My friend Bryan asked me a wonderful and endearing question the other night. He asked, “Ryan—What are some personality traits that I should be aware of? If I were making a personality traits list, which ones would make it onto the list?” Great question!
Your personality embodies who you are and how you respond to the world around you. Undoubtedly, it forms the core structure of your identity and personhood. It’s how you make impressions on people, how they see you, how you see yourself, and how your general outlook on life manifests in your actions.
Your personality traits determine your sense of responsibility, your emotional stability, self discipline, and characteristics that define your being. So, prospective employers want to know your personality traits, while your success as a spouse or parent will depend greatly on these traits and how they appear in your behavior.
Given how vital your personality is in overall quality of life, it’s only fair that we dive deep into the major traits, understand their implications, and learn how to develop positive personality traits while improving on our negative personality traits.
My Experience With Personality Traits…
There’s no better way to understand humans than to understand the various personalities. Whether you’re at work or trying to get through a bad relationship (queue narcissistic relationship tendencies).
Through my own experience, I’ve learned to use personality traits to better understand who is going to do well with me and who won’t…
This doesn’t mean I ignore people or move away from them… It simply means I can manage my own expectations better. Use personality traits as a type of skill for yourself. That’s my advice! It will help to prevent issues before they come up (again, at work—home—relationships—anywhere).
Understanding Personality Traits
Personality traits are behaviors, qualities, values, and characteristics that you portray in speech, actions, thoughts, and decisions.
The traits you have are a result of a combination of different causal factors. Your genetic makeup predisposes you towards specific behaviors. Your childhood and environment will influence it greatly too. Education and experiential learning contribute substantially to the development of your person. Furthermore, peer groups and societal expectations also shape you as you go along.
Your experiences encountered in life will also matter as your personality develops. Also, habitual choices and repeated actions will cement themselves as integral parts of your personality.
As you can tell, your personality is a result of a complicated mixture of contributing factors that no one has complete control over. But a conscious effort towards comprehending your traits, recognizing your personality type, and working on your negative traits will increase your chances of success in your career, relationships, and general pursuits in life.
The Big Five Personality Traits
Creating a full personality traits list may confuse first-time readers because it can become long and drawn up. We’ll get into a comprehensive list of traits later below. But first, let’s grab a bird’s eye view of how personality types are categorized based on dominant traits.
Grouping specific types of personality into archetypes provides a clearer and more accurate understanding of people. Since the 1940s, expert psychologists have agreed broadly that five major personality types cover all the different characteristics you find in people.
The big five factor model first appeared in 1949, when a psychologist named DW Fiske envisioned the idea. Later on, experts like Norman (1967) and Goldberg (1981) improved the theory to make it more accurate and widely accepted.
Researchers like Gordon Allport identified over 4000 distinct traits observed across people’s personalities. A painstaking process of simplifying and organizing them into core ideas began. As a result, the big five theory was born.
The big five personality traits are Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. The handy acronym OCEAN may help us remember the main traits better.
Let’s explore each master trait in slightly more detail.
You’ll find this trait in people who are open to trying and experimenting with new ideas and experiences. Broad learning interests and enjoying a wide range of interests are key positive personality traits observed here.
People with a higher degree of openness may appear more creative, and better at abstract thinking compared to those who score low on this trait.
Conscientiousness in people pushes them towards being goal-oriented individuals who are good at avoiding indulgences. Essentially, this trait lets people behave responsibly. People who score high on conscientiousness generally plan ahead, remain organized, and are highly accountable.
Outgoing and loud traits characterize people in this category. Their ability to interact and deal well with people means that you’ll typically find this trait among people-persons.
They can make good leaders and coordinators, but may lack the subtlety needed to manage sensitive situations.
This trait prompts the person to excel at socially acceptable behavior and an altruistic nature. You’ll find this trait in people who are compassionate, empathetic, and unmistakably kind towards others.
While some may see this trait as belonging to pushovers, others value the conducive vibe it brings.
As the name suggests, this trait is more dominant in people with prominent mood and emotional variations. They may seem more volatile or responsive to stressful environments.
An increase in levels of this trait may make the person less adept at dealing with stress and anxiety. The trait may also make you more emotionally unstable and volatile.
How Personality Traits Manifest in Behavior
All personality traits seem easy to understand when described and organized as information. However, traits appear as behaviors and habits in the real world.
Also, the big five categories do not exist alone in a person. Everyone has specific degrees of each of these five parameters. For instance, person A may exhibit high agreeableness and neuroticism, with moderate conscientious qualities and low extraversion. You could imagine this person to be a helpful and selfless individual who finds it difficult to refuse people and is accountable for entrusted tasks.
So, your personality consists of varying levels of the big five traits. The unique combination you present may determine your career success, notions of hard work, creativity levels, or ability to manage emotions.
As these qualities combine to describe and determine your personality, smaller but more visible traits and behaviors make their way into your personality. These traits may appear as positive character trait or a negative characteristic.
Let’s take a look at how these behaviors appear and what they mean for your personality.
Related: Questions that reveal personality
Positive Personality Traits—Personality Traits List
Depending on the combination of the big five traits you possess, you may exhibit some positive character traits.
- Imaginative: You’re inclined to creativity and drumming up new ideas and innovative solutions.
- Confident: You appear comfortable in your skin and clothes. Interacting with people comes naturally to you.
- Courageous: You’re high on openness and extraversion, making you seem braver than others who are neurotic or too agreeable.
