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Understanding Personality

[fa icon="calendar"] Sep 27, 2019 10:17:44 AM / by Blythe Chong

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet."

Personality is something that people tend to focus a lot on. Whenever we encounter an individual, we often unknowingly turn our attention to their personality. Whether they are helpful, outgoing, or quiet are just a few of the things that we highlight as we assess the people around us.

Let’s continue to dive into this big topic; Personality can be manifested in thinking patterns, feelings, and behaviours under different types of settings and environments (Hampson, 2012). Personality could be influenced by biological needs and there ought to be a regular pattern as to how one behaves and interacts with oneself and with others that makes one unique as compared to another individual (Roberts & Mroczek, 2008). To date, there is no one way to clearly define what personality is. Below are some theories or models developed over the years:

Commonly Known Theories on How Personality is Formed

The Five-Factor Theory of Personality

This model of personality represents five core traits such as extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness and each personality trait could be further categorized between a range of high and low extremes.

Freud's Id, Ego, and Superego Psychodynamic Theory

According to Freud’s theory, a personality is made three components acting together consciously and subconsciously. The id is a component of personality that is present in all of us since birth and is driven by pleasure and the ego component acts to fulfill id’s needs and desires in a socially-accepted way. The superego component suppresses unacceptable urges and holds our sense of right and wrong. Freud believed that an imbalance of id, ego, and the superego would lead to an maladaptive personality.

Although personality is not clearly defined, there are theories that suggest how our personalities are shaped.

Skinner’s Behavioural Theory

This model suggests that personality is a result of interaction between an individual and the environment. In his study of operant conditioning, a certain behavior is induced with rewards and reduced when punishment is introduced.

Carl Rogers’ Humanist Theory

Rogers believed that there is an inherent need to grow and to achieve self-actualization. According to this theory, key characteristics of a fully-functioning person include openness to experience, unconditional regard for self, and an ability to live in harmony with others.

Factors That Shape Personality

Our personality is not determined by a single factor, it is through an accumulation of many factors. Some of those factors are psychological, while others are physical, biological, and hereditary. Listed below are some of the most influential factors when it comes to determinants of personality:

  • Upbringing
  • Unique experiences
  • Environment 
  • Genetics
  • Society norms and values
  • Family and close friends

Our personalities are not permanent; they are changing in response to our environment.

Is a Personality Permanent?

Everyone goes through different phases in life. From a student to a working adult, from working adult to a married adult, from a married adult to a parent, and so on. Our roles change and we have different responsibilities to play. Sometimes we even have multiple roles to play under one roof – a mother to a child, a daughter to a mother, and a sister to another sibling. Personality is not permanent. We change in different situations - with different life experiences, environments, and interpersonal relationships.

Why is Understanding Personality Beneficial?

By not attaching a social label or an assumption how one would think, feel, or behave, we are able to appreciate the diversity of different personalities surrounding us in school, at work, or at home. Working with people of different personalities offers us a learning opportunity to gather ideas and alternatives to solving a problem together when we hit a roadblock. Besides that, understanding our own personality would also help us in finding a suitable career that would help us to maximize our strengths and consequently, leading us to have a fulfilling job. Learning how to live with people with different personalities also gives us the joy of discovering and learning new things about one another every day.

Here are the available assessments you can consider if you are keen on exploring your very own personality at this present point in life:

Personality Assessments Available:

  • 16 – Personality Factor (16-PF)
  • Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
  • Beck Depression Inventory (BDI)
  • NEO-Personality Inventory (NEO-PI)
  • Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI)


  1. Chae, H., Lee, S., Park, S., Jang, E., & Lee, S. (2012). Development and Validation of a Personality Assessment Instrument for Traditional Korean Medicine: Sasang Personality Questionnaire. Evidence-Based Complementary And Alternative Medicine, 2012, 1-12. doi: 10.1155/2012/657013
  2. Hampson, S. (2012). Personality Processes: Mechanisms by Which Personality Traits “Get Outside the Skin”. Annual Review Of Psychology, 63(1), 315-339. doi: 10.1146/annurev-psych-120710-100419
  3. Roberts, B., & Mroczek, D. (2008). Personality Trait Change in Adulthood. Current Directions In Psychological Science, 17(1), 31-35. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8721.2008.00543.x

Have a read of what our friends have to share from the talk on "What is Your Personality?" 

"Eye-opener; see how various tools have their uses." Roland Ang

"The session was interactive and engaging. Ms Blythe Chong was able to address Q&As arising from the completion of MBTI personality profile assessment." Serene Tan

"The talk and profiling test helps me to understand myself better." Lim Neh Hoon Vivien

"The session allows me to better understand myself and to know what job suits me more." Lin Uen Fang

"It was useful in learning the personality and perhaps more personality test could be included. It will be good to have more of this workshop conducted." Punithavathi Elengovan

Did this article resonate with what you are experiencing as a caregiver? Would you like to gain valuable insights from experts on how to manage what you're going through? The chance is here! We have partnered with the Association of Psychotherapists and Counselors Singapore (APACS) to conduct a lunchtime talk on Understanding and Supporting Caregiver and People with Dementia, as well as a group counseling session on On Journey Before & After Death. As both events are fully sponsored by CaregiverAsia, seats are limited. Reserve your seat by clicking the button below!

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Topics: Slice Of Life

Blythe Chong

Written by Blythe Chong

Blythe is passionate about helping people overcome their life challenges and started her social work career in 2007. She has been working extensively with communities in Singapore providing counselling services, talks and workshops. Her passion to serve others has led her to provide opportunities for patients with chronic illnesses. She co-founded JourneyWorks and started providing employment for six patients and their caregivers, targeting to reach out to more patients and their caregivers.

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