We are unique and non-replicable beings. Our psychology is as clean and idiosyncratic as our personality. Everything we experience contributes to it. And this, even if there are experiences that obviously mark us more than others. We know that the personality has genetic, hereditary and environmental components.
But, what exactly is personality? Does it only have to do with our actions or also with our inner world (our thoughts, our memories…)? In truth, our personality encompasses all of this and more. This problem is studied by the psychology of the personality. How? ‘Or’ What ? Let’s see this in more detail.
What is personality?
This concept is the subject of several definitions. It is understood as a subjective construction which is deduced from the behavior of people and which includes a series of characteristics characteristic of the individual.
It also covers the way we feel or think. Finally, it is forged throughout life through our experiences, especially during childhood and adolescence.
One of the most successful definitions of this concept is that proposed by Bermúdez in 1996. The latter defines it as follows:
What is it for ? Beyond defining ourselves as unique individuals and helping us build our own identity, personality is what enables us to successfully adapt to our environment. That is, it has certain adaptation characteristics.
Personality psychology is the discipline that studies the effect of individual differences in personality on behavior. Specifically, it is a branch of psychology that is devoted to the study of this construct and how it varies from person to person.
One of the most important authors in this discipline is Gordon Allport (1897-1967). This American psychologist is notably the author of Personality, A psychological interpretation published in 1936.
Allport is considered to be one of the founders of this branch of psychology. He particularly emphasized the uniqueness of each individual and the importance of the current context (as opposed to their past history).
What are the elements of this construction?
Within the framework of this discipline, the concept of personality includes two major groups of behaviors or characteristics of the individual. These groups are:
- Demonstrated behavior. For example, the actions that the person performs or his conduct.
- The private experience. That is to say his desires, his memories, his thoughts, his needs, his opinions …
Thus, personality is a distinctive construction of each person. This makes it unique and non-replicable. However, it is also true that there are specific personality patterns (that is, tendencies to be a certain way), which in turn include what is called personality disorders.
In other words, while each person is unique in some way, there are patterns that can be shared by many people. These are what we call traits and are widely studied by personality psychology.
How to study the personality?
There are three main models for studying personality. These models focus on the study of behavior to establish hypotheses. This is because behavior tells us a lot about who a person is. There are therefore three types of models:
- Internists. According to them, behavior is determined by personal variables.
- The Situationists. For them, the causes of behavior are external to the individual. They therefore focus on behavior.
- Finally, the interactionists. Here, behavior is the result of the interaction between personal and contextual variables.
Personality Traits and the Big Five Model
Traits are the set of common characteristics that make up certain types of personality. Among these traits we find, for example: positivism, joy, sincerity, transparency, pessimism, introversion …
One of the most important models in this area is the Big Five Model , developed by Raymond Cattell. This model considers that there are 5 major personality factors. Each factor includes a series of personality traits. The 5 factors in question are:
- Extraversion (vs. introversion)
- Neurosis (vs. emotional stability)
- Conscience or responsibility (vs. irresponsibility).
- Openness to experience (vs. closure).
- Kindness (as opposed to callousness).
These 5 factors and their opposites have received very different names, but they all keep the same meaning. In any case, according to this model, it remains that through these 5 factors and their corresponding traits, we can define the personality of any individual.
Although everyone’s personality is unique, some patterns can be repeated frequently. These then shape different types of personality. When these personality types include extreme, dysfunctional, maladaptive, or deviant traits, these are known as Personality Disorders (PD).
For a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease to be made, for example, the person who has it must feel discomfort or that their functioning is disturbed. The various labs are included in DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) and CIE-10 (International Classification of Diseases).
Depending on their characteristics, the TP can be grouped into three large groups (or clusters A, B and C). These are the following:
- Group A. Paranoid PT, schizoid PT and schizotypic PT.
- Group B. Antisocial PT, borderline PT, histrionic PT and narcissistic PT.
- Finally, group C. Avoidant PT, dependent PT and obsessive-compulsive PT.
One final thought
Personality is built especially during childhood. Then there comes a time in life when the personality becomes particularly stable. It should then no longer change over time. According to psychologist Luis Muiño, there are little things we can change in the way we are, but the personality will remain what it is.
Personality has a genetic origin, but it is also built from learning, context, relationships and situations that we live. It includes everything we are on the inside, but also how we behave on the outside.