What is Personality?

- what is personality? -


Same But Different

In some ways we are all the same. We all have the same human nature. We share a common humanity. We all have human bodies and human minds, we all have human thoughts and human feelings. Yet in other ways we are all completely different and unique. No two people are truly alike. No two people can ever have the same experience of life, the same perspective, the same mind.

Even identical twins are unique in this respect: twin number 1 will always be twin number 1 and will never know what it is actually like to be twin number 2, to experience life and see the world through number 2’s eyes. (See No Two Alike [1].) Twins

Somewhere between these two — our common humanity and our unique individuality — lies personality.

Personality is about our different ways of being human. How we are all variations on the same themes. How the human nature we all share manifests in different styles of thinking, feeling and acting.

Defining Personality

Personality can be defined in different ways, depending on whether we focus on the individual or on people in general.

If we focus on people in general, then we can define personality in terms of individual differences — that is, the range of different styles of thinking, feeling and acting. Just as human beings can differ a great deal in terms of their physical traits (height, weight, hair, and so on), they also differ in terms of mental and behavioural traits. For example, some people are noticeably talkative and outgoing while others are noticeably quiet and reserved. Such differences and variations are seen everywhere throughout the human population.

If we focus on the personality of a specific individual, we can define it as that person’s particular set of enduring dispositions or long-term tendencies to think, feel and act in particular ways. We’re not talking about specific actions being repeated again and again, like compulsive hand-washing, but about overall patterns, tendencies, inclinations. Someone who has tended to be quiet and reserved up to now will probably still tend to be quiet and reserved tomorrow. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they are compelled to be quiet and reserved at all times, in every possible situation. Rather, they are disposed to be be quiet and reserved more often than not.

“Your personality style is your organizing principle. It propels you on your life path. It represents the orderly arrangement of all your attributes, thoughts, feelings, attitudes, behaviors, and coping mechanisms. It is the distinctive pattern of your psychological functioning—the way you think, feel, and behave—that makes you definitely you.” — The New Personality Self-Portrait by Oldham and Morris. [2]

We can also sometimes see changes in an individual’s personality over time. There may be subtle developmental changes during adolescence, for example, or there can be quite dramatic alterations following a massive brain injury.

Before we move on, here is a little puzzle to think about: Is personality simply an umbrella term for all our dispositions (how we think and feel and act), or is it a ‘thing’ in its own right, something that causes us to think and feel and act they way we do? For example, someone who is obviously outgoing, talkative, energetic and assertive is described as having an extrovert personality. Does that mean that they are outgoing, talkative, and so on because they are an extrovert? Or is “extrovert personality” simply a shorthand way of describing someone with those patterns?

Talking About Personality

Four Types?

In ancient times it was thought that all people could be divided into four basic typessanguine, choleric, melancholic and phlegmatic. This was supposedly something to do with the dominant fluids in their bodies (blood, yellow bile, black bile or phlegm). This idea was briefly revived in Renaissance Europe and there are some modern versions of it around today. (See Passions and Tempers [3].)

Despite the simple appeal of this approach, trying to fit all the world’s people with their amazing range of differences into so few boxes is not easy. For example, ‘sanguine’ people are supposedly extroverted, creative, sensitive, compassionate, thoughtful, tardy, forgetful and sarcastic. But in fact there is no evidence that these characteristics go together at all. You can certainly be creative without being extroverted. You can certainly be compassionate without being sarcastic. So what does being ‘the sanguine type’ really mean, if anything? Dividing people up into a few types may be a nice and simple way of looking at the world, but in reality it doesn’t get us very far.

A Thousand Words?

An alternative approach used by modern psychologists is to simply focus on the words we use to describe each other’s personalities. The idea that such words can tell us about personality, or at least how we conceive personality, is known as the lexical hypothesis. When we try to describe someone in words — whether it’s their physical appearance or their personality — we focus on describing their most distinctive features. This is because we tend to notice and remember outstanding characteristics.

For instance, we might describe some people as tall and some as short, though there is no word in the dictionary to describe people of average height. Likewise, the words we use to describe personality focus on how individuals stand out as above or below average in their mental and behavioural characteristics. So, just as we might describe someone as quite tall and completely bald based on their most obvious physical attributes, we will also describe personality using phrases like very nice but rather quiet. The words most often used refer to the extremes rather than the averages.

And these extremes can be organised into pairs of opposites — reserved as opposed to outgoing, impulsive as opposed to cautious, dominant as opposed to submissive, and so on.

Now, if we take all the personality-describing words in a dictionary — thousands of them! — and then analyse how much people think they differ or overlap in terms of meaning, we find that they can be organised into a certain number of sets or ‘clusters’. For example:

  • Words like domineering, autocratic, and pushy all have a similar (though not identical) meaning.
  • Words like domineering and submissive or friendly and hostile have opposite meanings, just like tall and short.
  • Words like domineering, patient, and playful have no particular relationship, just like tall and bald.

