Psychology personality (What does it mean for you)

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In this blog we will discuss what personality psychology is. 

We will also briefly explore what personality is, the theories of personality and the applications of personality psychology. 

What is personality psychology?

Personality psychology is a scientific branch of study that examines the personality traits of human beings and the variation of these traits among individuals.

The overarching goal of this branch of psychology is to show how people are different in their own individual ways due to the psychological forces of personality. 

This scientific field of study focuses on studying individual traits and also the traits of personality as a whole so as to construct a coherent picture of an individual and also the major psychological processes involved in the building of an individual’s personality. 

Personality psychology is the scientific discipline that empirically studies the personality processes or the psychological systems by making strides in understanding an individual’s major psychological patterns. 

According to the American Psychological association, the study of personality also focuses on two major areas:

  • There is effort made to understand individual differences in particular personality characteristics. 
  • The other focus is on developing an understanding of how the various parts of a person come together to create an individual’s whole personality. 

There is ample attention given to the patterns of thought, emotions, and behaviour that are often observed and expressed in the life of an individual in this field of research.

The psychologists and researchers in this area conduct scientific research on personality as a whole, the traits of personality, they also teach about personality usually at university level, and participate in various disciplines of psychology that require personality studies such as criminology in forensic science. 

It is through the study of and understanding of personality that allows psychologists to get a sense of how people react or respond to situations and challenges that affect their mental wellbeing. It also allows researchers and psychologists to understand values and beliefs people hold and value that also influence their behaviour and patterns of choices. 

What is personatu?

While there is no single agreed upon definition of persistent, with each theories or theory of personality giving different definition, it is widely understood that personality refers to the cognitive, emotional, and behavioral patterns of an individual that impacts how we view yourself, others, and the beliefs we hold about others and the world we live in.

The American Psychological Association also puts forward another apt description of personality- Personality refers to the patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving that are unique and characteristic to an individual that sets them apart from other people. 

All in all personality refers to the most noticeable or observable parts of an individual’s psychological life and it refers to how their mental system operates. 

According to Warren and Carmichael, it involves the “entire mental organisation of a human being at any stage of development.” 

According to them, personality is the result of every developmental phase of human character that has been built over the course of one’s life. These characteristics include: intellect, temperament, skill, morality, and attitude.

According to Mayer, another personality psychologist, personality refers to “An individual’s pattern of psychological processes arising from motives, feelings, thoughts, and other major areas of psychological function.”

According to Mayer, the expression of personality is through the body, and also present  in mental processes of thoughts and feelings and also through the individual’s social behavior.

To further understand personality, let us look at the various personality theories that have been developed to understand personality till date. 

What are the theories of personality?

Scientific research into personality, over the years, has yielded the understanding of personality into several different approaches to studying personality. 

Out of these several approaches the major theories of personality include the psychodynamic, neo-Freudian, learning (or behaviorist), humanistic, biological, trait (or dispositional), and cultural perspectives.

Psychodynamic theory of personality

The psychodynamic theory, based on the work and observations of Sigmund Freud, posits that human behavior is the result of the interaction among various components of the mind.

Freud put forward a psychodynamic view of human personality that involves structures of personality called the id, ego, and superego which determined the individual differences in personality.

This particular theory was a deterministic theory which meant that people were born with variations in these structures of personality and had no or not much of an influence over these structures. 

He also put forward the idea that personality develops in a series of psychosexual developmental stages which are again deterministic of the personality we develop. 

Neo Freudian theory of personality

Neo-Freudian theorists, such as Adler, Erikson, Jung, and Horney, furthered Freud’s theories but expanded from a more individually deterministic point of view and  focused more on the social environment around the person and its influence on the development of personality.

These particular theories of personality also took into consideration the effects of culture on personality and put forward the questions of cultural rules, parenting styles, and overall environment of one’s development of personality. 

Learning theories of personality

This particular theory arose in the early 1900s which posits that personality is the responses of an individual to an external factor or stimule. 

Behaviourism and it;s theory also further developed into what is known as Social learning theory that posits that an individual’s personality and subsequent behavior are determined by an individual’s cognition about the world around them.

The learning theory of personality also tied in with Cognitive behavioral theories in the Mid 1900s  of an individual’s cognitive patterns and behavioral responses which also served as an advancement in the field of personality psychology. 

Humanistic theory of personality

The humanistic theory of personality highlights freewill and shuns the deterministic perspective of personality that was first posited by Freud. 

Humanistic personality theorists argue that an individual’s free will is what brings about their patterns of thought, behavior, and feelings that are reflected in their personality.

