What Can The Personality Definition Tell Us?

Updated March 22, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

One of the first things we might notice and remember about someone is their distinct personality. Personality encompasses how a person thinks, feels, and behaves in reaction to their environment. It can also include someone’s traits and other unique characteristics. Everyone has a different personality, and people may even be prone to getting along with others whose personalities they enjoy. Learning more about the various aspects of personality can help you understand other people and yourself on a deeper level.

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What Is Personality?

Simply put, personality refers to the behaviors, emotional patterns, ways of thinking, and other aspects that make up a person. Personalities have been shown to be a result of both nature and nurture, meaning they are the result of biological factors and one’s environment. 

Many different personality theories exist. One approach is trait-based personality theory, which states that a person is a group of traits that tell you what that person is going to do. Some traits you're born with, and others are learned from your environment. 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 years. 

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 big five personality traits.


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 may be less open to going to a new place and might live in the same house all their lives, for example. While everyone can be a little worried about the unknown, openness runs on a scale and can range from ease to terror.


This measures how reliable someone is and how organized they are as people. There are those who play everything by the book and plan everything on time. If something throws their schedule off, they may get noticeably upset. Meanwhile, other people are much happier with making things sporadic. They may show up at their friends' houses uninvited, not care if things don't come out as planned, and might not be as reliable when it comes to planning. Conscientiousness can run on 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 where people get their energy from and may impact how social they like to be. Someone who is more extroverted needs to be social if they want to be stimulated. They tend to look on the bright side of life and are generally positive. Meanwhile, an introvert may be more pessimistic and feels 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.

You can also be somewhere in the middle of extraversion and introversion. Some people are more extroverted, but sometimes want to be left alone. The same applies to introverts.


Agreeableness doesn't measure how much someone agrees with you, but instead how cooperative and compassionate they are. Someone who is more agreeable is often kinder to people, even if they don't care for them, and may work well in customer service. Someone who is disagreeable may be more confrontational and upfront about how they feel. Agreeableness can cause someone to be empathetic and put others’ needs before their own, even to a fault. People who are low in this trait have more difficulty getting along with others and tend to be less sympathetic. 


Also known as emotional stability, this is how well someone can handle their emotions. How to tell if you're neurotic? A person high in neuroticism may bend at the first sign of emotional instability. Meanwhile, someone who isn't neurotic is more likely to 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 may consistently worry about something. They may think about the what-ifs, be doubtful of their abilities, or 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 can be a positive trait to have until people take advantage of it. Others with a high level of RD won't want to do anything unless they get something out of it. It's one of those traits where having a balanced level may lead to more helpful outcomes instead of leaning heavily one way or another.

  • Novelty Seeking. This measures someone's response to certain novel stimulations and how likely they are to seek out new experiences. It's a bit like openness to experience. Someone may be open to new ideas and not care that there is risk involved. Others may become frustrated or scared and not be novelty seekers.

  • Persistence. Persistence measures how much someone wants to pursue an activity despite all the potential hardships associated with it. Someone who is persistent will often choose to work at something 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 quit on their dream just because there was a bump in the road. Once again, balance can help.

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

  • Self-directedness. This is the ability of someone to adapt to a problem when they are facing it. Someone who is self-directed can be met with a situation and adjust their behavior. Meanwhile, someone who lacks self-directedness may not be able to cope as productively. This is also known as willpower.

  • Cooperativeness. 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 often work with anyone but may be a bit too trusting at times.

  • Self-transcendence. This is how spiritual someone is. Spirituality can be a difficult 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

Researchers continue to delve into the different aspects of personality. While we’ve learned a lot, there is still much to uncover. Modern psychology hopes to one day figure out what all comprises and forms an individual’s personality. While many people have similar personality traits, everyone is a bit different regarding beliefs, actions, motivations, and so on. This can make personality one big mystery. While no personality theory is perfect, it can still give us some insight into human nature. Additionally, it can be an exciting area of study as it can help you learn more about people and why they think and behave the way they do—including yourself.

Online Counseling With BetterHelp

Understanding your personality can help you become more aware of why you think and feel as you do. Therapy can allow you to gain greater control over your thoughts and feelings, which may increase your quality of life and your satisfaction within your relationships. Online counseling through platforms like BetterHelp can help you get mental health support from the comfort of your home. You can connect through phone calls, video chats, or in-app messaging and schedule sessions according to your availability. Everyone has different preferences for therapy, which may be impacted by your unique personality traits. Online therapy gives you more control over your therapeutic experience, letting you make adjustments as you see fit. 

The Efficacy Of Online Counseling 

Online counseling can be utilized to address personality concerns, including personality disorders. In a review of eleven different studies, researchers found that online-based interventions successfully managed symptoms of personality disorders. They reported that usability and patient satisfaction were moderate to high in all of the studies and that several of them demonstrated significant decreases in borderline personality disorder symptoms. 

The Takeaway

Personality is an incredibly complex topic in the field of psychology. While humans have many similarities, we ultimately each have different traits, patterns, and behaviors that make us stand out. Learning more about your own personality can help you use this self-awareness to make healthier decisions and may also allow you to understand other people better. An online therapist can meet with you at your convenience to discuss matters related to personality and give you the tools you need to overcome the emotional or behavioral challenges you’re facing. 

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