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Why Do We Have Different Personalities?

So Many People and So Many Personalities

There are so many different personalities in the world.

There are so many different personalities in the world.

Our Personalities Make Us Unique

Our personalities are one of the most distinguishable characteristics we exhibit. There are many different variations in our personalities. There is no one single personality that is ideal.

Because personality is so complex, there have been many theories about personalities.

It might be nice to start off with a definition of theories of personality. Different theories focus on different aspects of personality and the psychology behind it.

Individual Differences of Personality

Personalities make us all unique

Personalities make us all unique

The Many Theories About Personality

Within the field of psychology, personality is of major interest. There are many theories about personalities. It was Sigmund Freud who showed that early childhood experiences have a tremendous impact on our personality. Freud to this day, is one of the most influential theorists on personality. He developed his ideas throughout his career, from his theories of the unconscious, psycho sexual development and the psychological dynamics of personality. His contributions have made a lasting contribution to understanding the meaning and study of behavior.

Erick Erikson believed the development of personality is shaped over the course of our lifetime and influenced by social elements. Carl Jung typified our personalities by archetypes. Alfred Adler developed a theory that personality is related to striving for superiority, because we basically feel inferior. and to get over challenges, and to become more self aware. Karen Horney developed her theories of personality based on the idea that we are trying to get over our anxiety, and to not feel isolated from others. She also believed that personalities are influenced by parent child relationships and from society. Carl Rogers believed that actualizing is the motivating action behind our personality and behavior. Abraham Maslow believed that his hierarchy of needs theory is a motivating factor in our personality.

Hans J. Eysenck developed a trait theory of personality based on three major factors, that influence our personality. Traits are enduring characteristics of an individual person that correlate to stable behaviour patterns

Eysenck’s theory of the three parts of personality:

  • extraversion and introversion
  • neuroticism and emotional stability
  • psychoticism

Raymond Cattell came up with 16 personality traits that helped measure the differences in our personalities.

Robert McCrae and Paul Costa came up with the Big Five Theory which lists five dimensions of people’s personalities:

  • extraversion
  • neuroticism
  • openness
  • conscientiousness
  • agreeableness

Albert Bandura believed that personalities are developed by observational learning, situations, conscious thought processes and self efficacy, self beliefs, talents and abilities.

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What is Personality

Is personality inherited, and much of our personality is shaped by experiences, society and cultural influences, our education, our careers, and our family dynamics.

Personality usually refers to the characteristics of a person that are unique and sets them apart from others. Personality differences are easily observable and obvious. Personality is also about the ways people respond the same to others.

Since we know a person’s personality changes over time, is someone’s personality more similar to themselves over the span of time, or to others in similar situations?

To study individual differences versus shared human nature is a fascinating subject that looks at genetics, gender, social, cultural and ethnic differences. From the way we think differently and similarly, to our interpersonal relationship style, and how we react emotionally, personality traits are an aspect and result of all of these.

Questions About Personality

What makes up our personality?

Is our personality motivated by our physiological needs for food and water, or by our motivation, and our values, our principles, and a what we feel is our purpose, or is it a combination of both?

Is our personality formed by our state of mind influenced from prior events, or is our personality a state of mind that is geared toward the future.

How much of our personality is conscious that we are aware of , and how much is determined by our unconscious?

To what degree is our personality influenced by our genes, our environment, our upbringing, our experiences. How does our genetic makeup influence our personality?

How does our age, and the stages of development we go through affect our personality?

How does our intelligence affect our personality?

What impact does physical and mental illness have on our personality?

What influence does our culture, our ethnicity, and the times we live in, have on our personality?

Do the main characteristics of our personality from our childhood remain throughout our lives? If our personality changes from our youth, do we change just as much as we get older?

There are no definitive answers to these questions, and it is very interesting to know if any single factor changed, does it change our personality, and how?

Our Personality Changes as We Age

We underestimate how our personality will change in the future.

We underestimate how our personality will change in the future.

How Does Our Personality Change Over Time?

