A personality is based on the experiences we endured and how we responded to them. We have zero control over our upbringing, but we decided on changes to survive in that environment starting around 6 months old, and we tend to develop that personality with complete independence of our genetics starting around the ages of 5 to 10.
In many ways, a personality is the closest we can observe as a “soul” within others. While the soul itself is more akin to the decisions we make now, our personality uses many mental habits from the past to create a larger expression than the individual moments that make up the individual moments that define who we are at any given second.
Our past decisions create a habitual framework to dictate our preferences in potential future situations. The cycle of present and past identities based on our decisions converge together into our general disposition about life.
No personality is “best”, but each personal is “best suited” toward certain times and places based on the purposes that can be accomplished. A person can modulate their personality to accommodate specific situations, but it’s very difficult, and is generally unpleasant for everyone involved compared to a more suitable personality.
It’s difficult to intuitively classify personality because psychologists are attempting to group the basis for how we make decisions. For this reason, most personality indicators and tests are vaguely close to reality but always miss certain elements. The only exception to this is the Big 5 personality indicator, which is the only one with any scientific rigor behind it.
Personality carves itself into 5 major classifications (with 2 sub-classes) that conveniently break out into an OCEAN acronym. It typically represents as the conflict between two decisions that have benefits and risks, with our soul’s decisions making the deciding factor that determines how we wish to continue from that point.
The range of 1-100 sits as a bell curve, where someone with a score of 1 is thousands of times more rare than someone with a score of 20. Most of the time, unique people are below 25 or above 75, and phenomenally different people are below 10 or above 90.
The Big 5 Personality indicator is the only scientifically proven personality test, though many other personality tests form approximately the same classifications. Each personality trait ends up cleanly dividing into two sub-factors for each dimension as well.
A person self-reporting on a Big 5 test is a reliable indicator across decades of how they’ll likely behave, but other people reporting on someone is also a reliable indicator as well.
The dimensions are easy to remember as an acronym, and it takes about 100 well-asked questions to find where someone sits on the spectrum:
- Openness to experience
Openness to Experience
On the high end, we take enormous social risks and pioneer trends, mostly from the pursuit and love of ideas. It has the advantage of discovering new things, but at the risk of sabotaging healthy long-standing institutions of society. Most intelligent and creative people tend to be high openness to experience, though not always.
One tiny statistical correlation shows that people born in warmer climates tend to be a little bit more willing to take risks.
- Enjoys nature’s beauty and believes in art’s importance
- Becomes deeply immersed in creative works like music and poetry
- Frequently reflects on experiences and thoughts and sees beauty where others may not notice
- Needs a creative outlet
In general, most people are not creative on any given domain, and someone who’s reasonably competent in a given creative domain represent less than 15% of the population. However, most people usually do at least something that’s partly creative, typically for fun.
- Thinks quickly and rapidly understands abstract ideas and how things work
- Can handle lots of information and has an extensive vocabulary that clearly indicates ideas
- Enjoys solving complex problems
- Enjoys philosophical discussions and difficult reading material
Intellect can be very reliably measured with IQ tests that measure a person’s ability to take a test about understanding and logic, but is a highly controversial subject because our biology mostly defines how smart we are, which demonstrates inherently that people have dramatically unequal power among each other.
One aspect of intelligence that magnifies society’s inequality comes with respect to technology. Intelligent people naturally understand technology more, meaning they have more power proportionally to the power of that technology.
On the high end, we live virtuously by self-defined rules, and take those rules so seriously that we’ll lead ourselves and everyone else as a moral imperative. It comes with the risks, however, of perfectionism (e.g., anorexia, obsessive-compulsive disorder).
On the low end, we follow others’ desires and our own interests. It has the advantage of us never feeling unfocused on the moment or adapting to changes, but at the risk of violating our moral integrity and sacrificing long-term goals worth striving for.
High conscientiousness has the advantage of imparting high-quality virtues and habits into the rest of society, but at the risk of unnecessary conflict with any present leadership who don’t follow those values in turn, as well as risks of over-management and difficulty handling changes.
- Carry out our plans without wasting time or getting distracted
- Setting our minds to the immediate task and finishing what we start
- Making decisions quickly and certain about what we’re doing
Often, we make things out of a sense of guilt or shame that our value only comes in what we produce.
