What Is The Psychology Of Personality?

By Gabrielle Seunagal |Updated April 7, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Lauren Guilbeault, LMHC

Personality is an intriguing facet of human beings. For years, psychologists have studied personality, personality traits and the various factors which impact, influence and contribute to personality. In the professional sense, this study is referred to as personality psychology.

A Brief Overview Of Personality

In a nutshell, personality is everything that makes you who you are. Personality is the traits and characteristics which contribute to your interests, hobbies, behaviors, thoughts, mental health, and motivations. There are many thoughts and opinions regarding personality and the factors which contribute to it. This is largely where personality psychology comes into play.

Personality psychology is an inherently detailed and complex subject matter. There are so many angles in which specialists can study and review the psychology of personality. To understand what personality psychology truly is, having a firm comprehension of the multiple ways of pursuing this study is paramount.

Theories And Perspectives Involving Personality Psychology

Considering the vastness of personality psychology, there are a series of perspectives and theories which pertain to this particular study. Each one has its place and its own merits.

Trait Theories

As the name suggests, trait theories assert that individual personality is influenced and determined by personality traits. Personality classifications and personality traits are heavily emphasized within trait theories. Likewise, cardinal traits, central traits, and secondary traits are recurring themes within this particular subsection of personality psychology.

Cardinal traits are viewed as the foundation which individuals base their lives upon. These types of traits are viewed in generalities, such as generosity, narcissism, compassion, ambition, etc. As one might infer from the preceding examples, cardinal traits can be both positive or negative. Central traits, on the other hand, are viewed as the pieces which create each human being's personality. Smartness, outspokenness, and deceit are some great examples of central traits. Finally, secondary traits are regarded as fairly irregular patterns which only present themselves within certain circumstances. Stage fright is a universal example of such.

Psychoanalytic Theories

Psychoanalytic theories view personality as directly linked to behavioral patterns. Internal conflict and resolution is another prevalent theme as far as psychoanalytic theories are concerned. Those who subscribe to the psychoanalytic theories regarding personality are likely to view one's internal actions as indicative of their personality as opposed to the other way around.

The events which occur in childhood are also largely valued in psychoanalytic theories of personality. In fact, personality is thought of as something which comes into being as human beings progress through childhood. Expectations from society and biological urges are also thought of as elements which play a role in the gradual development of personality.

Social Cognitive Theories

In personality psychology, social cognitive theories place a central focus on the views and expectations that human beings harbor about the world in which they live. These outlooks are subsequently viewed as the factors which determine how individuals think and make certain judgment calls. One of the most interesting things about social cognitive theories is the balance of weight which is placed on the internal and external parts of personality and individualism.

Humanistic Theories

Humanistic theories place significant value and weight on the inherent free will which each possesses. Specialists who subscribe to humanistic theories believe that the experiences which people undergo will, in turn, determine their behaviors. While there are certain links between experiences and decisions, there are a variety of factors which can influence and impact the behavior patterns of human beings.

Which Personality Psychology Theory Is Right?

This is a common question which many psychologists have wondered and even debated about for centuries. Ultimately, each theory has its merits. There is documented evidence and life patterns which show the gravity that traits have on human behaviors and personalities. Likewise, the views which individuals harbor about the world around them has been shown to influence the choices they make. A person who believes that life is full of opportunities is likelier to take risks than someone who believes that the odds are inherently stacked against them.

The various personalities of human beings are so diverse and complex that there is no way to assert any one particular theory as correct while dismissing remaining theories. Granted, there are certain personality theories which will seemingly fit with certain individuals while others may lean towards other theories. However, when it's all said and done, each personality theory comes with its own merits and supporting evidence.

Personality Types

Since the inception of personality psychology, various specialists have debated about various personality types, what impacts these variations and which people are most likely to fall into certain categories. All in all, there are about four most commonly accepted personality types. It's also worth noting that individuals can exhibit traits from multiple personality types. It's very rare for one individual to fit neatly into one particular box.

Sanguine Personality

Individuals with a sanguine personality are risk-takers, positive and cheerful. Those who fall into this personality category tend to loathe boredom, crave exploration and pleasure. In moderation, sanguine personality types can be alright, but in excess, a sanguine personality can easily fall victim to overindulgence and other addictive behaviors. Furthermore, individuals who fall into the sanguine personality type are usually creative and can fare well as professional entertainers, travelers, marketers, etc.

Phlegmatic Personality

Phlegmatic personality types are loyal, peaceful and very happy when in the company of others. Individuals who fall into this particular category place a very high value on interpersonal relationships and being of assistance to others. Like anything, an excess of phlegmatism can be problematic. People with this type of personality taken to the extreme are likely to be taken advantage of. Generally, phlegmatic personality types do well in professions such as counseling, teaching, nursing and otherwise working with other human beings.

Choleric Personality

Individuals with choleric personalities are pragmatic, logical, direct and goal-driven. People with this type of personality are not necessarily social butterflies or fans of small talk. They generally prefer to be around like-minded individuals who share parallel interests, outlooks, and worldviews. People with choleric personalities are typically best suited for careers in business, technology, management, or programming.

Melancholic Personality

Melancholic personality types have deep respect for tradition, order, procedure, and community. Unlike sanguine personalities, melancholic individuals actively avoid exploration and newness. Instead, they see value in being active in their communities and generally enjoy sticking to what they know and are familiar with. Some great professions for melancholic personality types are accounting, social work, and administrative duties.

Some Final Words On Personality

Despite all the facts, information and developments about personality psychology, there is still so much more. The world is changing every day, new elements are constantly being added within society, and breakthroughs in psychology are more common than many people could imagine.

At its core, humanity is both alike and different in so many ways. There are various patterns and consistencies with certain personalities. Different theories and personality types can apply to various individuals. Life experiences, biology, environment, social settings, childhood and more can have a significant impact on personalities.

Another important thing to remember is that personalities can shift, change and evolve. Sometimes people evolve. In other scenarios, they can have certain experiences which either solidify or cause them to reconsider previously held beliefs. Personality psychology is a critical part of human studies, but it's always important not to fall into the trap of putting human beings into boxes. As previously stated, it is not uncommon for individuals to possess various traits which are associated with multiple personality types.

The Ultimate Equalizer

No matter what personality type an individual has, the ultimate equalizer is that we are all human beings at the end of the day. Each one of us goes through difficulties and tough times in life. What's important to remember is that when this happens, having the right support systems in place makes all the difference in the world. This is where treatment and processes such as counseling and therapy can prove to be of value.

No matter who you are, where you come from or what your story is, if you ever feel as though you could benefit from counseling, therapy or even having someone to talk to, that's OK. Seeking out professional help is absolutely nothing to you. It's nothing to be ashamed of and should be encouraged. No matter how great or strong someone may be, everyone will need someone other than themselves at some point.

If you are interested in working with a counselor or therapist, then BetterHelp will certainly be of value to you. We have an amazing team of world-class professionals who would be more than thrilled to sit down and work with you. There is no judgment whatsoever and no matter who you are or where you come from, our only priority is being of service and assistance to you.

Whenever you are ready, you can get started with BetterHelp at any time by simply clicking here.

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