Meaning, Nature, Traits and Determinants of Personality

Nature of Personality

Meaning of Personality

The term personality has been derived from the Latin word ‘persona’, which means ‘to speak through.’ Personality comes from within ourselves and defines who we are. Personality is the result of the social interaction of an individual in a group. It refers to the differences between individuals in the context of their way of thinking, feeling, behaving, responding and interacting with other individuals. 

The study of personality emphasises two aspects. 

Firstly, the focus is on understanding individual differences in specific personality traits such as sociability or irritability.

Secondly, the focus is on understanding how different parts of a person combine to function as a whole.

Personality in organisational behaviour is the collection of all possible ways in which a person behaves and communicates with others. Conversely, it also means how people influence others as well as how they understand and see themselves. It includes their pattern of internal and external measurable characteristics and the interaction between people and situations. 

Generally, personality is conceptualised by the external appearance of an individual which influences other persons. Personality is an integrated system that includes both the aspects of a person, the ones which are inherited as well as those that are learned. These two aspects are dependent on each other and cannot be separated. It originates from within the inner self of an individual and remains consistent throughout life.

Definition of Personality

According to Schiffman and Kanuk, “Personality can be defined as those inner psychological characteristics that both determine and reflect how a person responds to his or her environment”.

According to Gordon Allport, “Personality is the dynamic organisation within the individual and consists of those psychophysical systems that determine his unique adjustments to his environment”.

According to Eysenck, “Personality is more or less a stable and enduring organisation of a person’s character, temperament, intelligence and physique which determine his unique adjustment to environment”.

According to Camerson, “Personality is the dynamic organisation of interlocking behaviour systems, that each of us possesses, as he grows from a biological newborn to a biological adult in an environment of other individuals and cultural products”.

Nature of Personality

The nature of Personality is as follows:

Nature of Personality

1) Unique

Personality is a unique amalgamation of traits that differentiates the individual from others. The unique style in which people laugh or smile, weep or cry, talk or lecture, greet or salute becomes the symbol of their personality.

2) Reflects Individual Differences

No two individuals can be considered the same because they collect unique traits. However, an individual may be similar to another in the context of a single personality trait. For example, some people are “high” in sociability (which means they are very social), while some are termed “low” in sociability. 

3) Result of both Heredity and Environment

It is an undoubted fact that sex difference is determined by heredity. Another fact is that it is the sex difference that determines the personality of men and women. Hence, on these bases, certain psychologists assert that it is heredity that determines personality.

The environment has an influential effect on human beings. Its influence starts from birth and continues till death. There are differences in the status of the child, youth and old man in the family and society. Due to these differences, the roles of men, temperaments, ways of thinking, tendencies and characters are affected. The personality of men and women is determined by all these aspects. Similarly. the personality of an individual is affected by his status in school, occupation, social situation, etc.

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4) Learned or Acquired

Personality can be learned from our family members by being around them. It can also be acquired by being in social situations as people communicate and observe other people.

5) Integration of Various Traits

The elements which are eventually identified as a part of the individual’s personality get incorporated rather than just being a collection of traits. Thus, the combination of different characteristics leads to the formation of a personality.

6) Dynamic Process

The personality of an individual is an internal dynamic organisation. Here, dynamic means that personality is constantly changing, rapidly but is still organised, hence termed dynamic organization. Development of personality is a mutual relationship between how a person views his personal and the real world’s social and interpersonal experiences. 

It is a continuous growth process, which occurs because of the innate tendency for self-growth. However, our personal, environmental and social experiences also affect this growth process of personality. Due to its ever-changing and constantly developing process, personality can be termed a dynamic process.

7) Psychophysical Systems

Personality can neither be considered solely physical nor solely mental. Neither it is the product of heredity exclusively, nor the product of acquired behaviour or learning exclusively. The organisation of personality involves the functioning of both the “body” and ‘mind’. Hence, personality is a psychophysical system.

