What Is Personality Psychology? - Mind Scape Today

What Is Personality Psychology

Introduction to personality psychology

Features of personality make people different from one another, and these features usually take the form of adjectives we use to speak about a particular person, such as john being lazy and unreliable, Mary being optimistic, and Fred being anxiety-ridden. Adjectives that can be used to describe characteristics of people are called trait-descriptive adjectives. There are more than 20,000 such trait-descriptive adjectives in the English language.

This astonishing fact alone tells us that, in everyday life, there are compelling reasons for trying to understand and describe the nature of those we interact with, as well as compelling reasons for trying to understand and describe ourselves.

Notice that the adjectives describing personality refer to several very different aspects of people. Words such as thoughtful refer to the inner qualities of the mind. Words such as charming and humorous reference to the effects a person has on other people. Words such as domineering are relational and signify a person’s position, or stance, with respect to others. Words such as ambitious refer to the intensity of desire to reach our goals. Words such as creative refer both to a quality of mind and to the nature of the products we produce. Words such as deceitful refer to the strategies a person uses to attain his or her goals. All of these features describe aspects of personality.    

“Those who carry humor to excess are thought to be vulgar Buffoons, striving after humor at all costs, not caring about pain to the object of their fun….while those who can neither make a joke themselves nor put up with those who do are thought to be boorish and unpolished. But those who joke in a tasteful way are called ready-witted and tactful… and it is a mark of a tactful person to say and listen to such things as befit a good and well-bred person.”

                                                                                                                     Aristotle, the Nicomachean Ethics. 

In the preceding short quote, we see Aristotle behaving much as a personality psychologist. Aristotle is analyzing the characteristics of persons who have an appropriate sense of humor, providing some details on what features are associated with a sense of humor. Aristotle adds to this description by comparing people who are extreme, having either too much or too little sense of humor. In this book on ethics, Aristotle described and analyzed many personality characteristics, including truthfulness, courage, intelligence, and self-indulgence. Anger-proneness, and friendliness.

Introduction to personality psychology

We might conclude that Aristotle was an amateur personality psychologist. But aren’t we all amateur personality psychologists to some extent? Aren’t we all curious about the characteristics people possess, including our own characteristics? Don’t we all use personality characteristics in describing people? And haven’t we all used personality characteristics to explain behavior, either our own or others? When we say that our friend goes to a lot of parties because she is outgoing, we are using personality to explain her behavior. When we refer to another friend as conscientious and reliable, we are describing features of his personality. When we characterize ourselves as thoughtful, intelligent, and ambitious, we are describing features of our personalities.

Next Post Previous Post
No Comment
Add Comment
comment url