Saturday, October 4


An academic topic today, coz m not in the mood for incoherent, humdrum baloney...

(Okay, I used the synonyms from Microsoft Word... so wat? Better than saying “the usual, disconnected nonsense”! Need some variety even in the vocab, yaar!)

Those of you who have come here for fun n frolic, pls excuse this post... Can’t get too predictable, u know... Hence, the diversion....

So, what do you comprehend when you hear the word “personality”? What characteristics do you observe/evaluate? Temperament? Style? Physical features? Mannerisms? Attitude? Or something else?

Psychology defines personality as the consistent and unique pattern of thinking, feeling, behaving (which basically means that a person has his/her own systematic, distinctive and enduring set of traits, that affect how one perceives the world, what meanings one finds and how one applies them).

Few in this world wouldn’t like to know more about themselves. However much we know about the self, we are always willing to listen to more. (That’s how the astrologists, palmists, and us psychologists earn our bread... and butter... and jam... and cornflakes even). A host of tools, free and at a fee, are available on the internet and in the market to achieve this end. While the authenticity and accuracy of the free online tools can be doubted, we can still arrive at a reasonably discounted picture of the self from these instruments. Each has its own terminologies, theories, applications and psychometric properties. While a comprehensive study can give a thorough portrayal, the simple jargon-free analysis is gud enuf for the curious layman. Bear in mind, however, that no personality is good or bad. Each has its own peculiarities, strengths and weaknesses. You can just understand yourself, appreciate the positives, and attempt to change things in yourself that may not be as you want them.

Obviously, personality is too broad to be understood holistically with a single instrument. So, there are different tests and tools that focus on varied aspects of this concept viz intelligence, leadership style, achievement motivation, etc. Some of the most popular ones that describe/sort individuals are the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), 16 Personality Factors (16 Pf), NEO-PI-R / NEO-FFI (Personality Inventory based on the Big Five Model), etc.

The MBTI by the mother-daughter duo Myers-Briggs is based on Jung’s personality theory. It has 4 dimensions: Extraversion – Introversion, Sensing – Intuition, Thinking – Feeling, Judging – Perceiving, that combine to form 16 personality types, each person can belong to one and only one. I am an ESTJ, which basically means that I am conscientious, practical, dependable, objective, outspoken and self-confident. (Ahem, and all u thot was I was a narcissistic, egoistic, no-gooder!) I find the MBTI highly relevant in a variety of contexts (not just coz my employer is a huge MBTI fan, but also coz personality expressions become highly predictable in different situations from this perspective). One tends to feel comfortable with people belonging to the same type, but wider avenues can be explored and accomplished by interacting with other types.

The 16 Pf by Cattell gives 16 factors that are basically adjectives applying to personality. When these 16 factors were judged to be overlapping by some geniuses, they came up with the PEN model, which had only 3 factors – Psychoticism, Extraversion, Neuroticism. Both these tools have separate questionnaires, and distinct interpretations.

A better means was desired (sort of a middle ground as 16 factors were found too many and 3 too less), and that’s where the terrific Five Factor Model by McCrae and Costa made a grand entry. It gave 5 dimensions - Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness to Experience, Agreeableness and Conscientiousness - thus called the OCEAN model, which are further divided into 6 facets each (like Openness is described in terms of Feelings, Ideas, Aesthetics, etc). While the NEO-PI-R is a lengthy inventory giving a broader description, the NEO-FFI is a condensed version that is fast and easy to administer, score and interpret. I took the latter at M.A. level and I was found to be exceptionally high on C, high on O, E, A, and low on N.

Of course, there is the very simple Type A and Type B distinction, that asks if you are constantly on the move, a short-tempered and committed perfectionist or are you laidback, easygoing and flexible. The former is Type A (Not surprisingly, I had a phenomenally high score there!) and the latter Type B. Health issues are a concern with Type A as they are always stressed and prone to problems related to blood pressure and heart disease. God save me... (Anyone teachin meditation out there?!!)

The FIRO-B (Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation of Behavior) by Will Schutz - a very famous and popular tool in corporates and counseling - talks about what are our interpersonal needs, how we handle our relations, and what features of our behavior dominate in relations. Inclusion, Control, Affection are the 3 dimensions, further classified into Expressed and Wanted. Any dyad (teacher-student, boss-employee, couples and so on) can enhance their relationship taking the help of the FIRO-B. Even in groups (family, friend circle and teams), this proves highly beneficial.

I seem to be going on forever! Yet, I cant help mentionin a test dat I took recently. Based on the theory of TA (Transactional Analysis), it’s called the Transactional Styles Inventory for the General population (TSI-G). As the name indicates, It takes into account the transactional styles of people, and identifies their dominant and back-up styles; whether OK or not-OK, and from which specific mode of the Parent or Child. (Will explain in detail later if anyone’s interested or you can always Google/Wiki). I ranked Innovative - OK creative child, and Problem Solving - OK adult. (I’m pleasantly surprised! I was afraid I’d be documented not-OK Adapted Child!)

Finally, a word on the Indian theories before I end. Most instruments we use in India are adaptations of western tools. (I don’t know why. I know for sure Indians aren’t falling short on the grey-cells. Maybe there aren’t enough people, or maybe people don’t venture into such intensive endeavors, maybe resources and finances are low. God knows....)

The Triguna theory, probably the most renowned till date, explains that each person comprises of 3 gunas – Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. The words are self-explanatory in the way that Sattva is helpful and simple, Rajas is active and fun-loving, whereas Tamas is lazy and anti-social. Depending on which guna is present in more quantity, a person has a particular composition and disposition. I am correctly rated high on Rajas, coz I’m ambitious, a connoisseur of good food/luxuries, and I enjoy life!

I hope I have been successful in givin u a glimpse of the vast arena of personality. Misinterpretations and erroneous depictions, if any, are to be excused; I have merely tried to condense my understanding of the different psychometric instruments and introduce them to the laypeople. Doing my bit to further the awareness of psychology and self... Bhavnao ko samjho! ;-)

Trust you found this useful! I certainly derived pleasure from sharing this. If its too heavy and boring for you, do leave your comments so I know. Explore yourselves! Enjoy....


1 comment:

sibi said...

hey princess tat was not al boring,istead it was very knwldgble.pshclgy is damn intrstng field yaar.hey some of these tests were prfrmd on me right?u knw yo blog is getng unprdctbly gud.there is a proper flow in which u go,n tat keeps d reader read mo n no point it is boring.its very comndble tat u take so much effort to make yo blog gud, n blieve me its wrth it all.defintn tat u gave for prsnlty was realy interstng.people like me who dnt knw d meaning yo blog is very useful...m glad i m a regular reader of yo blog.....