How to Change Your Personality Traits

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Summary and Analysis

According to Science Daily, an article written by the University of California, it has been believed that people cannot change their personality due to their predisposition. However, in current research it has been established that our personality traits can transform “through persistent intervention and major life events” (ScienceDaily, 2020).

In the past, numerous theories have been suggested on possible traits such as Gordon Allport or Hans Eysenck but many researchers have determined their theories are to complex or to sparse. It has been identified that the five-factory theory is the best way to categories one’s personality. The five-factor theory (big five), is broken into five major categories with each representing one extreme to another. Such categories include neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness. These categories “can predict a wide range of important outcomes such as health, happiness and income” (ScienceDaily, 2020).

Research has found that our personality traits “are broad enough to account for a wide range of socially important behaviors at levels that surpass known predictors, and that they can change, especially if you catch people at the right age and exert sustained effort” (ScienceDaily, 2020). Although, our traits stay substantial, our traits are as straightforward to change as one would think. We cannot just change our personality overnight, over a period of time evidence has shown that expensive interventions such as medications or costly therapy sessions may not always work.

What we need to think about is “what it takes to change personality to improve personal and public welfare, the costs and benefits of such interventions, and the resources need to achieve the best outcomes by both being informed by evidence about personality traits and investing more sustained resources and attention toward better understanding personality change” (ScienceDaily, 2020).

In comparison, our personality traits “can account for most of the ways in which people differ from one another” (ScienceDaily, 2020). Our traits can help us with an assortment of different variables in life. If our personality traits are “broad and enduring, they are able to be changeable and help target for a large scale intervention” (ScienceDaily, 2020).

For an example, let’s revisit the five factor theory, focusing on neuroticism and conscientiousness. A person that exhibits neuroticism may show signs as anxious, fearful, alone and may suffer from depression. While a person who exhibits the personality trait of conscientiousness may be productive, structured, and values organization. “Both neuroticism and conscientiousness, represent good intervention targets in young adulthood” (ScienceDaily, 2020).

Any type of intervention requires a long-term commitment to wanting to really change or fix our thought process. A person going into therapy should not expect to be cured in one session. When a person is able to become emotionally stable, they are able to think more rationally, in my opinion.

Overall, it is important to stay motivated. To try to remember the reason why you want to change and what brought you to the therapist. Looking back on this article, what would be some ways such as examples to alter your personality? Such as examples used in everyday life? Reviewing my life, I have changed significantly throughout different ages in my life. I am not the same person now in my 30’s verse my 20’s. I look forward to growth and changing in my life.

Research Application

In the empirical article, Stability of and Changes in Implicit Motives. A Narrative Review of Empirical Studies, researchers try to find evidence that our personalities can be altered. Through implicit motives, along with changes using cross-sectional and longitudinal methods it has been determined that “results are inconclusive concerning the direction of change, the reviewed studies suggest that implicit motives adapt to life circumstances much like other personality traits (e.g., the big five) are not as stable as has long been assumed” (Denzinger & Brandstatter, 2018, p.2).

A study has shown that “personality traits showed significant changes in various personality dispositions, for example, a decrease in openness and an increase in conscientiousness, over the course of one’s life” (Denzinger et al, 2018, p.2). Although these have affected traits, such characteristics such as self-confidence and self-control have not changed. Throughout research to this topic, different metrics were used to determine and describe personality characteristics.

A mean-level and rank-order were used frequently to determine changes. The mean-level also referenced as normative stability. The mean-level was used to “reflect shifts of groups of people to higher or lower values on a trait over time” (Denzinger et al, 2018). The rank-order also referenced as differential stability, helped “address the individual deviations from such normative trends” (Denzinger et al, 2018). Both are very important but it was determined that someone’s personality was more of an implicit motive.

It has been found that implicit motives are formed in early childhood years. Defining what an implicit motive is which is an “unconscious motivational disposition that are activated through affectively charged incentives influencing spontaneous behavior” (Denzinger et al, 2018, pg.3). Implicit motives are not typically accessible to our conscious minds, “thus they influence the perception and evaluations of specific situations” (Denzinger et al, 2018). Implicit motives within an individual’s tend to influenced by perceptions such making up ambiguous imaginative stories based on different situations around their lives.

Within implicit motives it is also known or called the “Big Three” which are affiliation-intimacy, achievement and power. Of course each one plays a large role such as affiliation motive helps an individual to maintain a healthy, positive relationship with other. Achievement is to complete an obstacle with a sense of accomplishment and power is to help have an impact on others. The Big Three of implicit motives “have demonstrated that implicit motives are a good predictor of individual behavior in all motive domains and subsequently, highlighted the importance of implicit motives for an individual’s life” (Denzinger et al, 2018).

