Your personality influences everything from the friends you choose to the candidates you vote for in an election. Yet many people never really spend much time thinking about their personality traits, writes Amy Morin author of “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do?” in Inc.Blog.

Properly understanding and appreciating your personality can give you insight into your strengths and weaknesses. It can also help you gain insight into how others see you.

Most modern-day psychologists agree there are 5 major personality types. Referred to as the “five factor model,” everyone possesses some degree of each. But one of them will be prominent in each one of us.

Conscientiousness: People, who rank highest in conscientiousness is efficient, well organised, dependable, and self-sufficient. They prefer to plan things in advance and aim for high achievement. People who rank lower in conscientiousness may view those with this personality trait as stubborn and obsessive. Interestingly, studies show marrying someone high in conscientiousness increases your chances of workplace success. A conscientious spouse can boost your productivity and help you achieve the most.

Extroversion: People who rank high in extroversion gain energy from social activity. They’re talkative and outgoing and they’re comfortable in the spotlight. Others may view them as domineering and attention seeking. They are always outspoken, active and involved. If you take note of people who gives strong and firm handshake, they may fall into this category. Studies show men (not necessarily women) with the strongest handgrips are most likely to rank high in extroversion and least likely to be neurotic.

Agreeableness: Those who rank high in agreeableness are trustworthy, kind, and affectionate toward others. They’re known for their pro-social behaviour and they’re often committed to volunteer work and altruistic activities. Other people may view them as naïve and overly passive. If we look for a financial investor who is high in agreeableness. Studies show agre­eable investors are least likely to lose money from risky trading, writes Morin.

Openness to experience: The fourth type of personality is those who rate high in openness, is known for their broad range of interests and vivid imaginations. “They’re curious and creative and they usually prefer variety over rigid routines. They’re known for their pursuits of self-actualisation through intense, euphoric experiences like meditative retreats. Others may view them as unpredictable and unfocused.” It is to be noted that openness is the only personality trait that consistently predicts political orientation. Studies show people high in openness are more likely to endorse liberalism and they’re also more likely to express their political beliefs.

Neuroticism: The fifth and final type of people is the neurotic ones. They experience a high degree of emotional instability. They’re more likely to be reactive and excitable and they report higher degrees of unpleasant emotions like anxiety and irritability. Others may view them as unstable and insecure. Interestingly, neurotic people seek acceptance by publishing a lot of pictures on Facebook. Studies find they’re less likely to post comments or updates that could be seen as controversial, and much more likely to post lots of pictures.

Personality remains relatively stable over time. The personality traits you exhibited at age 7 are likely to predi­ct much of your behaviour as an adult. Surely, you can ch­a­nge some of your personality traits. It takes hard work and effort to make big changes.

What is said about these personalities is also applicable to our spiritual life – that is our relationship to God and the deepest dimensions of our life.  Understanding these personalities of oneself and others will help us cope better with the world. But we should be careful not to absolutise these traits. Knowing one’s own personality along that of the significant other can help us to understand, affirm each other,

(The writer is professor of science and religion and author of Death: Live it!)

Columnist: 
Kuruvilla Pandikattu