Personality- Meaning, Definitions, Principles and Characteristics




Personality is a concept that we use continuously in our day-to-day routine, when dealing with people. We talk about people as having a good personality or bad personality or arrogant and aggressive personality. Sometimes we refer to disagreements among people as being due to personality conflicts. A person’s personality plays an important role in determining his success and also that of the organization he is associated with. An employee’s personality together with his attitude determines his behaviour and job performance in an organization.

Though the term personality is frequently used by people, there does not seem to be any consensus about its meaning. It may mean different things to different people. To some, it means a general sum of traits or characteristics of the person; to others, it refers to a unique mode of response to life situations. Thus, there prevails a great deal of controversy over the meaning of personality.

The term personality has been derived from Latin word ‘persona’ which means ‘to speak through’. This Latin term denotes the masks which the actors used to wear in ancient Greece and ‘Rome, Thus, personality is used in terms of influencing others through external appearance. However, mere external appearance, though important for personality characteristics, does not make the whole personality. According to Ruch, personality should include:
(i) external appearance and behaviour or social stimulus value;
(ii) inner awareness of self as a permanent organising force; and
(iii) the particular pattern or organisation of measurable traits, both inner and outer.


According to Hilgard, Atkinson and Atkinson
Personality may be understood as the characteristic patterns of behaviour and modes of thinking that determine a person’s adjustment to the environment.

According to Floyd L. Ruch
Personality can be described as how person affects others, how he understands and views himself, and his pattern of inner and outer measurable traits.

According to Gorden W. Allport
Personality is the dynamic organization within an individual of those psychological systems that determine his unique adjustments to his environment.

According to S.R. Maddi
Personality is set of characteristics and tendencies that determine those commonalities and differencecs in the behaviour (thougths, feelings and actions) of people that have continuity in time and that may not be easily understood as the sole result of the social and biological pressures of the moment.


1. Personality appears to be organized in patterns which are observable and measurable to some degree.
2. Although personality has a biological basis, its specific development is also a product of
Social and cultural environments.
3. Personality has superficial aspects (such as attitudes towards being a team leader ) and a deeper core (such as sentiments about authority or the Protestant work ethic).
4. Personality involves both common and unique characteristic. Every person is different from every other person in some respects, while being similar to other persons in other respects.


1. Personality represents certain unique and distinctive traits of the person.
2. Personality consists of organisation of feelings, thoughts, cognitions, and visible behaviour—all of which are very dynamic in nature.
3. Personality is often seen as the habit of the person and it translates into action and behavior in organizations in response to situations. To other people and to the policies and procedures.
4. Personality has a biological base but is shaped by environment. Biologically all people are alike. They have the same sensory and motor systems, respiratory systems, blood circulation, and the like. Yet each one of them is different from the other. This is so because personality is shaped by social institutions like family, academic institutions, peer group, social and cultural forces, and other environmental factors. People develop attitudes and values consistent with the expectation of the environment in which they are born and brought up. Hence, the Exposure to such environment does shape the personality of an individual.
5. One of the visible components of personality is behaviour, and all behaviour has a reason for it. An individual does nothing without a cause. Hence, most of the time the focus of personality studies has been to discover the reason(s) for a particular behaviour so that prediction and control of behaviour can become easy and manageable.
6. Individuals are different not only amongst themselves but also within themselves. Person A is different from person B and at the same time person A is different in different time periods, situations, and roles that he/she has to enact.