Everyone likes to think their personality is unique, and for the most part, it is. No two individuals have the exact same combination of attitudes, interests, emotions, and behavioral tendencies, nor do they express themselves in the same manner. But, being unique is different from being unpredictable (even if you’re spontaneous!), and data from tens of thousands of individuals across cultures show that many personality traits, whether they accurately describe you or not, tend to be grouped together. In short, if you know one thing about someone, you can infer several others.
In my last post I introduced the concept of Character Entry Points or CEPs. As defined in that post, CEPs describe any observable interest, behavior, attitude or expression set that lends itself to significant prediction of another categorically distinct and meaningful set. CEPs can include interests, such as bungee jumping, religiosity, clothing style, or personality traits like warmth, and are essential to creating a rapid personality profile of someone with minimal information. However, before you interpret CEPs to generate a profile, you must first know where to look for them.
At the Behavioral Research Group, we approach the initial profile evaluation by examining 10 classes of behavior. Having observational data in one or more of these areas is the first step to generating a comprehensive profile. Below, I describe each category and include questions to ask yourself about the subject of your profile. For practice, select someone in your circle who you know very little about and being to write down some adjectives that describe them as they appear in one or more of these 10 categories. Itemize as many one or two-word descriptors as possible (e.g., modest or trustworth) in one or more of the categories. In the next post we will teach you how to move from initial evaluation to profile generation.
1. Social Interest
Social interest is the extent to which someone seeks out and enjoys social interaction. Individuals high in social interest make friends easily, and are comfortable and interested in new friendships. They can be described as sociable, outgoing, and talkative. Individuals with low social interest are uncomfortable in social settings, are anxious or simply avoid interactions as much as possible. They may be easily intimidated, timid, wary or withdrawn. Social interest is typically easy to evaluate if the individual is in a group social situation, and can also be evaluated if the subject is observed encountering an acquaintance or stranger (which may include the evaluator). This characteristic cannot as accurately be evaluated when the subject is only in the presence of close friends or family. Also, be wary of context, which may not invite social interaction even in those more typically inclined to engage. Questions to consider when evaluating this construct include:
- To what degree does this individual seek out and converse with peers, strangers, and co-workers?
- Does this individual have a lot of friends, and are they easy to get to know?
- To what degree does this individual have confidence with others and is relaxed in the presence of others?
Warmth is defined by overall agreeableness, caring, and generosity expressed during an interaction by the subject. Individuals high in warmth reach out to others, help others, and have a good word for almost everyone. They make people feel welcome and are trusting and are often turned to for advice. They can be considered charming, loyal, and considerate. Subjects low in warmth can be described as stubborn, suspicious, and distrustful. They hold grudges, can insult others, and are generally disagreeable. At the extreme low end they are calculating, manipulative, heartless, and rude. As with social interest, this trait is best evaluated in a social context. When the content of the conversation cannot be ascertained, the reactions of the receiving party can often inform the evaluator as to the overall warmth and friendliness of the subject. Questions to consider when evaluating this construct include:
- To what degree is the subject welcoming and inviting toward peers?
- To what degree is the subject caring of others and sympathetic toward the concerns of their peers and other worldly concerns?
- To what degree is the subject optimistic, trusting, and honest in their relationships with others?
3. Social Control
Social control is defined by the degree to which an individual takes charge of a given interaction or alternatively submits to demand. At the high end, an individual is a “take charge” personality who tries to lead others and can talk others into doing things. They could be described as bossy, aggressive, demanding, or forceful. Those lower in social control are more cooperative and fair-minded, and at the very low end are individuals who are submissive and obliging. Questions to consider when evaluating this construct include:
- To what degree does the subject involve himself in group tasks in a leadership or influential role.
- To what degree does the subject express aggression or a generally demanding or bossy attitude toward others?
- To what degree does the subject express his opinion or enter arguments at the expense of being cooperative or peaceful?
Individuals high in self-interest are perceived as arrogant, conceited, and selfish. They may be condescending with others and feel and act as though they are superior to others. They boast about their successes and may have a “know-it-all” attitude. Someone low in self-interest dislikes being the center of attention and considers themselves average. They are humble, and those at the very low end may be dependent, meek, and seek reassurance frequently from others. Questions to consider when evaluating this construct include:
- To what extent does the subject perceive themselves as always right or deserving of being the center of attention?
