Over your lifetime, you will change in many ways. Perhaps you are a parent and have seen the ways in which your child is developing and changing every day. Or you just started secondary school or university and can feel yourself change as you grow and learn about the world in new ways. However, one thing that doesn’t change, and will not be affected over your life, is your personality.
Yes, you may appear to others to change in certain ways. Perhaps more confident and talkative, or rather more contemplative and cautious. But at your core, you will not change much. Your personality will remain more or less fixed, as it is something you are born with. What can change over time is your character. We often confuse personality with character, but I hope to clear up this confusion. In the following blog, I will discuss what is the difference between the two and what are some key personality traits.
The difference between personality and character
As an article from Psychology Today explains “research has shown that personality traits are determined largely by heredity and are mostly immutable. The arguably more important traits of character, on the other hand, are more malleable… they are based on beliefs”. Character is often built over a lifetime, with different influencers coming into play. Our character will be shaped by our family, friends, schooling, and society, which will instil in us certain ways of behaving. Traits of character include honesty, kindness and virtue, whereas personality includes extroversion or introversion, energetic or quiet, detail oriented or big picture etc. The way personality is expressed can be influenced by a person’s surroundings, but at its core, it will not change over a person’s life. As a Forbes article summarizes: “Personality consists of a stable set of preferences and tendencies through which we approach the world. Personality traits form at an early age and are fixed by early adulthood”.
Introvert and extrovert stereotypes:
For the purpose of this blog I will be focusing on extroversion and introversion. The reason for this is because it is one of the first, and perhaps easiest, personality traits to figure out in someone else and ourselves. Stereotypes associated with extraverts include talkative, outgoing, vain, strong and opinionated. Introverts, on the other hand, are often said to be shy, awkward, intelligent, quiet and weak. However, these are incorrect and don’t actually help us understand the real difference between the two.
What is the difference between extroverts and introverts?
The best way to differentiate an extrovert from an introvert is to understand where they get their energy from. Extrovert get their energy from being with others. This means that after socializing with a group of friends, or at an event, they will feel rejuvenated. This doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy time alone, but this is usually not as important, and only needed for some time. If alone for too long, they may begin to feel drained, bored and unmotivated. An introvert, on the other hand, gets his or her energy from being alone. This doesn’t mean they do not enjoy talking to people, but they may prefer one on one over a group, and will be drained if done for too long. That is why they need more time alone, and once enough energy has been stored, can go out and face the world. Introverts can also be very engaged and animated, if they are among people familiar to them.
Another important difference between the two is that introverts and extroverts do not have the same level of dopamine, the brain’s feel-good hormone. This greatly influence how social a person is and is well summarized with the following quote. “Those who naturally have high levels of stimulation tend to be introverts—they try and avoid any extra social stimulation that might make them feel anxious or overwhelmed. Those with low levels of stimulation tend to be extroverts. Under-stimulation leaves extroverts feeling bored, so they seek social stimulation to feel good”. However, as the Forbes article argues, most of us are ambiverts, and fall on a spectrum.
What’s an ambivert?
Most of us do not go in the extreme, and maintain overall balanced hormone levels, which is why we are on a spectrum where a majority of us fall in the middle. An ambivert can adapt to different situations. If they know themselves well, they can develop a better understanding of how different situations can affect them, and how to react according to their strengths. The value we will gain from learning about our personality and where we are on a spectrum, whether extrovert, introvert or ambivert, is that it will help us deepen our understanding of ourselves and the ones we interact with. Knowing our personality can be beneficial on multiple levels, as it increases our self-awareness and emotional intelligence, which can in turn can help us in our personal and professional life.
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