8) Social

Personality is social. Personality has its life only in response to its external world. An integrated and balanced personality makes pleasant modifications to the environment, mainly the social environment. Hence, the relationship of an individual with the environment, his feelings, and attitudes are essential for understanding the concept of personality.

Types of Personality

Various types of personalities are as follows: 

1) Sensing Managers (SM)

Sensing managers use their senses to analyse and absorb all the details related to the problem. They prefer to use standardised methods for solving any issue. Sensing managers are calm and specific in their work. They do not follow a creative approach to work. Instead, they follow the ordinary path toward getting results. Their emphasis is always on achievement, necessity and results.

2) Intuitive Managers (NM)

Intuitive managers prefer dealing with recent issues and do not like everyday work. They analyse the entire problem as a whole and devise several possible solutions for it. They are creative, innovative, proactive and love challenges.

3) Feeling Managers (FM)

Feeling managers strongly believe in giving priority to human beings in case handling organisational problems. They are procedure-focused people. They love to keep people happy and stay away from disagreements.

4) Thinking Managers (TM)

Thinking managers have a rational and investigative approach to problems to find a reasonable solution.

5) Intuitive Thinkers (NT)

They are the originators of new ideas. Intuitive thinkers follow organisational principles to find the answers to all the questions. They are highly motivated and very innovative. Organisations lacking intuitive thinkers will have less possibility of changes.

6) Sensation Feelers (SF)

Sensation feelers practically handle substantial issues. They have very strong observation powers and can detect the minutest details associated with the working of an organisation. They do not go against the system but utilise the existing resources to solve the problem. SFs avoid judging people and trust their colleagues. Organisations without SFs will be unable to identify small issues until they become big problems.

7) Sensation Thinkers (ST)

Sensation thinkers have strong decision making power and are excellent in assessments of evidence and statistics. They prefer the organisation to follow a formal and impartial approach. Sensation thinkers are diligent and very loyal. They are the ones who improve the efficiency of the organisation to a large extent.

8) Intuitive Feelers (NF)

Intuitive feelers are the personnel with some magical attraction and display a strong appeal and obligation towards their subordinates. They are passionate and thoughtful about their work. They can adjust to disorganised and group-oriented management systems. An organisation without NFs will have no warmth and charm.

Personality Traits in Organisational Behaviour

Following are the major personality traits that influence behaviour at the workplace:

Personality Traits
  1. Locus of control
  2. Machiavellianism
  3. Self-esteem 
  4. Self-monitoring
  5. Risk-taking personality 
  6. Proactive personality 
  7. Type A and Type B Personality 
  8. Need Patterns
  9. Authoritarianism
  10. Introversion and Extroversion
  11. Bureaucratic personality

Personality attributes influencing Ob are as follows:

Locus of Control

The concept of “Locus of control” was derived from Rotter’s social learning theory. As per this theory, locus of control is the mon anticipation based on the association between an individual’s character, his deeds and the result achieved. is the concept derived from numerous specific encounters in which people identify the future outcomes of actions happening in their lives? 

Locus of control is a personality trait possessed by people who believe that internal or external factors are responsible for their behaviour. Such individuals believe that life’s events are either under the person’s control (the internal focus of control) or are due to reasons that are beyond the son’s control (external locus of control). 

The people who believe that they control their destinies are called externals, whereas those who see their lives are controlled by outside forces are labelled externals Internals typically have more control over their behaviour, are more active in seeking information to make cions, and are more active socially than externals.

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Another trait is Machiavellianism, which owes its origins to Niccolo Machiavelli. This defines the extent of practicality possessed by a person. Such people are emotionally isolated and down to earth. 

People with a strong Machiavellian personality are more influenced and successful but are less influenced by others. The reverse happens with people having weak Machiavellian personalities. Nevertheless, situational factors control high-match results

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A person high in Machiavellian orientation approaches situations thoughtfully and logically and is even capable of lying to achieve his own goals. They are rarely swayed by friendships, past promises, loyalty, or the opinions of others, and they are skilled at influencing others. A person low in Machiavellianism tends to accept direction imposed by other people in loosely structured situations and works hard to do well in highly structured situations.