So if we cluster together all words that have a similar meaning, how many clusters do we get?

There is actually no single answer as it depends on where we draw the line, statistically, to define “similar”. We get more clusters of words with highly similar meanings, and we get fewer clusters of words with only b-r-o-a-d-l-y similar meanings.

The main question psychologists have been interested in is: How few clusters can we reduce all these words to? (Scientists are always looking for ways to reduce complex things to the most simple account possible.) And by doing exactly this kind of analysis, what psychologists have found again and again is that personality words can be reduced to just five clusters. In other words, there are five big sets of words (including their opposites) which contain pretty much all of the words we might use to describe personality. This is one of the most robust findings to come out of decades of research into human personality.

The Big Five

These five sets are commonly known as the Big Five. We could simply call them Factor 1, Factor 2 and so on, but they have been labelled as follows:

  • EXTROVERSION — words describing a tendency to be outgoing, energetic and sociable
  • OPENNESS — words describing a tendency to enjoy variety, novelty, challenge and intellectual stimulation
  • NEUROTICISM — words describing a tendency to experience unpleasant emotions
  • AGREEABLENESS — words describing a tendency to be friendly, compassionate and cooperative
  • CONSCIENTIOUSNESS — words describing a tendency to show self-discipline and self-control

It’s as if every word we may use to describe one another’s personality falls under one of these five headings.

Each of these five factors is actually a sort of mega pair of opposites: Extroversion v. Introversion, Openness v. Closedness, Neuroticism v. Emotional stability, Agreeableness v. Hostility, Conscientiousness v. Spontaneity. For example, we find that there is one whole set of words which describe either aspects of Extroversion (outgoing, energetic) or its opposite, Introversion (quiet, withdrawn).

So in contrast to the ‘types’ approach, many psychologists now understand personality as how we all vary within these five dimensions or five factors. It’s not that the world is divided into (say) sanguines and cholerics and so on. Rather, we are all variations on the same themes, and these variations define our personality traits. We each have our own scores on the same five scales, scoring somewhere between the two extremes of each one. An introvert, for example, is simply someone who scores relatively low on the extroversion scale.

The H Factor

The five factors are not etched in stone. Many studies suggest that we can (and should) include a sixth factor, called Honesty/Humility (or the H factor). This is essentially a dimension of character maturity, ranging from high selfishness to high integrity. Adding this H factor to the other five gives us a six-factor view of personality that is more popularly known as the HEXACO model. (See The H Factor of Personality [5].)

Multiple Facets

A problem with the five or six factors is that they don’t really account for personality. They just organise the words that people use to talk about personality into the fewest number of sets, and treat those sets as ‘dimensions of personality’.

In addition, the number of clusters or factors we ‘find’ depends entirely on how strict or how loose we are with our statistics. To get down to five factors we have to accept fairly loose connections between words. This means that, for example, we get lots of surprisingly different traits lumped together under ‘extroversion’ (such as dominant, outgoing and passionate), which is kind of reminiscent of having lots of different things attributed to the ‘sanguine’ type. We could, however, be much stricter with our factor analysis and look for smaller clusters of words which are strongly connected. When researchers do this, they can identify around 20-30 factors.

In fact, many now see each of the Big Five factors as a sort of general “super-trait”, each one covering a number of specific sub-traits or facets that are narrower in scope:

  • Neuroticism:
    • Irritability
    • Insecurity
    • Emotionality
  • Extraversion:
    • Sociability
    • Unrestraint
    • Assertiveness
    • Activeness/Adventurousness
  • Openness:
    • Intellect
    • Imagination/Creativity
    • Perceptiveness
  • Agreeableness:
    • Warmth/Affection
    • Gentleness
    • Generosity
    • Modesty/Humility
  • Conscientiousness:
    • Orderliness
    • Decisiveness-Consistency
    • Reliability
    • Industriousness

Different researchers have identified different facets, but generally they describe 3 to 5 facets associated with each of the five big factors. These 20 or 30 facets seems to give a much richer description.

So if the question is …How many personality traits are there? The answer is … How many do you want? It’s all about whatever is convenient for any given discussion. If you want to divide people into two types (say, extravert versus introvert), then you can. If you want to describe people in broad brush-strokes, then you can use the Big 5 (or 6) factors. If you want a high resolution picture of individual differences, then you can use 20-30 facets or more.

Just remember: these factor/trait models are all about the words we use to talk about personality… which begs the question: How much do they tell us about personality itself? For example, what if there are some aspects of personality that do not manifest as dimensions with polar opposites (as in dominant-v.-submissive) but instead, like eye colour or hair type, do actually manifest in discrete categories? (Could the psychopathic type be one of them?)

