Character versus Personality
by Ron Kurtus (revised 28 July 2018)
Character and personality are often confused, since they both answer the question of what type of person you are.
Your character is a set of learned behavior traits that determine whether you will effectively achieve goals, be forthright in dealing with others, and will obey the laws and rules of the group.
Whereas, your personality consists of inborn traits that are demonstrated externally.
Although character is related to personality, it is not the same thing. Personality primarily consists of inborn traits, while character consists of learned behavior.
Both may vary with the situation or circumstances.
Questions you may have include:
- What is personality?
- How does character differ from personality?
- What sort of overlap is there?
This lesson will answer those questions.
People seem to be born with certain personality traits or tendencies. Some people are shy, while others are outgoing and talkative. Some people seem to be leaders, while others are analytical in their thinking.
A common way to classify your personality or disposition is whether you are an extrovert or an introvert. That is, whether you tend to be outgoing or keep to yourself more. Another classification is whether you tend to be task oriented or prefer social engagements. This results in people having either a domineering, influencing, steady or complying personality.
Note that this is just one of several classification methods of the various personality traits that people may have.
On the other hand, character is typically learned from your parents, teachers and friends. This learning comes from being taught directly or from observations of others. Since it is learned, your character can also change over time.
Character relates to attitudes and values.
There is no such thing as a person having a dishonest personality. Honesty is a positive character trait and dishonesty is a negative character trait. But there may be a tenancy toward breaking the law, if you have a rebellious personality. Often rebellion is simply a phase that young people go through.
Whether you are an introvert or extrovert, your character concerns your attitudes toward doing difficult tasks, dealing with other people and following the rules of your culture. It is the judgment of the type of person you are.
There is some overlap in the theories of character and personality, as can be seen by the Big Five Personality Traits:
- Extroversion and introversion
- Neuroticism / Emotional stability
- Openness to experience
Extroversion and introversion, Neuroticism / Emotional stability, and openness to experience are definitely inborn personality traits. However, both agreeableness and conscientiousness are a mix of personality traits and learned character behavior.
Agreeableness is a tendency to be compassionate and cooperative rather than suspicious and antagonistic towards others. It is also a measure of one's trusting and helpful nature.
Conscientiousness is defined as a tendency to be organized and dependable, show self-discipline, act dutifully, and aim for achievement.
Character is a set of behavior traits that define what type of person you are. It determines whether you will achieve your goals, be forthright in dealing with others and obey the rules of the group. Character and personality are related, but they are not the same thing. Personality is inborn traits and character consists of learned behavior. Character may vary with the situation or circumstances or may be purposely changed.
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Resources and references
Difference Between Personality and Character - KeyDifferences.com
Big Five personality traits - Wikipedia
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