People tend to feel proud of their competence and at times about themselves. This kind of emotion is termed self-esteem. The ones with high self-esteem feel that they are competent and commendable enough to handle any kind of situation. 

On the contrary, the ones with low self-esteem are always in doubt about their abilities and knowledge. They are never sure about their true potential and are always afraid that they will fail in life. 

In terms of the Big Five personality factors, self-esteem most likely would be part of the emotional stability factor.

Self-esteem is usually based on the following factors: 

(1) The degree to which the individual feels that he or she receives love, acceptance, support, and encouragement from others;

(2) The specific characteristics and skills the person has 

(3) The degree to which the person accepts the various aspects of the self, especially when comparing the self to others.


Self-monitoring refers to the degree to which people control how they display themselves in front of other people. These people control their behaviour and follow the norms that are socially acceptable and suitable. Such people are regarded as high self-monitors. They put effort so that their behaviour is situationally appropriate. High self-monitors are better skilled to customise their behaviours as per the situation. 

For example, if they are in a meeting and see other people making suggestions, they will also try to make suggestions as well. They are also good at managing the impressions that other people have of them. In contrast, low self-monitors are not particularly sensitive to cues indicating acceptable behaviour, nor are they overly concerned about behaving in a situationally appropriate manner. 

People who are low self-monitors are guided by their attitudes, beliefs, feelings, and principles, and are not too concerned about what others think of their behaviours. High self-monitors are more likely than low self-monitors to tailor their behaviour to fit a given situation. Thus, high self-monitors may perform especially well in jobs such as sales or consulting which require employees to interact with different types of people regularly.

Risk-Taking Personality traits

Risk-taking is the person’s willingness to take risks. People with a high propensity for risk make decisions faster and are willing to take chances. Risk-aversive people are more cautious, make decisions more carefully, and try to minimise risk.

The ability to assume or avoid risk has been shown to have an impact on how long it takes managers to make a decision and how much information they need before making their decision. High-risk-taking managers made more rapid decisions and used less information in making their choices. 

While managers in organisations are generally risk-aversive; there are still individual differences in this dimension. As a result, it makes sense to recognise these differences and even to consider aligning risk-taking tendencies with specific job demands

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Proactive Personality traits

A proactive personality is defined as an individual’s tendency to intentionally and directly affect change in the environment. A proactive personality describes people who identify opportunities, show initiative, take action, and persevere until meaningful change occurs. Not surprisingly, research has shown that proactive has many desirable behaviours that organisations want. 

For example, they are more likely to be seen as leaders and more likely to act as change agents in organisations, they are more likely to challenge the status quo, they have entrepreneurial abilities, and they are more likely to achieve career success. 

A person with a proactive personality is relatively unconstrained by situational forces and who affects environmental change In other words, an individual with a highly proactive personality is one who aggressively acts to change his or her environment or to take control over life situations.

Type A and Type B

Individuals with intolerant, competitive and hostile personalities are termed Type A whereas Type B personalities are stress-free, relaxed and casual.

Type A Personality traits

People with Type A personalities appear to be ones with a lot of hurry and eagerness. Such people give priority to money and finances to such an extent that they believe that even their relationships must depend on money. People with Type A personalities give more importance to their work as compared to their relationships. 

They are always interested in doing something worthy; otherwise, they will feel guilty about wasting their time. The positive aspect of Type A personality is that such people are winners. Since they give their best to every project, even if they are ignorant of the concept, still, they still accomplish the task due to their competitive and adventurous nature. 

They tend to set up a timetable for themselves and then stick to it. The most evident trait of a Type A personality is hostility and restlessness. They display unfriendliness and impoliteness many times. Alternatively, they are highly motivated and positive thinkers.

