Personality: Definition, Theories, & Types (2022)

What Is Personality?

Personality describes the unique patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that distinguish a person from others. A product of both biology and environment, it remains fairly consistent throughout life.

Examples of personality can be found in how we describe other people's traits. For instance, "She is generous, caring, and a bit of a perfectionist," or "They are loyal and protective of their friends."

The word "personality" stems from the Latin word persona, which refers to a theatrical mask worn by performers to play roles or disguise their identities.

Although there are many definitions of personality, most focus on the pattern of behaviors and characteristics that can help predict and explain a person's behavior.

Explanations for personality can focus on a variety of influences, ranging from genetic effects to the role of the environment and experience in shaping an individual's personality.

What Is the HEXACO Personality Test?

Personality Characteristics

What exactly makes up a personality? Traits and patterns of thought and emotion play important roles, and so do these fundamental characteristics of personality:

  • Consistency:There is generally a recognizable order and regularity to behaviors. Essentially, people act in the same way or in similar ways in a variety of situations.
  • Both psychological and physiological:Personality is a psychological construct, but research suggests that it is also influenced by biological processes and needs.
  • Affects behaviors and actions:Personality not only influences how we move and respond in our environment, but it also causes us to act in certain ways.
  • Multiple expressions:Personality is displayed in more than just behavior. It can also be seen in our thoughts, feelings, close relationships, and other social interactions.

The "Big Five" Personality Traits

How Personality Develops

There are a number of theories about personality, and different schools of thought in psychology influence many of these theories. Some theories describe how personalities are expressed, and others focus more on how personality develops.

Personality Types

Type theories suggest that there are a limited number of personality types that are related to biological influences.

One theory suggests there are four types of personality. They are:

  • Type A: Perfectionist, impatient, competitive, work-obsessed, achievement-oriented, aggressive, stressed
  • Type B: Low stress, even-tempered, flexible, creative, adaptable to change, patient, tendency to procrastinate
  • Type C:Highly conscientious, perfectionist, struggles to reveal emotions (positive and negative)
  • Type D: Worrying, sad, irritable, pessimistic, negative self-talk, avoidance of social situations, lack of self-confidence, fear of rejection, appears gloomy, hopeless

There are other popular theories of personality types such as the Myers-Briggs theory. The Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator identifies a personality based on where someone is on four continuums: introversion-extraversion, sensing-intuition, thinking-feeling, and judging-perceiving.

After taking a Myers-Briggs personality test, you are assigned one of 16 personality types. Examples of these personality types are:

(Video) What is Personality? - Personality Psychology

  • ISTJ: Introverted, sensing, thinking, and judging. People with this personality type are logical and organized; they also tend to be judgmental.
  • INFP: Introverted, intuitive, feeling, and perceiving. They tend to be idealists and sensitive to their feelings.
  • ESTJ: Extroverted, sensing, thinking, and judging. They tend to be assertive and concerned with following the rules.
  • ENFJ: Extroverted, intuitive, feeling, and judging. They are known as "givers" for being warm and loyal; they may also be overprotective.

Personality Traits

Trait theoriestend to viewpersonality as the result of internal characteristics that are genetically based and include:

  • Agreeable: Cares about others, feels empathy, enjoys helping others
  • Conscientiousness: High levels of thoughtfulness, good impulse control, goal-directed behaviors
  • Eager-to-please: Accommodating, passive, andconforming
  • Extraversion: Excitability, sociability, talkativeness, assertiveness, and high amounts of emotional expressiveness
  • Introversion: Quiet, reserved
  • Neuroticism: Experiences stress and dramatic shifts in mood, feels anxious, worries about different things, gets upset easily, struggles to bounce back after stressful events
  • Openness: Very creative, open to trying new things, focuses on tackling new challenges

The Trait Theory of Personality

Psychodynamic Theories

Psychodynamic theories of personality are heavily influenced by the work of Sigmund Freudand emphasize the influence of the unconsciousmind on personality. Psychodynamic theories include Sigmund Freud’s psychosexual stage theory and Erik Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development.

Behavioral Theories

Behavioral theories suggest that personality is a result of interaction between the individual and the environment. Behavioral theorists study observable and measurable behaviors, often ignoring the role of internal thoughts and feelings. Behavioral theorists include B.F. Skinner and John B. Watson.

Humanist

Humanist theories emphasize the importance of free will and individual experience in developing ​apersonality. Humanist theorists include Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow.

Impact of Personality

Research on personality can yield fascinating insights into how personality develops and changes over the course of a lifetime. This research can also have important practical applications in the real world.

For example, people can use a personality assessment (also called a personality test or personality quiz) to learn more about themselves and their unique strengths, weaknesses, and preferences. Some assessments might look at how people rank on specific traits, such as whether they are high in extroversion, conscientiousness, or openness.

