Personality And How It is Developed: Types, Theories, And Tests

Last updated on December 16th, 2023 at 07:55 pm

Every individual is distinguishable by characteristics and behaviour which are embedded in their way of life. Here is about personality and how it is developed.

We talk about personality most times without knowing all that make it up. This article is going to elucidate the basic meaning and how it is developed.

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Table of Contents

What is personality?

Types of personality and how they affect people

Personality is enduring patterns of thought, feeling and behaviour deeply embedded in people that make them wholly unique.

When people talk about this subject, they refer to those characteristics that stand people out from others.

As widely believed, thoughts, emotions and how people behave to a great extent do not make up a personality. It rather underlies them.

Personalities hinge on how predictable a person is, and how they will react and act in different situations.

In theory, there are several disagreements about the development of personality and its manifestation in behaviour, but there is a cohesive opinion about its aspects.

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Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theoretical approaches are among the most influential.

According to Freud, the processes of unconsciousness have a major influence on how a person behaves.

Instinctive impulses are in the constant drive to show themselves by making people act. Some of these are hereditary and some are learned.

Behaviourism is another influential theory of personality which emphasizes strongly on learning.

An American psychologist, B.F. Skinner posits that how humans respond to circumstances depends on their consequences.

For example, a behaviour that is rewarded or applauded is repeated while a behaviour that is reproached or frowned upon will likely not be repeated.

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Characteristics of personality

Patterns of thought, traits, and emotions interplay to produce personality. Here are the basic characteristics:

Consistency: Personality traits – responses to circumstances are consistent over time in a variety of situations.

Psychologists attest that the distinguishing quality and characteristics of an individual make up their personalities and endures over time.

This means that a person is known to predictably display some characteristics in certain circumstances.

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While this is a widespread belief, some argue that characteristics only exist in the view of the observer while personalities change with situations.

It is both psychological and physiological: Personality is a result of a psychological system fueled by biological activities and needs.

It affects behaviours and actions: It makes humans behave in the way they do including how we respond to stimuli in the environment.

It is expressed in multiple ways: Personality can be expressed as thoughts, behaviour, emotions and in interaction with society.

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Personality and how it is developed, formed

Personality develops right from childhood according to heredity, the kind of environment, and the people a person grows around.

Here are three factors that influence its development in humans:

  • Environmental factor
  • Heredity
  • Social and cultural traditions

Environmental and heredity factors are the major builders of a person’s way of life. At the onset of life after birth, infants have differences because of congenital factors or conditions arising from pregnancy and birth.

This is evident when some infants are smarter than others, or when some are more active than others.

These types of variations trigger the behaviour of parents towards the infants and how they treat them.

An infant who has an attention deficit will elicit pity and a sorry attitude from the parents and this would have an effect on the development of the child’s behaviour.

The most prominent components of personality determined by heredity are:

  • Intelligence and
  • Temperament

Also, some collective features of people’s mental health – psychopathology can be hereditary.

Psychologists agree that personality development has an important period that is sacrosanct.

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What a developing child experiences during this period have a determinant effect with a strong emphasis on when it happens.

People are affected by events that happen in their environment at certain periods when they are sensitive to such events.

For instance, there is a period during development when language skill is on the drive; and another period has the individual recognizing wrongdoing and being remorseful.

An infant’s earliest experiences with caregivers play a huge role in personality development.

The approach and behaviours of caregivers around him, and how they attend to his immediate needs like cleanliness, love, voice tone, and toilet training have a strong impact that leaves an indelible impression on the child’s way of life.

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Defiance in infants is caused sometimes by too-early toilet training, or when carried out by unhappy or unwilling caregivers who were not compassionate.

Some infants grow up with this defiance as it becomes embedded in their personalities.

Children first learn behaviours that resonate with their gender-parent or older siblings. A parent who is loving and considerate quickens this learning.

An unhappy parent or sibling who beats or shows contempt for the child will impede learning.

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Social and cultural traditions cannot be ignored in the development of behaviours in humans.

Margaret Mead – an American anthropologist described the behaviour of two Guinea tribes regarding cultural relationships.

One of the groups was hostile and war-ready whereas the other was peaceful and corporates with strangers.

