A Glance at Personalities!

Often feuds are caused by differing opinions stemmed by different personalities.  Our personality shapes our behaviour, so if we want to better understand the behaviour of someone in an organisation, it helps if we know something about his or her personality.

When psychologists talk of personality, they mean a dynamic concept describing the growth and development of a person’s whole psychological system.  Rather than looking at parts of the person, personality looks at some aggregate whole that is greater than the sum of the parts.   The most frequently used definition of personality was produced by Gordon Allport nearly 70 years ago.  He defined personality as:

“The dynamic organisation within the individual of those psychophysical systems that determine his unique adjustments to his environment”

So what determines a person’s personality? Personality appears to be a result of both hereditary and environmental factors.

  • Heredity

Heredity refers to those factors that were determined at conception.   Physical stature, facial attractiveness, gender, temperament, muscle composition and reflexes, energy level, a biological rhythms are characteristics that are generally considered to be influenced by your parents’ biological, physiological, and inherent psychological makeup.  Three different streams of research covering children, twins and individual consistency in job satisfaction, lend some credibility to the argument that hereditary plays an important part in determining an individual’s personality also.

Individual job satisfaction is found to be relatively stable over time.  This result is consistent with what you would expect if satisfaction is determined by something inherent in the person rather than by external environmental factors.  Research has shown that identical twins reared apart have similar job satisfaction levels, even if their jobs are completely different.

  • Environment

Among the factors that exert pressures on our personality formation are the culture in which we are raised; the norms among our family, friends and social groups; and other influences that we experience.  These environmental factors play a role in shaping our personalities.   For example, culture establishes the norms, attitudes and values that are passed along from one generation to the next and create consistencies over time.  An ideology that is intensely fostered in one culture may have only moderate influence in another.

Heredity provides us with inborn traits and abilities, but our full potential will be determined by how well we adjust to the demands and requirements of the environment.

An individual’s personality, although generally stable and consistent, does change in different situations.  In other words, the different demands of different situations call forth different aspects of one’s personality. Therefore, we shouldn’t look at personality patterns in isolation.