Determinants of Personality

Determinants of Personality Meaning, Traits and Nature

Table of Contents:

Determinants of Personality

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

Determinants of Personality

There are five major determinants of personality in ob: 

  1. Biological determinants of personality
  2. Social determinants of personality
  3. Cultural determinants of personality
  4. Situational determinants of personality
  5. Environment determinants of personality

Other determinants of personality in organisational behaviour include psychological and intellectual factors, etc.

Biological determinants of personality

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

The contribution of biology plays an important role in the field of personality development which can be divided into the three major categories as follows. The biological determinants of personality are given below:

  1. Heredity
  2. Brain
  3. Physical Features

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 refer to the inherent tendencies and attitudes passed on from parents and ultimately determine an individual’s innate characteristics.

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 those 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 the personality of an individual is defined by his brain structure. 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.

An individual’s personality is influenced by many social factors including nuclear families and both close and distant relationships. Family and social background have an immense impact on personality development.

Social determinants of personality

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. In addition to parents, even siblings play an important role in shaping an individual’s 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 determinants of personality

Culture is one of the most important factors in shaping the personality of an individual. It decides what the person 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 plays an essential role in shaping one’s personality, it is necessary to note that a direct relationship between personality and culture cannot 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 to shape an individual’s personality by influencing his features and attributes. 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 determinants of personality

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. An officer’s behavior may vary when interacting with subordinates compared to his family. A single factor does not determine personality, but a combination of different factors influences it. 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 determinants of personality

The physical environment including surroundings in which a person lives, works, and interacts plays a major role in shaping an individual’s personality, behavior, attitudes, and overall outlook on life. 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. These differences in their personalities are due to the environments in which they are raised.

Nature of Personality

Personality is a complex and fascinating aspect of human beings that influences our thoughts, emotions, and behaviours. Understanding the nature of personality is important in various fields, including psychology, sociology and organisational behaviour

The nature of Personality is as follows:

Nature of Personality

The nature of Personality is explained as follows:

  1. Unique
  2. Reflects Individual Differences
  3. Result of both Heredity and Environment
  4. Learned or Acquired
  5. Integration of Various Traits
  6. Dynamic Process
  7. Psychophysical Systems
  8. Social

1) Unique

Personality is a unique combination of traits that differentiates one individual from another. How individuals express their emotions, communicate, and interact with others becomes a defining feature of their personality.

2) Reflects Individual Differences

Individuals possess a set of unique characteristics that make them distinct. 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

Heredity is an undeniable factor in determining sex differences. 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, ways of thinking, temperaments, tendencies and characters are affected. All these aspects collectively determine the personalities of men and women. An individual’s personality undergoes changes based on factors like their school status, occupation, and social situation.

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4) Learned or Acquired

Our family members serve as teachers of personality through their presence. People can acquire it through their involvement in social situations where communication and observation take place.

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 incorporates aspects of both the physical and the mental, not just one aspect alone. 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. A well-integrated and balanced personality can have a positive impact on the surrounding 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.

Meaning of Personality

The term “personality” originates from the Latin word ‘persona,’ which signifies ‘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 perceive themselves. It includes their pattern of internal and external measurable characteristics and the interaction between people and situations. 

People typically conceptualize personality based on an individual’s external appearance, which, in turn, affects how others perceive them. An integrated personality system encompasses inherited and learned aspects of a person. These two aspects rely on each other and cannot undergo separation. 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”.

As per 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”.

Types of Personality

Various types of personalities are as follows: 

1) Sensing Managers (SM)

Sensing managers use their senses to analyze and absorb all the applicable details of the issue. They prefer to use standardised methods for solving any problem. 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 problem as a whole and devise several possible solutions. They are creative, proactive, innovative, and love challenges.

3) Feeling Managers (FM)

Feeling managers strongly believe in giving priority to human beings in case handling organisational problems. They are people who emphasize procedures. They always try to ensure harmony and satisfaction among team members while avoiding conflicts.

