What is personality

[simpleazon-image align=”left” asin=”0199211434″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/31gvTiHsk0L._SL160_.jpg” width=”105″]Before we discuss some of the definitions it would help us better understand the concept of personality by looking at its etymology. According to Peter Goldie (2004), the term originates from the Latin word “Persona” which literally means mask. The mask indicates some traits or characteristics unique to the wearer. Yet, under the mask there is a complete different face. The mask refers to the external characteristics of an individual while whatever is under the mask is something internal. Thus we define personality is an individual’s internal and external characteristics or traits which are unique to that individual.


Some Definitions

Warren & Carmichael (1930) defined it as the mental organization of a human being at any stage of his development. It includes every phase that an individual builds up during his life such as intellect, temperament, skill, morality and others.

Mayer (2005) calls it an individual’s pattern of psychological processes arising from motives, feelings, thoughts and other major areas of psychological function.

Hamadan (2005) defines personality as characteristic and unique pattern of thinking, feeling and behaving which characterize a personal’s approach to life and which is consistent across a variety of situations.

Analysis of the definitions

From whoever perspective or approach personality is defined, there are are some common elements to all approaches. This may include:

  1. Mental organization
  2. Mental and developmental process
  3. Characteristics and traits such as intellect, feelings, emotions, motives etc.
  4. Traits unique to each individual
  5. Refers to both internal as well external traits.
  6. Consistency across one’s life.

How is personality formed?

[simpleazon-image align=”left” asin=”0495813966″ locale=”us” height=”200″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51-yZxYknSL.jpg” width=”200″]There are several theories or perspective of personality. Here we are describing only the role of Nature and nurture. The question arises is our personality determined by genetics or shaped by environments in which we live? How much of who we are biologically inherited and how is learned from our environment? The fact is that Nature and Nurture both play a part. Humans are born with unique temperament which influences many aspects of developing personality. Each individual’s temperament is relatively consistent with its basic dispositions inherent in the person. The temperament has origins in genetic codes that guide development of the brain and elements may be apparent from birth.

However, environment and experience may also affect personality. External factors in the environment like parents, schools, friends etc may shape our personality. This means that humans are not simply victim of genes or environment.


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