- Loyal: You can get behind a cause or a leader and show unflinching support.
- Patience: You can envision long-term goals and weather through temporary setbacks or delays.
- Humble: You respect other people’s dignity and do not consider yourself superior or better.
- Honesty: You remain truthful in your dealings, and people can rely on your word.
- Friendly: An outgoing personality allows you to gel smoothly with crowds or strangers.
- Adventurous: You’re open and excited about new opportunities and experiences. Being bogged down in the same rut and lifestyle bores you.
- Fair: You develop a strong sense of what is just and assign everyone and every task its fair due.
- Sympathetic: You can empathize with people undergoing emotional stress or happiness, leading to better relationships.
- Farsighted: You can see the goal or desired outcome ahead of time and execute actions that serve this purpose
- Focused: You know how to dedicate attention to an important task or cause
- Tolerant: You’re accommodative of deferring viewpoints and opposing values.
Negative Personality Traits—Personality Traits List
A small variation in the combination of the big five traits may lead you to develop unhealthy behaviors and traits. Here are some examples.
- Impatient: You want immediate results and struggle with slowdowns and delays
- Insecure: You’re not confident with who you are and seek validation from friends, work, accomplishments, etc.
- Selfish: Excessive extraversion and neuroticism may lead to self-centered thinking.
- Pessimistic: Your outlook on life generally involves expecting the worst outcome from circumstances.
- Grumpy: You sulk and behave rudely with people around you, even when it’s not their fault
- Jealous: You feel resentment towards friends or colleagues who have a better sense of success
- Rebellious: You refuse to complete tasks, accommodate other characters, and react poorly to certain situations.
- Irritable: You get annoyed easily and get ruffled at the slightest provocation
- Aloof: You refuse to open up to friends or connect with potential partners.
- Materialistic: You attach excessive value to physical belongings and monetary success
- Messy: You fail to stay organized and struggle with priorities
- Arrogant: You assume importance and see yourself as more knowledgeable than others
- Narcissistic: You develop an unhealthy love for your own person
- Nervous: You have an unhealthy impression of what others think of you, leading to nervous behavior
- Opinionated: You fail to recognize the value of other people’s views and impose your own view constantly
- Paranoid: You think others are out to harm or disregard you even if no such intentions exist
- Confrontational: You lash out at people you disagree with and create arguments where none existed
Related: Negative personality traits
Redefining Your Personality for Success
Holding on to a printable list of personality traits doesn’t do much besides informing you of what behaviors exist. These lists can describe people, help you grasp different personalities, and get a high level understanding of how people behave.
However, using this knowledge to tweak and improve your own personality remains the best course of action. The process is not easy, but you’ll end up more prepared, well-rounded, and capable if you start reshaping your personality with desired traits.
This process involves identifying your big five traits and working towards scaling up your positive personality traits while improving or removing the negative ones.
When you define personality traits that you possess, it will give you a clear picture of which big five personality trait appears most dominant. The resulting habits and behaviors can then be tweaked and improved toward a more wholesome personality.
Related: Worst personality traits
Step-by-Step Guide to Improving Your Personality Traits
Any effort towards improving your personality and behavior should involve ramping up positive personality traits, while negating and managing negative characteristics.
Consider these steps in building positive traits to skyrocket your personality.
Assess Yourself And Spend Time Reflecting
Spend some time daily reflecting on your traits and behavior. Even without complicated personality tests, you can identify which big five traits stand out the most in you. Put your observations into words and writing. Rely on this daily reflection to understand your personality on a deeper level.
Create Goals and Milestones
Your objective towards developing a better personality needs a clear finish line and viable targets. Do you wish to be more sociable? Maybe you want to build confidence. Perhaps you want to overcome the fear of embracing new experiences.
Set clear and concise goals that you can work towards daily.
Create Actionable Steps
Your ambitious goals remain mere words on paper if you don’t act on them. Find ways to develop the desired personality trait in a specific area of your life.
Talk to strangers and practice conversation skills for confidence. Put yourself under moderately stressful situations to learn control of emotions. Become more sociable as you put yourself out there during social meets and greets. Talk to your crush and interact naturally while being polite.
These are all examples of crude action that work towards a specific goal.
Learn Wherever You Can
Pick up educational material about a specific personality trait or a broad range of qualities you desire. Learn about how they’re developed and how to sustain these habits.
Find a mentor who can serve as a model or example to follow. This one’s especially important if you’re a shy and bashful individual who shrinks at the thought of public interaction.
Being aware of your strengths, flaws, and qualities leads to humility and self-control. You also get a better sense of how to improve because you know where you are in the development journey.
Consider if your thoughts and state of mind are in tune with your desired behavior. Are there specific patterns of good traits you want to continue? Perhaps there are trends of poor traits you want to let go of.
See what emotional triggers and mental states promote good or bad traits in you.
Rinse and Repeat
Like any other skill in life, personality development works best with repetition and reflection. At the end of every day, sit back and consider what traits were most dominant during the day. See if you entertained unhealthy traits through force of habit. Check if the progress you made during the day can be replicated tomorrow.
Closing Note—Personality Trait List
Personality traits number up to thousands if you simply want to create lists and tables. However, combining knowledge and awareness with action and repetition will allow you to craft a personality riddled with the best traits while minimizing the negative ones along the way.
Personality traits are yours to own, refine and develop. Own your habits, determine your behavior, and set yourself on a path to greater success in your career, relationships, and personal state of mind.