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. Their motivation level is high, and they exhibit great innovation. 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. Sensation feelers possess a strong sense of intuition that refrains from passing judgment on others and places their trust in their coworkers. 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 an impartial and formal approach. Sensation thinkers are diligent and very loyal. They are the ones who improve the efficiency of the organisation to a considerable degree.

8) Intuitive Feelers (NF)

​Intuitive feelers are the personnel with magical attraction and show strong interest and commitment 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

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

People are assumed to be of two types: ‘Internals’ and ‘Externals’. Internals believe that their destiny controls much of what happens to them. Externals believe that much of what happens to them is controlled by outward forces.

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 management) or are due to reasons beyond the son’s control (external locus of control).

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

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

People with machiavellian solid personalities are more influenced and successful but less influenced by others. They are more logical, rational, and Pragmatic. They are more skilled in coalition building and influencing. The opposite effect is faced by people having weak Machiavellian characters. Nevertheless, situational factors control high-match results.

A person high in Machiavellian orientation approaches situations thoughtfully and logically and can even lie to achieve his 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 the direction others impose in loosely structured situations and works hard to do well in highly structured cases.

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People vary in the extent to which they like or dislike themselves, a characteristic called self-esteem. Those with high self-esteem are more inclined to take risks in job selection and are more likely to opt for unconventional roles than those with low self-esteem.

People often experience pride, both in their competence and in themselves. This emotional aspect is known as self-esteem. Individuals with high self-esteem believe in their competence and perceive themselves as capable enough to handle various situations. Conversely, those with low self-esteem harbor constant doubts about their abilities and knowledge, remaining uncertain about their true potential and fearing failure.

Concerning the Big Five personality factors, self-esteem is likely a component of the emotional stability factor.

Self-esteem typically hinges on several factors, including:

  1. The extent to which individuals feel they receive love, acceptance, support, and encouragement from others.
  2. The specific characteristics and skills possessed by the individual.
  3. The degree to which the person accepts various aspects of themselves, especially compared to others.


Self-monitoring refers to the degree to which people control how they display themselves in front of other people. These people manage 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 in customizing 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. They are also good at managing other people’s impressions of them. In contrast, low self-monitors are not particularly sensitive to cues indicating acceptable behaviour, nor are they overly concerned about behaving situationally appropriately. 

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 a given situation. Thus, high self-monitors may perform exceptionally 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 tendency for risk make decisions quickly and are willing to accept new 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 impact how long it takes managers to decide and how much information they need before making their decision. High-risk taking managers make more quick decisions and use less data in making their choices than low-risk-taking managers.

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

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Proactive Personality traits

A proactive personality is an individual’s tendency to intentionally and directly affect environmental change. An aggressive character describes people who identify opportunities, show initiative, take action, and persevere until meaningful change occurs. Not surprisingly, research has shown that being proactive has many desirable organizational behaviors. 

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

A person with a proactive personality is relatively unconstrained by situational forces and affects environmental change. In other words, an individual with a highly aggressive personality aggressively acts to change their environment or 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.

People with hard-driving, impatient, aggressive, and super-competitive traits are classified as having a Type A personality. On the other hand, those who are easy-going, sociable, laid-back, and non-competitive are categorized as having a Type B personality.

Type A Personality traits

People with Type A personalities are in a lot of hurry and eagerness. Such people prioritize money and finances to such an extent that they believe that even their relationships must depend on cash. People with Type A personalities give more importance to their work than their relationships.

They are workaholics and 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 people with type A personality are winners. Since they give their best to every project, even if they are ignorant of the concept, they 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. They are Hard-driving, impatient, aggressive, and super competitive.

Type B Personality traits

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

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

Type B personalities are kind, thoughtful, and friendly and have the talent for building strong relations and balancing 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.

The negative side of them is that they are impatient, not good team players, more irritable, and have poor judgment. Type B people do better on complex tasks involving judgment accuracy rather than speed and teamwork.

Need Patterns

Several people have an immense desire to distinguish themselves by performing difficult jobs and meeting their standards of perfection. They willingly take responsibility for challenging situations and value receiving authentic feedback on their efforts.


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 to authority. 