- Cleans up belongings and keeps things organized
- Follows a schedule and enjoys routine
- Bothered by disorder and messy people
- Wants every detail taken care of and that rules are honored
Extraversion (versus Introversion)
We either find renewal with people, or without them. This concept is easy enough to understand that practically every personality measurement without fail uses this dimension, but the disposition is linked more closely with how we emotionally recharge than social skills.
Extraversion dictates whether we devote more of our tasks toward people or things. Both of them have challenges, and require practice to get correct, so we’ll see better results with the one that makes us more comfortable.
On the high end, we’re constantly choosing to interact with others. It has the advantage of connecting with many people at once, but requires our constant involvement in a healthy group of people and we’re more susceptible to lying to gain favor from others.
Extroverts have a tendency to live impulsively in the present. While they end up enjoying life more (a necessary quality of the good life), they also risk overlooking adverse long-term adverse consequences.
On the low end, we prefer to be alone. It has the advantage of working on long-term projects and keeping our rules unimpeded, but others won’t bear witness to the results of our efforts without someone else advertising it due to low skills at influencing others.
Introverts can often adapt to extroverted situations by more diligently focusing on what drains them and asserting themselves more often to not socially engage.
The amount people interrupt is a product of extraversion’s two sub-dimensions. An introvert finds interruptions to be disrespectful (because they’re not letting the speaker finish), while an extrovert find not interrupting a sign of disrespect (because they’re wasting the speaker’s time).
Enthusiastic people tend to find a certain amount of excitement and joy from social interaction:
- Easy to get to know and makes friends easily
- Reveals more private information and less likely to maintain distance with others
- Warms up quickly to others, has lots of fun, and laughs a lot
- Sees themselves as enthusiastic and explores their feelings within themselves and with others
- Sees themselves as a strong person and a good leader, and takes control in a group
- Has plenty of experience and talent influencing and captivating people
- The first to act: doesn’t hold back opinions or wait for others to lead
Agreeableness (versus Disagreeableness)
In conflicts, we either wish to reconcile with others, or don’t care what others think. This extends to how our mental conflicts operate as well. Agreeableness directly connects to how we resolve the conflict between our natural compassion for babies and predatory aggression.
On the high end, we coexist well with others. It has the advantage of creating a harmonious society because we’re inclined to like people, but with the downside of making conflicts very complicated and other people taking advantage of the readiness to reconcile. It also has risks of us lying to please others.
On the low end, we disagree more readily. It has the advantage of enforcing boundaries, but with the risk of intensifying conflicts among well-meaning people.
While disagreeable people typically know exactly what they want, agreeable people often have no idea what they want because they’re so busy paying attention to others’ needs. Disagreeable people can often help agreeable people understand their latent desires through their more competitive nature.
- Feels others’ emotions and sympathizes with them
- Interested in others’ well-being and problems
- Enjoys investing time into others’ lives
We have certain preference toward a certain amount of tactfulness:
- Respects authority
- Believes they’re equal with others
- Avoids imposing their will or taking advantage of others for personal gain
- Hate to insult people or put them under pressure
- Avoids conflicts whenever possible
Neuroticism (versus Emotional Stability)
We tend to interact with our environment with our feelings, which tend to react more toward negative experiences than positive ones.
On the high end, most of our experiences are emotional experiences that run through the right side of our brain. It has the advantage of contending with the unknown, but with the downside of feeling severely drained. Most people heavily integrated into religious phenomenology are high neuroticism.
On the low end, most of our experiences are relatively rational experiences that run through the left side of our brain. It has the advantage of consistency and reproducibility, but with the downside of have little to no sympathy or compassion for others.
Counterintuitively, the best way to handle extreme emotional reactions is consistent, repeated exposure to new experiences. Eventually, enough experience will make everything somewhat familiar. If there’s any hangups in motivation, reduce the ambition to something easily attainable.
We have a tendency to freeze when exposed to threats, which is a survival impulse of managing an unknown risk. Withdrawal measures our self-consciousness, which determines how much we wrestle with the things that we’re afraid of:
- Easily feeling threatened or afraid
- Feelings of depression and discouragement
- Easily embarrassed or overwhelmed
Events deliver a specific measurable amount of emotional severity from how strongly the adverse consequences feel when we’re first aware of them:
- Easily becomes angry, irritated, or upset
- Loses composure and stirred up easily
- Mood changes very frequently and very difficult to control
Personality differences can be frustrating, but they’re absolutely necessary because each personality is a broadly-formed solution to a vast set of problems. No single person is equipped for every situation, and the wide variety of personalities gives different approaches to handle the complex specializations required to live well.
