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What Is Personality Psychology?

Categories: PersonalityPsychology


McShane, S., and Gilnow, M. (2018) defined personality as a long-lasting way of thinking, emotions, and behaviour that makes up a person, and must be considered with the psychological procedure that’s responsible for such act. They urged that a person personality can be evaluated by his word or action through which his intentions are revealed, and this includes his thought and emotion which is deduced by his behaviour. Mullins, J., (2010) also outlined Personality as comprising unvarying characters that explain the reason a person acts in a certain way and named two approaches to study personality- nomothetic and idiographic approach.

The nomothetic approach uses general laws and applies it to several different individuals whereas the idiographic approach plan to know the distinctive side of an individual (Shekhar, A., 2012). Brooks, I., (2009) noted that the nomothetic and idiographic approach is influenced by either the innate characteristics of an individual or by certain environmental experience. He said the nomothetic approach looked at personality as unchangeable because it is hereditary and the environment has no effect on it, while the idiographic approach has a more individualistic approach to it, and personality is shaped by the environment of an individual.

There are also four other approaches to personality through which different personality theories are derived. These include psychoanalytic, humanistic, trait and social-cognitive perspectives (cherry, K., 2019).

Psychoanalytical Approach

Clegg, S., et al (2011) described the psychoanalytic approach as focusing onf the development of personality as a result of ‘fight’ between the intuitive and cognizant mindfulness. They also outlined that the psychoanalytical approach to personality is embodied by unconscious wants and resistance components planned for battling repressed sexual tension and the inescapable dread of death.

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Shekhar, A., (2012) observes that aside from acquired constitution of personality, occasions of early childhood impact its improvement, and there is a contention between the cognizant perspective on the real world and the oblivious material aggravation, and freedom from the impacts of oblivious material is accomplished by bringing the material into awareness. Sigmund Freud pioneers the psychoanalytical approach to personality, and he postulated a theory called Freud theory (Clegg. S., et al, 2011)

Freud theory

Freud portrays the structure of personality in term of 3 develops the id, ego and superego, and he accentuated that the 3 builds are not discrete compartment within the mind, however, mix together (Ewen, R., 2010). The id is the unconscious mind and the id must be controlled, or it will be difficult to postpone gratification. The ego, which permits us to adapt to our reality dependent on the reality rule, it perceives wants and satisfies them, however in manners that guarantee negligible agony and pulverisation (Clegg. S., et al, 2011). The superego is the best and socially delicate of one’s personality as it tries to keep them from submitting fiendish because it isn’t right (Nuckcheddy, A., 2018). In order to maintain balance, the id and superego are coordinated into a smooth working ego and work in agreement and with minimal clash (Feist, J., & Feist, G., 2008). However, Freud theory is without its reprehension, Wright, P., & Macleod, H., (2006) noted that the theory left many of the key concepts not adequately defined thereby subjecting it to different interpretation, and the theory was not scientifically predicated and its main tenets untestable. Myers, D., & DeWall, C., (2010) also faulted the theory based on its assumption that personality development only occurs during childhood rather than a lifelong development.

Humanistic Approach

The humanistic perspective emphasis more on the importance of a person’s conscious, subjective experience of the environment (Pennington, D., 2016). Its view on personality stresses the individualized characteristics of ideal prosperity and the utilization of imaginative potential to profit others, just as the social conditions that advance those characteristics as the results of healthy improvement (Bland, A., & DeRobertis, E., 2019). Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers are two scholars that advocate the humanistic approach to personality. Abraham Maslow order of need to accomplish self-actualisation was the foundation of building up a methodology towards personality (Nuckcheddy, A., 2018). Maslow accepted that inspiration influences the entire individual; it is finished, frequently oblivious, consistent, and relevant to all individuals (Feist, J., & Feist, G., 2008). Carl Roger view on personality originates from the point that individuals are one of a kind and in a general sense great, and environment which they live upgrade this positive mental self-view. The three fundamental parts of this hypothesis are emotions, genuine positive respect and empathy (Clegg. S., et al, 2011).

