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8 Surprising Dynamics about Personality

Everywhere you look, people are talking about their personality, the personality of others, taking personality quizzes or assessing the personalities of celebrities. We are obsessed with personality in our culture, but how much do those in our culture really know about personality. The following list of 8 Dynamics of Personality may surprise you.

1. Stable: Who you are, in terms of your personality, remains the same over the span of your life. Situations may heighten or suppress an aspect of your personality, but that is only temporary. The core of who you are does not change.

2. The Big 5: There are many personality inventories, assessments and quizzes available online, in magazines or in self-help books, but when social scientists want to study personality, they typically use the Five-Factor theory of personality, or more lovingly referred to as “The Big 5.” The theory states that there are 5 broad personality dimensions or traits, such as: Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, and Openness. Each trait represents a spectrum. For example, Extraversion has a range of high extraversion— someone who is very sociable, talkative, assertiveness, and expressive— to low extraversion— someone who is more comfortable being alone, exhausted quickly by social contact, avoids small talk, and doesn’t like being the center of attention.

3. Context Driven: The expression of someone’s personality is determined by the context they are in. An extravert at a funeral will likely tamp down their social excitement. An agreeable police officer won’t be so agreeable when apprehending a criminal. Our personality traits are like volume knobs, traits get turned up or down depending on the context.

4. Predictable: We all like to think we are unique, that there’s no one else out there that’s just like us. And the truth is you are and you aren’t. Why? Based on your personality traits, what you would do, your behavior, in a given situation is predictable. In general, extraverted people are expressive, entertaining, and talkative at parties. Certainly, sometimes an extravert will have an off day, maybe they aren’t feeling well, or they lost their job, or a family friend died, but most of the time, an extravert will behave in a predictable way in certain situations.

5. Inherited: Personality traits are largely shaped by the genes inherited from parents. But that is not the only factor that shapes personality. Environment is a major contributing factor to personality development. Environment is composed of many things such as: family, culture, class, era, race, language, beliefs and religion, and physical traits. Genes and environment are two sides of the same coin.

6. The Personality of Others: People tend to be attracted to those who exemplify the same personality traits as themselves. When voting for a political candidate, looking for a mate, making friends, getting to know co-workers, generally people will pursue those who are most like themselves.

7. Disordered: Personality, among other things, can be classified as disordered, meaning an individual’s personality is the cause of impairment or dysfunction in their life. Personality disorders can range from an excessive need for connection with others to no desire to be with other people. Or it can range from extreme emotional states to virtually no emotional states. Personality disorders are extreme examples of personality traits that a culture deems as dysfunctional. Personality disorders often harm the individual and those around them, yet the individual with the personality disorder is unaware of the role their personality plays in the problem.

8. Modifiable: Personality can be changed. It is not easy to do because personality is intrinsic to who we are, but it is possible. To give you an idea of how difficult personality change is, imagine if your spouse, family members or friends sat you down and said that you have a serious problem. And in order to fix the problem you have to change who you are. Not just a troublesome behavior, or bad habit, but the fundamental core of who you are. That might be a difficult message to stomach, right? However, if an individual can be convinced that their personality is contributing to their pain or distress, then they may be open to modifying their personality. How does one do that? Personality change is intensive work, which usually takes years of treatment. Using treatment models like Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy, clients have been able to change emotional and cognitive patterns so that their responses and patterns of behavior are healthier.

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