Type B Personality traits

People with Type B personalities are opposite to Type A people. They are silent, tolerant, and relaxed a belief in doing things at their own pace. These people tend to take up things slowly, think before concluding and might postpone work till the last minute. 

They are social people and like to interact with both friends and strangers. Type B personalities receive a lot of attention everywhere and are more comfort-seeking than driven towards success while at work. 

They are kind, thoughtful and friendly and have the talent for building strong relations and striking a balance between work and personal life. 

They usually lead a satisfied and happy life They can also be portrayed as bombers and human magnets who grab the attention wherever they go with minimum effort. All these traits make Type B unique among all personality types.

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Need Patterns

Several people have an immense desire to stand out by performing difficult jobs and meeting their standards of perfection. They prefer taking responsibility for challenging situations and then like to get genuine feedback on the entire effort. Such kinds of people are found in jobs that give them a chance to quench their thirst for excellence.


The main idea here is that within an organisation, there exists a difference in power and status among employees A person who has an authoritarian personality believes in enforcement and obedience of authority. 

He has negative opinions about other people and is rationally inflexible. Authoritarians consider their beliefs to M ethically supreme and give excessive importance to rules and regulations. For such a person, a steady work environment governed by clear-cut norms is preferred.

From an ethical standpoint, people can expect highly authoritarian individuals to present a special problem because they are so susceptible to authority that in their eagerness to comply, they may behave unethically. 

For example, individuals might speculate that many of the Nazis who were involved in war crimes during World War Il were high in authoritarianism or dogmatism; they believed so strongly in authority that they followed unethical orders without question.

Introversion and Extroversion 

Introversion and Extroversion are generally associated with an individual’s sociability and interpersonal orientation. These two major types of personality are discussed as follows:

1) Introverts

Introverts are concerned with their thoughts and feelings. They are quieter than extroverts and prefer to be removed from the social world. As such, they are happy being alone. 

Introverts do socialise, but it will be with a few close friends rather than with large groups of people. They will probably feel lonelier in a crowd than on their own. Introverts prefer to plan and analyse things and are careful in their decision-making.

Introverts tend to be low-key, deliberate, and relatively less engaged in social situations. They often take pleasure in solitary activities such as reading, writing, drawing, watching movies, and using computers. The archetypal artist, writer, sculptor, composer, and inventor are all highly introverted. 

An introverted person is likely to enjoy time spent alone and find less reward in time spent with large groups of people (although they tend to enjoy interactions with close friends). They prefer to concentrate on a single activity at a time and like to observe situations before they participate.

2) Extroverts

Extroverts are interested in the external world. Their focus is on people and objects. They enjoy being with others and like group activities. As such, they like to be noticed. Extroverts find it difficult to be alone and feel lonely if they are not with other people. Possessions and success are valued by an extrovert.

Extroverted people tend to enjoy human interactions and to be enthusiastic, talkative, assertive, and gregarious. They take pleasure in activities that involve large social gatherings, such as parties, community activities, public demonstrations, and business or political groups. 

Acting, teaching, directing, managing, and brokering are fields that favour extroversion. An extroverted person is likely to enjoy time spent with people and find less reward in time spent alone. They enjoy risk-taking and often show leadership abilities.

Bureaucratic Personality traits

According to Merton, “Bureaucratic personality is the outcome of bureaucratic characteristics in a person, such as impersonal attitude, etc”. 

In some cases, such characteristics increase the extent of rudeness. 

For example, Aken and Hage stated that employees of organisations that promote bureaucratic structure suffer from work decision-making processes related to organisational policies and delegation of authority. There are severe norms that are imposed in such a hard manner that the employee becomes powerless. 

Therefore, bureaucratic characteristics can be the cause of both i.e., bureaucratic behaviour and marginalisation of work.

Determinants of Personality

The  Major determinants of personality can be grouped into five categories.