Social-Cognitive Approach

The social-cognitive perspective tries to clarify how learning, social conduct, and discernment create and shape our personality (Clegg, S., et al). The point of convergence of this hypothesis is that individual activity or response is dictated by what action the individual has seen in other, and the environment (Shekhar, A., 2012). There are different theory under this approach and it includes Alfred Bandura concept of reciprocal determinism and locus control. Alfred Bandura concept states that a person’s personality is influenced by personal factor and the environment while the locus of control infer to the internal locus of control (your fate is in your hand) and the external locus of control (your fate is out of your control).

Trait Approach

The trait perspective creates from the point of view that character is something that can be unmistakably distinguished, operationalized, and estimated. (Clegg, S., et al, 2011). This methodology recommended that individuals’ personality and behaviour are controlled by certain characteristic attributes. The hypotheses under this approach include: Eysenck, Allport and the big five theory. (Brooks, I., 2009)

Eysenck Theory

Mullins, L., (2010) delineated the theory as demonstrating that individuals are brought into the world with acquired contrasting physiological propensities that decided their trait. The theory distinguished 2 elements of the trait (Extraversion and Introversion) which can be stable or unstable dependent on the individual’s emotion to give 4 unmistakable personality  types-Sanguine (stable extraverts), Choleric (unstable extraverts), Phlegmatic (stable introverts) and Melancholic (unstable introverts).

Big Five Factor

The trait theory of personality established that there are five significant and all-inclusive components of personality; Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness (Premuzic, T., 2013).

Factor Description

Individual Differences

Williamson, J., (2018) define Individual differences as psychological qualities that separate one individual from another and in this way help to characterize every individual’s distinction. Among the most significant sorts of individual differences are intelligence, personality traits, and values. Mullins, L., (2010) stated that the manners by which it is conceivable to separate between individuals incorporate comprehension of personality, the core of individual difference and the significance and elements of attitudes.

Employers have developed a selection test known as psychometric testing which aims at knowing the similarity or difference between people, and this test centre on the measurement of intelligence and personality (Williamson, J., 2018).


Sinding, K., & Waldstrom, C., (2014) defines motivation as what move and direct human behaviour in line with achieving some set goals. Dailey, R., (2003) define motivation as an employee’s behaviour to perform a task in an organisation that is evident by the level of effort and degree of persistence shown.

What motivates employee at work can be classified into: extrinsic motivation (reward, promotion, security etc) and intrinsic motivation (ability to use skills, advancement, positive recognition etc) (Mullins, L., 2010)

Maslow Need Hierarchy

Maslow organised needs in 5 basic hierarchy as shown in Figure 1 above, the least of the needs been physiological and the highest been self-actualisation. He said people’s need generally evolve in a known way, once a lower need is satisfied it ceases to be a motivator, then the need moves to the next one on the pyramid, thus becoming the new motivating factor (Sinding, K., & Waldstrom, C., 2014).

Critique: Rutledge, P., (2011) observed that all the needs on Maslow pyramid need social connection to work while Brooks, I., (2009) noted that people are different and give priority to a particular need than other, and higher-level needs can be achieved from activity that is not work-based.

Herzberg’s two factors theory

Herzberg explained that there is a factor in a workplace that give satisfaction and there is another that causes dissatisfaction. He called the factor that causes satisfaction motivator and the one that causes dissatisfaction hygiene (Oanh, H., 2016). The motivators are intrinsic (skills, achievement, reputation etc) and hygiene is extrinsic (salary, reward, work condition), and if the 2 are combined in an acceptable way, it leads to job satisfaction (Dailey, R., 2003)
Critique: Mullins, L., (2016) outlined the limited application of the theory to unskilled workers, who are sometimes not motivated by work content or motivator because the nature of their job is boring, repetitive and monotonous.

