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Three Character Trait Classifications

by Ron Kurtus (revised 10 April 2020)

Character traits can be divided into three distinct classifications: personal, social, and cultural traits.

Your personal character traits concern doing things for your own rewards. It is about attitudes you have toward your own actions in doing things and achieving goals.

Social character traits concern how you do things for other people and how you deal with those people.

Cultural character traits concern how well you adhere to or follow the laws, rules, or codes of organizations of which you are a member.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.

Personal character traits

Personal character traits are attitudes you have toward

Thoughts: If you have to do some work for another person, your attitude and the way you work affects their opinion of your work-ethic and personal character. Likewise, if you are neat and orderly, and you come in on time, their opinion is positive. However, if you are lazy, they may not want to deal with you again.

On the other hand, if you are doing something for yourself, you may be dilligent, organized, and hard-working. This will help you achieve your goal. However, if you have to do something, and you goof off and are lazy, you may achieve your goal of getting out of work.

The attitudes you have toward activities make up your personal character traits. This often concerns how you respond to challenges. These traits may be positive or negative or often in-between. Positive or good personal character traits lead to achievement of goals and success. Negative personal character traits can lead to failure or frustration.

Typical positive and negative personal character traits include:

Positive or Good Traits

Negative or Bad traits

Courageous Cowardly
Conscientious Careless
Determined Easily discouraged
Confident Unsure
Hard working Lazy

Social character traits

The impressions other people have concerning how you deal with them make up your social character traits.

Work ethic is a belief that hard work and diligence have a moral benefit and an inherent ability, virtue or value to strengthen character and individual abilities.[1] It is a set of values centered on importance of work and manifested by determination or desire to work hard. Social ingrainment of this value is considered to enhance character through hard work that is respective to an individual's field of work.[2]

Moral character or character is an evaluation of an individual's stable moral qualities. The concept of character can imply a variety of attributes including the existence or lack of virtues such as empathycouragefortitudehonesty, and loyalty, or of good behaviors or habits. Moral character primarily refers to the assemblage of qualities that distinguish one individual from another—although on a cultural level, the set of moral behaviors to which a social group adheres can be said to unite and define it culturally as distinct from others.

Your attitudes

The attitudes you have toward other people and how you deal with them make up your social character traits. Positive social character traits lead to success in relationships and gaining continued rewards. Negative social character traits can result in being distrusted or even disliked. There also extremes of these traits, as well as those in-between.

Typical positive and negative social character traits include:

Positive or Good Traits

Negative or Bad traits

Honest Dishonest
Kind Cruel
Reliable Unreliable
Fair Biased
Considerate Inconsiderate

Cultural character traits

Attitudes toward the cultural laws, rules, and values of the community, organization, and group determine a person's cultural character traits and whether or not he or she adheres to those laws.

Most people are members of community, culture and religions. Those groups have rules and laws that they expect members to follow. A person who follows or obeys the rules is judged as having good cultural character. He or she may be considered an outstanding, law-abiding citizen, a good member of the group or a devout, religious person.

Those who do not follow the rules are considered law-breakers, trouble-makers or sinners. Their character is said to be immoral, unethical, or corrupt. Most laws and rules are stated in the negative sense, telling what you cannot do.

Government laws include:

Those who are caught breaking the laws will suffer the consequences by being fined or incarcerated.

Cultural laws include:

Religious laws include:

Conflict and combination

Sometimes the religious or cultural rules are in conflict of the government rules. Also, some societies have governments that only include their culture and religion, such that government laws are also religious laws.

Good and bad

A law-abiding citizen, a loyal soldier, and a devout religious person all are considered to have positive cultural character. They are often said to have good moral or ethical character to those in their group.

Would you say a person who speeds or gets drunk in public is immoral? He may bother or even hurt others by his action. That would be negative social behavior.

Character can change

If a person moves into an area with different government laws, into a different culture or change religious, he or she will need to obey a different set of rules or laws. Your character—as judged by people in this group—will depend on how well you follow their laws.


Character is the combination of personal, social and cultural character traits. Personal character traits concern attitudes toward achieving goals. Social character traits concern to how a person deals with other people. Cultural character traits concern how well a person follows government, organization and religious laws and rules.

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