High conscientiousness must respect others’ differing standards, while low conscientiousness must think more about others.
High extraversion must respect that others need alone time, and low extraversion must respect others’ need for more social interaction.
With respect to gender differences within personalities, men and women tend to be more alike than different, but there are some distinctions:
- Men tend to be much lower agreeableness than women, most prominently in the domain of compassion.
- Men tend to have lower neuroticism compared to women.
In a general sense, all five dimensions can also lump together into a super-category:
- Extraversion and openness to experience group together to create “Boldness”.
- Agreeableness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism group together to create “Sociability”.
Extraversion and agreeableness can be easily confused. Extroversion defines how much a person likes being around other people generally, but agreeableness defines how much someone will like other people individually.
A baby’s natural tendency to cry will clarify their neuroticism and agreeableness later on in life.
The most important indicators of success come firstly through our intellect (the subdomain of openness to experience) because it defines how creative our solutions will be, and comes secondly through conscientiousness because it defines how frequently we’ll perform tasks we don’t want to do. However, intelligence and conscientiousness have zero statistical connection with one another, likely because smart people can often slip through life without having to follow their culture’s social rules.
Agreeableness and conscientiousness are at constant odds with each other in most social contexts:
- Agreeable people typically permit others to take advantage of them until they learn to set good boundaries, though enforcing those boundaries requires conscientiousness.
- Conscientious people will naturally sideline agreeableness in pursuit of what they perceive to be right.
Personality often has a direct correlation with political association:
- Conservatives tend to be higher in conscientiousness, especially in orderliness.
- Liberals tend to be higher in openness to experience.
- On the aspect of agreeableness, liberals tend to be higher in compassion and lower in politeness, and conservatives are the reverse.
- Identical personalities for a relationship are ideal on all the aspects (because they share a common identity) except neuroticism: two emotionally volatile people are very dysfunctional and dangerous. However, pairing two people who are very similar means a smaller range of creativity to find legitimately useful solutions.
- While hiring people should be based at least somewhat on conscientiousness, this is especially true for managers who direct other people. However, the appearance of most leaders demonstrates through assertiveness, which often creates awful social systems if the appointing leaders aren’t careful.
- For creative solutions (e.g., writers, entertainers, artists), look for low-conscientiousness people, since they don’t obsess about following existing constraints.
Our self-esteem is pretty much nothing more than our extraversion (as a positive emotional state) minus our neuroticism (as a negative emotional state).
Most things we call “personality disorders” are simply the combination of personality characteristics that create adverse consequences for society:
- Cluster A personality disorders (paranoid personality disorder, schizoid/schizotypal personality disorder) are extremely high neuroticism without enough conscientiousness to constantly add new perceptions about reality.
- Cluster B personality disorders (antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder) are the extremes of low conscientiousness and high extraversion.
- Cluster C personality disorders break into several domains:
- Avoidant personality disorder is high agreeableness and low extraversion.
- Dependent personality disorder is high agreeableness and low conscientiousness.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder is low agreeableness and high conscientiousness.
- Autism spectrum is the extremes of extraversion low enough to not detect others’ body language, high conscientiousness, and high neuroticism.
Beyond that, there are a wide variety of mixtures when these 5 base components fit together into synergies.
- Statistically, most people are low conscientiousness and high openness to experience. This makes them very flexible to adapt to changing situations, but comes at the risk of adapting wrongly to a bad leader.
- The high-risk nature of prolific artists of all fields require them to always be high-neuroticism, no more than moderate agreeableness, and at least moderately conscientious.
- Philosophers tend to lean low agreeableness and high openness to experience. Otherwise, they tend to spend less time pondering and run society instead.
- Criminals tend to be low agreeableness and low conscientiousness, though white-collar crime can be much broader on the range of conscientiousness.
- Religious leaders (with the exception of cults) are high conscientiousness and high neuroticism, with popular religions often having high openness to experience and at least moderate extraversion as well.
- Most large groups tailored for productivity (e.g., corporations) are literally run by high-agreeableness, high-conscientiousness people (especially women).
- People who foster plenty of nostalgia tend to foster tradition and convention, which requires being high-agreeableness, high-conscientiousness, and low openness to experience.
