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Monday, May 23, 2011


Personality is the characteristics that a person has that uniquely identify that person. These characteristics influence the cognitions, motivations, and behaviors of that person in certain situations.  There are several theories on personalities and many assessments that are used to asses personality. These theories are derived based on the philosophical standpoint that the theorists have. There are five categories that these theorists debate over.

Freedom vs. Determinism: This is the debate over whether or not we have control over our behavior. Are the actions we take in merely reactions to circumstances and we have no control over that reaction or do we control our behavior and understand the motives behind that behavior.

Heredity vs. Environment:  We have already had this discussion. In a nut shell are we born with our personality or do we learn it from the environment in which we live. I believe it is a little of both.

Uniqueness vs. Universality: This is the difference between behaviorists and humanists. Are people unique or do we all have the same similar nature. This is also important to understand when we discipline and how we change our behavior. Personal opinion is that we are unique but have common traits. I have four kids and I definitely see their uniqueness and similarities.

Active vs. Reactive: Do we act through our own initiative or do we just react to stimuli. I believe again in the middle road but lean more toward the active participants. “I think therefore I am.” To me if I can think about thinking and think about things around me and then act this is active participation in my actions.

Optimistic vs. Pessimistic:  This is the thought of being able to change our personalities. If you believe that you can change your personality then you are optimistic. If you believe that you can’t then you are pessimistic. I tend to be more pessimistic on this one and it is clearly seen in the personality disorders. One of the difficult things with working with these people is that they do not change. They can learn to cope and medication helps manage but, do they truly change. This is of course extreme but is a good example of personality.

Think of these different categories and your own thoughts on them when creating your characters and how they change.


  1. i think these are delightful debates and can be well spun into our characters, particularly put together a groups of characters of differing affect how they interact and their responses to each other...

  2. I am giving this some thought. I want to write about a character who was abused by her boyfriend. Her background and personailty will determine how she copes and recovers so I need to figure that out.

  3. We're a little bit of all these pairs of factors, I think. It ain't easy to change our mindset and behaviour either.

  4. Great post! I believe we are born with our core personality, but our environment influences the core to create our current personality. Almost like a ball within a ball.

    I agree with you that we ALL work with the same pieces of personality and self, but in different combinations that lead to the uniqueness.

    I, on the other hand, am an optimist when it comes to the manipulation of personality. I believe you cannot change the core or hereditary personality, but I do believe you can alter the environmentally-influenced personality. It takes the ability to step outside of oneself and view our actions (good or bad) objectively. Not an easy task. A majority of people I know are content with their often jarring and abrasive personality, and hold no interest in finding a way to communicate more effectively.

    This is really important when it comes to developing your character. A character I'm currently working with will make a change or at least experience a moment of realization regarding the negative aspects of her personality that lead to bad decision making. Thanks for the info!

  5. Good Evening Josh, Interesting post. I must say since my twin granddaughters have totally opposite personalities from each other, I believe we are born with our core personality also.

  6. Personality really is an amazing thing, it is crazy to think about what makes us who we really are!


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