Human Personality: Why Do We Handle Things Differently?

Medically reviewed by Karen Foster, LPC
Updated March 2, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

From the time we are born, we learn how to interact with other people and the world around us. We often approach these interactions in different ways based on our upbringing, culture, and unique personality. Exploring the human personality can help you understand why people might approach and handle situations differently.

Learn about the impact different personality types can have

What is personality?

The term personality is used to describe the way that an individual interacts with the world at large. There are different theories of personality development and characteristics people might have. Personality is generally understood to be fairly fixed in a person at a young age and represents what makes us "who we are," not what we do.

Human variation in personality

The following description of personality differences is based heavily on the research of Carl Jung and expanded by Katharine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers. They posit that there are four main categories of preference that make up a faceted personality "type." According to their theory, there are two qualities on opposite sides of a continuum for each of those four preferences, and each person fits somewhere on that continuum. A combination of those preferences makes up a person's main personality "type." One can take the test that Myers and Briggs developed, called the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), which is still used widely in different settings, such as the workplace.

One facet of personality is called perception. Perception involves all the ways in which we as unique individuals become aware of people, things, events, or ideas. Perception, or noticing and going with the flow of life, is on one end of the continuum; Myers/Briggs put judgment on the other. Judgment describes a preference for order and planning rather than taking things as they come. If you are someone who only goes on vacation with an itinerary, you may score high in judgment.

Another personality preference is introversion versus extroversion. According to the test, people who are more introverted tend to gather higher amounts of information and energy from their internal worlds, paying more attention to their own thoughts and emotions than people who are more extroverted do. Extroverted people tend to pay greater attention to what is going on outside themselves, like with other people and events, and they tend to be more energized from being involved with others.

A third personality category in this model has to do with how someone processes information. The preference defines whether one tends to be more sensing or more intuitive. A person who is more intuitive may prefer to process information that is more "big picture" based. They tend to be less detail-oriented and more creative than people high in sensing.

The fourth and final main facet of personality according to Myers Briggs is the difference between thinking and feeling. This involves one's preference for making decisions. According to this model, thinkers prefer to take an analytical approach to problem-solving or planning, and feelers prefer to make decisions based on their values or underlying beliefs. Both approaches can lead to effective decision-making.

Not one of these eight facets is necessarily better or worse than another. They all come with their own unique strengths and weaknesses. The goal is not to evaluate someone's personality based on these factors but to understand them more in-depth. 


Human needs and personality

Human beings have certain categories of needs to be fulfilled, such as the need for safety, development, belonging, and acceptance. Sometimes people may feel torn between the struggle to survive and the desire for fulfillment and meaning. Our unique personality traits can sometimes lead us to approach these needs in different ways than others might. Aside from our personality, the cultural and societal systems in which someone is raised can also have a great influence on how they try to meet these needs and how they react to life events.  

When it comes to personality, it may be helpful to remember that there is no "best" personality type. However, learning about the different types of personalities may provide insight into yourself and others. Additionally, uncovering and understanding our potential weaknesses might help us to identify areas where we can challenge ourselves to grow as people.

By working to understand and appreciate differences between how you and others approach life, you may find a powerful catalyst for personal development. When we make an effort to understand someone else, we engage in perspective-taking. When we seek to understand something from a perspective other than our own, our mindset may become more open, and we might find greater capability for appreciating and respecting ourselves and others.

Learn about the impact different personality types can have

Online therapy with BetterHelp

Sometimes, you may need others to give you a new perspective on your struggles or push you outside your own comfort zone so that you can grow. For some people, this confidence can come in the form of a trusted friend, a family, or a teacher, but it can also be helpful to consult a trained professional. 

BetterHelp is a resource aimed at matching people with licensed mental health professionals trained in the various theories of personality types. If you would like to better understand yourself and the ways that you tend to interact with others, you might consider online therapy. Online counseling platforms have thousands of licensed professionals ready to offer support. No matter what your personality type is, you can find someone to support you in the ways you need.

Online therapy can be an effective resource for managing a variety of mental health concerns. Research shows that online therapy is just as effective as in-person therapy for disorders like anxiety and depression. In fact, in-person therapy often requires 7.8 times as much time with a therapist than online-based interventions for the same results. These results show how powerful online therapy can be for addressing problems with greater speed and effectiveness. 


Every human being has a unique personality that develops from their life experiences, culture, and upbringing. If you have questions about your personality traits and how they might be affecting your well-being, you may benefit from talking to a professional counselor. Whatever your questions or concerns are, you are not alone. A licensed online professional is available to listen, answer your questions, and help you move forward.
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