Personality Disorder!

Funnily enough, despite widespread confirmation of the Big Five (or six), there is still no agreed psychological understanding of personality. This is because psychologists have yet to agree on their understanding of human nature. Different psychologists hold fundamental beliefs that are diametrically opposed.

(As an aside, many students who study psychology are disappointed to find that this is the case. They begin hoping to learn “what makes people tick” based on good science. Instead, they just learn about competing theories and schools of thought.)

The many ‘classical’ branches of psychology include psychodynamics (or Freudian psychology), behaviourism, neuropsychology, evolutionary psychology, cognitive psychology, and social psychology. Each takes a different approach to explaining human nature, human behaviour and human personality. For example:

  • According to evolutionary psychology our behaviour is driven by biological instincts which have been programmed into our genes through natural selection over several million years. In this case, differences in personality represent natural variations in genetic programming which are present at birth.
  • According to behaviouristic psychology, our behaviour is externally programmed (conditioned) in early life as the result of the rewards and punishments we experience. Personality is therefore genetic variations plus learned behaviour patterns.
  • According to social psychology, our behaviour is driven by social factors such as parental expectations and peer pressure. In this case, personality stems from the social influences affecting our learned behaviour patterns.
  • According to psychodynamic psychology, our behaviour is driven by the competing demands of biological instincts and social pressures. Differences in personality stem from how we balance, or fail to balance, these conflicts as we grow into adults.
  • According to cogitive psychology, human behaviour is heavily influenced by our intelligence: the ability to utilize both internal memory and external information to mentally assess situations and resolve problems. In this case, differences in personality stem from differences in knowledge, learning and cognitive style.

Each of these schools of thought emphasises the importance of one source of influence––and they all appear to be valid! But not one of them can provide a complete answer. The more we focus on just one approach, the more we tend to lose sight of the bigger picture, the whole person.

Free Will v. Determinism

One thing that all of the classical branches of psychology do tend to agree upon is that our every thought, feeling and action is determined by pre-existing forces beyond our control. That is, we are merely the products of our genetic programming and social programming, our upbringing, our environment, the blind forces of nature and/or nurture, or whatever. We are nothing but biological machines, genetic puppets, trained monkeys.

This has been the core assumption of most theorists.

But since the middle of the 20th Century, some psychologists have questioned this assumption:

  • Is everything we think, feel and do really predetermined by forces beyond our control, or do we have at least some free will to make our own decisions?
  • Are we really doomed to remain hapless products of our past, or can we in fact change and improve ourselves if we so choose?

Free will is a profound issue. Some psychologists believe in it but many — perhaps the majority — do not. Why? Because it does not sit easily with the classical scientific assumption that all events are pre-determined by prior events. Free will, many believe, is an unscientific folk-myth.

This difference of opinion has a dramatic effect on how different psychologists study human behaviour and personality, how they interpret research findings, and what they believe it is possible for human beings to achieve.

The New Psychologies

Unfortunately, the ‘classical’ view of the person as no more than a biological machine with no free will fits all too neatly with ideologies such as fascism and communism in which people are treated like mindless drones. As soon as we buy into the idea that people are nothing but machines, it’s a simple step to imagine that civilisation would run much more smoothly if only people could be forced to stop acting as if they had free will — no more selfish capitalists, no more free-thinking intellectuals, no need for elections, no challenges to authority, etc. This idea really took off across the world in the 20th century.

So in reaction to the view of the person as a biological machine, there has been a new wave of psychologists who deliberately emphasise the role of consciousness and free will:

  • Humanistic psychologists focus on our use of free will in shaping our own personal development.
  • Positive psychologists focus on enhancing the experience of life, rather than just just repairing psychological damage.
  • Transpersonal psychologists focus on exceptional human experiences which suggest the role of spiritual factors in human life.

Humanistic psychologists such as Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow have emphasised that personality development is at least partly the result of our conscious choices in life. If people want to change their own personalities, their intention to do so is important. (It is this perspective that has given birth to the hugely popular self-help and personal growth movements.)

Temperament & Character

Suggesting that we have free will doesn’t mean denying that we are constrained by the forces of nature and nurture. Both can be true. For this reason, some psychologists have come to see personality as both pre-determined and self-made. Or to put it another way:

Personality = Temperament + Character


  • Temperament refers to those traits that are predetermined.
  • Character refers to how we develop as conscious individuals, how we choose to deal with life as we grow through experience.