McClelland’s achievement motivation theory

This theory is based on 3 needs that people socially developed and acquired as a result of their life experiences. These 3 needs are achievement affiliation and power (Brooks, I., 2009). These needs are what determines people’s motivation and how well they perform in a certain job (NetMBA).

Critique: Robbins, et al (2012) noted that this theory is the least effective and since the 3 needs are subconscious, it is difficult to measure.

Impact of Personality and Individual Differences on Employees Motivation

Bencsik, A., et al (2016) noted that employees differ from one another and there is a need to use a variety of motivation tools. Premuzic, T., et al (2018) states that personality traits such as proactivity, conscientiousness and extroversion are at the core of emotional intelligence and resilience, and these traits give a person an outlook of positivity, optimism and hard work; thus, making the person motivated and engaging at work. Jaeggi, et al (2013) also affirmed that individuals with stable emotion are easily prone to motivation than those who with less stable emotion.

The classification of employees’ personality traits as extroverts or introverts will determine how they response to motivating factors. It is noted that motivating an introvert requires minimal persuasion compares to an extrovert, and if there is a de-motivating factor, an extrovert will be quick to show dissatisfaction (Nuckcheddy, A., 2018).

Employees locus of control also determines the way they view motivation. An interliser (the one that believes his fate is in this hand) is motivated and performs better than an exterliser (the one that believes his fate is out of his hand) if he knows the performance is skill-based and will be rewarded (Dailey, R., 2003).

Impact of Personality and Individual Differences on Organisational Behaviour (Ob)

Robbins, S., et al (2018) noted that personality and individual difference impact on OB through diversity and this increase the organisation access to a large array of skills, abilities and ideas. The dimension of diversity ranges from age, gender, ethnicity to cultural and religious beliefs (Champoux, J., 2010). However, Barrick, M., (2017) stated that with diversity comes conflict, and Robbins S et al, (2018) suggested that organisation should manage this by educating its employee to be sensitive to the needs and difference of others.
Personality and individual difference also impact work performance (Williams, M., & Gardiner, 2017). Extroverted persons will do better at a job that allows them to interact with others while introverted persons will excel in a job that requires minimal interaction with others (Singh, C., & Kumar, P., 2017)

Personality is also use as factor in considering new hires by organisation who evaluate job seekers based on personality traits using psychometric test to determine their suitability for the job (Robbins, S., et al, 2018). However, psychometric testing has its criticism because it restricts intelligence to what is evaluated and rank the score higher than the mental process behind the performance in the test (Elusberg, H., & Skwerer, D., 2009).

Factors Contributing to Organisational Dynamics

This includes: Individual, group, organisation and environment (Mullins, L., 2010).


Mullins, L., (2010) describes individuals as members that make up an organisation, who act alone or in the group in tandem with what the organisation want or the influence of the environment on their actions. He also noted that when individual need and organisation goals are not aligning it create a problem that requires management to solve, and it is incumbent on management to create an environment that allows individual needs to be met as well as organisation attaining its goals.


Schein (1998) in Brooks, I., (2003, p.115) defines a group as “number of people who interact with one another and physiological aware of one another and know themselves to be in a group.” Robbin, S., et al (2018) stated that group shapes members behaviour and give insight into individual behaviour. Sinding, K., & Waldstrom, C., (2014) describes the functions of the group in an organisation as doing interdependent tasks that individual cannot do, formulating and innovating new ideas, coordinating the interdepartmental effort, social networking and training of newcomers.


Mcshane, S., & Glinow, M., (2018) define an organisation as a group of people working together as a group towards a common goal. The organisation is structured in a way that makes for the division of task in a coordinated manner (Robbins, S., et al, 2018).
Mullins, L., (2010) outlines that the structure, technology and the leadership style shapes the behaviour within such an organisation.


Wandling, A., (2018), define the environment as external factors which organisation must interact with including threats and pressure, operational functions and opportunities that enhance the organisation performance. Mullin, L., (2010) noted that, the environment affects organisation politics, technology, social and globalisation.

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What Is Personality Psychology?. (2020, Sep 04). Retrieved from

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