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In psychology, personality refers to the emotion, thought, and behavior patterns unique to an individual.
The DSM-IV defines personality as:
- "Enduring patterns of perceiving, relating to, and thinking about the environment and oneself. Personality traits are prominent aspects of personality that are exhibited in a wide range of important social and personal contexts. ..."
Through the course of western thought, different theories have been put forth to explain the human personality:
- Sigmund Freud broke the human personality down to three significant components: the id, the ego and the superego. Personality is shaped by the interworkings and conflicts of the three.
- Katherine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Meyers alleged that the writings of Carl Jung delineated personality types by constructing the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
- B. F. Skinner, a proponent of behaviorism, suggested that the human personality is developed through external stimuli.
- Albert Bandura, a social learning theorist suggested that the forces of memory and feelings worked in conjunction with environmental influences.
- Gordon Allport delineates three kinds of traits with varying degrees of intensity: cardinal traits, central traits, and secondary traits.
- Raymond Cattell's research propagated a two-tiered personality sturucture with fifteen "primary factors" and five "secondary factors".
- Building on the work of Cattell and others, Lewis Goldberg proposed a five dimension personality model, nicknamed the "Big Five":
- Emotional Stability
- Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers emphasize the basic goodness of people.
- Holland proposed a "RIASEC" model of personality widely used in vocational counseling. The RIASEC is a circumplex model where the six types, which are represented as a hexagon where physically closer types are more related than distal types:
- Realistic - Physical, hands-on, tool-oriented, masculine
- Investigative - Scientific, technical, methodological
- Artistic - writing, painting, singing, etc.
- Social - nurturing, supporting, helping, healing
- Enterprising - organizing, activating, motivating
- Conventional - clerical, detail-oriented
A typology of personality models
Modern personality models may generally be broken into three types: factorial models, typologies, and circumplexes.
Factorial models posit that there are dimensions along which human personality differs. The main purpose of a personality model is thus to define the dimensions of personality. Factor analysis is a primary tool of theorists composing factorial models. Such models arise directly from a classical individual differences approach to the study of human personality. Goldberg's Big Five model may be the best-known example of this type of theory.
Typologies or type models arise naturally from some theories that posit types of people. For example, astrological signs represented a well-known, pre-scientific typological model. Typological models posit a relatively small number of modal types and possibly some interaction between the types. The Jungian typology implemented in the MBTI may best represent the typology approach.
Circumplex models may resemble factorial or type models but further specify a relationship between the different types or factors. Typically, some types or factors are more related than others and can be presented on a polygon. Holand's RIASEC may be the best-known example of this type of theory. Correlations of personality scores should resemble a simplex form where opposing types have low correlation and close types have a high correlation.
Types of personality tests include the Rorschach test, the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, and the Thematic Apperception Test. Critics have pointed to the Forer effect to suggest that some of these appear to be more accurate and discriminating than they really are.
- Goldberg's International Personality Item Pool website (http://ipip.ori.org)