What Is Personality?
How you perceive and react to your environment on a day-to-day basis can be measured by your behavior, thoughts, and emotions. You're an “individual” because a unique combination of these characteristics provides the basic foundation of who you are and makes up the personality that your friends and family have come to like (and dislike!).
Personality is something that arises from within and remains quite consistent throughout life, but the environment and the situation play an important role in determining how different aspects of your personality are expressed. There are four fundamental characteristics of personality. First, it is constant and people tend to behave in the same way when they encounter similar situations. Second, personality not only influences actions, but it also actually causes people to behave in specific ways. Third, personality is influenced by both psychological and biological factors. Finally, personality is expressed not only in behaviors, but through emotions, thoughts, social behavior, and close relationships.
Types of Behavior
Behavior is how you react to social and physical aspects of your environment based on your personality. Where one person may never show emotions of anger, joy, grief, or anxiety, another person's responses may be dramatically colored with facial expressions, voice inflections, and hand gestures. Behavior is examined in two ways: internally controlled and externally controlled. Internal theorists believe the individual characteristics of a person dictate the behavioral pattern, while external advocates hold that the behavior is a result of the situation at hand.
Public and Private Personalities
How the world perceives you is a direct reflection of and reaction to how you present yourself to them. Race, age, and gender are qualities you have no control over, but certainly contribute to your personality because of how the world perceives you based on these features. A person who continuously experiences racial discrimination may guard himself against it by at first seeming cold and unfriendly. But once he opens up, you may discover someone completely different inside.
Physical attributes, which you develop over time, also contribute to your personality, and include mannerisms (soft speakers are dubbed “shy” whereas loud speakers are labeled “obnoxious”), gait (purposeful, long strides, bouncy sauntering, etc.), eye contact, and facial expressions. How you want the world to perceive you influences how you present yourself to others. Characteristics such as attitude (friendly, outgoing, standoffish, introverted, etc.), response (polite, thoughtful, rude, arrogant, etc.), and general mindset (are you usually upbeat or moody?) create the surface of your one-of-a-kind personality.
If you're like many people, the aspects of your personality you choose to display might depend the people you encounter. For instance, the personality you exhibit around your boss or psychology professor is probably a lot different from the personality you reveal to your closest friends.
Dig a little deeper, and the private aspect of your being appears: dreams too bizarre to discuss; experiences too sentimental to reveal; fantasies that may seem childish to others; goals, standards, and morals you aspire to; daily internal dialogue, thoughts, and ideas — all of these elements make up the “you” that only you truly know. And only you can decide when to share these parts of your personality with others. For example, you might be outgoing, courageous, intelligent, and have a lovely voice, but when you step up to the podium to deliver a speech in front of twenty people, you suddenly become anxious, fearful, and at a loss for words.