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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 a bad
personality or arrogant and aggressive personality.

According to Salvatore Maddi,

“Personality is a stable set of characteristics and tendencies that determine

those commonalties and differences in the psychological behavior (thought, feeling
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.”

If a person’s entire personality could change suddenly, then we would not be

able to predict his personality traits. Ex. If a person is sometimes warm and friendly
and at other times he is cold and hostile, then we cannot conclude that his personality
is warm and friendly.

Another aspect is the “commonalties and differences” in the behavior of

people. We are interested in understanding as to what an individual has in common
with others as well as what sets that individual apart from others.

Every person is in certain aspects,

• Like all other people

• Like some other people

• Like no other person

Organizationally, manager must understand that all subordinates are not alike and
that each subordinates is unique and may or may not respond to the same stimuli, such
as pay raise or reprimands.

We are interested in such aspects of personality that induce people to behave in a

manner as required by social pressures or biological pressures.

Ex. If your boss wants you to a job in a certain way, you will do it even if you
disagree with your boss. This is the social pressure. Similarly, you stop work and go
for your lunch if you are hungry. This is biological pressure.

A person exhibiting Type A behavior is generally restless, impatient with a

desire for quick achievement and perfectionism. Type B is much more easy going,
relaxed about time pressure, less competitive and more philosophical in nature.

Some of the characteristics of Type A personality are:

• Is restless, so that he always moves, walks and eats rapidly.

• Is impatient with the pace of thing, dislikes waiting and is impatient with those
who are not impatient.

• Does several things at once.

• Usually does not complete one thing before starting on another.

• Uses nervous gestures such as clenched fists and banging on tables.

• Does not have time to relax and enjoy life.

Type B behavior is just opposite and is more relaxed, sociable and has a balanced
outlook in life.

Type A behavior profile tends to be obsessive and, managers with such behavior are
hard-driving, detailed oriented people with high performance standards.

Type B persons on the other hand do put in extra effort in order to meet a deadline but
do not feel pressurized.


There are four major theories of personality, they are:

• Trait theory:
It is to understand individuals; we must breakdown,
behavior patterns into a series of observable traits. There are more thousands
of traits. Recently, researchers have argued, that all traits can be reduced to
five basic factors – “Big Five” traits.

The “Big Five” personality traits:

 Extraversion:
The person is gregarious (need for company), assertive (forcing), and
sociable. As opposed to reserved, timid (not bold) and quiet.
 Agreeableness:
The person is cooperative, warm and agreeable. As opposed to cold,
disagreeable and antagonistic (enmity).

 Conscientiousness (awareness):
The person is hardworking, organized and dependable. As opposed to
lazy, disorganized and unreliable.

 Emotional stability:
The person is calm, self-confident and cool. As opposed to insecure,
anxious (desirous) and depressed.

 Openness to experience:
The person is creative, curious (eager) and cultured. As opposed to
practical with narrow interests.

• Psychodynamic theory;
It emphasizes the
unconscious (unaware) determinants (decisions) of behavior. Sigmund Freud, saw
personality as the interaction among these elements of personality: id, ego and
super-ego. ID is the source of drives and impulses (sudden thought or force) that
operate in an uncensored manner. The super-ego, similar to what we know as
conscience (moral feeling), contains values and the “should’s and should not’s” of
the personality. The ego serves to manage the conflict between the id and super-

• Humanistic theory:
It focuses on individual
growth and improvement. It is people centered and emphasizes the individual’s
view of the world. This approach contributes an understanding of the self to
personality theory.

• Integrity approach:
The broad theory that
describes personality as a composite of an individual’s psychological processes.
Personality dispositions include emotions, cognitions, attitudes, expectancies, and
fantasies. This approach focuses on both person and situational variables as
combined predictors of behavior.


Introvert persons are basically shy, prefer to be alone and have difficulty in
communicating. Extroverts are outgoing, objective, aggressive and relate well with
people. According to L.W.Morris, the introvert is behaviorally described as “quiet,
introspective, intellectual, well-ordered, and emotionally unexpressive and value
oriented, prefers small groups of intimate friends and plans well and ahead”. Extrovert
is best described as, “sociable, lively, impulsive, seeking novelty and change, carefree
and emotionally expressive”.

From organizational point of view, it can be assumed that most managers

would be extroverts since a manager’s role involves working and through other
people. On the other hand, an extreme introvert works best when alone in a quite
office without external interruptions or influences.


Some of the important characteristics which influences on individual behavior

in organizations are:

• Locus of control:

An individual’s generalized belief about internal (self) v/s external (control by

the situation or others) control is called locus of control. People who believe they
control what happens to them are said to have internal locus of control, whereas
people who believe that circumstances or other people control their fate have an
external locus of control. Internals and externals have similar positive reactions to
being promoted, which includes high job satisfaction, job involvement, and
organizational commitment. The internals continue to be happy long after the
promotion, whereas externals joy is short lived because externals do not believe their
own performances led to promotion.

• Self efficacy:
An individual’s general belief that he or she is capable of meeting job
demands in a wide variety of situations. Employees with high self-efficacy have more
confidence in their job-related abilities, whereas people with low self-efficacy often
feel ineffective at work and may express doubts about performing a new task well.

• Self esteem:

Self esteem is an individual’s general feeling of self-worth. Individuals with

high self esteem have positive feelings about themselves; perceive themselves to have
strengths as well as weakness, and believe their strengths are more important than
their weaknesses. People who have low self esteem view themselves negatively. They
are more strongly affected by what other people think of them. These people
compliment individuals who give them positive feedback while cutting down who
give negative feedback.

• Self monitoring:

The extent to which people base their behavior on cues from other people and
situations. High self-monitors pay attention to what is appropriate to the situations and
behavior of other people, and they behave accordingly. Low self-monitors are not
vigilant to situational cues and act from internal states rather than paying attention to
the situation.

• Positive/negative affect:

An individual’s tendency to accentuate the positive aspects of himself of

herself, other people and the whole world in general are said to have positive affect.
Positive affect is linked with job satisfaction. Positive individual affect produces
positive team affect, and this leads to more cooperation and less conflict within the
team. Negative affect individual’s has the tendency to accentuate the negative in
themselves, others and the world. Individuals with negative affect report more work

• Machiavellianism:

Machiavelli, the author who identified personality profiles of noble men of the
day. This personality believes in manipulating others for purely personal gains and
keeping control of others. People with machiavellianism have high self-confidence
and high self-esteem. They are skilled in influencing others and they approach the
situations thoughtfully and logically.

• Authoritarianism:

It refers to blind acceptance of authority. Authoritarian people believe in

obedience and respect for authority. They adhere to conventional values, are generally
conservative, endorse strong parental control in keeping the family close and together.
They are concerned with toughness and power, they are closed minded and generally
less educated.

A closely related term to authoritarianism is “dogmatism” which means the

rigidity of a person’s beliefs. Dogmatic person is close minded, and believes in blind
obedience to authority.


There are two broad categories of factors that influence the formation and
development of personality. These are heredity factors and environmental factors. It is
debatable as to which of these factors have a greater influence on the structure of

The probable consensus is that heredity and environment jointly affect

personality development. The full potential of a person may or may not be achieved
due to environmental constraints and requirement, but the potential for development,
both physically and psychologically is determined by the complex set of genes.

The factors affecting personality development are:



Environment Personality



• Heredity:
The notion of heredity characteristics as contributing towards
personality structure is deeply grained in our minds. Sayings such as like “father,
like son”, when referring to characteristics has some validity.
Even two real brothers may have different personality
traits. These traits are those of physique, eye color, hair color, attractiveness,
height and nervous systems. Out personality is formed on the basis of how others
react to our appearances and intellect.
Another aspect of the influence of
heredity factors on personality as proposed by Maier, is the impact of a person’s
endocrine glands. For ex: an under-active thyroid gland results in a person
becoming generally tired, sluggish and unable to concentrate. If it over functions,
then one becomes restless, irritable and prone to excessive worry. These
characteristics affect the behavior of a person who is in a state of biological
disequilibrium such as being hungry or fatigued, and thus is more prone to
irritation and lack of concentration.

• Environment:
Some of the factors constituting the environment are:
1. Culture:
One of the environmental influences on
personality is that of culture within which a person has been brought up.
Individuals born into a particular culture are exposed to existing values, beliefs
and norms of that culture concerning an acceptable form of behavior. Such
cultures would also define the processes by which these behaviors are reinforced.

Ex: a spirit of independence and aggressiveness and

competition is rewarded by American cultural environment, while Japanese
culture reinforces attitudes of cooperation and team spirit.
It is a unique system of
perceptions, beliefs, norms, values, and patterns of behavior and a code of conduct
that influences the behavior of individuals in a given society.
There are a
extreme differences among individual behaviors within this culture and these
differences are based upon socio-economic classes, ages, education, professions
and geographic regions. Similarly, blue collar workers are not influenced by the
same culture as managers, and skilled workers have different behavior patterns
than unskilled workers. Hence, management must recognize these differences
when dealing with people in the organizational context.

2. Family:
Family plays an especially important part in the
early personality development. The nature of such influences depends upon the
socioeconomic level of the family, family size, birth order, race, religion, parent’s
educational level, geographic location and so on. For ex: a person brought up in a
poor family has different experiences and attitudes towards life than persons
coming from rich or stable families. Similarly, being an only child exposes him to
different type of environment than being raised with seven brothers and sisters.

3. Social:
Social influences relate to person’s interaction with
other people throughout his/her life, starting with playmates during childhood.
While the interaction with environment in the earlier years has a more lasting
influence on patterns of behavior and personality, the social contacts and group
belonging in later years continue to have considerable impact on the person’s life.
In addition to family
members, factors as friends, peers at work, associates, groups to which an
individual belongs, all influences a person’s behavior. Much of the behavior is an
outcome of respect for norms and laws of the society in which the individual
exists. Norms are unwritten rules and informal expectations about people behave
in certain social situations.

4. Situation:
It is often said that “Life is nothing but a
collection of experiences.” Each individual’s life is unique in terms of events and
experiences that he goes through. These events and experiences can serve as
important determinants of personality. Some traumatic experiences can sometimes
change the structure of the entire personality.
Sometimes, certain incidents reveal the
personality of a person that was so far hidden. Ex: a shy and timid person may
spontaneously perform heroic actions in saving other people’s lives without regard
to his own safety. Similarly, some of the most religious and law abiding citizens
have indulged in unethical or illegal behavior due to situational pressures and
constraints. The role of psychiatrists in personality shaping and changing is well