- Funny people are typically high-openness (to see things in a creative new way), moderate-agreeableness (to make jokes that involve pain), and low-enough conscientiousness to find comfort in breaking rules.
- When it comes to conformity, there are four domains based on aggressiveness (agreeableness + extraversion) and mindedness (conscientiousness + openness to experience):
- Convention-minded and aggressive – The Hall Monitor
- Convention-minded and passive – The Sheep
- Independent-minded and aggressive – The Rebel
- Independent-minded and passive – The Daydreamer
- The two forces of high extraversion and high agreeableness can combine to form a false sense of self (described in the next section).
Finally, the “energy” of each of the spectra become severe conflicts when someone happens have extremes on two or more dimensions.
We maintain that image of how we expect others want us to behave, and it forces us to express at least two personalities:
- The way we would behave if nobody was around whatsoever, including the absence of any god(s) who may see us otherwise.
- How we believe we must be for others to accept us, or at least for us to gain influence and power.
Generally, most cultures form an expected “false self” with a specific personality set:
- Openness to Experience – adapt and change to whatever the group expects, but never take on enough risk that may potentially create adverse events for the group.
- Conscientiousness – always do what’s right, until it doesn’t conform with the desires of the highest-ranking group leader.
- Extraversion – do whatever you want, but always attend required group events and conform to the cultural mores of your group.
- Agreeableness – never disagree with the group leader and only politely disagree with others, and females must be more agreeable than males.
- Neuroticism – you’re free to express your feelings, up to the point where the group’s tasks may be disrupted or will portray an adverse image to others outside the group.
Proportional to our actual agreeableness, our actions and society’s responses create a feedback loop of shame that reinforces and magnifies our “shadow self”:
- We quickly learn to habitually repress the true desires and perceptions we’d otherwise express.
- To the degree we can restrain ourselves, we maintain that image, but make a lapse in judgment when we face a severe breakdown of our willpower. These lapses can include a drunken rage, outburst of anger, unprovoked rude statements, failure to act, or impulsive large-scale decision.
- Typically, most cultures will express the action as shameful and wrong, and we conclude we shouldn’t have done it.
- Upon self-reflection, we try even harder to repress those desires until we face another severe breakdown of our willpower.
Most modern non-medication psychotherapy is devoted to exploring and unpacking awareness of these true desires, then show a way for us converge all our personality archetypes into a cohesive whole. This is messy, difficult, and most cultures find it highly controversial. It’s possible that most of the entire framework of civilization would collapse (or at least restructure) if everyone did it at once.
Only a few methods work to “integrate” a shadow, and every healthy solution uses at least some of them, but even the methods to fix the problem are highly controversial:
- Stop taking yourself seriously, since your purpose and feelings are determined by severely limited information.
- Apologize sincerely, in the deepest possible desire for repentance, for all misbehavior or misjudgment that potentially harmed others.
- Maintain a harmonious focus on loving yourself and everyone else the same (i.e., love others like yourself).
- Release everything about yourself as a product of the environment that was given to you, minus what you have control over right now. In practice, all aspects of identity must come strictly from decisions you still stand by.
Most people will never integrate their shadow, so the ones who succeed tend to lead groups from their enhanced natural connection to themselves. This is not a moral matter either way, but heavily defines a person’s ability to influence and achieve meaning.
If a person who don’t integrate their shadow is asked to describe the one type of personality they despise the most, they’ll likely give a close approximation of their own repressed characteristics. If they have integrated their shadow, they’ll likely give the opposite of their authentic self.
As people, we are very versatile and capable of adapting to purposes we deem as necessary. However, it’s much easier to adapt the tasks to the personality than the personality to the task.
Adapting is proportionally more difficult the farther we go from our natural state (e.g., introvert to extrovert), but we have a much easier time tempering our extremes than becoming more extreme on the opposite end.
One of the qualities of someone who integrated their shadow is that they can hold to the qualities of their “natural” self, then summon the qualities of any of their habituated “shadow” personalities if the situation requires it.
Our family has a tiny bearing on our personality based on biochemistry and culture. For that reason, every larger group that arose from a family (e.g., most nations) has a specific biochemistry of their mind that influences how they make decisions.
These personality archetypes frequently ripple outward to create an entire national identity:
- In Europe, Germany has always been ambitious. They were responsible for starting both World Wars in the 20th century, and rapidly became the force controlling the European Union by the beginning of the 21st century.