In a study that looked at whether our personalities change over time some revealing information came to light. We can look in the mirror and see ourselves getting older, even though we don’t really want to see that. But we often don’t see how our personalities will change as we get older. We in fact, tend to underestimate how much our personality will change.

In a study done involving 19,000 people ranging in age from 18 to 68, all ages inaccurately predicted how their personalities would change as they got older.

A study was done over a four month period in 2011 and 2012 conducted by the National Fund for Scientific Research in Belgium and the University of Virginia found that even if most people realize their lives have changed in time, they don’t believe that change is constant and they believe who they are now is who they will be in the future.

In the study, a typical 33 year old expected to see less change in themselves over the next ten years, than the average 43 year old stated had occurred for them over the prior decade. People are who they are now, because of what has happened to them, and believe that their personality will stay that way. It is true that personality tends to become more stable as people get older, but personality changes can still be great as people age. The scientists called this the “end of history” illusion.

From the results of the study, the researchers found that the older a person gets, the less they believed they have changed or will change. People want to believe the characteristics that make up their personality are good ones, and find it hard to believe that these could change.

In hindsight, they are able to see that their personalities have changed from their former selves, but inevitably, the survey showed people underestimate how much changes their personality will undergo.

The people in the survey were asked about their personal preferences and their personality traits, including some of their favorite things they like to do and eat, their music preferences and vacations in the past and present and what they thought their preferences would be in the coming 10 years. Everyone, no matter their age, underestimated the potential changes that lie ahead for themselves. Looking backwards, they always changed more than they think they will in the future. It appears that people are pretty accurate in recalling what their personalities were like when they were younger. They seemed not as good at imagining what their future personalities would be like. or how much they would change.

It seems that people have a tendency to think they are more wonderful than they really are. It might simply be that people have an easier time recalling the past. The mental energy it takes to predict the future and how the changes may affect our personality. People realize that they have endured great changes from their past, but the amazing thing about this study is that people don’t see themselves having as great changes in their personality in the future. In reality, they will change as greatly in the future as they have in the past.

Understanding Personalities

Our personalities are a reflection of who we are at that point in time. We change, our dreams change, our experiences change us, and our personalities change over time. It is difficult for us to predict how we will be changed by the events that change us. Change is constant. We also mature with age.

Human beings respond differently in the same situations. We differ from each other, in our behavior, which is part of our individual differences. Individual differences are not usually idiosyncrasies, or anomalies. Rather, our personality defines us as individuals, that make us different from each other.

We will never have all the answers to what makes up a person’s personality. We will never be done understanding the psychology of personality. There is much more to be learned about this fascinating topic.

Personality will never be definitive. We can’t touch it smell it, yet we can observe it, and sense it in many ways. For this reason, we all know personality does exist. Our perceptions tell us how people react in situations. We make conclusions based on what we observe, and connect the way a person acts to an expectation of who we think they are. We are sometimes incorrect in our assumptions and judgments. Our personality plays a role in our perspective of other people’s personality too.

Personality Traits

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© 2013 toknowinfo


Janie on June 12, 2017:

Excuse me. This may be my personality working..I'm thinking you were writing this article to fast. There are some things that shouldn't be there..sorry...But thank you. Now I know I'm not the only weirdo. Great article really

peachy from Home Sweet Home on June 25, 2015:

I likethis hub, understanding why my family members different personalities

Thomas Silvia from Massachusetts on April 21, 2013:

Hi my friend very interesting subject and such a fascinating read . Awesome and well done !

Vote up and more !!! Sharing !

Hope you weekend was a awesome one, have a safe and great week my friend !

BlissfulWriter on April 21, 2013:

It makes sense that our personality change over time, because our personality is partly determined by our life experiences.

livingsta from United Kingdom on April 21, 2013:

Interesting topic. From my experience, I believe that personality of a person changes and so many factors contribute towards that, most of them being the experiences one has in their life, lessons they learn and knowledge they acquire.

Thank you for sharing this with us. Voted up and sharing!

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