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The Meaning of Personality

The term personality is derived from the Latin word persona meaning a mask. Personality is a patterned body of habits, traits, attitudes and ideas of an individual as these are organized externally into roles and statuses and as they relate internally to motivation, goals and various aspects of selfhood.

According to Robert Park and Earnest Burgess Personality is the sum and organization of those traits which determine the role of the individual in the group.

According to Linton, personality embraces the total organized aggregate of psychological processes and status pertaining to the individual.Parsonality says Maclver is all that an individual is and has experienced so far as this all can be comprehended as unity. According to Lundberg the term personality refers to the habits, attitudes and other social traits that are characteristic of a given individual's behavior.

By personality Ogburn means the integration of the socio-psychological behavior of the human being, represented by habits of action and feeling, attitudes and opinions.

Davis regards personality a psychic phenomenon which is neither organic nor social but an emergent from a combination of the two. According to Young personality is the totality of behavior of an individual with a given tendency system interacting with a sequence of situations.

On the basis of these definitions it may be said there are two main approaches to the study of personality:

  1. The psychological
  2. The sociological

The psychological approach considers personality as a certain style peculiar to the individual. This style is determined by the characteristic organization of mental trends, complexes, emotions and sentiments. The psychological approach enables us to understand the phenomena of personality disorganization and the role of wishes, of mental conflict and of repression and sublimation in the growth of personality. The sociological approach considers personality in terms of the status of the individual in the group, in terms of his conception of his role in the group of which he is a member. What others think of us plays a large part in the formation of our personality.

Thus personality is a sum of the ideas, attitudes and values of a person which determine his role in society and form an integral part of his character.

Personality is acquired by the individual as a result of his participation in group life. As a member of the group he learns certain behavior systems and symbolic skills which determine his ideas, attitudes and social values. These ideas, attitudes and values which an individual holds comprise his personality.

In brief it can be said:

  1. Personality is not related to bodily structure alone. It includes both structure and dynamics.
  2. Personality is an indivisible unit.
  3. Personality is neither good nor bad.
  4. Every personality is unique
  5. Personality refers to persistent qualities of the individual. It expresses consistency and regularity.
  6. Personality is acquired.
  7. Personality is influenced by social interaction. It is defined in terms of behavior.