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

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

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

Introversion and Extroversion 

Introversion and Extroversion pertain to whether the focus of attention is directed outward or inward. They are typically linked to an individual’s sociability and interpersonal orientation. These two major types of personality are discussed as follows:


Introversion involves attention to the subjective inner world of thoughts, feelings, and ideas. Introverts appreciate quiet reflection, can concentrate on a single idea for extended periods compared to extroverts, and tend to be less active and resistant to change. Characteristics associated with individuals who lean towards introversion include:

  • Being drawn to their inner world
  • Preferring communication in writing
  • Working out ideas through reflection
  • Learning best through reflection and mental “practice.”
  • Focusing intensely on their interests
  • Maintaining a private and contained demeanour

Research scientists, academicians, and librarians often exhibit introverted tendencies.

Introverts are concerned with their thoughts and feelings. They are more reserved than extroverts and prefer to enjoy solitude over social interactions. As such, they are happy in their own company and value their alone time.

Introverts do socialise, but it will be with a few close friends rather than with large groups of people. They may experience a greater sense of loneliness in a crowd than when they are alone. 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, sculptor, writer, inventor, and composer are all highly introverted. 

An introverted person is likely to enjoy time spent alone and find less satisfaction from socializing in large groups, although they do appreciate interactions with close friends. They prefer to concentrate on a single task at a time and prefer to observe situations before actively engaging in them.


Extroversion involves attention that flows outward to the world of objects, people, or external ideas. Individuals with extroverted preferences tend to interact more with people. Characteristics associated with those who prefer Extraversion include:

  • Being attuned to the external environment
  • Preferring communication through talking
  • Working out thoughts by talking them through
  • Having broad interests
  • Being friendly and expressive
  • Readily taking the initiative in work and relationships

Extroverts are typically active and friendly, enjoy variety and stimulation, and excel in public speaking, sales, or public relations roles.

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. An extrovert values possessions and success.

Extroverted people enjoy human interactions and are enthusiastic, talkative, assertive, and gregarious. They enjoy large social gatherings, such as community activities, parties, public demonstrations, and business or political groups. 

Acting, teaching, directing, managing, and brokering favour extroversion. An extrovert enjoys time spent with people and finds less reward in time spent alone. They want risk-taking and often show leadership abilities.

Bureaucratic Personality traits

Merton states, “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 brutal manner that the employee becomes powerless. 

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

Big Personality Traits

Five significant Big Personality Traits greatly impact an individual’s life. They are as follows:

a) Extroversion

Extroverts have a lively, friendly, and gregarious nature, they actively seek out social interactions with others. These individuals will likely succeed in roles such as marketing or public relations, where face-to-face interaction is critical. Introverts, on the other hand, are introspective, quiet, reflective, and intellectual. They prefer interacting with a small, intimate circle of friends. They are likelier to excel in roles involving highly abstract ideas, such as accountancy or R&D work, in a relatively quiet atmosphere.

b) Agreeableness

This trait refers to how individuals agree and cooperate with others. Highly agreeable people are cooperative, warm, and trusting, while those scoring low on agreeableness tend to be cold, disagreeable, and antagonistic. This characteristic is crucial for achieving success in various aspects of life.

c) Conscientiousness

Conscientiousness refers to the extent to which people are responsible and dependable in their work and life. Highly conscientious individuals are reliable, organized, trustworthy, and persistent. They are likely to progress quickly and achieve remarkable success in their lives. Those who score low on this trait may be easily distracted, disorganized, and unreliable.

d) Emotional Stability

Emotional stability relates to the extent to which individuals can withstand stress. Those with positive emotional stability tend to be calm, self-confident, and secure, while individuals with low emotional stability may exhibit nervousness, anxiety, depression, and insecurity.

e) Openness to Experience

This trait refers to the extent to which people are imaginative, artistically sensitive, and inclined towards intellectual pursuits. Individuals may vary widely, ranging from conservative to creative or artistic. Extremely open individuals are creative and artistically sensitive, while those less available may be very conservative and find comfort in familiar or routine activities.


What are the major determinants of personality?

There are five major determinants of personality in ob which include Biological, Social, Cultural, Situational and Environment determinants.

What is personality and the determinants of personality?

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