The problem in forming judgments about a person's suitability for important roles in our lives employee, friend, lover, spouse is that we all have an uncanny predilection for observing attractive personality traits and manufacturing out of them the presence of positive character traits that is, if someone is outgoing, confident, and fun we're more likely to think they're honest, moral , and kind. But it's far from clear that the one kind tracks with the other.
We unconsciously tend to connect personality to character for two main reasons: We actually need to observe people in character-challenging situations in order to make reliable deductions about their character. For example, if we observe someone lie easily, we can be reasonably certain from even just one instance that they've done so in the past and will do so again in the future, as the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.
This is because the beliefs that drive us to do things like lie easily, or tell the truth, are present in us at all times. They may remain "dormant" until circumstances stir them up in such a way that they motivate observable action, but they're rarely hidden away deliberately. Which begs the question: Not so much by speaking directly with people whose character you're trying to uncover, but by speaking with people who know the people whose character you're trying to uncover. This is why, for example, wise prospective employers always call references.
The challenge, though, once we do is that prospective employees provide references they expect will speak well of them. The trick, then, is to ask questions of a person's references designed to get them to reveal their most accurate judgments honestly.
Primary Personality Traits. Positive Traits ( = 37%). Accessible; Active; Adaptable; Admirable; Adventurous; Agreeable; Alert; Allocentric; Amiable. Character traits are often labeled with descriptive adjectives such as patient, unfaithful, or jealous. Often, someone's character and personality are intertwined.
Questions like "Have you ever known X to lie? You won't know if a reference is comfortable lying themselves, so the veracity of any answer you get will remain questionable at best. For this reason, it's better to ask questions that push people to apply their own judgment. These kind of questions are more likely though certainly not in all circumstances to return honest answers.
Therefore, instead ask things like, "What in your judgment is X's greatest weakness?
Your reference may try to play down the weakness they reveal, but you can read between the lines. The drawback to this technique is that it relies on the judgment of individuals, which we know is biased and often flawed. This drawback can be overcome, however, by asking the same questions of many people who know the person in whose character you're interested.
As I wrote in a previous post, The Wisdom Of Crowds , if multiple people independently return similar answers, the likelihood that their collective judgment will be accurate is high. Though it may seem Machiavellian, you can apply this process to friends and potential mates as well. The average length of time, for instance, people date before deciding to marry is approximately three years in the United Kingdom a figure, I should note, that varies widely by culture.
The challenge with deciding to marry someone after knowing them only three years, for example, is that some important character traits, good and bad, may not have revealed themselves by then. Of course, it's socially awkward bordering on inappropriate to interrogate a potential mate's friends and family about them directly. And though I'm not suggesting anyone do this, I am suggesting we can and should pay attention to data as it's presented to us by others as they may be in possession of better data than we are.
People generally have a hard time hiding their true feelings about others over time, so if you hear common themes from people close to the person in whose character you're interested, pay attention. You're almost certainly hearing the truth. I don't mean by any of the above to imply that personality isn't important. But when we're making decisions about who to let into our lives in critical roles, character must be considered equally important, if not more so, but is often readily overlooked.
Luckily for me, the references of the person I interviewed all that time ago not only provided strong endorsements but endorsements whose content was consistent. I hired her and over time I found her to be as outstanding as her references predicted she would be. If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to visit Dr. Lickerman's home page, Happiness in this World.
Dear Alex, You explained in in simplest way. Yes I agree the character is what matters more and this is true that one learns about other person's character much later. Ask yourself the following questions:. By popping open your journal and recording the answers to these questions, you can use the information to discover your true personality.
There are many different personality types. According to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator , there are sixteen different types.
A character refers to a set of morals and beliefs that defines how we treat or behave with others and ourselves. Questions like "Have you ever known X to lie? Lincoln was a role model for character, integrity, and honesty, traits that never left him throughout the trials and tribulations of leading a country during one of the worst periods of its history. When you have integrity, you main your adherence to it whether or not other people are watching. For instance, there might be a romantic hero, a cruel leader, or a helpless heroine who needs to be rescued. You follow through on commitments and proactively create or accept accountability for your behavior and choices. The challenge, though, once we do is that prospective employees provide references they expect will speak well of them.
Your personality type can be determined by many factors. One way to discover your personality type is to approach it scientifically. Test yourself online or ask a psychologist or therapist to analyze you. In psychology, there are five factors that determine different personality traits. The big five factors are:. Your personality test will assess how much of each of the big five factors you possess. This will help you gain more insight into your internal experience so you can make sense of your own thoughts and behaviors.
Here is a list of positive adjectives that can help you describe personality traits:. What would life be without balance? Whether we like to admit it or not, some of our personality traits are also likely to be negative:. Here is a list of negative adjectives that may describe aspects of personalities from time to time:. High levels of thoughtfulness, good impulse control, and goal-directed behaviors. Those high in conscientiousness tend to be organized and mindful of details, as well as act dutifully, aim for achievement, and prefer planned rather than spontaneous behavior.
Understanding more about our own personalities can help in how we relate to the people close to us — and help them understand us better.
It can also improve the way we work and learn, as we know more about our natural traits and how we can work with them rather than against them. What is your personality type?
Click here to take quiz to discover your personality type. Thanks for a great post.