- To what extent does the subject act selfishly, stretch limits, and boast about their accomplishments?
Individuals with high ambition are motivated to successfully pursue their goals. They are passionate, ambitious, and know how to complete tasks successfully. They are assertive, take the initiative and are determined to resolve challenges that they face. Those low in ambition are not as motivated to succeed and often do just enough work to get by. They may be described as drifting, directionless, or at worst, self-defeating. Questions to consider when evaluating this construct include:
- To what extent is the subject aware of their goals and work to achieve them?
- To what extent is the subject confident about their abilities to be successful and effective?
6. Energy Level
Someone with a high energy level is visibly enthusiastic and always on the go. They multitask, manage to do a lot in their spare time, and can be adventurous, daring or even reckless. Those with a low energy level are often indifferent to things in their environment, more relaxed and calm, and at the low end, desire routine and avoid change. Questions to consider when evaluating this construct include:
- Do what extent does the subject experience intense positive emotions and have a wide range of exciting interests?
- To what extent does the subject amuse others and behave quickly?
Conscientious individuals are prepared, organized, and often listen to their conscience. They rarely overindulge, are usually able to control their cravings, and are uncomfortable with uncertainty and complexities. They are described as reliable, dutiful, responsible, and may view cleanliness as important. At the low end, individuals are impulsive, gluttonous and self-indulgent. They do things they later regret, or may not have reasons for why they do the things they do. They may break promises, misrepresent facts, make rash decisions, and have difficult starting tasks. Questions to consider when evaluating this construct include:
- To what extent does the subject prefer order, routine, behave ethically, and avoid risk?
- To what extent does the subject resist temptation, deny impulses, and control cravings?
Individuals that are high in creativity enjoy beauty and art and appreciate music, literature and nature. They may be prone to daydreaming and fantasy and have wide interests. They are often verbally fluent, clever, curious, and can express their ideas well. They also tend to be liberal and progressive in thinking and informal. Those low in creativity do not appreciate the arts, are conservative, moralistic, do not have a good imagination, and is uncomfortable with uncertainly. They may have narrow interests and deny themselves pleasure and enjoyment. Questions to consider when evaluating this construct include:
- To what extent does the subject appreciate art, beauty, music, nature, and have a wide range of interests?
- To what extent does the subject engage in daydreaming and imagination?
- To what extent can the subject be described as liberal, progressive, inventive, or original?
Negativity encompasses a wide range of negative emotions and reactions that a subject may express. These emotions include anger, anxiety, hostility, envy, depression. Individuals high in negativity are often overwhelmed by stressors in their environment and cannot cope well with change and trauma. Low scorers are happy, cheerful, and rarely depressed or anxious. They can remain calm under pressure, rarely complain, and are optimistic. Questions to consider when evaluating this construct include:
- To what extent does the subject react to stress with anxiety, upset, sadness, anger, panic, envy, indecision, bodily symptoms, or fear?
- To what extent can the general demeanor of the subject be described as irritable, dissatisfied, lonely, helpless, cynical, high-strung, sulky, resentful, temperamental, depressed, or worrying?
- To what extent does the individual value himself compared to others?
10. Mental Organization
Mental organization is defined by an individual’s overall appearance, quickness, and intelligence. High scorers enjoy thinking about complex concepts, they can be sophisticated and have a high degree of intellectual capacity. They enjoy complex problems, have a rich vocabulary, and are logical and precise. Low scorers are slow, unintelligent, and rattlebrained. They may also be aloof and dreamy or absent-minded. They may also have an overall awkward and disorderly presentation. Questions to consider when evaluating this construct include:
- To what extent does the subject appear strange, awkward, unintelligent, aloof, or disorderly?
- To what extent does the subject enjoy thinking about abstract or complex ideas, communicating intelligently, and solving complex problems?
- To what extent is the subject organized, logical, and practical?
Latest posts by Behavioral Research Group, LLC (see all)
- Rapid Personality Profiling Part 1: What to Look For - 3 settembre 2014
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