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Chapter 1. A Peep into the Concept of Pe... > CONCEPT AND DEFINITION OF PERSONALIT...


The origin of the word personality lies in the Latin word, persóna, which means a mask. During the olden days, stage actors amongst the Greeks used to wear a mask to hide their face and appear to others as they wished to project themselves. The meaning of the word personality, thus, got interpreted as the projected behaviour. Scholars, over the centuries, felt that the above-given interpretation of personality gives out its objective connotation but does not cover its subjective facets. This made a number of scholars carry out research and express their views on objective, as well as, subjective connotations of personality.

A scientific analysis of scholarly thoughts on subjective and objective facets of personality reveals the following:

(a) Personality consists of a person's characteristics like, physique, appearance, intellect, knowledge, psyche, conduct, expressions or performance.

(b) These characteristics create a certain impression on others.

(c) The personality of a person, therefore, tends to be the impression that his characteristics creates on others.

The above-said revelation leads to the conclusion that the concept of personality is the impression created by an individual's characteristics that impresses others. Accordingly, the term personality can be defined as, the sum total of impression created by a person's characteristics at a point of time or over a period of time.

The significance attached to the characteristics of a personality of an individual tends to vary from person to person, organization to organization, society to society and situation to situation. For example, an uncompromising attitude of a person towards national security is considered a desirable trait, but undesirable for developing friendliness. This leads to a conceptual complexity in the understanding and the evaluation of a personality. To overcome this problem, we need to interpret the characteristics of an individual in the light of their relevance, effects, implications and significance on one hand, and his organization and the society on the other. However, while so doing, we also need to remember that the personality (impression) of a person is not only what he thinks of himself but also what others think of him. That brings us to the need for understanding the implications of what is termed by the social psychologists as the social and the self concepts of personality.

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