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Personal Character Traits

by Ron Kurtus (revised 13 August 2018)

Your personal character traits consist of the attitudes you have toward your activities and the challenges they present.

Positive personal character traits lead to achievement of goals, success, and the feeling of confidence. Negative personal character traits can lead to failure or frustration.

Most of these traits are established through training from parents, while others are gained from peer groups.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.

Typical personal character traits

Your personal character traits may be positive or negative, depending on the situation. An example of a positive personal character trait is courage. Its opposite, negative trait is cowardice. Most people have a trait that lies between the extremes.

Depends on situation

A lot depends on the situation or challenge. A person may have a meek personality and often appear as a coward, but that same person may show courage and become a hero upon seeing a child in danger.

Some challenges may be extreme life-or-death situations, while others may be a minor roadblock in what you are trying to do. Some people react to trivial problems by giving up. Others will buckle down and be determined to complete the task.

Extreme traits may be dysfunctional

People with traits at the very ends of the spectrum can be considered dysfunctional. For example, a person who is foolishly brave and one that cowers at trivial threats both have personality problems.

Typical traits

Typical positive and negative personal character traits with respect to a challenge in achieving a goal or performing a task are:

It is those character qualities, orĀ traits, that determine how a person will respond in any given situation.

OK, suppose there was an important job to be done. The way you respond to this challenge determines your character in the eyes of the other person. However, you may not feel it was that importance or worthwhile to make much of an effort.




Positive trait

Negative trait

Danger Courage Cowardice
Importance Conscientious Careless
Difficulty Determined Discouraged
Abilities Confident Unsure
Effort Hard working Lazy

Related to success and failure

Your attitude toward challenges you face when seeking to achieve a goal or when trying to complete a task can help to determine whether you will be a success or failure in that goal or task.

For example, if you fear making a mistake while giving a speech that might cause you to be ridiculed, you may not proceed. But if you have the courage to overcome that fear, you will be successful, even though you did make some mistakes.

Having positive personal character traits will not only allow you achieve various tasks, but it also can be a strong indication of being a success in general.

Developed until ingrained

Although the tendency toward various personal character traits is inborn, these traits are really developed from parental training and influence as a very young child. There are attitudes you are "supposed to have" that are ingrained without any logical reasoning. A mother that prevents her child from doing things will ingrain the attitude of being easily discouraged and unsure of his skills.

Influence of peers

Personal character develops somewhat through the influence of peers and school. A teen that starts associates with "go-getters" will have the attitudes needed to excel herself. On the other hand, you have seen good children get in with the wrong crowd and become lazy, as well as having other negative traits.

Can change as an adult

Once ingrained, a personal character trait is difficult—but not impossible—to change as an adult.

An example of this is the story of baseball great Henry Aaron. His father had ingrained the attitude of using as little energy as possible in your activities. Although Aaron was playing professional baseball, he applied this personal character attitude that his father had taught him and was not known for trying very hard.

One day a scout from the major league Boston Braves visited the team to evaluate one of the other players. When Aaron saw this opportunity, he changed his attitude and played like a dynamo. He was determined, confident, conscientious and full of energy. He also caught the scout's eye and was drafted to play with the Braves.

He went on to later break Babe Ruth's record for the most home runs in a career.


Personal character traits are the attitudes you have toward your activities and challenges. These traits may be positive or negative, depending on the situation. Positive personal character traits lead to achievement, while negative traits can lead to failure or frustration. Most of these traits are established through training from parents, while others are gained from peer groups.

Your friends can help define your character

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