The theory highlights the ability of human beings to think for themselves, to be able to control their own urges, and achieve their potential as opposed to being condemned to various internal factors that determine their personality. 

In the humanistic view, people are responsible for their own actions and have the freedom and will to change their attitudes and behavior- to what Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow, both notable theories of humanistic view, called “Best versions” of their own. 

Biological approaches to personality

The biological approach to personality banks on evolutionary theories to explore the variations in an individuals’ personality. 

This approach focuses on the role of genetics and the brain in shaping one’s patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behavior and believe that the variation in these patterns from person to person is rooted in natural selection. 

Trait theory of personality

The most widely accepted theories of personality today are the Trait theories according to which personality can be understood as a result of a set of common traits that every individual exhibits to some degree in their behavior. 

According to theorists, such personality traits are different from person to person but are stable over time and place and are key components to personal dispositions. 

Over time there have been many attempts to understand these broad concepts of traits and also efforts have been made to identify which attributes are key components in personality and also, the total number of personality traits in human beings.

  • The first effort made was by Psychologist Gordon Allport who was one of the first to describe personality in terms of individual traits. He suggested that there were over 4000 individual traits in people. 

In his perspective, Allport suggested three different kinds of traits: common, central, and cardinal. The common traits were shared by many people of the same culture while central traits are those that make up an individual’s personality. 

The Cardinal traits are those that are dominant and overwhelms the other two traits that a person becomes primarily known for those characteristics. For example, a person who 

  •  Next, Psychologist Raymond Cattell proposed that there were 16 traits that the personality of an individual consists of. 

Cattell also believed that these traits exist on a continuum or a spectrum and that all people possess each trait in varying degrees. A person might have a certain trait that is more extensive than the other. 

Cattell’s approach to personality also involved  the identification of traits through factor analysis. These traits were Classified into Surface traits and 16 source traits that underied the surface traits. 

  • A psychologist named Hans Eysenck was one of the first that married the field of personality theory with biology. 

Eysenck’s theory of personality focused on temperaments, which he believed to be influenced by  genetics. 

He also applied the statistical technique known as factor analysis to identify what he believed were the three primary dimensions of personality: extraversion and neuroticism, and psychoticism that consisted of his proposed PEN model of personality. 

He theorized that the cortical arousal causes extraversion, while the visceral brain activation causes neuroticism, and gonadal hormones and enzymes cause psychoticism.

  • Today, the “Big Five” theory is perhaps the most widely accepted trait theory of personality. The theory proposes that personality is made up of five broad personality dimensions:
    • Agreeableness
    • Conscientiousness
    • Extroversion
    • Neuroticism
    • Openness

The BIG five personality dimensions were discovered as a result of Factor analysis to determine the ratings of personality traits in an individual. 

There is no one heoriest of the big five theory but is a result of the studies and research done by many personality theorists but the notable researchers include D. W. Fiske (1949) and later expanded upon by other researchers including Norman (1967), Smith (1967), Goldberg (1981), and McCrae & Costa (1987).

The Big Five theory states that each trait exists as a broad continuum. An individual’s personality will fall somewhere on the spectrum for each trait.

For example, you might be high in extroversion, conscientiousness, and agreeableness, but somewhere in the middle for openness and neuroticism.

What are the applications of personality psychology?

Personality psychology is the study of individual persons in all aspects. For this, all aspects of psychology have to be studied – experimental psychology (perception learning, memory, problem solving) Social Psychology (interpersonal, group forces), biological processes (brain function, glandular secretions) are studied by physiological psychology.


In this blog we have discussed what personality psychology is. We have also briefly explored what personality is, the theories of personality and the applications of personality psychology. 

FAQ about psychology personality

How does psychology define personality?

Personality according to the broad understanding in the field of psychology is the combination of behavior, emotion, motivation, and thought patterns that define an individual. 

What are the 4 types of personality?

There is no universally accepted personality type that has come out as a result of empirical study; however, a large new study published in Nature Human Behavior, led by Northwestern Engineering’s Luis Amaral has identified least four distinct clusters of personality types exist — average, reserved, self-centered, and role model which now challenges the existing paradigms in psychology.

What are the types of personality traits in psychology?

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

These traits have been developed after extensive research done over years of study in the field of personality psychology. 

What makes up a personality?

At a most basic understanding, personality is made up of characteristic patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that make a person unique.


American Psychology Association. Personality. Retrieved on 7th Dec 2021.

Kendra. C. Personality Psychology. Verywell well. Retrieved on 7th Dec 2021.

What is Personality Psychology? UNH.EDU. Retrieved on 7th Dec 2021.

Jang. K.M. Eysenck’s PEN Model: Its Contribution to Personality Psychology. Northwestern University.

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