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Character Vs. Personality

by Niklas Meyer

What does psychology have to say about the difference between character and personality?

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Understanding The Difference Between Character And Personality
by: Amara Stewart

The concepts of "character" and "personality" are often used interchangeably, but within the field of psychology, they can have distinct meanings. Understanding the difference between character and personality can provide insights into how individuals' behavior, values, and ethics are shaped. Here's a breakdown of these two terms:


Definition: Personality refers to a set of enduring traits, patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that are relatively consistent over time and across different situations. It encompasses an individual's temperament, emotional responses, cognitive style, and behavioral tendencies.

The Enneagram personality test is a system that categorizes these enduring traits and patterns into nine distinct personality types, each with its unique characteristics and tendencies.

Nature: Personality traits are believed to have a significant genetic component and are relatively stable throughout a person's life. They are shaped by a combination of genetics, early experiences, and socialization.

Example: A person with a "conscientious" personality trait tends to be organized, reliable, and detail-oriented. This trait is consistent across various situations and over time, reflecting their general disposition.


Definition: Character refers to an individual's moral and ethical values, as well as their sense of right and wrong. It involves qualities such as integrity, honesty, empathy, and responsibility.

Nature: Character is shaped by an individual's upbringing, cultural influences, moral teachings, and personal choices. It reflects one's adherence to moral principles and their ability to act ethically.

Example: A person with a strong character might be known for their honesty and integrity. They consistently tell the truth and uphold ethical standards in both their personal and professional life.

Key Differences:

Consistency: Personality traits are relatively stable and consistent over time, while character relates to an individual's moral values and ethical choices.

Focus: Personality is more concerned with describing an individual's typical patterns of behavior and emotional responses, whereas character emphasizes moral values and ethical principles.

Development: Personality traits are believed to have a significant genetic component and are shaped by early experiences, while character is molded through moral teachings, cultural influences, and personal decisions.

Illustrating the Difference:

Consider an example involving two individuals:

Person A: This person has a personality characterized by introversion, meaning they tend to be reserved, reflective, and prefer solitary activities. This personality trait is consistent across various situations.

Person B: Person B, on the other hand, possesses a strong character marked by honesty and integrity. They are known for their ethical behavior and their commitment to telling the truth, even when faced with challenging situations.

In this example, Person A's introverted personality trait describes their typical behavioral patterns, while Person B's strong character reflects their moral values and commitment to honesty. Person A's introversion may remain relatively stable over time, while Person B's character is shaped by their moral development and ethical choices.

While personality and character are related aspects of an individual's psychological makeup, they focus on different dimensions of human behavior. Personality encompasses enduring traits and behavioral patterns, while character relates to an individual's moral values and ethical principles. Both contribute to shaping an individual's identity and how they interact with the world.

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Related Information on The All About Psychology Website

Personality Psychology

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