Implicit motives also help promote psychophysiological responses such as different hormones. Hormones such as dopamine, progesterone, testosterone, cortisol, etc, implicit motives also help with our regulate our immune systems, They can help stress and change our blood pressure, in all implicit motives play such a large role in our behaviors and as individuals.

An experimental research was concluded with individual implicit motives and situational motive-relevant cues. Since we know that implicit motives are derived from imaginative stories told by individuals in responses to fantasies which “represent their actual state of motivation resulting from the interaction of the person’s motive disposition and situational motive-relevant cues” (Denzinger et al, 2018).

One group of participant’s were asked to write imaginative stories under neutral testing conditions while the other group of participants were simulated such as aroused prior. Both groups of stories were compared and it was determined that both matched. It was determined that implicit motives are a state, “the term “state” corresponds to an around motive while the term “trait” corresponds to the underlying motive deposition” (Denzinger et al, 2018).

As mentioned earlier that implicit motives are formed in our early childhood, it also “exist in all human beings, but are expressed to different degrees in each individual” (Denzinger et al, 2018). Researchers determined that individual differences are learned early on however it was also argued that implicit motives are triggered by environmental variables. Such environmental variables as “a baby being touched by its mother and seeking contact” (Denzinger et al, 2018) for a sense of belonging, it was determined that these exposed the natural incentives. It was determined that this only strengthened “the positive and negative consequences of the respective behavior” (Denzinger et al, 2018).

Learning what an implicit motive is can help with altering or determining our personality. Although I do believe that there are many things that contribute to our personalities in general, not just implicit motives such as the Big Three, the Big Five or any other mean-level, rank-order. I think this article does a superior job at grasping the reader to help them understand where our personalities come from and how to understand them.

Connection to Personality Theory #1: Hierarchy of Needs

Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs “proposes that healthy human beings have a certain number of needs, and that these needs are arranged in a hierarchy, with some needs (such as physiological and safety needs) being more primitive or basic than others (such as social and ego needs)” (Psychology Today, 2020). Maslow’s theory has five levels; these levels are physical, security, social, ego and self-actualization.

Maslow’s first level of physical which includes if someone has shelter, food, water, basic necessities to live. A sense of security is the second level, which is defined as stability. Social which is 3rd and ego which is 4th are levels of love, self-worth, and a sense of belonging from others. Maslow’s final level of self-actualization many people have a hard time with.

I believe that Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and implicit motives in changing our personalities offer two different ways at looking into our personalities. The hierarchy of needs have different levels in which Maslow viewed our levels of life to fulfill the last level of self-actualization. Within the level of self-actualization, it has nothing to do with how our personalities are but more to view the end of our lives.

A “fear that death in inevitable and that life is meaningless, but at the same time cling on to the cherished belief that his life is eternal or at least important” (Psychology Today, 2020). With our personalities and different implicit motives to change our personalities it is believed that that our personalities are formed in our early-childhood years.

Overall, both theories are correct; they are just on two different spectrums. One views our personality by needs and the other is viewed that our personality starts at an early childhood age. You cannot change your hierarchy of needs; it is established for you for example at birth. You do not choose your parents, your environment plays a role on how you grow and things provided for you.

Connection to Personality Theory #2: The Big 5

Researchers have found that best personality model to use is the “Big 5.” This model is defined into 5 different traits that helps drive our behaviors. These traits include openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion/introversion, agreeableness and neuroticism. It has been determined that “every individual manifests each of the five broad dimensions of personality to one degree or another, and the infinite variety of ways individuals differ in how the traits are expressed” (Psychology Today, 2020).

When this model is used it helps understand the relationship between the personality trait and the different circumstance that an individual is facing. Some researchers argue that the model has “limitations with respect to the number of personality traits evaluated and for the fact it is a data-driven model and not based on psychological theories” (Psychology Today, 2020).

In the recent study of Stability of and Changes in Implicit Motives. A Narrative Review of Empirical Studies determines that “that are personality traits are not as stable as has long been assumed” (Denzinger et al, 2018). It has been determined that our personality traits change over the course of our lives. Pertaining to the articles gathered, I believe that the big 5 does support our personality traits.

For an example, all five traits in the model help determine who we are by different characteristics. These characteristics are what we use to describe ourselves; they help determine who we are. Although I know my personality can fit into any of the five models, I feel as though I am best suited in the conscientiousness model. I know tend to be punctual, responsible and very organized.

