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Personality may be described as the core essence of a person that makes him or her an individual. Psychologists have developed theories that are used to categorize groups of people according to similar personality types, behaviors, and traits. There have been numerous personality theorists over the years and each theory may focus on a different aspect of personality. There are differences between personality types and traits and various theories address these differently. When considering different personality theorists, one stands out from the rest as being most influential, Carl Jung. Carl Jung worked with Katherine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers.  Understanding personality types can help individual’s understand more about their relationships, greater self-awareness, and help determine the best career strategy.

General Personality

Personality is the individual characteristics that comprise the unique behavior, attitude, and emotional uniqueness in a person. There have been a variety of theories proposed that explain the beginnings of personality and these include psychological, sociological, and biological factors. Psychologists believe that personality type plays an important role in the decisions a person makes throughout his or her life. Types also describe personality and these are used to categorize people, as well as their behaviors, into various groups.

Personality Theorists

The field of studying personality theories as related to psychology is personology. These are psychologists that specialize in the study of personality, traits, and behavior. Over the years, there have been several psychologists who have developed theories and played an important role in personology. Some of these include Carl Jung, Sigmund Freud, Albert Bandura, Carl Rogers, Viktor Frankl, Hans Eysenck, and Otto Rank.

Sigmund Freud

Psychologist Sigmund Freud is best known for his theory regarding the development and role of the conscious and subconscious mind. He theorized that the conscious mind held memories that were easily recalled as well as the active part of the mind that focused on emotions and feelings, fantasy or daydreaming, and perception. He believed that though the conscious mind had an active role in personology, it was the subconscious mind that was at greater play. The subconscious mind is where Freud believes memories of trauma, that could not easily be recalled, were stored. He referred to the subconscious mind as “Id,” the preconscious mind as “Superego,” and the conscious mind as “Ego.” 

Carl Jung

A student of Freud’s, Carl Jung’s personality theory is similar to his teacher’s but has some variation. Jung theorized that the human psyche had three parts: Ego, Personal Unconscious, and Collective Unconscious. Like Freud, Jung believed that the conscious mind was “Ego,” but had different views on the two remaining aspects of the unconscious mind. Personal Unconscious is described as the part of the unconscious mind that can easily be brought to light, such as memories. The realm of “Collective Unconscious” is where Jung believed the seat of psychic inheritance is found.

Albert Bandura

Albert Bandura theorized that behavior and environment were interchangeable when it came to effects on personality. Just as someone’s environment may affect behavior, he theorized that behavior could just as well affect someone’s environment. He referred to his theory as “Reciprocal Determinism.” He explained that observational learning or modeling, results by people imitating what they see. The theory is referred to as “Social Learning.”

Carl Rogers

Carl Rogers’ personality theory essentially believes that all humans are good at their core and have an innate ability to strive to do well and be the best. This varies from Freud’s teachings that the unconscious is a place of evil, wicked, and perverse desires. Rogers theorized that just as man, woman, and child has an instinct for survival, they also have an instinct to better themselves and reach their full potential. He taught that those who became criminals deal with mental health issues as a diversion from their true nature.

Viktor Frankl

A Holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl’s experience in a Nazi death camp helped shaped his personality therapy. He theorized that those who had a reason to live were most likely to survive and withstand the horrors they faced. Frankl’s theory connected will with meaning and from his theory, he developed Logotherapy. Logotherapy is based upon the premise that the will to survive is interconnected to finding meaning in life.

  • Viktor Frankl:  The University of Georgia explores Viktor Frankl’s personality theory as described in Man’s Search for Meaning. 
  • Viktor Frankl Personality Theories:  Shippensburg University discusses the life of Viktor Frankl and his personality theory. 

Hans Eysenck

Hans Eysenck’s personality theory is based upon temperaments. He also studied the physiological and biological aspects of personality with studies regarding the role genetics played on personality and intelligence. Eysenck was viewed as controversial for some of his work regarding genetics and intelligence. He developed the theory of two personality components: Extraversion and Neuroticism combine in various forms to make the four temperaments.

Erik Erikson

Erik Erikson built his theory upon Sigmund Freud’s personality theory based upon id, superego, and ego. He is known for working on what is referred to as the epigenetic principle. He associated personality development with a series of eight stages that must be developed. Erikson believed if a lesson were missed during one of the eight stages, it would negatively affect the remaining stages of development.

Otto Rank

Otto Rank was a close associate of Freud’s and he accepted his personality theory. Rank studied different cultural myths that glorified a hero and found common similarities. He then used these similarities to develop his theory that the same principles are found in human personality. Otto Rank developed the theory there were three types of personalities: productive, neurotic, and adapted.

Erich Fromm

Erich Fromm believed that personality derives from both biology and environment, but that the greatest factor is freedom. He theorized that many people are afraid of freedom and use three ways to resist it. Fromm’s three ways to run from freedom include authoritarianism, destructiveness, and automaton conformity. He believed that freedom is the true nature of humanity and when man battles against his own autonomy, man becomes alienated.

Jean Piaget

Jean Piaget developed the Epistemology theory that attempts to define the process of gaining knowledge. He developed a theory of stages based upon his studies with infants and children. The various stages in chronological order include Sensorimotor, Preoperational, Concrete Operational, and Formal Operational. He focused on assimilation, accommodation, adaptation, and equilibrium.

Personality Tests

Personality tests are used to determine a person’s characteristics or traits based upon a set of predetermined criteria. Personality tests vary according to the theory they are based upon. They were first used in the 20th century and have become a popular tool used for diagnostic purposes. Career counselors, psychologists, and employers use them.

Career Personality

Career personality tests are often used by individuals seeking assistance in determining the best career for their needs. These tests are designed to match certain personality types with career vocations. Employers may use these tests to find employees best suited for the job. Sometimes these tests focus solely on temperaments and checks to see how a person handles stress and pressure.

  • Career Quiz:  The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising provides a free career test based upon personality type. 
  • Career Cluster Interest Quiz:  The Madison Area Technical College provides these resources for determining a vocation according to personality. 
  • Career Inventory: Maircopa Community Colleges provides an R.I.A.S.E.C. career quiz. 
  • Career Myths:  Ocean County College provides a career quiz that helps examine various career myths. 
  • What Career are You:  Davenport University provides this quiz that helps students determine their careers. 
  • Career Interest Game:  The University of Missouri provides this test that helps students determine the best career according to their personality type. 
  • CIA Personality Quiz:  The CIA provides this personality test that identifies strengths and weaknesses. 
  • Career Survey:  The U.S. Department of State provides this test to see if your personality is a match for a position with the Foreign Service.
  •  Career Finder:  The National Institutes of Health Office of Science Education provides this test that helps determine jobs best suited by personality. 
  • Process Technology Career Quiz:  Kilgore College provides this career quiz for determining if a career in technology is right for you.