Personality: Concept & Definitions

In popular usage, the word personality is something akin to attractiveness, charm of charisma.  It  generally refers to the physical or external appearance of an individual and is often understood in terms of social attractiveness. The literal meaning of personality is derived from the Latin word persona, the mask used by actors in the Roman theatre for changing their facial make-up.

Psychological Concept of Personality

Psychologists have attempted to explain the concept of personality in terms of individuality and consistency. We often observe that people differ a great deal in the ways they think, feel and act and that too to different or even same situations. This distinctive pattern of behaviour helps one to define one’s identity. Additionally, a person seems to behave somewhat consistently in different situations over different time. Combining these notions of individuality and consistency, personality can be defined as the distinctive and unique ways in which each individual thinks, feels and acts, which characterise a person’s response throughout life. In other words, personality refers to our characteristic ways of responding to individuals and situations

Basic features of Personality:

In brief, it is characterised by the following features:

  • It has both physical and psychological components.
  • Its expression in terms of behaviour is fairly unique in a given individual.
  • Its main features do not easily change with time.
  • It is dynamic in the sense that some of its features may change due to internal or external situational demands. Thus, it is adaptive to situations.

Definitions of Personality:

  • Allport defined it as the dynamic organisation within the person of the psychophysical systems that determine the unique adjustments to one’s environment. He suggests that there is an inner personality that guides and directs individual’s behaviour.
  • Weinberg & Gould defined it as the characteristics or blend of characteristics that make a person unique.
  • Fromm defined it as the totality of individual psychic qualities, which includes temperament, one‘s mode of reaction and character, and two objects of one‘s reaction.
  • According to Sigmund Freud, it is made of three major systems- Id, Ego & Super-ego and the human behaviour is the product of interaction among these systems.

Theories of Personality:

A number of approaches and theories have been developed to understand and explain behavioural differences among individuals, and behavioural consistencies within an individual. These theories are based on different models of human behaviour. The current theoretical approaches can be grouped into five categories:

  • Type and trait theories
  • Psychodynamic theories
  • Humanistic theories
  • Learning theories
  • Cognitive theories

Determinants of Personality

The personality of an individual develops as the person grows and develops into an adult. The individual elements in a person’s behaviour become increasingly prominent with age and development. There are a lot of factors which contribute to that, these factors are called as ‘determinants of personality’. Some of the categories of these determinants are:

  • Biological factors,
  • Cultural factors,
  • Social factors,
  • Situational factors.

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