- Japan is a fork of risk-taking Chinese who left on ships to find the Fountain of Youth from a mad king’s edict. They are some of the hardest-working and innovative people in Asia.
- Most of the Middle East is made of close family ties, and it demonstrates with certain similarities across the entire region.
Within society, technology means a higher requirement to the openness to experience dimension, but also comes with more opportunities to succeed. This becomes a dramatic political issue among society, and especially impacts people with high conscientiousness and low openness to experience, since their unemployment will create a devastating lack of meaning without any solutions in sight.
Every person is different, mostly from their personality. This doesn’t make them superior or lesser, but does make them more well-fitted to specific tasks. Don’t ask a high-neuroticism person to do something procedural, don’t send a high-agreeableness person into a negotiation, don’t ask a high-conscientiousness person to give a bribe.
Each personality is useful, in its place:
- Openness to experience – Pioneer vs. Historian
- Conscientiousness – Rule-Maker vs. Creative
- Extraversion – Partying vs. Books
- Agreeableness – Negotiator vs. Interrogator
- Neuroticism – Empath/Spiritual vs. Unaffected
Generally, we can fix most of our personality defects with other personality characteristics to bridge the gap:
- Low openness to experience when managing high social risk:
- High openness to experience when facing a tradition-based conflict:
- Low conscientiousness when required to perform tasks:
- Openness to experience can find new permutations of an otherwise boring task.
- Extraversion can find other people to help out in exchange for favors.
- Agreeableness can imagine adverse social consequences for not performing the task.
- High conscientiousness when associating with messy people:
- Openness to experience can find other people to associate with.
- Extraversion can find meaning in the friendship through love even while experiencing disgust.
- Agreeableness can learn to accept others’ way of life.
- Low extraversion when required to associate with other people:
- Openness to experience can research new information about how to have social skills.
- Conscientiousness can focus on tasks while around others.
- Agreeableness can learn how to listen more and find interesting qualities in others.
- Neuroticism can learn to open up more transparently about their feelings with strangers.
- High extraversion when required to perform mundane tasks:
- Low agreeableness when required to get along with others:
- High agreeableness when required to confront others:
- Low neuroticism in an emotionally volatile situation:
- Conscientiousness can regard themselves as a foundation of stability and peace in a potential conflict.
- Agreeableness can find friendship with people by connecting personally with others.
- High neuroticism in a steady-and-slow situation:
- Conscientiousness can learn to discipline themselves to a more even approach.
- Extraversion can connect more closely with the other people in the situation.
- Agreeableness can find closure through others’ experiences.
Most miserable people are actually concerned about skills managing their neuroticism, but their social skill limits make them think it’s about their extraversion.
Intelligent people who use computers are insanely quick compared to unintelligent people who don’t use them. More technology creates more inequality, but its morality of it comes strictly from how ethically those intelligent people use that power.
We often don’t know what we ought to do, how to do it, or have the resources to do things, but the most defining factor about whether we’ll do something is if we want to do it, which is heavily defined by our personality.
Each personality is a disposition, so nobody will respond the way we anticipate them to unless we’re aware of what their personality is, which is difficult because they often aren’t aware of what they’re really disposed toward.
Frequently, even if you can’t do something, others can. This takes tremendous humility, but you’re far more naturally equipped to resolve certain problems better than others, and the same goes for everyone else.
We maintain a public false self alongside our latent shadow self, and most people spend plenty of time obsessing about appearing differently than they actually are. Integrating those two perspectives is critical for living the good life, but only by conforming both those domains to invariable truth and aspire for moral goodness.
People who integrate their shadow can be terrifying for those who haven’t. They have, in a way, transcended to another frame of existence where their identity is only contained in who they are instead of the environment they’re in. This arrangement makes it very hard to exercise raw power over them, and they can only be influenced via persuasion.
We can adapt dramatically to our environment, but we’ll never like certain things. Each person has different preferences, and those preferences are critical to understand ourselves and others. It’s always better to delegate and specialize than try to be an all-in-one person for all situations.
To make a healthy and diverse group, all the personalities must be represented, which is easiest by drawing from a wide variety of families from vastly different ethnic backgrounds. This never plays out as well in practice for industry-specific domains (due to specific demands of various trades), represents the most within casual social clubs and organized religion, and is a huge reason why a nation of immigrants (e.g., USA when people want to move there) has natural creative and competitive advantages.