Other assessments might measure how specific aspects of personality change over time. Some assessments give people insight into how their personality affects many areas of their lives, including career, relationships, personal growth, and more.

Understanding your personality type can help you determine what career you might enjoy, how well you might perform in certain job roles, or how effective a form of psychotherapy could be for you.

Personality type can also have an impact on your health, including how often you visit the doctor and how you cope with stress. Researchers have found that certain personality characteristics may be linked to illness and health behaviors.

How Personality Type Can Affect Physical and Mental Health

Personality Disorders

While personality determines what you think and how you behave, personality disorders are marked by thoughts and behavior that are disruptive and distressing in everyday life. Someone with a personality disorder may have trouble recognizing their condition because their symptoms are ingrained in their personality.

Personality disorders include paranoid personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder (BPD), and narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).

(Video) Personality Theories: Eight Major Approaches | Psyched with Setmire

While the symptoms of personality disorders vary based on the condition, some common signs include:

  • Aggressive behavior
  • Delusional thinking
  • Distrust of others
  • Flat emotions (no emotional range)
  • Lack of interest in relationships
  • Violating others' boundaries

Some people with BPD experience suicidal thoughts or behavior as well.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact theNational Suicide Prevention Lifelineat988for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

For more mental health resources, see ourNational Helpline Database.

If you are concerned that elements of your personality are contributing to stress, anxiety, confusion, or depression, it's important to talk to a doctor or mental health professional. They can help you understand any underlying conditions you may have.

It is often challenging to live with a personality disorder, but there are treatment options such as therapy and medication that can help.

A Word From Verywell

Understanding the psychology of personality is much more than simply an academic exercise. The findings from personality research can have important applications in the world of medicine, health, business, economics, technology, among others. By building a better understanding of how personality works, we can look for new ways to improve both personal and public health.

4 Sources

Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. The Myers & Briggs Foundation.MBTI basics.

  2. Bornstein RF. Personality assessment in the diagnostic manuals: On mindfulness, multiple methods, and test score discontinuities.J Pers Assess. 2015;97(5):446-455. doi:10.1080/00223891.2015.1027346

  3. Srivastava K, Das RC. Personality and health: Road to well-being.Ind Psychiatry J. 2015;24(1):1–4. doi:10.4103/0972-6748.160905

  4. Mayo Clinic. Personality disorders.

Additional Reading

  • Carducci BJ. The Psychology of Personality: Viewpoints, Research, and Applications. Wiley Blackwell.

  • John OP, Robins RW, Pervin LA. Handbook of Personality: Theory and Research. Guilford Press.

(Video) Intro to Psychology Theories of Personality

Personality: Definition, Theories, & Types (1)

By Kendra Cherry
Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology.

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FAQs

What is personality definition and types? ›

Personality refers to individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving. The study of personality focuses on two broad areas: One is understanding individual differences in particular personality characteristics, such as sociability or irritability.

What are type theories of personality? ›

Type theory is a theory of personality that states that human beings have different temperaments and personality traits. Each personality type is defined by a set of stable characteristics: such as introversion or extroversion. Personality traits can be found within personality types: such as loyalty or generosity.

What is personality theory definition? ›

Personality theories study how an individual develops their personality and can be utilized in studying personality disorders. These theories address whether personality is a biological trait or one that is developed through a person's interaction with their environment.

What are the 4 theories of personality? ›

  • Psychoanalytic Perspective.
  • Humanistic Perspective.
  • Trait Perspective.
  • Social Cognitive Perspective.
16 Aug 2021

What is personality definition PDF? ›

• Personality is defined as the sum total of ways in which an individual reacts. to and interacts with others. • Organizations are concerned with the study of personality and various.

What are the 8 types of personalities? ›

Jung's 8 Personality Types
  • Extraverted Thinking.
  • Introverted Thinking.
  • Extraverted Feeling.
  • Introverted Feeling.
  • Extraverted Sensation.
  • Introverted Sensation.
  • Extraverted Intuition.
  • Introverted Intuition.
27 Jan 2020

What are the 7 theories of personality? ›

The major theories include dispositional (trait) perspective, psychodynamic, humanistic, biological, behaviorist, evolutionary, and social learning perspective.

What are the 5 main personality theories? ›

Many contemporary personality psychologists believe that there are five basic dimensions of personality, often referred to as the "Big 5" personality traits. These five primary personality traits are extraversion (also often spelled extroversion), agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism.

What are the 5 basic personality types? ›

The five broad personality traits described by the theory are extraversion (also often spelled extroversion), agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism.