These two behaviours were honed by their cultural relationships which are passed down the generations.

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Personality types

Personality tests and assessments are used to understand where people fall in the personality continuum

Many models of personality types try to describe why humans are the way they are.

Type theories believe that these types related to biological influences are limited.

But there are four main types we are going to discuss – type A, B, C, and D.

Type A personalities

Type A is a natural leader who loves to be in control wherever he finds himself. This type of personality ranges from workaholics to goal-oriented perfectionists.

Type A’s motivation is derived from winning, success and when there is a clear direction as to the work to be done.

Characteristics of Type A personality

  • Competitive
  • Aggressive
  • Result-oriented and
  • Are always stressed in their quest to meet up with goals.

Type B personality

Type B personalities are the flipside of Type A as they are outgoing and build strong relationships.

They are known as peacemakers because they are less problematic, however, they can be clingy with their constant need to be validated.

Their motivation comes from giving them due recognition and compliments and they are happy for any other type to be at the helm.

They are excited to welcome change and innovation as this adds more thrill to their work.

Characteristics of Type B personality

  • Low stress
  • Averagely tempered
  • Adaptable
  • Creative
  • Accepting
  • Casual
  • Patient
  • Malleable

Type C personality

This type is keen on focusing on details and values accuracy and control.

He is known as a thinker and analyst and always is an introverted personality. They are logical in their analysis of situations.

Type C does not want much in life, he just wants as much as he can control.

He also prefers individual projects instead of working as a team because they are independent thinkers.

Their motivation comes from challenges and they are intrigued by them so far they are given the required freedom to gather evidence and wow their superior.

Characteristics of Type C personality

  • Perfectionist
  • Dependable
  • Struggles with emotions
  • Critical thinker
  • Conscientious
  • Logical
  • Objective

Related: Understanding Extroverted Intuition

Type D personality

Type D is very emotional and seemingly distressed. Sometimes it’s tempting to think that this type is mentally unstable because of their fragile emotions.

They have a hard time being optimistic and seeing things on the brighter side of life.

When they are happy, it is very intense and so with sadness which comes with more intensity looks like depression.

They do not enjoy change and want what they are familiar with to be steady.

Type D personalities can however be sincere and supportive of people in their circle.

Characteristics of Type D personality

  • Emotional
  • Insightful
  • Easily irritated
  • Observant
  • Pessimist
  • No self-confidence
  • Appears depressed and gloomy

Related: How to Harness the Power of Introverted Intuition

Other personality types

There are other personality types like the ones based on Myers-Briggs theory which assigns personalities based on the signs a person shows on the continuums as follows:

  • Introversion – extraversion
  • Sensing – intuition
  • Thinking – feeling
  • Judging – perceiving

A person is assigned a personality type after taking the Myers-Briggs test depending on the observable signs.

Some of the personality types are as follows:


This type is characterized by introversion, deep thinking, sensing, logic and organisation. They have the capacity to analyze and judge situations.


This type is introverted and very intuitive. They also tend to be self-aware and sensitive to their feelings.


This type is also extroverted and assertive and is keen on following instructions to the last. He is a judgmental, sensing person with deep thinking.

He is practical and implements decisions quickly with a matter-of-fact mindset in the most efficient way to get results.


This type is responsible, responsive, and emotional. He is empathetic and motivates others by tuning into their emotions.

This type finds the capability of others and builds them to succeed. He is not selfish, and so is interested in honing the qualities in people while being loyal.

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Personality theories

Personality traits

The trait theory sees personality from the perspective of genetically based characteristics that manifest without striving.

It is also known as the Big 5 or the Five-Factor model. It is an accepted assessment model by psychologists and uses separate spectrums of personality traits for persons.

The Big 5 model can be represented by the acronym CANOE and are as listed below:

  • Conscientiousness (spontaneous to conscientious): Exercises a high level of thoughtfulness with control and sharp impulse. He exhibits behaviours that are goal-driven.
  • Agreeableness (hostile to agreeable): Shows concern for others and extends a helping hand with empathy. He is a loyal friend who can go all the way to make others happy.
  • Neuroticism (stable to neurotic): Characterized by sudden mood shifts. Easily stressed out and anxious. Panics with little shift in expectations and can get quickly irritated.
  • Openness (closed to open): Openness: This trait is extremely creative, and finds new ways of doing things. He is thrilled by tackling new challenges.
  • Extroversion (introverted to extroverted): This individual is always excited, sociable, and finds talking a hobby. He can assert himself with expressive emotions.