It has been said that temperament is something we share with other animals, while character is, perhaps, uniquely human. Character is like the sum of our choices, for better or worse — our virtues and vices. A person of good character, for example, has high integrity; a person of bad character does not. It helps to be a good judge of character. According to the Temperament and Character model, character consists of three elements —

    • Self-directedness: the tendency to determine one’s own experiences across different situations
    • Cooperativeness: the tendency to co-exist harmoniously with others across different situations
    • Self-transcendence: the tendency to meaningfully relate one’s personal experience to life or the universe as a whole

The Self-Transcendence aspect of character refers to the drive some people have to search for something beyond their individual existence — the spiritual dimension. (See also Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Motivation, where Self-Transcendence is viewed as the highest drive the top of the pyramid.) The temperament and character model is the only major model of personality to include this aspect, even though it appears to be central to our well-being. (See Feeling Good: The Science of Well-Being [6].)

So … What is Personality?

Bottom line: It depends upon your perspective on human nature. If you believe that people are biological machines driven by their genes, their brains, and their environments, then personality is simply due to variations in temperament or programming, i.e.  differences in behaviour caused by nature and nurture (genetic and social factors). If you believe that people can consciously change and improve themselves to some extent, then personality includes character: a set of strengths and virtues (as well as weaknesses and vices) which we can consciously develop throughout life.

Notes / Further Reading


No Two Alike: Human Nature and Human Individuality (Judith Rich Harris)

No Two Alike: Human Nature and Human Individuality, by Judith Rich Harris. Amazon page


The New Personality Self-Portrait: Why You Think, Work, Love and Act the Way You Do, by John M. Oldham and Lois B. Morris. Amazon page
[3] Passions and Tempers Passions and Tempers: A History of the Humours, by Noga Arikha Amazon page see also: http://www.passionsandtempers.com


Personality: What Makes You The Way You Are, by Daniel Nettle. Amazon page

The H Factor

The H Factor of Personality: Why Some People Are Manipulative, Self-Entitled, Materialistic, and Exploitive – And Why It Matters for Everyone, by Kibeom Lee and Michael C. Ashton. Amazon page

Feeling Good: The Science of Well-Being, by C. Robert Cloninger. Amazon page

To cite this article:

McGuinness, B. (2009) ‘What is personality?’ Personality & Spirituality website (personalityspirituality.net). URL: http://wp.me/P3IPja-oD


66 thoughts on “What is Personality?

  1. Thanks so much for this and all the other amazing content on your website. More quizes like the soul type quiz would be great…. maybe something to help us pinpoint our overleaves or step/stage?

    Your style is very easy to read while successfully addressing complex, abstract topics. Your use of colors and math equations quickly get a concept across.

    This is helping me on my journey of discovery and it provides a way for me to start organizing my own thoughts and feelings into a more comprehensive personal methodology. The next step will be to integrate that methodology into my belief system/ religion/ spirituality. It will be great when I know for sure: who I am, why I am and where I am going! 🙂

    Many thanks.

    • Great comments – thanks butterfly07.

      I do intend to do a lot more personality quizes (quizzes?), to cover all of the overleaves.

      I hope you find some resolution with regard to reincarnation and Christianity. I find it interesting (Scholar that I am) that you should want to maintain a concept of a final judgement. In every channelled teaching I have come across – Emmanuel, Michael, Abraham, Orin & Daben, Pathwork, A Course in Miracles, Jeshua, Conversations With God – this concept simply does not exist. The supreme Being apparently has no interest in “punishing” or “rewarding” anyone. That does not mean that there is no ultimate justice. People do commit horrendous crimes in life, and we do violate each other terribly. But rather than God keeping track of who did what to whom and saving all this information for a final judgement, what appears to happen is that each soul makes judgement upon itself at the end of each lifetime.

      As far as I understand it, when we die, one of the first things we do in spirit (with the guidance of higher, wiser beings) is undergo a life review process in which we go through all of the choices we made during the life just gone and observe their effects, including their effects ON OTHERS. In so doing, we immediately understand what was “right” and what was “wrong” about each choice.

      If, say, during this lifetime, I hurt somebody by sexually violating them, then during my post-life review I will be shown exactly what that was like for the vicitim. I will see exactly how terrible it was for that individual. And … here is where karma comes in … I will then voluntarily sign up to undergo an equivalent violation experience (on the receiving end) either in my very next lifetime or in some subsequent lifetime.

      “Judgement” is therefore not a mass event at the end of time but a personal event at the end of each life – and it is we ourselves (in spirit, in the full glare of the eyes of God, being particles of God ourselves) who make the judgements of our own actions.

      It’s easy to think of all this in terms of “sin” and “punishment” or “karmic retribution”, but from the soul’s persepective it’s all about learning from our own mistakes over a very long timescale. We make mistakes out of ignorance, we experience the consequences of those mistakes for ourselves, we try again in the next life, and so we learn to love and grow. It’s a brilliant, beautiful, continuous self-correcting process.