What are the 3 main theories of personality? ›

Here are three leading theories of personality, their implications, and their applications in everyday life.
  • Freud's Theory. ...
  • Eysenck's Personality Theory. ...
  • Cattell's 16PF Trait Theory.

What are the 6 theories? ›

These six theories about development that we will discuss from an evolutionary perspective are the Gestalt, psychoanalysis, behaviorism, cognitive psychology, Piaget, and Vygotski.

Which is the best personality theory? ›

Some of the best-known trait theories include Eysenck's three-dimension theory and the five-factor theory of personality. Eysenck believed that these dimensions then combine in different ways to form an individual's unique personality.

Who created 4 personality types? ›

It was in the area of psychological temperament that Kant developed his views of the four temperaments, which he still referred to as Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholic, and Phlegmatic. Kant argued that there were only four temperaments, and that each temperament was independent from the others—there were no combinations.

Who invented 4 personality types? ›

Hippocrates was the first to inspire the idea of humors, which were called sanguine, choleric, melancholic, and phlegmatic. Carl Jung used the idea of the four humors to influence his discoveries about the intricacies of human behavior.

Who is the father of personality theory? ›

Gordon Allport, in full Gordon Willard Allport, (born November 11, 1897, Montezuma, Indiana, U.S.—died October 9, 1967, Cambridge, Massachusetts), American psychologist and educator who developed an original theory of personality.

Who defined personality? ›

Thus, Allport defined personality as: the dynamic organization within the individual of those psychophysical systems that determine his unique adjustments to his environment (1937, p. 48).

Who gave definition of personality? ›

Sigmund Freud developed the first comprehensive personality theory, called psychoanalytic theory. Freud saw personality as being- composed of three elements — id, ego, and super ego.

What is Freud's definition of personality? ›

According to Sigmund Freud, human personality is complex and has more than a single component. In his famous psychoanalytic theory, Freud states that personality is composed of three elements known as the id, the ego, and the superego. These elements work together to create complex human behaviors.

What are the 12 different personalities? ›

There are twelve brand archetypes: The Innocent, Everyman, Hero, Outlaw, Explorer, Creator, Ruler, Magician, Lover, Caregiver, Jester, and Sage. Let's take a look at a few examples: The Innocent: Exhibits happiness, goodness, optimism, safety, romance, and youth.

What are the 2 main types of personalities? ›

The functions are modified by two main attitude types: extraversion and introversion. In any person, the degree of introversion or extraversion of one function can be quite different from that of another function.

What are 16 type of personalities? ›

Socionics divides people into 16 different types, called sociotypes which are; ESTJ, ENTJ, ESFJ, ENFJ, ISTJ, ISFJ, INTJ, INFJ, ESTP, ESFP, ENTP, ENFP, ISTP, ISFP, INTP & INFP. A formal conversion is carried out following the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator.

Who created the 6 personality types? ›

Holland's 6 personality types

According to John Holland's theory, most people are one of six personality types: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional.

What are the main personality types? ›

Common Questions About The Five Major Personality Types

The five major personality types are conceived to be Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Openness, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.

What are the 6 components of personality? ›

Abstract. According to the HEXACO six-factor personality model, the personality is best described by six dimensions. These are: Honesty-humility, Emotionality, Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness and Openness to experience.

How many personality types are there? ›

Based on the answers to the questions on the inventory, people are identified as having one of 16 personality types.

What are the 9 types of personalities? ›

How Many Enneagram Types Are There?
  • Type One: The Perfectionist. Type Ones focus on following the rules and doing things the right way. ...
  • Type Two: The Helper. ...
  • Type Three: The Achiever. ...
  • Type Four: The Individualist. ...
  • Type Five: The Investigator. ...
  • Type Six: The Loyalist. ...
  • Type Seven: The Enthusiast. ...
  • Type Eight: The Challenger.
29 Apr 2022

What are the 7 most difficult personality types? ›

  1. 1 - The Bully. This is a classic example and what many probably think of as a difficult person. ...
  2. 2 - The Egomaniac. A close cousin of the bully is the egomaniac. ...
  3. 3 - The Needy One. All of us have needs. ...
  4. 4 - The Pessimist. ...
  5. 5 - The Complainer. ...
  6. 6 - The Pleaser. ...
  7. 7 - The Dull One.
27 Feb 2019

What are the 3 nature of personality? ›

These are (i), Physiological structure of the organism, (ii) Psychic structure of the organism and (iii) Social and cultural structure. These structures contribute to the formation of personality.

What was the first personality theory? ›

Hippocrates recorded the first known personality model, postulating that one's persona is based upon four separate temperaments. Another Greek physician, Galen, extended Hippocrates' theory by applying a body fluid to each temperament: blood, mucus, black bile and yellow bile, respectively.

