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 by Judith Rich Harris [1].)


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.

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, a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts? Some psychologists see it one way and some see it the other way. For example:

“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]

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 by Noga Arikha [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 quite nice but extremely quiet. The words most often used refer to the extremes rather than the averages.

And these extremes can be organised into pairs of opposites — shy v. outgoing, impulsive v. cautious, dominant v. 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 b-r-o-a-d-l-y similar meaning, how many clusters do we get?

There is actually no single answer as it depends on how where you draw the line, statistically. You can have more clusters of words with highly similar meanings, or you can have fewer clusters of words with more vaguely similar meanings.

The main question psychologists were 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 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 — the tendency to be outgoing, energetic and sociable
  • OPENNESS — the tendency to enjoy variety, novelty, challenge and intellectual stimulation
  • NEUROTICISM — the tendency to experience unpleasant emotions
  • AGREEABLENESS — the tendency to be friendly, compassionate and cooperative
  • CONSCIENTIOUSNESS — the tendency to show self-discipline and self-control

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).

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

So in contrast to the ‘types’ approach, many psychologists now understand personality as how we all vary on 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. An introvert, for example, is simply someone who scores 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 model 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
    • Activity-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 big factor. This 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 how people vary 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 amount to temperament, i.e. natural differences 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 natural temperament 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 differences in social influences affecting 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 in childhood.
  • According to cogitive psychology, our behaviour is heavily influenced by our intelligence: the ability to mentally assess situations and utilize both internal memory and external information to 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 right! But at the same time, proponents within each approach tend to lose sight of the bigger picture.

Free Will v. Determinism

One thing that all of the classical branches of psychology agree upon is that our every thought, feeling and action is determined by pre-existing forces beyond our control — the forces of nature and/or nurture.

In other words, we are entirely the products of our genetic programming and social programming, our upbringing, our environment, or whatever. It’s all out of our control. 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?
  • Can we change and improve our future selves at all by choice, or are we doomed to remain hapless products of our past?

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. It’s a simple step to imagine that if people could be forced to stop acting as if they had free will, then we would create the ideal society — no selfish capitalists, no free-thinking progressives, 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 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 the individual’s use of free will in shaping their 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 externally determined and internally driven.

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, 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 temperament plus 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 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


127 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. I would like to use your article as a cite. Can I please have the information that is needed to do so. name, year, volume and page number

    Thank you

  12. 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!

  13. 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.

  14. Hello barry!
    I’m impressed by your article and I would like to quote some of your material in my BA thesis. Could you email me the details, like author’s name, year, volume and pages? I would be really grateful!

  15. Hello Barry!
    I’m really impressed by your article. I would like to quote some of your work in my BA thesis. Could you send me the author’s name, year, volume and pages? I would be grateful!


  16. “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.

  17. Hi Barry.
    I would love to use some of your take/ opinions on personality from this page for my uni research, would I be able to have your last name for referencing?

    • Hi Barry. Enjoyed your article. Is it OK to use some of your information in my paper? Would it be possible for you to send the references and citation to my email, please and thank you.

    • Hi kim

      Right at the end of the article, before the Notes/Further Reading section, there is a drop-down thing called “Show citation details”. I can see that I ought to make it more clear and prominent!


  18. Hi Barry,
    What you wrote is really interesting for me. I want to cite your idea in my own report. Could you please let me know your full name, the date of publishment and your references?
    Thank you so much!

  19. Hey Barry, I would like to use your article for one of my papers and would like to cite it. Therefore can you please provide me with the info I need to cite it. Thanks

  20. 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.

  21. hello
    i would like to reference your research
    could you please leave me an email as soon as possible so i can use it

  22. Where can i find the reference and citation of personality as i was hoping i could use this is my essay, could you get back to me asap many thanks.

    • Hi Nicole (and others)
      I’ve been tinkering with the page. Hopefully you can now see a drop-down “Citatation details” thingy at the end of the article (just before the book list). Let me know if it fails!
      barry 🙂

    • Temporarily removed – I needed some anonymity as I was being harassed by a troll with low H factor !

  23. Good afternoon. You have compiled some good info here. Would it be possible for you to send the references and citation to my email, please and thank you, and may God richly bless you.

    • Hi Roxroy

      Right at the end of the article, before the Notes/Further Reading section, there is a drop-down thing called “Show citation details”. I can see that I ought to make it more clear and prominent!


    • Hi Brittany

      Right at the end of the article, before the Notes/Further Reading section, there is a drop-down thing called “Show citation details”. I can see that I ought to make it more clear and prominent!



  24. 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.

  25. I would like to use this for a paper as well and do not see the citation information that you mentioned. Could you please send it to me? Thanks so much!

  26. I could not find the “Citation Details” for this article. Can you please send to my personal email? Thanks

  27. Since everyone is asking for citation why dont you simply add it to your page?
    until then, send it by email plz

    • That’s spooky, I was just emailing you in reply to your question on the About page.

      The reasons are:

      (1) Until very recently I had a professional role in which the work relied upon my scientific credentials and reputation. Hence, I have been living a “double life”, keeping this psycho-spiritual side separate from my mainstream profession.

      (2) Recently I offended a reader by suggesting he needed psychiatric help. (I was being sincere. He was leaving comments that showed clear signs of psychotic delusion.) He started sending me private messages to tell me that, in revenge, he was going to have me killed. I noticed that he actually lives not far from my own home, so my family and I became rather nervous. As a precaution I removed as much information as I could from the Internet to prevent him from finding my real name and location.

      I’m waiting for this to blow over. He still occasionally sends me nonsense, but if he becomes more threatening then I guess the next step is for me to contact the local police. Or, I might simply start using a pseudonym.


    • 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.

  28. Could I please also have the citation information? Your article has been a huge help for my science research paper!

  29. Hi Barry, sorry to bombard you with the same question as everyone else, but could you please send me the citation information and if possible your full name since i would like to use this article in a school project.
    Thank you.

  30. Hello Barry, your article has also helped me tremendously. Can you please send me your citation information for my psychology research paper.

    Thank you in advance.

  31. 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

  32. 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.

  33. 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 😀

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