      I found it extremely useful to finally understand that the world isn’t divided into good people and bad people. We are all souls undertaking a long-term journey in which we seek to evolve ourselves into great, perfect beings. But along the way we all stumble and fall – we all make bad choices, we all hurt others (and ourselves) terribly, we all take wrong turns sometimes and get stuck in bad ways. It’s an inevitable part of our evolution. Some souls perhaps make more bad choices and do more harm than others – Kings and Warriors will no doubt kill more innocent people on average than Servers over the course of their many liftimes. But those same souls will also experience being the victim of as many bad choices and harmful acts. It all balances out perfectly.

      It’s not my intention to knock anyone’s belief in Judgement Day, or any other article of faith, but it is my intention with this website to share the wonderful insights of reincarnation and information about our souls and their life between lives and how all this relates to the everyday choices of the human personality. And from this perspective, it seems that all religions contain certain elements of doctrine which are incorrect and unfounded. In the case of Catholicism, these would include the idea of God’s final Judgement and the notion of eternal damnation. I sincerely hope you can experience the relief that comes with letting these go – but I do understand it’s a tall order to let go of something that is so fundamental to one’s lifelong sense of reality!


  2. Thanks Barry … yet again you help provide a clear rationale in a very open way without making judgments or insisting on right or wrong. That encourages us all to keep learning and sharing.

    I love how you explain that in the process of reincarnation, the soul judges itself and overall this is a self-correcting system by design instead of a higher God keeping track and then dictating the final reward/penalty. I can say in my heart and mind that feels so much closer to what my instincts are telling me. But I equally still believe that there is a higher God, our creator, and we are not his/her equal … and that Christ came here to show us the way. So I get stuck because there does not seem to be one existing methodology/religion that combines those 3 key concepts.

    I don’t trust myself enough yet to let go of my safety net … which is to live a good life and be as fair and kind as I can while genuinely asking for God’s grace for eternal salvation (which traditionally is “rewarded” in the final judgment process). In other words, if I stay true to that “golden rule” which is the “traditional key” to unlock the pearly gates, then even if I get creative with the other stuff, in the end, I will not miss the opportunity for eternal life…. a “win-win”, the best of both worlds. The risk of getting it wrong and missing eternal life which means this life is my only existence …that seems too high a price for me to swallow at this point. Might sound crazy… but that is where I am in my journey currently. It is a feeling of knowing there is more but not absolutely certain that any one methodology/religion is 100% correct. I guess ultimately that is where faith comes in… but for a scholar it take more than faith!

    Eternal life for me is to be with God/Spirit and my dear parents and loved ones forever and to be surrounded by unconditional love where no one is suffering and everything is possible for everyone. I am a risk/pain avoider (at least in this life) and scholar soul type (based upon your great quiz)… so I am thinking my approach is consistent so far with what I probably contracted for this time around with maybe a planned or unplanned lean toward the negative soul pole of theory! But I am hoping that my doubts will push me to keep searching so I can find a solid direction soon and then move up a level so I don’t have to repeat this lesson again!

    Thanks again…. keep up the great work. I owe you one on this side and the next! 🙂

  3. Hi Barry, i thoroughly enjoyed this and took it in and have a big favour to ask. I am doing a critical review for my psychology class and I was wondering whether I could get your full name, the date this article was published and your qualifications. Thankyou 🙂

  4. Hi Barry! very insightful analysis of personality! I too would like to use this as a source in a paper that i am writing for one of my master’s level courses. I would like to properly cite this article, so if you could send me all the necessary info – full name, date, etc. – that would be great! thanks! 🙂

  5. Hi barry, This article is amazing! I Love It! and I would also like to cite this because its an excellent resource for my English paper. It would be great if you gave me all the info I need like credentials and the date it was published as well as your full name. Thank you!

  6. What an interesting take on the subject of personality! I have used a lot of information in your article for my Post graduate dissertation. I need to credit the source, please furnish me with all the necessary details. Thanks

  7. I do not agree that not two people are alike and not have the same life experiences. I have someone who walked into my life that we can read each others thoughts and are identical to one another in personality and the list goes on. Life experience are also the same with very little differences if any. It is as though you were looking into a mirror and the refection of yourself is a real person you can have in your life. If I feel sad this person sences it and feels sad at the same time too. It is like a living cell that split at some point in life but remained the part of the other rather completely transforming into a separate entity with its own individuality

    • Ok, sounds like you have a soul mate or essence twin with you there. Even so, you are still in two souls in separate bodies. When you stub your toe, it’s you who jumps up and down in pain. The other might perhaps sense that you are in pain, but that’s not the same thing. Your pain is yours. No matter how much similarity, resonance and psychic communication there is between you, you are not the same person.