What are the 8 theories? ›

All theories of globalization have been put hereunder in eight categories: liberalism, political realism, Marxism, constructivism, postmodernism, feminism , Trans-formationalism and eclecticism.

What are 3 examples of theories? ›

Evolution, plate tectonics, and the Big Bang are all examples of scientific theories. Theories are very important in science, but in science a theory is never a hunch or a guess. A scientific theory is a broad explanation that is widely accepted because it is supported by a great deal of evidence.

What are the 4 goals of theory? ›

To sum up, psychology is centered on four major goals: to describe, explain, predict, and change or control behaviors. These goals are the foundation of most theories and studies in an attempt to understand the cognitive, emotional, and behavioral processes that people face in their daily lives.

Why is theories of personality important? ›

Theories of personality play a crucial role in providing an understanding on the existing human behavior and interactions. Psychological understanding plays a vital role in influencing how an individual has a given behavior.

Who gave personality types? ›

The 16 personality types were created by Isabel Myers and Katharine Briggs, developers of the MBTI® assessment. Myers and Briggs created their personality typology to help people discover their own strengths and gain a better understanding of how people are different.

What does 4 mean in personality? ›

Fours are self-aware, sensitive, and reserved. They are emotionally honest, creative, and personal, but can also be moody and self-conscious. Withholding themselves from others due to feeling vulnerable and defective, they can also feel disdainful and exempt from ordinary ways of living.

What are the types of personalities? ›

These five primary personality traits are extraversion (also often spelled extroversion), agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism.

What are the main types of personality? ›

The five major personality types are conceived to be Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Openness, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.

What are the 7 different personality types? ›

Instead of trying to break people into "types," psychologists focus on personality traits.
...
Measuring personality traits
  • Openness.
  • Conscientiousness.
  • Extraversion.
  • Agreeableness.
  • Neuroticism.
3 Nov 2021

What are the 2 main types of personalities? ›

The functions are modified by two main attitude types: extraversion and introversion. In any person, the degree of introversion or extraversion of one function can be quite different from that of another function.

What are the 9 types of personalities? ›

How Many Enneagram Types Are There?
  • Type One: The Perfectionist. Type Ones focus on following the rules and doing things the right way. ...
  • Type Two: The Helper. ...
  • Type Three: The Achiever. ...
  • Type Four: The Individualist. ...
  • Type Five: The Investigator. ...
  • Type Six: The Loyalist. ...
  • Type Seven: The Enthusiast. ...
  • Type Eight: The Challenger.
29 Apr 2022

What are the 12 different personalities? ›

There are twelve brand archetypes: The Innocent, Everyman, Hero, Outlaw, Explorer, Creator, Ruler, Magician, Lover, Caregiver, Jester, and Sage. Let's take a look at a few examples: The Innocent: Exhibits happiness, goodness, optimism, safety, romance, and youth.

What are the 6 types of personality? ›

  • Holland's Six Personality Types.
  • Realistic – “Do-er”
  • Investigative – “Thinker”
  • Artistic - “Creator”
  • Social - “Helper”
  • Enterprising – “Persuader”
  • Conventional – “Organizer”

What are the 5 parts of personality? ›

The Five Factor Model breaks personality down into five components: Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Openness, and Stress Tolerance. Personality tests that are based on this model measure where an individual lies on the spectrum of each of the five traits.

What are 16 type of personalities? ›

Socionics divides people into 16 different types, called sociotypes which are; ESTJ, ENTJ, ESFJ, ENFJ, ISTJ, ISFJ, INTJ, INFJ, ESTP, ESFP, ENTP, ENFP, ISTP, ISFP, INTP & INFP. A formal conversion is carried out following the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator.

Why are there 16 personality types? ›

The 16 personality types were created by Isabel Myers and Katharine Briggs, developers of the MBTI® assessment. Myers and Briggs created their personality typology to help people discover their own strengths and gain a better understanding of how people are different.

What are the 15 personality styles? ›

The Millon Fifteen Personality Styles/Disorders and Subtypes
  • Retiring/Schizoid.
  • Eccentric/Schizotypal.
  • Shy/Avoidant.
  • Cooperative/Dependent.
  • Sociable/Histrionic.
  • Confident/Narcissistic.
  • Suspicious/Paranoid.
  • Nonconforming/Antisocial.

What are the 7 personality disorders? ›

The main personality disorders in this category are listed below.
  • Paranoid personality disorder. ...
  • Schizoid personality disorder. ...
  • Schizotypal personality disorder. ...
  • Antisocial personality disorder. ...
  • Borderline personality disorder. ...
  • Histrionic personality disorder. ...
  • Narcissistic personality disorder. ...
  • Avoidant personality disorder.

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