Connection to Personality Theory #3: Carl Rogers’ Actualizing Tendency

Carl Rogers was a famous psychologist; he started his career with children but later worked with adults. Rogers “welcomed his theories being adapted by others to fit their needs” (PositivePsychology.com, 2020). Rogers was open to others individual needs, he was empathic to others and was well respected/liked by people. Rogers based his values on two assumptions which were “studying people must be done from a holistic perspective, this means taking into account their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors; and second human choice, creativity, and self-actualization are important areas of study, research should focus on psychologically function humans who are working to be creative and reach their full potential” (PositivePsychology.com, 2020).

According to Rogers, individuals want to reach their full potentials in life. It is a process that is ongoing, “the process of pursuing one’s full potential is what he called actualizing tendency” behaviors/personalities are acted upon actualizing tendencies. Our environment, individuals we surround ourselves with all play a role in how we think and why we think like that. A actualizing tendency “is a desire present in all living things that pushes the organism toward growth” (PositivePsychology.com, 2020). Organisms and humans both need to grow in order to reach our full potential in life.

Rogers wanted individuals to reach their full potentials by what he called the actualizing tendency; within changing our personalities one could say that Carl Rogers beliefs were very different than implicit motives. With actualizing tendencies, an individual is looking for personal growth. While a implicit motive is more of a “influence non-declarative forms of behavior, that is behavior that is emitted spontaneously and is not guided by a person’s self-concept” (Psych2.phil.uni-erlangen.de, 2020). It is also different by the implicit motives were all based on studies using different theories, not one theory is correct. Each differs in some way from how our personality traits can be changed.

Personal Reflection

In the article Stability of and Changes in Implicit Motives, it has shown me many different types of theories, research, tests and all have their own outcomes. Looking back at this article(s), this review is relevant to my life as of right now because even though “studies suggest that implicit motives adapt to life circumstances much like other personality traits” (Denzinger et al, 2018) my life is constantly changing around me.

I have adapted to my surroundings in my life, for example if I were to move to another state, I would eventually adapt to that surrounding, the people and the life. I do feel as though growth is good for an individual and we should always want to grow as individuals however, I am actually quite content with my life.

Could things be better in my life such as more money or a better job, yes they could. I am taking steps to better my life because I choose to not because of someone’s theory or implicit motive/testing on it. I also feel as though this article and none of any of the research on these theories grasp how I truly view my personality.

Within this article, I have learned many different theories that can be relevant to this article. For example, the five-factor model or the “Big 5” this model shows and organizes our personality traits into 5 different categories, “these factors have been used to measure, and develop a better understanding of individuals differences in personality” (Psychologistworld.com, 2020).

Another example that could be used would be the “big three” in implicit motives. Each having a different motive such as achievement, power and affiliation, the achievement motive could be something that you would like to achieve such as a an something you are working on in progress, an example could be graduating with a four-year degree.

Power motive, is to have capabilities to have an impact on others. Such as a positive capability to motivate others to lose weight or a negative capability to tell someone they need to lose weight. While affiliation motive is trying to have an effective relationship with others, such examples could be keeping in contact with past co-workers for references.

This article challenges many different theories that I personally have. I still feel as though my theory is correct however I am open to other theories and open to suggestions on ways to possibly incorporate others theories into my own. Benjamin Franklin once said “when you’re finished changing, you’re finished” ((Denzinger et al, 2018).

If we think about Benjamin Franklin’s quote that was used in the article, you realize that as individuals we are never fully done changing. As I mentioned before we adapt to our surroundings which in return makes us/alters us of who we are. Yes, I do feel as though incorporating for example the big three theory helps individuals have a sense of motive to become better people, by changing our behaviors can help accomplish all three motives. This could be one of the many ways that one theory could be incorporated into my own theory.

Incorporating different implicit motives such as the big three could help me personally understand and get through life. I could use these different motives to help me such as the achievement motive. With this motive I could use this to continue my education so that I can graduate on time in the Fall semester. It can also help push me with my personality by helping me stay focus on the end task which is to graduate.

The power motive could help me by using my positive attitude towards others around me, such examples include being more understanding to others needs, if a friend or co-worker is down to be that positive person to bring them up and let them know it will be ok. Working in Kindergarten, five days a week I am always putting out arguments and it is very hard to stay positive without wanting to lose yourself, this is a motive that I could work on.

Finally, affiliation motive I could use make sure I am having positive relationships with others. I want people to view me as someone that they can talk to or confide in. I want people to feel comfortable with me and I know sometimes I may put out to the universe that I am not approachable however if they got to know me they would see how understand and kind I am. I want to build on positive relationships whether it is in a work environment or home with my family.

Overall, this article did help me understand how we can change our personality by different theories; however I feel as though it has been concluded that our personalities can be altered in early-childhood stage. I also feel as though our personalities can only be altered if we want them to be altered.


Cite this paper

How to Change Your Personality Traits. (2021, May 29). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/how-to-change-your-personality-traits/

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