What Can The Personality Definition Tell Us?

By BetterHelp Editorial Team|Updated April 13, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC

Personality. It's something that we all have heard of, but we may not know what exactly it is. In this post, we will explain what personality is and tell you all the different aspects of personality.

What Is Personality?

Simply put, personality is the behaviors, emotional patterns, ways of thinking, and every other aspect that makes up a person. It can either be biological or come from the environment. Many people have not figured out what exactly a person is when it comes to defining it properly. Because of this, many of the personality theories stem from a person's motivations and interactions with what surrounds them.

Many different personality theories exist. One approach is a trait-based personality theory, which states that a person is a collection of traits that can tell you what a person is going to do. Some traits you're born with, and others are learned from your environment. Other approaches include what you learn from your environment and how you interact with it.

Personality psychology is the study of personality, and it tries to explain why people do the things they do. There are many approaches to personality, and it's been a concept for a long while now. Let's look at some personality theories, shall we?

The Big Five

The Big Five are five personality traits that all of us possess, and each of us has a certain level of these traits. It's a broad spectrum, despite there only being five traits. Here are the five.


Openness measures how willing someone is to try a new experience. Some people are always excited to go to new places, meet new people, and have other unfamiliar experiences. Then, there are those who like that every day is the same. They will be less open towards going to a new place and may live in the same house all their life. While everyone is a little worried about the unknown, it's definitely on a scale.


This measures how reliable someone is and how organized they are as people. There are those who play everything by the book. They will plan everything of time, and if something throws their schedule off, they get noticeably upset. Meanwhile, other people are much happier with making things sporadic. They will show up at their friends' houses uninvited, not care if things don't come out as planned, and they will not be as reliable when it comes to planning.

This is one that has a spectrum as well. Some people plan a lot, but can sometimes have streaks where they like to go with the flow. And vice versa.


This measures how much people like to be social. By now, we all know about introverts and extraverts. Someone who is more extraverted always needs to be social if they want to be stimulated. They tend to look on the bright side of life and are much more positive. Meanwhile, an introvert may be more pessimistic and is okay with stimulating their curiosity by themselves. They may want to be social at times, but it is an occasion rather than an everyday activity.

It's another spectrum. Some people are more extraverted, but sometimes want to be left alone. The same applies to introverts.


Agreeableness doesn't measure how much they agree with you, but instead how cooperative and compassionate they are. Someone who is more agreeable is kinder to people, even if they don't care for them, and can work well in customer service. Someone who is more disagreeable may tell things like it is, but they aren't going to make too many friends. Again, it's a spectrum. Some people are nice overall, but they can have a mean streak.


Also known as emotional stability, this is how someone can handle their emotions. A neurotic person will bend at the first site of emotional instability. Meanwhile, someone who isn't neurotic can keep their cool when faced with a slew of emotions. Someone who is more neurotic may be seen as unstable, while someone who is too stable may be seen as someone who has no emotions and is cold.

These five traits can be summed up by the acronym OCEAN.

Temperament And Character Inventory

This model of personality believes that four temperaments can reflect your personality. These temperaments are as follows:

  • Harm Avoidance. Someone with a higher level of harm avoidance tends to be someone who is always worrying about things. They will think about the what-ifs, be doubtful of their abilities, and may fear the unknown. Everyone has certain levels of harm avoidance, with some people not being fearful, and others wanting to avoid any level of perceived harm that comes their way.
  • Reward Dependence. This measures how strongly someone will respond to an activity if there is a reward at the end. For example, someone may only want to help another person if they can be rewarded. Someone with a low level of reward dependence may be a very charitable person, which is a great trait to have until people take advantage of it. Others with a high level won't want to do anything unless they get something out of it. It's one of those traits were having a balance level may be the best possible outcome.
  • Novelty Seeking. This measures someone's response to certain novel stimulations and how frustrated they may be. It's a bit like the openness to experience. Someone may be open to new ideas and not care that there is some struggle needed to understand it. Others may become frustrated and not be a novelty seeker.
  • This one is quite self-explanatory. It measures how much someone wants to pursue an activity despite all the hardships. Someone who is persistent will want to work on their business even harder when there are signs of failure. Sometimes, a person is too persistent and keeps trying even though it's impossible, making them lose resources or time. Meanwhile, someone may not be persistent enough and will quit on their dream just because there was a bump in the road. Once again, balance can help a person.

There are also three different characters that come with this inventory. These include:

  • Self-directedness. This is the ability for someone to be able to adapt to a problem if they are facing it. Someone who is self-directed can be faced with a situation and adjust their behavior. Meanwhile, someone who lacks self-directedness may not be able to do it well. This is also known as willpower.
  • This is someone's ability to work together with another person, even though they may disagree. Someone with a low level of cooperativeness may be unwilling to work with anyone. They may prefer to be a loner, or may only work with someone if they like them. Someone with a high level of cooperativeness will work with anyone but maybe a bit too trusting at times.
  • Self-transcendence. This is how spiritual someone is. Spirituality is a bit hard of a concept to define in psychology. It can be from your religion, but it can also come from something else, such as your relationship with the universe. Someone with a low level of spirituality may not be open to the paranormal. Meanwhile, someone who has too high of a level may be more prone to delusions and hallucinations.

The Future Of Personality

In the end, no one truly knows how one's personality works. While people do share similar personality traits, everyone is a bit different when it comes to beliefs, actions, motivations, and so on. Modern psychology hopes to one day figure out what makes our personality. So far, it seems as though it's a combination between environment and genetics. You may be born towards being prone to certain personality traits, but how you are raised plays a big part in it as well.

Personality is a fun thing to study, as it can help you learn more about people and why they behave the way they do. While no personality theory is perfect, it gives us a little insight into human nature. And isn't that what psychology is supposed to do?

Seek Help!

Your personality can be the best part about you, or it can be your worst. Those who have undesirable personality traits may find them hard to change. See, your brain is hardwired towards personality traits, especially if they were a product of how you were raised. However, with counseling, you may be able to improve your personality traits for the better. By talking to a counselor, you can be able to change yourself for the better. Getting rid of the worst aspects of your personality isn't an overnight process, but you can learn how to be a better person in the long run. Talk to someone today and see what they can do for you.

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