Everywhere we turn, there are tests to help us identify what type of personality we have. There’s the Myers and Briggs (decision-making), DISC (traits), Rosenberg (esteem), Core Values (life priorities), Cosmopolitan (passion), and a bevy of other legitimate and also less-scientific paths to personality self-discovery.
Whether you utilize these tests, survey friends, or ask a magic-8 ball, finding out how you’re “identified” personality-wise is fine and dandy to use as information to improve yourself, get a job, or stay unmarried. An alternately intriguing question, however, is “How did I wind up with this personality?
One of the biggest brain-theory breakthroughs was established after the completion of a study in 2009. The University of Michigan’s results were printed in Psychological Science.
The hypothesis was that biological associations could be made between the Big Five personality traits and specific regions of the brain. The Big Five traits are OCEAN: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.
After studying completed questionnaires and MRIs, it became pretty conclusive that areas of the brain were literally bigger where the dominant personality traits presented.
For example, conscientiousness co-varied with volume in lateral prefrontal cortex, a region involved in planning and the voluntary control of behavior. This study supported psychological application of personality traits with biologically-based testing. “One of the things that this shows is we can start to develop theories about how personality is produced by the brain,” remarked researcher Colin DeYoung.
Earlier this year, scientists in Singapore unveiled a female robot with a full-on, unique personality. Being that “Nadine” doesn’t have a genetic history, the only assumption we can make is that her personality is completely supplanted. She’s powered by software similar to the likes of Siri and Cortana, and, evidently, has a range of moods and emotions. No judgment, but my personality is worried…
Yale researchers also recently made tremendous headway in the brain activity/personality-research conundrum. They studied activity in various regions (via brain scans) in contrast to other regions. By creating a matrix for each participant, they soon recognized that each one had his/her own unique “fingerprint”.
No two minds were alike, as were no two personalities. Fortuitously, the researchers were able to pinpoint each participant from his/her personality to his/her MRI. Their findings were that the frontoparietal network was most distinct. The frontal lobe is, evolutionarily, the last to have been developed. That’s the part this study claims, “defines personality.”
Giving the brain a break, there are other “environmental” issues that have proven to contribute to fabulous and not-so-fabulous personalities. Many psychologists will concur that birth order contributes to personality.
Family environment, according to psychologically-based specialists will concur that, in general, for example, first born children tend to be more aggressive. They use strategies and tactics that take advantage of their greater physical size and their status as “first born”. The younger sibling is always vying for the upper hand.
The younger may eventually choose to branch out and choose academics or sports (completely opposed to his/her older sibling), just to become successful at his/her own unique passion/strength/sport/instrument, etc.
To toss another iron into the curiosity-fire, earlier this year, the 11th edition of “Theories of Personality” (a popular college text, almost 500-pages long) explores the accumulation of theories and studies, both scientific and psychoanalytic of this thing called “personality”.
The authors include their beliefs that race, gender, and cultural mores have an undeniable impact, far beyond (but also including) brain structure and size. It’s certainly a topic worth continual exploration and verification.
Each of our personalities may be formed by the brain, genetics, upbringing, life experience, as well as awareness and commitment to change or hone certain characteristics. Unless, of course, you’ve got multiple personalities—then you’re in for a bigger task… (but maybe also more success!)
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