Personality psychology is the scientific study of our unique patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving. This is one of the things I apply daily in my coaching with business leaders. And they always want to know (as they should): How do I apply this science to making my workforce better?
One crucial item to consider is how much of a person’s personality is within that person’s conscious control? After all, you can’t address what you can’t control. And you can’t address what you’re not aware of.
Research shows that, for most people, 60 percent of one’s personality is in-born, whereas the other 40 percent is environmental. You’ve probably heard of Sigmund Freud’s study of the id, the ego and the superego from the early days of personality research. These were all the studies of in-born traits.
These traits are very useful to know about. Since they’re in-born, these are the things that are true about you and will not change.
But that other 40 percent is very interesting to address.
These are factors that have been influenced by your environment and your experiences. Much of this 40 percent may seem unchangeable, but that’s only the case when you’re unaware of these patterns. As you become aware of them – what they consist of and how they play out in practice – people can in fact make adjustments to aspects of their personalities.
Personality psychology plays a role – not in trying to change people – but in helping people to address issues that can make them more effective in their work, their relationships and their lives.
You’ve probably taken some sort of personality assessment, even if it’s just the silly ones on social media where you pick a photo and it tells you which Disney character you are. Those are fun. There are also scientifically valid, psychologically based personality tests that are used by psychologists, researchers, HR consultants and coaches like me to help understand people’s behaviors and their subconscious thinking patterns. Once we know their results, we’re better able to guide them and give them advice that can lead to more positive outcomes in certain situations.
This type of work can indeed be beneficial to you, your people and their performance in the workplace – not to mention every other aspect of their lives.
Personality psychology was the basis of my doctoral research, and my specialty today is to help apply it so business leaders can strengthen themselves and their teams. We should talk if you would like to benefit from this kind of insight.
And don’t miss the recent interview I did with Michelle Cohl, talking about many of these issues: