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Personality - who am I?

The word personality derives from persona, the mask used by the actors of the ancient Greek theater.

Personality includes a set of behavior patterns which translate into an individualized style of thinking, feeling and acting in a consistent way that the individual uses in the construction of the perception of himself, of others and of the world that surrounds him. These are the long-lasting aspects of individual behavior, which distinguish us from other people and which give us predictive indications about their behavior.

Several definitions of personality have emerged over the years, but the one that refers to the concept of "trait" is one of the most famous and renowned:

It sees personality as a pattern of relatively permanent and stable traits and unique characteristics, which give consistency and individuality to a person's behavior. Traits are the elements that contribute to individual differences in behavior, for example: creativity, honesty, curiosity, etc. In each person, the traits are manifested in a particular way - each has a unique personality.

The psychological construction of personality involves:

Genetic load

Developmental history



FIVE FACTORS MODEL (FFM) by Paul Costa & Robert McCrae

  • Neuroticism

  • Extroversion

  • Openness to Experience

  • Agreeableness

  • Conscientiousness

Traits have become a key concept when it comes to personality. They are constructs widely used in everyday life ("he is very sociable", "she is very active", etc.) and they play an important role in various disciplines.

In short, this personality model is a representation of the personality structure, in terms of 5 basic dimensions.

Trait dimensions:

NEUROTICISM: it means emotional instability versus adaptability.

Most psychological diseases are related to this personality characteristic, which has a great hereditary burden. It quantifies the continuum that goes from adaptation (little neuroticism) to emotional instability.

Calm, relaxed, resilient, secure, non-emotional and satisfied with themselves are at one extreme and individuals with a propensity for emotional decompensation, inability to manage emotions, unrealistic ideas, excessive desires and needs and inappropriate coping responses (dealing with problems), at the other. When we say that someone has a high neuroticism it does not mean that the person has a pathology. Instead, it means that is is a characteristic of one's personality.

EXTRAVERSION: assesses the amount and intensity of interpersonal interactions and sociability; activity level; need for stimulation; ability to express joy. It consists of a taste for social relations. It features those who like people. However, low extroversion does not mean introversion.

OPENNESS TO EXPERIENCE: assesses proactive demand and appreciation of the experience for itself; tolerance, the exploration of the unfamiliar and enjoying the experience of new and different experiences. Curiosity, creativity, originality and a taste for the non-traditional. It is the only factor related to intelligence due to creativity and originality.

AGREEABLENESS: assesses the quality of the relationship (different from the extroversion that assesses the quantity), the interpersonal orientation. It is the most human dimension of the five factors, in a continuum from compassion (accepting that it is part of humanity, it is a higher sense than empathy) to the antagonism of thought, feelings and actions. It includes characteristics such as altruism, affection and emotional support in one of the poles and hostility and jealousy in the other. The characteristics of agreeableness are very sensitive and important to relationships.

CONSCIENTIOUSNESS: it is related to the orientation to work, the sense of duty, the degree of organization, persistence and motivation to carry out a given task; it leads people to be organized and to strive for goals. This is an important factor, especially in the area of work and orientation psychology.

In relationships with others, agreeableness and extraversion are fundamental. Neuroticism is related to the relationship with oneself. Openness to experience and conscientiousness are related to the relationship with the task.

From a series of longitudinal studies that allowed them to evaluate the evolution of personality over 50 years in several subjects in the USA, Costa and McCrae concluded that:

- Personality only becomes stable after 30 years;

- People only change through profound psychotherapies: the natural events of life are not enough to change the traits, only certain limit events, medication or other psychotropic drugs.

The Mental Health Clinic Isabel Henriques wishes you an excellent week :)

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