We explain what personality is and the theories that propose its classification. Also, what are its general traits and characteristics.

What is personality?

Personality is an internal order of emotional-behavioral type , which all people present and which remains more or less invariable throughout their lives , allowing a certain margin of predictability over time .

Personality is responsible for two people reacting differently to similar stimuli , since they have different attitudinal patterns, and different feelings and thoughts .

Personality is a dynamic psychic fact, that is, it changes over time and is susceptible to awareness , which has been represented in culture as a system of masks used by the individual to deal with the different types of situations that arise. they present.

origin of personality

The word personality comes from the Latin word persona , a name given in ancient times to the masks used by actors during their performances.

It also appears as personalitas in the scholastic philosophers , signifying the set of traits that made any individual a person, that is, a legal subject and citizen .

In later times, the word person came to designate any individual and personality to their unique psychic characteristics.

Definition of personality

Definition of personality

There are numerous defining approaches to personality, but broadly speaking it can be said that it is a pattern of feelings, emotions and thoughts that preferably manifest themselves in the behavior of a given individual, persisting more or less over time and forming an essential part of their identity. unrepeatable.

Personality traits

There have been numerous attempts to order the supposed components of personality, thus being able to generate different typologies according to the predominance of each one of them. These components have been called traits and are classified as stable and eventual , according to the predominance of their appearance.

Thus, the stable traits are those that most usually manifest themselves , while the eventual traits make their appearance in an eventual or sporadic way, depending on the environmental conditions and the psychic construction of the individual.

The four humors theory

Hippocrates, in antiquity, postulated the theory that the four constitutive elements of personality had to do with the predominance of four substances or humors , in turn linked to each of the four elements of nature and each of the four seasons.

This theory was in force for centuries , practically until the birth of modern medicine. According to her there would be four temperamental typologies:

  • Sanguine. With a predominance of blood , linked with air and spring, he was supposed to be loving, brave, optimistic, passionate.
  • Choleric. With a predominance of yellow bile, linked to fire and summer, he was short-tempered, easily irritable.
  • Melancholic. With a predominance of black bile, linked with the earth and autumn, he was supposed to be sleepy, despondent, depressed and contemplative.
  • Phlegmatic. With a predominance of phlegm, linked to water and winter, it was considered cold, cerebral and indifferent.

Eysenck's three dimensions

Eysenck's three dimensions

Seeking to reduce personality traits to their most essential expression, Hans Eysenck proposed three independent dimensions or "superfactors" in all personality , which could be used as yardsticks to characterize personality. These dimensions are:

  • Neuroticism. It involves the traits of shyness, sadness, depression, guilt, tension, fear, shame, emotionality and worry, whose common axis seems to be a strong self-consciousness.
  • Extraversion/Introversion. Sociability, activity, assertiveness, dominance, nonchalance, daring, speed, spontaneity, or just the opposite. Its axis seems to be in the relationship with others.
  • Psychoticism. Aggressiveness, impulsiveness, hostility, cruelty, self-centeredness, traits that seem instinctive and even visceral.

5 factor model

Later developments inherited Eysenck's dimensions and proposed a model based on 5 major personality traits, namely:

  • Extraversion (or introversion). High socialization, daring in social situations, tendency to avoid loneliness. You tend to experience positive emotions : satisfaction, joy, excitement. It has an intense relationship with the environment. Its opposite, introversion, is identical but of the opposite sign in everything.
  • Openness to change (or closure). Intellectual curiosity, aesthetic exploration, taste for inner experiences, independence of judgment. Tends to originality, awareness of one's own emotions and to be highly imaginative. In the opposite case, it is the opposite: a mood less sensitive to art , more in accordance with familiarity and less
  • Responsibility (or irresponsibility). Self-control, planning , organization, everything that makes up the will to achieve. It tends to more conscientious, more willful and determined personalities, and in its opposite case, it tends to more lax moral evaluations.
  • Kindness (or rudeness). Docility, ability to establish friendly interpersonal relationships, reliability, solidarity. Its positive pole tends to greater conformity and the negative to critical thinking.
  • Neuroticism. Anxious, unstable personalities, with a lot of emotional volatility, with high contents of anxiety and worries. Tends to low stress tolerance , poor social ability, poor adaptability.



The doctrine created by the studies of Sigmund Freud , psychoanalysis, supposed the construction of the human personality from conscious and unconscious elements, which he structured based on three fundamental psychic instances:

  • It. It is about the formless psychic matter: the set of drives governed by the principle of pleasure, of very primitive formation, and manifested only in the sense of unconscious actions, of an emotional content that escapes the known psychic world.
  • Superego. It constitutes an ideal psychic being, an entity that regulates behavior that always points to a sense of order, of what it should be , of a psychic image of ourselves.
  • Me. The ego is supposed to be what is in our control, and it is a part of the id that has been modified by contact with reality and with the social order. Thus, it satisfies impulses from the id when occasion or superego control permits.

The Jungian Approach

The psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung, in his theory of personality, distinguished only two basic typologies, namely:

  • extroverts
  • introverts

Although no individual belongs exclusively to these categories , according to Jung, one of the two will be mostly present in their social composition.

Other approaches to personality

Other approaches to personality

Other considerations around personality understand it according to the unique integration of two different factors: temperament, understood as a genetic predisposition to a certain type of behavior; and character, the result of the evolution of said temperament in a given social environment.

In this way, a similar temperament would yield different character forms , according to the individual's particular history and emotions.

Environmental influences on personality

As we have said, personality is not only manifested in the sphere of intimacy, but often operates as a form of connection with the environment , since we are, above all, gregarious beings.

In this sense, the environment will largely determine the mechanisms of the personality, since emotionally significant experiences leave imprints , like footprints on the sand, in the way the individual reacts, either traumatically or, on the contrary, positive way.

The above content published at Collaborative Research Group is for informational and educational purposes only and has been developed by referring reliable sources and recommendations from technology experts. We do not have any contact with official entities nor do we intend to replace the information that they emit.


Abubakr Conner brings a diverse skill set to our team, and covers everything from analysis to the culture of food and drink. He Believes: "Education is the most powerful weapon that exists to change the world." .

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