  8. hi, i am suffering from great personality disorder from last 10 year i am changing my personality every new day sometime i try to be confident then other time i try to positive please help me

    • Hi varun
      Sorry to hear of your struggles; it sounds very difficult for you. But what kind of help exactly are you looking for?

  9. I often question individuals and there personality. When I meet new people I can usually tell who to keep my distance from versus someone I can learn from or grow close to. I find myself looking into others when they speak and I question there actions or thoughts. When I look into them its like I am trying to read a book and find there story, find out why they feel a certain way or why they made the decisions they made. It is all a way for me to learn life in a different view almost like through others. With that I have to have such an open mind. Sometimes it is with much concentration which can be exhausting while other times not. With that I have to go off of feeling and conscious but many times it has never proven to be wrong. Then again there are times that I do fail or more so that people may change and there fore throw me off whether its a close family member or friend or even someone I was getting close to and have to distance myself. But this is an explanation of my deeper being. I am always trying to find ways of learning and being open to many ideas. That is where my stubbornness comes in and where I choose to learn things whether it may be the hard way; yet I still choose to do so. What really brought me here was an in depth conversation I had with my boyfriend and how he says that my way of thinking is so inconsistent yet I am so predictable mainly when it come to decisions that I make. He does not always approve and how he puts it life is so simple yet I make it so complicating. We struggle often based on how we see things differently and how different we feel. I am trying to find why he can not see or better understand where I am coming from or how I think yet I can understand him clearly and I always tell him when I understand. I hope some day maybe he can understand me but then I fear that he may never will. There are very few who can but those who do I keep very close to my heart and I have the best connection with : )

    • Hi Angela

      Thanks for that. If you look around the website, you can see that there are many ways in which two people can be different. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – there are some combinations that are very compatible. The goals of Dominance and Submission, for example, obviously go well together. But there are also some combinations that just don’t work. If one person has the goal of Acceptance while the other has the goal of Rejection, that’s not really going anywhere.

      My wife and I have got huge value out of identifying our differences using this personality framework. For example, she has the attitude of scepticism while I am an idealist. In any given situation, I look optimistically for any kind of positive outcome while she will look very suspiciously for anything that might be wrong. When we finally spotted this difference between us, it was delightful! Now we know what to expect of each other, and can see the value of each other’s perspective. (Bear in mind that none of the traits are better or worse than any other – all are of equal value.)

      Also, we can help each other out whenever we slip into our negative poles. My idealism, for example, can become very naive and ungrounded, while her scepticism can turn into being automatically distrustful. We are able to gently point out to each other “I think you may be in your negative pole right now.” Not as a criticism, but as a loving aid to awareness and growth.



  10. Hello Barry, may cite this? This would go great for my Human Growth and development report. I will need your name (the author), year, volume (if there’s one), and # of pages. Please and thank you!

  11. This is great information.
    I would love to know, don’t you have a printable personality test so that I can see which personality tÝpe I have.

    Thank you in advance!

  12. thank you Barry 🙂 all your articles are very intresting and insightful! I would like to ask you if you could write an article on ‘double ganger’ it’s a concept I don’t quite understand how it works. Thank you for all your amazing articles I can’t get enough of them. The articles about personality like this one and the Michael Teachings have really helped me find myself.

    • Many thanks Brenda. I don’t think I can write an article on the doppelgänger, not being an expert, but I have looked into it briefly and here are my impressions.

      The current scientific theory stems from a medical case in 2006. It seems that a certain part of the brain (in the left hemisphere) creates and maintains an awareness of where we are, how we are standing, and how we appear. But if this brain function becomes cut off from our more general self-awareness by some neurological problem, then it is possible that we can sense our own physical presence but not perceive it as ourselves; instead, we perceive it as another being, “over there”. Evidence for the theory is based on brain stimulation – when their brain is “zapped” in a certain place, people can sense another person nearby, possibly in the same posture as themselves. However, they do not see it as their own doppelgänger, so it’s not really a proper explanation.

      It also doesn’t explain the more paranormal accounts, such as Abraham Lincoln getting foreknowledge of his fate from a doppelgänger he saw in a reflection. In these cases, it might be that in a relaxed state (light trance) we can sometimes spontaneously open up to significant life information from our own soul, and maybe this is perceived (interpreted by the sleepy brain) as coming from of a double of oneself.

      That’s all I have so far.

  13. “From my perspective, fundamentally accepting the existence of the soul and free will, the personality is the lower self while the soul is the higher self. Personality is the ‘costume’ worn by the soul as it operates in the material world in human form.

    But I also think it is important to have a multi-layered view of the personality itself. There is a deep, inner part of the personality — that ‘selective filtering’ I talked about — which is the framework specially adopted by the soul for a specific human lifetime. This ‘deep’ or ‘true’ personality reflects our soul’s purposes in life.”

