Personality is the characteristics that a person has that uniquely identify that person. These characteristics influence the cognitions, motivations, and behaviors of that person in certain situations. There are several theories on personalities and many assessments that are used to asses personality. These theories are derived based on the philosophical standpoint that the theorists have. There are five categories that these theorists debate over.
Freedom vs. Determinism: This is the debate over whether or not we have control over our behavior. Are the actions we take in merely reactions to circumstances and we have no control over that reaction or do we control our behavior and understand the motives behind that behavior.
Heredity vs. Environment: We have already had this discussion. In a nut shell are we born with our personality or do we learn it from the environment in which we live. I believe it is a little of both.
Uniqueness vs. Universality: This is the difference between behaviorists and humanists. Are people unique or do we all have the same similar nature. This is also important to understand when we discipline and how we change our behavior. Personal opinion is that we are unique but have common traits. I have four kids and I definitely see their uniqueness and similarities.
Active vs. Reactive: Do we act through our own initiative or do we just react to stimuli. I believe again in the middle road but lean more toward the active participants. “I think therefore I am.” To me if I can think about thinking and think about things around me and then act this is active participation in my actions.
Optimistic vs. Pessimistic: This is the thought of being able to change our personalities. If you believe that you can change your personality then you are optimistic. If you believe that you can’t then you are pessimistic. I tend to be more pessimistic on this one and it is clearly seen in the personality disorders. One of the difficult things with working with these people is that they do not change. They can learn to cope and medication helps manage but, do they truly change. This is of course extreme but is a good example of personality.
Think of these different categories and your own thoughts on them when creating your characters and how they change.