Personality Traits, Stability, and Development

Personality is an individual’s characteristic pattern of thought, emotion, and behavior. Personality traits refer to consistency of these thoughts, emotions, and behavior over time, and may include criteria like shyness, assertiveness, creativity, friendliness, agreeableness or openness. There are no perfect indicators of personality; there are only clues and they tend to be ambiguous at times. To combat limitations, information is gathered, and clues are pieced together. This information helps to form a clear portrait of a person’s personality.

Personality can be complicated, and we rely on observable clues to understand aspects of an individual’s personality. Gathering and understanding data is part of this complex process. Educators, tutors, and therapists use four diverse types of clues to understand a student’s personality and behavior. The first and most obvious are self-judgments or S Data. These clues come from questionnaires that ask the student to describe himself. The second is I Data, and these clues focus on judgements that are derived by gathering information from the student’s parents and teachers. Next is L Data, or verifiable information and real-life facts that analyze how a student is fairing in life. Finally, B Data is gathered by focusing on a student’s behavior and performance. It involves placing the student in a natural testing situation to gather real-life data that evaluates behavior or to administer a test to measure academic performance. All the clues that are gathered provide a starting place to better understand a student’s personality, stability, and development.

It is critical to recognize the importance of personality judgment throughout this process. The judgements that other people make about a student’s personality and performance are significant, and opportunities for a student to succeed are often determined by his reputation. The opinions of parents, tutors, educators, and therapists influence a student’s reputation and these opinions may also affect both a student’s opportunities and expectancies. It is also important to be aware of behavior confirmation or sometimes called expectancy effect which claims that to some degree, a student will become what others expect them to be. 

Personality and performance

According to Robert Rosenthal’s four-factor theory (Rosenthal, 1973b, 1973c), some students will perform better in the classroom because they’re seen as high-expectancy students. He claims that high-expectancy students perform better because their teachers treat them differently in the following four ways. First, is climate and this refers to how teachers project a warmer emotional attitude toward students who they expect to perform well. Second, is feedback, and this refers to the way teachers share feedback to a student’s response. Next is input and this refers to the way teachers attempt to teach material, especially difficult material and fourth, is output. This reflects how teachers provide extra opportunities to some students to show what they’ve learned. This research helps to explain the benefits of behavioral confirmation and explains why all students should be treated in the ways that high-expectancy students are treated.

It is true that students change over time; they aren’t the same today as they were five years ago and will certainly be different five years from today. The stability of personality is also constantly changing, yet fundamental traits remain the same. If a child is extroverted it stands to reason that he’ll become an extroverted adult. Evidence of personality stability is widespread, and people manage to maintain their core personality traits regardless of life experiences.

Measuring personality traits helps academic professionals predict behavior and better understand behavior development. It’s important to recognize that personality assessments go beyond the ability to predict behavior, life outcomes and performance. The association between specific personality traits and behaviors help professionals to better understand why students do what they do. This information may also help students meet their personal and academic goals by learning to manage any personal deficits.

About the author​

Vikki Carrel

Author, National Speaker/Trainer, Academic Therapist

Vikki empowers people! She is an author, national speaker, corporate trainer, and an Academic Therapist. Vikki grew up in Salt Lake City, met her husband at the University of Utah, and has owned several companies across the United States. In 2010, Vikki and her husband moved back to Utah, and she founded Vikki Carrel & Company, a speaking and training organization. While living in the East, Vikki was an Academic Therapist in the Central Bucks School District for several years. She received specialized training in teaching and implementing educational strategies to help students who perform below bench mark in reading and writing. Her strength is working with children that have ADHD, Dyslexia, Dysgraphia and other learning disabilities. Vikki is the author of Switching Lanes, Puzzle Pieces and co-author of Chloe’s Closet. As a co-founder of Two Balance, Inc. and Mother Daughter America she has empowered teens, collegians, and adults for over two decades. Vikki continues to draw from her impressive 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur, working in non-profit leadership and education to teach strategies that help individuals with resistance to change, the power of perception, reducing stress, increasing personal productivity and impression management. Vikki holds a degree in Business Administration/Marketing. She and her husband have two grown sons and a daughter in law.

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