Can You Change Your Personality?

Personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures.    F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Personality defines us and how we interact with the world.  Though there are different theories about what personality really is and how our basic personality traits are first formed,  the general consensus is that personality is shaped by early life experiences and tend to stay stable over time.  According to the most widely accepted model of personality, there are five basic personality dimensions (link is external) that can define us as individuals.  Each of the"Big Five" traits, openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism, have a cluster of related traits that shape our emotions and behaviours in a wide variety of situations.

The personality traits we have as adults tend to grow out of the kind of temperament we had as infants and toddlers (link is external).   Much like the Big Five adult personality factors, there are also different kinds of temperament that seem to arise out of the interaction between our genetics and the upbringing we receive as children.   Also, differences in temperament can also influence how children are treated by caregivers and children their own age.  This can result in children having life experiences that can reinforce early differences in temperament and lay down the kind of personality they have as adults. It can also lead to their developing dysfunctional personality patterns that can develop into full-blown personality disorders later in life. 

To read more, check out my new Psychology Today blog post.




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