Mental Health


Self Improvement

Mandy Kloppers

What is Personality?

Everybody’s heard the term personality, and most of us can describe our own or our friend’s personality. What most don’t know, however, is that personality is one of the most theorized and most researched aspects of psychology.

The reason for this is the enormous role personality plays in our lives. It is our personality which determines how we interact with others, how we handle issues, how we treat ourselves, etc. Again, it is our personality which influences which career we pursue, who we marry and even what programs we watch on TV. By definition, personality is the combination of all the attributes – behavioural, temperamental, emotional and mental – that characterize a unique individual.

Carl Jung developed the Type Theory. Type watching is a way to begin to understand personality and to turn their differences into group strengths. According to this theory human behavior is not random  but predictable and classifiable. Everyone is born predisposed to personality preferences. Typologists have devised four pairs of preference alternatives as stated below.

Extroverted (E) or Introverted (I)

Sensing (S) or iNtuitive (N)

Thinking (T) or Feeling (F)

Judging (J) or Perceiving (P)

Extrovert or Introvert

This category deals with how we prefer to interact with the world  and how we prefer to get our energy and stimulation. Other people and actions energize extroverts. They become drained when they have to spend too much time alone. They need other people to function. Introverts get their energy from their own thoughts and ideas.

They rarely speak up at meetings preferring listening to talking. Introverts need time alone, especially after spending hours with people.

Extroverts outnumber introverts by about three to one in America. Extroverts are often rewarded in school, by participating in class discussions and at work because they are popular and outgoing. Introverts are often undervalued because they keep their best to themselves.

Sensor or iNtuitive

This category deals with how we prefer to gather information about the world. The sensors prefer to use their five senses to gather information. Sensors prefer facts to interpretation. For iNtuitives, everything is relative- iNtuitives look at the grand scheme of things, trying to translate bits of information through intuition into possibilities, meanings and relationships. Details and specifics irritate iNtuitives. iNtuitives see the forests , sensors see the trees. When working with sensors or iNtuitives it is important to remember these differences.

Thinker or Feeler

This category deals with how we make decisions. Thinkers base their decisions on objective values and are often described as logical, detached, or analytical. Some thinkers are thought of as cold or uncaring because they would rather do what is right than what makes people happy. In contrast, feelers tend to make decisions based on what will create harmony. Feelers avoid conflict, and will overextend themselves to accommodate the needs of others. Feelers always put themselves in somebody else’s shoes  and ask how people will be affected before taking decisions. This is the only personality type category related to gender. About two-thirds of all males are thinkers, and the same proportion of females is a feeler.

Judger or Perceiver?

This category deals with how we orient our lives. Judgers are structured, ordered, scheduled, and on time. They are the list makers. Judgers wake up every morning with a definite plan for the day, and become very upset when the plan becomes unraveled. Even free time is scheduled. Perceivers, on the other hand, rely on creativity, spontaneity, and responsiveness, rather than a plan or list, to get them through the day. They burn the midnight oil to meet deadlines, although they usually meet them. Perceivers like to turn work into play, because if a task is not fun, they reason, it is probably not worth doing.

Experts say that this personality type difference is the most significant source of tension in the workplace and in-group work. Perceivers prefer to keep gathering information rather than to draw conclusions. Judgers prefer to make decisions, often ignoring new information that might change that decision. Hence, the conflict. A good balance of judgers and perceivers are necessary for a well-functioning work group. Judgers need light-hearted perceivers to make them relax, and perceivers need structured judgers to keep things organized and reach closure on projects.

Personality By Birth Order

The people with the same birthranks have more in common with each other than with their own siblings.~ Sulloway.

Is your oldest a perfectionist? Is your youngest spontaneous? Does your middle child display maverick potential? Where they fall in the “pecking order” of your family may give you clues to why they are the way they are.

