“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength, mastering yourself is true power.”

— Lao Tzu

According to American Psychological Association (APA), personality refers to individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving. Our personalities can be shaped by different factors such as heredity (i.e. genetic transmission of characteristics from parent to offspring, “like father, like son”), upbringing, education, role models, and experiences. Hence, our characteristics are acquired through both nature and nurture. Values that we uphold also determine our personalities and behaviours. Emotions/feelings have an important role to play in how we behave and react in situations too. With more self-knowledge or intrapersonal intelligence, it can help us to communicate our viewpoints and make decisions clearly. In addition, if we can read and identify specific patterns in others accurately, we will be able to speak their language, leverage on their strengths, motivate them, avoid their pet peeves and minimise conflicts.

In the marketplace, there are tons of personality tools/instruments for individuals to take and determine their types of profiles/characteristics. Each instrument measures different attributes and dispositions. No tool is the best and every one of them aims to provide you a general description of your dominant style/preference. When you have taken a few of them, sometimes the results point to the same set of attributes, which means you have consistent patterns. Otherwise, it can be confusing, worrisome or due to different situations or states of mind when answering the questionnaires. You may consult the coach/trainer for clarifications. It is important to choose an instrument that had been reviewed and tested rigorously and demonstrated high validity and reliability.

Below is a summary of personality assessments available:

Big Five Personality Traits or Five-Factor Model of Personality (Costa & McCrae, 1992), which is an empirical generation about the covariation of personality traits:

  • Openness to Experience: Creative, cultured, intellectual, perceptive
  • Conscientiousness: Orderly, dependable, industrious, disciplined
  • Extraversion: Assertive, competitive, positive emotionality, sociable
  • Agreeableness: Warm, likeable, gentle, cooperative
  • Neuroticism/ Emotional Stability: Relaxed, free from anxiety, depression, negative emotionality

A summary of meta-analytic findings (Barrick & Mount, 1991) showed that:

  • Conscientiousness and Emotional Stability are the best personality predictors of job performance across nearly all jobs.
  • Extraversion and Agreeableness are important in jobs requiring a high degree of interpersonal work
  • Less consistent evidence for Openness to Experience

This Big Five Personality Traits is an universally accepted measure of personality.

DISC personality profiling system was developed by Dr. William Marston in 1928, where he explained how normal human emotions lead to behavioural differences among groups of people and how a person’s behaviour might change over time. The behavioural expression of emotions could be categorized into four primary types: Dominance (D), Inducement (I), Submission (S), and Compliance (C).

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) was based on Carl Jung’s theory of psychological types in 1920s but the tool was developed in the 1940s by Katherine Briggs and Isabel Myers. The tools measure four bipolar dimensions/preferences:

  • Extroverted (E) vs Introverted (I)
  • Sensing (S) vs Intuition (N)
  • Thinking (T) vs Feeling (F)
  • Judging (J) vs Perceiving (P)

From the interactions among the above dimensions, 16 distinctive personality types are identified and classified.

Hogan Personality Inventory (HPI) measures normal personality along seven scales:

  • Adjustment: confidence, self-esteem, and composure under pressure
  • Ambition: initiative, competitiveness, and desire for leadership roles
  • Sociability: extraversion, gregarious, and need for social interaction
  • Interpersonal Sensitivity: tact, perceptiveness, and ability to maintain relationships
  • Prudence: self-discipline, responsibility, and thoroughness
  • Inquisitive: imagination, curiosity, and creative potential
  • Learning Approach: achievement orientation, valuing education

Enneagram of Personality has a set of nine distinct personality types:

    The Rational, Idealistic Type: Principled, Purposeful, Self-Controlled, and Perfectionist
    The Caring, Interpersonal Type: Demonstrative, Generous, People-Pleasing, and Possessive
    The Success-Oriented, Pragmatic Type: Adaptive, Excelling, Driven, and Image-Conscious
    The Sensitive, Withdrawn Type: Expressive, Dramatic, Self-Absorbed, and Temperamental
    The Intense, Cerebral Type: Perceptive, Innovative, Secretive, and Isolated
    The Committed, Security-Oriented Type: Engaging, Responsible, Anxious, and Suspicious
    The Busy, Fun-Loving Type: Spontaneous, Versatile, Distractible, and Scattered
    The Powerful, Dominating Type: Self-Confident, Decisive, Willful, and Confrontational
    The Easygoing, Self-Effacing Type: Receptive, Reassuring, Agreeable, and Complacent

TetraMap uses the four Elements of nature – Earth, Air, Water and Fire – to help people identify similarities and differences in each other and situations. It was founded by Yoshimi and Jon in 1980s.

Earth elements are confident in the way they walk and talk. Goals, control, achievement and winning are important. Quick possibly risky decisions come easily to them.

Air elements are orderly and focused individuals rely on abilities to think things out. They excel in finding logical solutions and making sense of situations. Air elements listen and plan to ensure accuracy and quality.

Water elements are caring and consistent and are important in holding families and teams together. They are loyal and deeply feeling people who show steadfast effort, great patience and a desire for harmony and flow.

Fire elements look at the positive side of life, they love to explore possibilities and inspire others to see bright futures. They are often colourful, love variety and have a great sense of fun.

Emergenetics Profile (Drs. Geil Browning and Wendell Williams, in late 1980s) is a brain-based, psychometric assessment that provides an accurate measure of the four Thinking Attributes (analytically, socially, structurally, and conceptually) and three Behavioral Attributes (expressive, assertive, and flexible) that every person exhibits.

Other tools include California Psychological Inventory (CPI), Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ), Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire (16PF), etc.

Choose your instrument(s) wisely from genuine and legitimate sources. If you have the resources, you may like to take a few assessments to have a more complete overview of your personality from different types of measurements/attributes.

Whatever your personality may be, remember to apply the golden rule:

  • One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself; or
  • “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthews 7:12)

If you are able to be flexible and adaptable, apply the diamond rule instead:

  • Treat others the way they want to be treated!

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