    If you’ve ever read any of the Seth material by Jane Roberts, he like many of the books regarding Enlightenment refer to the Consciousness which underlies the lower self or ego. Conditioning of the ego is a filter which exemplifies the attachments and beliefs accrued in the growth of experience. We are taught by our parents peers and social structure what is real, what we should achieve, and how to compare ourselves to each other. TV ads tell us what to wear, what beer to drink and what car to drive etc.

    Consciousness being unaffected at the level beyond the soul personality, many teachings reflect upon the absolute Self in Yoga or Union. Meditation upon the absolute Self allows one to witness both the absolute Self and the ego Self to create a perspective which expands the awareness beyond the identification with beliefs and feelings in any experience.

    Since consciousness is not bound by time, the experiences of past, present and future are seen as constructs that allow experience to unfold in a manner that ego can grasp within the relative physical world. In that sense ego can be put into service rather than believed as the master or character of Soul. Also a much bigger picture ensues when Soul is seen as multidimensional and not specific to one singular lifetime.
    Being that soul is multidimensional, and Consciousness not being sequestered to the individual experience of a single lifetime as the ego is limited. All lifetimes interact with each other bringing a different perspective to what you might call life purpose.

    Generally speaking, a lifetime might have probable outcomes, but they are not hardwired nor exclusive to a particular time or space even if the experience seems so.

  14. Hello Barry!
    I’ve been reading everything on your site for the past two months! I am in awe and so intrigued by everything I’ve read here!!! Your site is delightful, informative, and easy to read and understand! Thank for creating something like this for a curious creature such as myself that seeks something more!
    Now that I have gathered my thoughts, analyzed and tried to wrap my head around what I’ve found here, I have more questions than I feel humanly possible! Lol
    I find that I have a hard time finding my soul type, I feel like I’m all of them in exception to that of a sage soul, I don’t identify with that soul type at all!! In all realness I think I dislike the sage soul type but I’m not sure why! And that confuses me… Do you have some insight to why I might feel that way?
    I think I identify a lot with, the scholar soul, the priest, the server, the king, and the warrior in that order… so does that mean that my soul type is that of a scholar that falls to the other soul types in a given situation?
    Now that I think about it, I might just be a scholar! I have an infinite passion for knowledge on just about anything! I’m curious to why things are, what makes them work, how they came about, and when did they come about, I love research!! I can read and become so fixated on a subject, dissecting and analyzing it for better understanding. I write research papers just because!
    I am very introverted, shy, and always in my head! But put me in a room of like-minded individuals and I’m the life of the party! I communicate very well, I will have a debate with any one any day! So long as I have undisputed facts on the subject! Lol which is contradictive to what I know as my natural nature! Why is that?
    sometimes I feel like a priest/king, I want to lead people and show them how to live a better life, for lack of better words I want to save them from themselves… sometimes I feel as though I have and know the formula to living a better life and that I have to show people and lead them to it but I don’t know where to begin or what to do but deep down I know I’m supposed to be doing something..
    but has much as I think I’m a scholar I’m also convinced that I am also a server/worrier with equal rights,(scratching my head a bit here… because up until now while I’m writing this.. I’ve nerve thought to group the different soul types the way I just did) hmmm something else to look into… sorry about that! That is just my ADHD/ADD manifesting right now… (And yes I am very ADHD!!)
    But now back to the subject at hand!
    from a very young age I’ve always had a sense of duty, to be of service, to care for, feed, clothes, shelter and protect those that can’t do it for themselves, even when it’s not asked of me… I feel hurt when I see someone suffering, I get depressed about it, I feel more depressed when I can’t help or don’t know how to help, I strongly do believe that “I AM MY BROTHER’S/SISTER’S KEEPER” not just my biological ones, but any and every one… so what does this all mean Barry?
    I’ve always been spiritual not religious… From a very young age I’ve figured that out, don’t know how but I did… I was born and raised in a catholic household went to a catholic school since pre-school age, but I never felt really comfortable there… I hated the idea of praying to a giant statue that didn’t speak back to me! I found that odd!! I hated going to confession I never understood why I had to tell my so called sins to someone hiding behind a screened window! by the time I was seven when it came time for my first communion I told my dad I didn’t want to do it because I didn’t believe in it! I just didn’t care for it… I even got spanked for it… Lol but no one was going to make me do it!
    but even before that I was still trying to connect to something more… so over the years I’ve dipped in and out of different religions, but never found the one that was for me… I do believe there is a higher being known by many different names, but deep down for whatever reason I know this person/soul/spirit to be one of the same!
    Barry please help me make sense of all this!
    sorry if i’m all over the place with what i think in all.

    • Whoa, sorry for not responding until now. Nothing personal – I’m only just recovering from 6 years of CFS/ME, which is pretty much the direct opposite of ADHD. I’ve realised many times that if there’s one thing that really knocks my brain out it’s listening to and trying to follow someone with ADHD. Right now I’m feeling a lot better.

