People’s personalities can partly explain their behaviour.
However, the situations in which people find themselves have a considerable influence.
The big five
There are many different ways of assessing personality, but modern psychology mostly uses a trait system known as the ‘Big Five’.
Here are the five major aspects of personality, along with the sub-facets:
- Neuroticism: Anxiety, Hostility, Depression, Self-consciousness, Impulsiveness, Vulnerability.
- Extraversion: Warmth, Gregariousness, Assertiveness, Activity, Excitement-Seeking, Positive Emotions.
- Openness to Experience: Fantasy, Aesthetics, Feelings, Actions, Ideas, Values.
- Agreeableness: Trust, Straightforwardness, Altruism, Compliance, Modesty, Tender-mindedness.
- Conscientiousness: Competence, Order, Dutifulness, Achievement Striving, Self-Discipline, Deliberation.
People’s personalities fall on a continuum for every trait: you can be average, high or low on each of them.
Psychologists have identified a ‘dark triad’ of personality factors that often make people toxic to deal with:
- Narcissism: acting like an extravert, talking loudly to draw attention to themselves and sensitive to criticism.
- Psychopathy: fearless dominance along with self-centred impulsivity.
- Machiavellianism: being unemotional and regularly deceiving and manipulating others.
People with a personality disorder behave, think and feel very differently from the average person.
There are three types of personality disorder:
- Fearful or anxious.
- Emotional, dramatic or erratic.
- Eccentric or odd.
Within each type are a number of subdivisions, the most common being obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (a fearful or anxious type) and borderline personality disorder (an emotional, dramatic or erratic type).
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