Learn about theories of personality and discover which personality traits you have.
What is personality? Well, the answer depends on who you ask. Personality may be part of our unconscious. It may consist of personal narratives that we build across our lives (Cervone, Shadel, & Jencius, 2001). Or it may be the observable manifestation of our genetics. But overall, personality traits can be thought of as habitual individual differences in behavior, thought, and emotion
Theory of Personality
It wasn’t until recently that we even knew we had personalities. Still, for a long time, we’ve used adjectives to describe people. For example, we might say someone is responsible, innovative, angry, or friendly. Each of these adjectives can also be thought of as personality traits.
Interestingly, when researchers analyzed these common adjectives, they found that they clumped into five categories (Goldberg, 1993). These categories are now known as the Big Five personality traits. And each of these big five aspects of personality includes hundreds if not thousands of personality traits (Goldberg, 1993).
The Big Five Are:
Although there are only five primary personality traits, we can fall anywhere on the continuum of these traits. In other words, we are not 100% extrovert or 100% introvert. Rather, we might be mostly extroverted, mostly introverted, or somewhere in the middle.
To see where you fall on these Big Five traits, here is a short personality quiz with some of the questions used in research on the Big Five personality traits (Saucier, 1997; ipip.ori.org).
Self-Assess Your Big Five Personality Traits
Scale: 1 = Strongly Disagree | 10 = Strongly Agree
Openness to Experience
*Add up your score for each of the five personality factors. The higher your score, the stronger each of these personality traits is for you.
Other Theories of Personality
Although the Big Five theory of personality is the most popular, you may also be interested in the social-cognitive theory of personality. This theory states that much of our behavior—what we might consider to be personality—arises as a direct result of social stimuli. While the Big Five theory of personality assumes that personality consists of our essential, unchangeable, innate qualities, the social-cognitive theory of personality argues that personality itself is dynamic and changes because of our circumstances (Cervone, Shadel, & Jencius, 2001).
Regardless of where personality comes from, it can be helpful for our understanding of ourselves to know where we fall and what traits we have.
Pamela (Pami) Parker currently serves as a holistic practitioner, coach and teacher. Her intention is to be a compassionate guide to those who choose to experience a healthier, happier and more peaceful way of life.