In his book, “Born to Rebel: Birth Order, Family Dynamics, and Creative Lives,” Frank Sulloway notes that “siblings raised together are almost as different in their personalities as people from different families.” For Sulloway, this interesting fact led to the question of how the family experience can be so different for each child. In fact, he states that people with the same birth ranks have more in common with each other than with their own siblings.

In her book, “The Birth Order Factor,” Dr. Lucille Forer states that certain combinations of persons will produce a more successful marriage (when the husband is a youngest and wife is an oldest) or one “doomed to failure” (husband and wife both the oldest or both the youngest). Conventional wisdom holds that there are some personality traits that are commonly associated with birth order. They probably shouldn’t be ignored, nor should they be given too much attention.

There are many ways to measure personality, but psychologists have mostly given up on trying to divide humanity neatly into types. Instead, they focus on personality traits.

The most widely accepted of these traits are the Big Five:

  • Openness
  • Conscientiousness
  • Extraversion
  • Agreeableness
  • Neuroticism

Openness is shorthand for “openness to experience.” People who are high in openness enjoy adventure. They’re curious and appreciate art, imagination and new things. The motto of the open individual might be “Variety is the spice of life.”

People low in openness are just the opposite: They prefer to stick to their habits, avoid new experiences and probably aren’t the most adventurous eaters. Changing personality is usually considered a tough process, but openness is a personality trait that’s been shown to be subject to change in adulthood.


People who are conscientious are organized and have a strong sense of duty. They’re dependable, disciplined and achievement-focused. You won’t find conscientious types jetting off on round-the-world journeys with only a backpack; they’re planners.

People low in conscientiousness are more spontaneous and freewheeling. They may tend toward carelessness. Conscientiousness is a helpful trait to have, as it has been linked to achievement in school and work.


Extraversion versus introversion is possibly the most recognizable personality trait of the Big Five. The more of an extravert someone is, the more of a social butterfly they are. Extraverts are chatty, sociable and draw energy from crowds. They tend to be assertive and cheerful in their social interactions.

Introverts, on the other hand, need plenty of alone time, perhaps because their brains process social interaction differently. Introversion is often confused with shyness, but the two aren’t the same. Shyness implies a fear of social interactions or an inability to function socially. Introverts can be perfectly charming at parties  they just prefer solo or small-group activities.


Agreeableness measures the extent of a person’s warmth and kindness. The more agreeable someone is, the more likely they are to be trusting, helpful and compassionate. Disagreeable people are cold and suspicious of others, and they’re less likely to cooperate.

Men who are high in agreeableness are judged to be better dancers by women, suggesting that body movement can signal personality. (Conscientiousness also makes for good dancers, according to the same 2011 study.) But in the workplace,disagreeable men actually earn more than agreeable guys. Disagreeable women didn’t show the same salary advantage, suggesting that a no-nonsense demeanor is uniquely beneficial to men.


To understand neuroticism, look no further than George Costanza of the long-running sitcom “Seinfeld.” George is famous for his neuroses, which the show blames on his dysfunctional parents. He worries about everything, obsesses over germs and disease and once quits a job because his anxiety over not having access to a private bathroom is too overwhelming.

George may be high on the neuroticism scale, but the personality trait is real. People high in neuroticism worry frequently and easily slip into anxiety and depression. If all is going well, neurotic people tend to find things to worry about. One 2012 study found that when neurotic people with good salaries earned raises, the extra income actually made them less happy.

In contrast, people who are low in neuroticism tend to be emotionally stable and even-keeled.

Unsurprisingly, neuroticism is linked with plenty of bad health outcomes. Neurotic people die younger than the emotionally stable, possibly because they turn to tobacco and alcohol to ease their nerves.

Possibly the creepiest fact about neuroticism, though, is that parasites can make you feel that way. And we’re not talking about the natural anxiety that might come with knowing that a tapeworm has made a home in your gut. Undetected infection by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii may make people more prone to neuroticism, a 2006 study found.

Personality is a concept that we are still learning about and discovering new facts daily.

Mandy X

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