Related: Crafting Your Identity: Self-Discovery And Personality Development

Psychodynamic theories

Psychodynamic theories of personality hinge on the effect of the unconscious mind on personality.

Sigmund Freud’s works are a huge inspiration to this theory including psychosexual stage theory and Erik Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development.

Theories of behaviour

Behavioural theories believe that personalities are honed by an individual’s relationship with his environment.

Internal thoughts and feelings are not taken into consideration but observable and measurable reactions.

B.F. Skinner and John B. Watson are theorists on this subject.


Humanist theories hinge on the usefulness of free will and the individual’s experience to hone and form his person.

It goes ahead to state that human beings are inherently good which is a natural drive to improve themselves positively.

This theory is based on an individual’s self-concept which is made up of their original self and their ideal self.

Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow are humanist psychologists.

Impacts of personality

Research that can have practical application makes it more possible to understand the dynamics of personality – its development and changes over time.

Personality assessments or tests can be used to gain more insight into people’s personalities to discover strengths, weaknesses, preferences, and other parameters.

The assessment also shows how well people do on specific traits like introversion, extroversion, or openness.

It also shows how an individual’s persona influences aspects of their living – relationships, growth, and career.

Career paths can be determined by assessing personalities and focusing on those areas in that one is competent.

Related: Coping With Undesirable Personality Characteristics

Personality disorders

Personality disorders are characterized by disruptive, unhealthy patterns of thoughts and behaviour that make an individual have trouble in perception and how to relate with people and circumstances.

Disorders are distressing enough to disrupt everyday functioning and it’s not easy for victims to recognize this condition because the symptoms are embedded in their personalities.

Types of personality disorders

  • Paranoid personality disorder
  • Schizoid
  • Antisocial personality disorder
  • Borderline personality disorder (BPD)
  • Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD)

Signs of personality disorder

  • Lack of trust in others
  • Lack of emotions
  • Aggression
  • Aversion to relationships
  • Intruding on people’s privacy
  • Delusion

Personality tests

Personality tests are carried out by interviewing the individual with sets of questions.

It’s a popular method of assessment that helps to evoke and draw out facts including the past, present, and possible reports of their future responses to these questions.

Some interviewers present questions that are not structured while others present questions that come in sequence.

The most important thing is to observe how responses correlate with unconscious behaviours – body language including facial expressions and posture.

These tests are done by direct observation and can be carried out in:

  • Natural setting or
  • A special laboratory

Natural observations

In natural observation, the interviewer observes how the individual responds to normal everyday situations.

They are made to be themselves in a way that makes them react to situations they would if they were in their house which characterizes expressive behaviours.

Laboratory observation

The interviewer manipulates circumstances in the laboratory while observing the individual’s reaction under controlled conditions.

Other people’s reports who know about the subject might also give reasonable information that would help in assessing their personality.

Types of personality tests

There are generally two types of tests:

  • Self-report inventory and
  • Projective test

Self-report inventories

This type of test poses queries designed to extract personal habits, and responses to circumstances, attitudes, beliefs and fantasies.

Projective tests

The individual’s reactions in the projective test which are directed to unstructured queries tend to Xray inner quality in random situations.

An example of a projective test is the Rorschach test which comprises inkblots that the individual uses to report their perceptions which the interviewer interprets.


The psychology of personality might be an academic exercise, but it runs deeper than that.

Insights in personality research can have a tremendous need in every area of humanity including health, academics, business and work. When individuals understand themselves, they are more likely to change for their own good.


  1. Personality And Genetics
  2. Theories of Personality
  3. Personality Psychology: Definition, Examples, & Theories
  4. All About Personality Psychology – Concepts and Theories
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Pious Clements is the insightful voice behind "The Conducts of Life" blog, where he writes about life ethics, self-development, life mastery, and the dynamics of people and society.

With a profound understanding of human behaviuor and societal dynamics, Pious offers thought-provoking perspectives on ethical living and personal growth.
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