      Looking at your gravatar I’d say Mature Artisan – and I’m guessing with Passion mode and Spiritualism attitude? I imagine that with that combination the Artisan mind (which normally likes to be in many places at once) can get locked into making high-speed, high-energy connections, so that you’re in too many places at once.

  15. This is fascinating information and possibly the simplest way I have ever seen it explained Barry. thank you. I see you have agreed to many people using your information and I’m trusting you will be equally happy fr me to do the same? I have just liked your Facebook page so I will be following you now too. Thank you again for the time and research you have put in to this. I hope you are feeling so much better too. Mary.

  16. I would like your citation information, and I am sorry for what you going through with obviously a sick person. Best regards and thank you for the citation, if you can send it.

  17. Hi Barry your article help me for my assignment and i got a high grade 🙂 thank you hope you can help me again next time 🙂 love lots

  18. This is indeed superb. Am so blessed. I have been looking for this tip of knowledge for long now. I have desire to understand Personality. You have just open my understanding about it. Thanks and God bless. please do more you are affecting lives for good.

  19. Hi, Barry
    Your article is very interesting and I’d like to use it in my assignment.
    Could you please send me your family name via my email?
    Thank you so much 😀

  20. This is the nice One it helped me a lot for my competitive exam…thanx a lot for sharing such a good theories

  21. Barry, please relate your understanding of spirit and soul. Do you believe that there is a difference and what are the characteristics of each? Thank you.

    • Both words imply life force and consciousness, but there is no consistent or universal way to distinguish those two words. Sometimes they are used interchangeably and sometimes they are defined with a very strong distinction. I’ve seen some sources insisting that spirit is “this” while soul is “that”, and other sources insisting the exact opposite.

      But, that said, I’ve come to use the words (in my own head at least) in a particular way. I think of spirit and soul in much the same way as Vedanta thinks of Brahman and Atman. It’s the same thing, the same BEING or ESSENCE, viewed differently. Spirit is the universal essence, and soul is that essence with respect to any given individual, a self. Or you could say, spirit is the universal soul, and a soul is an individualised instance of spirit. When we speak of ‘your soul’ and ‘my soul’, these things are both aspects of the same universal spirit — they differ in that they are different manifestations of consciousness, with different perspectives.

      But it’s not that I believe these are how spirit and soul really differ; these are just how I have come to think of those words differently, and many people might have completely different ideas.

    • Hey Barry, I thought this was very well handled! Awesome really. Thank you! You’re much more articulate than I so I tend to “dumbify” everything. I’m a feeler and have some unique lenses. Let me know your thoughts on the following piggyback to Randy’s VG question: the spirit is eternal (the formless/true you/oneness). The spirit always was, is and always will be. The soul is created right here on earth the very instant the body awakens with its first and only breath it will ever receive in that body. The soul is the gift of life. It’s lifeline is exactly equal to that of the body. One continuous breath tying the physical and the eternal. When the breath is over the soul ceases, form crumbles and the spirit departs that form. A humans soul is the manifestation of the spirit in the body’s internal universe. The degree to which one listens to their voice determines the depth and breadth of the soul.

    • As I understand it, soul is to human being as gamer is to game-character. A soul selects a human body to play with for the duration of its lifetime.

      Human beings are physical organisms existing in the realm of time and space and matter. The soul exists outside that realm – it is formless, timeless, pure awareness and life force, but individualised. Your soul existed long before your current body was conceived.

      What is created at first breath is the human mind, or psyche. (Though just to be confusing, the word ‘psyche’ originally meant ‘soul’ until psychologists redefined it as ‘mind’.) The ego comes into being with self-awareness in the first years of life, then is dropped either before or after death.

  22. Hi Barry, Can there be an answer for some one having a miserably lousy career / work for several years, despite being a very bright kid and having a good educational background ?? I have been going through this struggle for the last 9-10 years, and have tried to find answers everywhere , but have failed to . Is it that one definitely can’t go far from their destiny – come heaven ,hell or high water (i.e, what the soul has chosen to do in the lifetime) ?? I have lost jobs several times and have been unsuccessful in landing something good for the last 9-10 years. Why is it that I have to go through this? May be is it because I had treated people or fellow colleagues horrendously in my previous lifetimes. Or is it a sign of the fact that I am an old soul – who is just fighting to come to terms with ways of the world (having led revolutionary lives in my past lives). At times, I just feel like I am helpless and want to cry !!!
    Can people like MJ (Michael Jackson) be born in their next lives as extremely lousy and unsuccessful individuals , being totally unhappy with their lives ??? Are there example for this ? Vijay.

💬 Leave a Reply 💬