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October 10, 2012

When one contemplates personality, some general, common sense ideas come to mind.  One might define personality as the set of traits that make a person unique, what sets a person apart from the rest of society, the way an individual acts and handles situations etc.  However, our team has learned throughout this course that personality is comprised of several different systematically derived components and complex definitions.  On the surface, personality is the set of preferences and tendencies for how individuals engage with the world. Our textbook also includes Gordon Allport’s definition of personality as, “the dynamic organization within the individual of those psychophysical systems that determine his/her unique adjustments to his/her environment” (41).  What this tells us is that personality is not merely what makes us unique as individuals, but that it is an internal system that defines how we react to various stimuli in our environment.

There are numerous different components to each of our personalities that professionals have systematically derived and grouped into personality traits that individuals can determine through personality assessments.  These assessments include the MBTI and the Big Five (OCEAN).

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) whittles the overwhelming number of qualities that personality might involve into four vastly-encompassing categories; Extraverted versus Introverted, Sensing versus Intuitive, Thinking versus Feeling, and Judging versus Perceiving.  As described in course readings and lectures:

Extraverts draw their energy from interacting with others, being outgoing, sociable, and assertive.  Introverts on the other hand process information internally, and are often quiet and shy.  They are drawn to their inner world and focus on things in depth, taking time to reflect and be observant.

Individuals of the sensing type pay close attention to detail.  They are practical, prefer tangible information and hone in on details.  Conversely, intuitive types focus more on the big picture and rely on unconscious through processes.

Thinking individuals use reason and logic to handle problems.  They think objectively, and focus on fairness and logical consequences.  Feeling types on the other hand rely on emotions, and believe that individual needs are greater than the overarching principle.

Judging individuals get energy from getting things done, finding closure on decisions, and moving to the next task in situations.  They are very structured and enjoy control.  On the other end of the spectrum are perceiving types, who are flexible, spontaneous, and enjoy a change of course.

Our team decided to look at our own personality types and draw any relevant conclusions on how our different personality types may have affected our group dynamic.  Our personality types were as follows:

Lindsay- ENFJ
Maddie- ESFJ
Evan- ESFP
Emily- ESFP
Ricky- ENTP
Veronica- ISTJ

We tried to look at each of the four different groupings and see if we noticed how different personality types were evident in our group work.  When we did this, we realized that the MBTI truly did make accurate depictions of how each of us was inclined to interact with our environment.  For example, when reflecting on our own personal tendencies, Veronica described how she preferred taking time to process information and thinking through everything thoroughly before stating her ideas.  Lindsay, on the other hand, had a greater propensity to state her ideas out loud as she thought of them.  This displayed the differences between introverted and extraverted individuals, and our group took note of this in our meetings.  Another example of evident personality traits involved Ricky, an intuitive type, and Maddie, a sensing type.  At the beginning of the meeting Ricky would focus on broader, bigger picture goals by asking, “Ok, what is our overall plan for this meeting, what do we generally want to accomplish?”  We also took note that when Maddie came to the meeting, she presented a YouTube video, honing in on the specifics of our final integrative blog entry.

What we found through these observations was that recognizing the differences among our personalities enabled our group to work even better as one cohesive unit.  Although Maddie and Ricky pay closer attention to different things (detail versus big picture), the combination of their efforts enabled our group to have a broader range of information (big picture goals as well as specific goals) to work toward our ultimate goal of creating a thorough, in depth, and comprehensive blog.

Another personality assessment is called the Big Five.  The Big Five includes five major components: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.

Openness involves one’s range of interests and fascination with novelty.  Open people are very creative, curious, and artistically sensitive.  If an individual is low on openness, they tend to be conventional and find comfort in the familiar.

Conscientiousness is a measure of reliability.  People high on this trait are responsible, organized, dependable, and persistent.  Those low in this trait are generally distracted, disorganized, and unreliable.

Extraversion measures a person’s comfort with relationships.  Extraverted individuals tend to be gregarious, assertive, and sociable, and if an individual is not extraverted they are usually reserved, timid, and quiet.

Agreeableness refers to an individual’s propensity to defer to others.  Agreeable individuals are cooperative, warm, and trusting, and people on the other end of this spectrum are cold, disagreeable, and antagonistic.

Finally, neuroticism is a person’s ability to withstand stress.  People that are low in neuroticism are calm, self-confident, and secure, whereas highly neurotic people can be nervous, anxious, depressed, and insecure.

In our course lesson on the Big Five, we discussed how neuroticism (otherwise referred to as emotional stability) was not related to job performance, but it was certainly linked to job stress and satisfaction.  An example of this that we found in the real world involved Fleetwood Mac member Christine McVie. Although McVie was an outstanding contributor to Fleetwood Mac’s success, her neurotic tendencies, making her susceptible to panic attacks and irrationally afraid of flying, ultimately led to her forced retirement.  It is evident in this example how McVie’s neuroticism had absolutely no impact on her job performance as she was a great performer.  However, her extreme job stress and low satisfaction was directly linked to her emotional instability.  (

Another important personality trait is type A.  Type A individuals are competitive, imbalanced in their life, often hostile or angry, and impatient or urgent with their time.  Miranda Hobbs from HBO’s Sex and the City is a prime example of a Type A individual.  In an attempt to make partner at her firm, Miranda constantly took on more at work, often having more work than leisure in her schedule.  In addition, her highly competitive attitude allowed her to take on an overwhelming amount of work as she attempted to overcome the boundary of being a woman in a predominantly male workplace.  She often felt the urgency of work deadlines, and was known on the show for her angry, snappy attitude.

The final major personality type that we explored in this class was self-monitoring.  Self-monitoring individuals adapt their behavior to fit situations.  They are sometimes referred to as social chameleons.  Although this can lead to professional success, self-monitoring can also come across as fake or insincere in certain situations.

close up of chameleon in greenery

Overall, the main takeaways that our team gathered was the importance of understanding our own personalities, others personalities, and the differences among various personality types.  By understanding ourselves and others, we realized that this increased self and social awareness allowed us to understand other perspectives and act more empathetic as co-workers.  It also provides a neutral framework for understanding other people and communicating with them.

In addition to this, we took away how personality can be a great predictor of work elements such as job success (extraverted individuals being more successful in sales and marketing), job satisfaction, job performance (conscientious individuals usually have higher job performance) and training proficiency (individuals high in openness).


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