Determinants of Personality

The following factors affect personality development: 

  1. Biological Factors
  2. Social Factors
  3. Cultural Factors
  4. Situational Factors
  5. Physical Environment Factors

Biological Factors

The basic characteristics of the human biological system determine how human beings absorb external stimuli and react to them.

The contribution of biology in the field of personality development is divided into the following three major categories:

1) Heredity: Heredity is the transfer of features from predecessors to the next generation via chromosomes found in germ cells. Heredity influences the physical, emotional intelligence and mental states of an individual.  As heredity has an impact on the nature of an individual, hence it causes variation in personalities. Heredity factors are the tendencies and attitudes that are passed on from parents and they determine a person’s nature

While performing studies on twins it was discovered that heredity plays a vital role in personality. Identical Twins (same genetic composition) have more common personality traits than Fraternal Twins (different genetic composition). If identical twins are brought up in different families, their personality traits would be more common than fraternal twins brought up in the same family. Hence, a study on twins suggests that inherited personality traits are nearly half of total personality traits.

2) Brain: Another important factor that plays a vital role in personality is the brain. It is believed that its structure defines personality. However, no concrete evidence has been found yet to confirm its relevance in personality development.

3) Physical Features: Physical features and maturity rates also determine personality formation. This is because physical features influence others and also the self-image.

The personality of an individual is affected by numerous social factors such as nuclear families and remote and universal alliances. Family and social background have an immense impact on personality development.

Social Factors

1) Home Environment: The environment where a person is born and brought up has a huge impact on his overall personality development. 

For example, children brought up in a very strict and uncaring atmosphere are more inclined to be emotionally imbalanced than children who are brought up in a loving and caring atmosphere. 

2) Family Members: Parents and other members of the family also have a significant impact on the personality development of an individual. Parents and children share a stronger bond than the bond between children and teachers. Apart from parents, even siblings play an important role in personality development.

3) Social Groups: Society also influences an individual’s personality e.g., the school where a child studies, the friend circle, colleagues at work, etc. Further, certain socio-economic factors are also responsible for the development of personality.

Cultural Factors

Culture is one of the most important factors in shaping the personality of an individual. It decides what the person actually is and what he is learning. It also determines the behaviour and attitude of a person towards freedom, hostility, rivalry, and collaboration. The members of a culture are expected to act in a manner that is acceptable to the cultural group. Even though culture is immensely responsible for developing personality, yet, a linear relationship between personality and culture could not be developed.

Cultural factors influence the personality of an individual. The reason is that people need to develop their personalities within the cultural environment. On the whole, culture is the combination of beliefs, values, traditions, customs, habits and attitudes that the person gets from society. These cultural factors help in giving shape to the features and attributes of one’s personality. Customs associated with a culture also determine the personality of an individual. Hence, the cultural surroundings of a person should be considered while estimating his personality.

Situational Factors

The personality formation of an individual also depends on situational factors. Situational factors are dynamic and change with social conditions. People come across various situations that change their perspective toward things. 

For example, a strict teacher might not be strict towards his family members. The behaviour of an officer might be different towards his subordinates than compared to his family. It is not a single factor that shapes personality but a collection of different factors. A person displays his attitude when he comes in contact with the environment, culture, society, parents, friends and others.

A particular situation might have a huge impact on a person. It might be restrictive or motivational. The person might not behave as per his nature, but as per the situation he is facing.

For example, a person with a dominating personality might get irritated in a bureaucratised work condition and behave violently and lethargic.

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Physical Environment Factors

The physical environment also influences the personality of an individual. Environmental factors comprise land, rivers, mountains, hills, forests, plains, atmosphere, etc., which determines if the personality is good or bad, strong or weak. Every feeling, emotion, idea, attitude, habit, behaviour and body structure is the result of the physical environment that surrounds the person.

For example, the colour, health and physique of people belonging to rural areas differ from people belonging to urban areas. Their personalities differ due to the different environments in which they are brought up. Urban people enjoy all the modern facilities and lifestyles

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