2015) termed this characteristic trait as levelheaded and reasonable. The final analysis that can be made based on the test is that he is more perceiving rather than judging. He prefers to have matters settled in a subtle manner. He is of the view that rules and deadlines need to be respected and everything needs to be done in a detailed manner following every step. Hence, it can be said that such a personality can have certain effects on personal life as well as professional life.

The effectiveness of the ENTP personality trait on the lives of an individual can be both positive as well as negative. The positive factor of this trait in life is that people are knowledgeable and thereby does not pass over any opportunity that provides a learning experience. The information that the people seek is not for a planned purpose. These people like to keep a record of things that they have learned and use them in a way that defines the level of creativity that exists among them. According to Morey (2015), the flexible minds of the people help them to cash-in on the knowledge that they possess and use it against any people opposing them.

Another positive influence that an ENTP personality trait provides is that these people are excellent analysts. They have the tendency to analyse a situation from every possible angle and find the best solution that is suitable for the particular situation. They tend to combine the originality as well as the knowledge they possess in solving a situation. However, according to Pervin (2015), people with the ENTP personality reject the opinion of other people in a remorseless manner. Most scholars are of the opinion that despite such remorseless attitude, ENTP is considered as the best analysts during any analytical situation.


ENTP people are also energetic. They jump at the opportunity to use their talents and gain opportunities to increase their knowledge. The fact that these people are witty and have a way with words makes them an intriguing factor among other people. This helps them to be enthusiast and full of energy. They do not complain if they have to work for long hours, as long as the work suites their personality. The urge of finding a proper solution to a particular problem keeps these people motivated. They may end up making innovative things that may help in their work life. Having an ENTP person around in an organisation provides for these types of advantages. However, there are certain disadvantages as well that may get the ENTP people in trouble.

One of the disadvantages of this type of personality is the fact that they are quite argumentative. As stated by Cervone & Pervin (2015) this particular characteristic of the people may be because they are more knowledgeable than the other types of people. These people consider the arguments as a form of mental exercise that helps them to gain more knowledge by communicating with others. The ENTP people intimidate the personality types that possess the qualities of conscious approach. The fear of being shut down makes it difficult to work with these types of people in an organisation. At the same time, ENTP misjudges the feelings of other people as they remain rational and focus on the reality of an event.

Such argumentative nature leads the ENTP people to be intolerant as well. This creates a huge problem for the people working the ENTP has most of the times, the ENTP tend to lose their calmness. Tyrer, Reed & Crawford (2015) stated that an intolerance attitude is a form of mental sparring that takes place between the people possessing such a personality trait with those that are not. They have a tendency to dismiss the ideas as well as the people suggesting the ideas on the grounds of unrealistic approach. This leads the ENTP people to lose focus on a topic instantly. Thus, this can be a challenging factor for the people with this personality type.

Conclusion

Hence, it can be said that personality of an individual varies due to the exposure of the individual in the social and economic life. Debated remain whether personality is derived from the social context or individuals are born with it. However, it cannot be denied that personality is an important characteristic that defines an individual. The issues faced while analysing personality can be solved with the application of the theories. It has been seen that the application of Myers Briggs Type Indicator and the Big Five Personality Traits can help in finding a response to the questions and analyse the characteristics of an individual in a proper manner. The analysis of the individual suggested that a good personality plays an important role in life. Most people are judged by the personality that they possess and it is important that individuals maintain a personality that is aligned with their personal nature and the requirements of the society.

References

Barnett, T., Pearson, A. W., Pearson, R., & Kellermanns, F. W. (2015). Five-factor model personality traits as predictors of perceived and actual usage of technology. European Journal of Information Systems, 24(4), 374-390.

Beck, A. T., Davis, D. D., & Freeman, A. (Eds.). (2015). Cognitive therapy of personality disorders. Guilford Publications.

Buss, A.H. & Plomin, R., (2014). Temperament (PLE: Emotion): Early developing personality traits (Vol. 3). Psychology Press.

Cervone, D., & Pervin, L. A. (2015). Personality, binder ready version: theory and research. John Wiley & Sons.

Choi, D., Oh, I. S., & Colbert, A. E. (2015). Understanding organizational commitment: A meta-analytic examination of the roles of the five-factor model of personality and culture. Journal of Applied Psychology, 100(5), 1542.

Hancock, D. (2016). To test or not to test: Assessing personality traits. Practice Management, 26(5), 23-25.

Jones, D. N., & Paulhus, D. L. (2014). Introducing the short dark triad (SD3) a brief measure of dark personality traits. Assessment, 21(1), 28-41.

Judge, T. A., & Zapata, C. P. (2015). The person–situation debate revisited: Effect of situation strength and trait activation on the validity of the Big Five personality traits in predicting job performance. Academy of Management Journal, 58(4), 1149-1179.

Judge, T. A., Simon, L. S., Hurst, C., & Kelley, K. (2014). What I experienced yesterday is who I am today: Relationship of work motivations and behaviors to within-individual variation in the five-factor model of personality. Journal of Applied Psychology, 99(2), 199.

Larsen, R. J., Buss, D. M., Wismeijer, A., Song, J., & van den Berg, S. M. (2017). Personality psychology: Domains of knowledge about human nature. McGraw Hill Education.

Morey, L. C. (2015). Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI). John Wiley & Sons, Inc..

Mõttus, R., Kandler, C., Bleidorn, W., Riemann, R., & McCrae, R. R. (2017). Personality traits below facets: The consensual validity, longitudinal stability, heritability, and utility of personality nuances. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 112(3), 474.

Nielsen, M. B., Glasø, L., & Einarsen, S. (2017). Exposure to workplace harassment and the Five Factor Model of personality: A meta-analysis. Personality and individual differences, 104, 195-206.

Nolen-Hoeksema, S., & Rector, N. A. (2015). Abnormal psychology. Boston: McGraw-Hill.

O'Boyle, E. H., Forsyth, D. R., Banks, G. C., Story, P. A., & White, C. D. (2015). A meta?analytic test of redundancy and relative importance of the dark triad and five?factor model of personality. Journal of Personality, 83(6), 644-664.

Parks-Leduc, L., Feldman, G., & Bardi, A. (2015). Personality traits and personal values: A meta-analysis. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 19(1), 3-29.

Pervin, L. A. (Ed.). (2015). Goal concepts in personality and social psychology. Psychology Press.

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Revelle, W. R. (2017). psych: Procedures for personality and psychological research.

Salem, M., Lakatos, G., Amirabdollahian, F., & Dautenhahn, K. (2015). Would you trust a (faulty) robot?: Effects of error, task type and personality on human-robot cooperation and trust. In Proceedings of the Tenth Annual ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction (pp. 141-148). ACM.

Soto, C. J., Kronauer, A., & Liang, J. K. (2015). Five?Factor Model of Personality. John Wiley & Sons, Inc..

Spielberger, C. D., Gonzalez-Reigosa, F., Martinez-Urrutia, A., Natalicio, L. F., & Natalicio, D. S. (2017). The state-trait anxiety inventory. Revista Interamericana de Psicologia/Interamerican Journal of Psychology, 5(3 & 4).

Sutin, A. R., & Terracciano, A. (2016). Five?factor model personality traits and the objective and subjective experience of body weight. Journal of personality, 84(1), 102-112.

Tyrer, P., Reed, G. M., & Crawford, M. J. (2015). Classification, assessment, prevalence, and effect of personality disorder. The Lancet, 385(9969), 717-726

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