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Introduction To Personality Psychology: What is Personality Psychology?

Personality psychology is quickly become one of my favourite areas of psychology because it’s amazing. I cannot recommend this amazing area of psychology enough! So in today’s episode we’re going to be learning what is personality psychology? Enjoy!

This psychology podcast episode has been sponsored by Personality Psychology and Individual Differences. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it.

Extract From The Book:

Introduction To Personality

Whenever people think about personality, they always tend to think they have a particular type of personality. For example, they have a hard working personality or a creative personality. This thinking is right and wrong but mostly wrong. Since we don’t have a particular type of personality as we’re a combination of different personality traits.

We’ll return to the above thinking later on but people differ in their ways of thinking, behaving and feeling and their culturally different too. For example, you and me, we would have different opinions and beliefs around certain topics.

Definitions of Personality:

Since personality is such an abstract concept, defining personality is very complex and difficult. But we’ll try it anyway.

One rather contemporary definition is from Ashton (2013, p 27) who defined personality as the following:

“A set of psychological traits and mechanisms within the individual that refer to differences among individuals in a typical tendency to behave, think, or feel in some conceptually related ways, across a variety of relevant situations, and across some fairly long period of time.”

This idea I quite like because it explains personality in an easy-to-understand way, and it refers to personality as the individual differences. In turn, this makes personality a lot easier to understand.

Although, a definition of what personality is, is only meaningful to the extent that it gives us, directly or indirectly, a comparison with other people. Since this is what modern personality research looks at. How does person A’s and person B’s personalities cause them to be so different?

And this in itself can make personality rather difficult to study and define because the psychological features that differentiate people from one another aren’t always visible when you look at them.

However, people do have a predisposition to show their behaviours, thoughts, feelings and these all refer to all the different aspects of a person. You could regard these different aspects of a person as personality traits.

In addition, in some conceptual way, these aspects are related across a wide range of situations and over a fairly long period of time. Like, we’ll see in the chapter later on stability of personality over time.

Nonetheless, all this talk of aspects, individual differences and definitions, does raise a lot of

questions. For example,

  • Personality raises a lot of questions like, what are the major personality factors?

  • What’s the role of Individual factors in personality?

  • What are the real-world consequences of these differences?

  • What determines personality?

And all of these questions, we will look at by the end of the book.

What Does Personality Psychology Look At?

Interestingly enough, personality psychology doesn’t only look at personality traits. That is a large part of what personality psychology does, but it isn’t everything.

Due to this area of psychology looks at people’s styles of thinking, feeling and behaving as well.

With the overall aim of personality psychology being to understand how and why people differ as well as how to predict similarities and differences between people in different settings.

Using personality psychology, you can investigate a lot of things. For instance, you can do what’s called ideographic research. This is where you research one person in extreme detail. You typically use this research type when you want to study someone’s very unique personality characteristics.

Another approach to research you could do is the nomothetic approach. This is the more typical type of research where you study large groups to find individual differences amongst other variables.

On the whole, all personality psychology research is largely correlational with a few exceptions since you can only say there is a relationship between personality trait A and behaviour B. As well as you can’t get personality from one situation, so you need to test many different situations.

I really hope you enjoyed today’s personality psychology episode.

If you want to learn more, please check out:

Personality Psychology and Individual Differences. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback, large print and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it.

Personality Psychology Reference:

Whiteley, C. (2021) Personality Psychology and Individual Differences, CGD Publishing

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