Personality Development (Aspects, Stages & Traits)

What is personality Development?

I have described Personality Development as the process by which a pattern of behaviour, attributes and attitudes are developed in an individual.

All the things that goes into making this individual unique and different from others is personality development.

There are a several things to be considered when we talk about personality development as there are no two individuals that are the same.

We may look the same and may have had similar experiences in life but we are all unique in our own ways.

Our reactions and personality development process would be different. People who are brought up in the same household will develop their own peculiar pattern of reacting and responding various situations they face.

Relations also who may resemble each other physically are still different and unique in their own way.

The attributes of a person make him or her special but there are various factors that contribute to the type of personality that is formed.

These are: temperament, environment and character and they may have a negative or positive effect on personality development.

There are a lot of factors that have gone into the development of a particular type of personality. From childhood to adulthood, we go through a lot of process, experiences and situations that all contribute to the formation of our personality.

These have all played a role in making us who and what we are today. We have the capability to become whatever we desire as long we are willing to commit our time, resources and efforts in making it possible.

In this article, I shall be examining the basic aspects of personality development which are referred to as the Big 5. Most experts in the field agree that these are the basic ones.  These five aspects include: extraversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, neuroticism. Several other theorists have written on several other aspects of personality development, some of which include the mental aspects, spiritual aspects, emotional aspects, physical aspects, social aspect, moral aspect. These various aspects provide us a different view into the process by which an individual’s personality is developed.

Aspects of Personality Development

The Big 5 theory is quite broad and they have a range of other specific traits. They were derived from statistical analysis of the traits which tend to occur when people describe themselves or other people. Sometimes, researchers refer to them as the five- factor theory or five-factor model.

1. Extraversion

This trait describes an individual’s outgoing or social attitude. They are sometimes seen as the life of the party and enjoy hanging out with people, going out for social events and are generally full of life and energy. Those who are low in extraversion are less outgoing and prefer to stay by themselves. The introverts have less energy and love to be quiet. The ones who score high in it enjoy relating with people and are enthusiastic about life and very action-oriented. These are extroverts. Various types of jobs require different levels of extraversion and it will be useful in jobs that are related to teaching, sales and general interaction with people.

Each of the Big 5 personality traits is also made up of at least 6 sub traits. Under extraversion, we have: cheerfulness, excited, activity level, assertiveness, gregariousness and friendliness.

2. Agreeableness

This manifests itself in an individual’s behaviour that shows kindness, sympathy, warmness and consideration for others. Those who score high here are very empathetic with others and accommodate them. They are also positive minded. The ones that score low are selfish and lack empathy. They seem to always be in competition with others and try to manipulate their way through situations instead of co-operating with others. Those with a high score here tend to desire harmonious living and put aside their own interests in order to please others. They believe that people are honest and trustworthy. These individuals will enjoy team building activities and working harmoniously while those that score low would be good scientists, critics or soldiers. The sub-traits here include: sympathy, modesty, co-operation and trust.

3. Openness

This describes the open mindedness of an individual. A person who scores high here will enjoy trying new things. They tend to be imaginative and generally open minded about everything. Others who score low would be close minded and prefer routine. They are resistant to change and would be very analytical. Those with an open mind will also tend to love the arts and think deeply too. An individual with this trait may fit in advertising, research while those who score low would enjoy jobs that require routine work. The sub traits here include: imagination, adventurousness, emotionality, artistic interests, intellect and liberalism.

4. Conscientiousness

This trait describes how an individual controls, regulates and directs their impulses. Individuals who score high with this personality trait tend to have a high level of self discipline. They always follow a plan instead of acting on the spur of the moment. This makes them successful in their endeavours and able to achieve their goals. They are seen as responsible and reliable. They may also be workaholics and perfectionists which may make them boring and inflexible. The sub traits of this aspect include: achievement-driven, dutifulness, orderliness, self-efficacy, self-discipline and cautiousness. Individuals with this trait will always stay focused on their goals regardless of challenges and obstacles because they believe they will always succeed if they follow their plan. They will be able to fit in across different occupations. Their need for achievement is the constant driving force.

5. Neuroticism

This also means emotional stability. It describes an individual’s ability to stay balanced and stable when faced with tough challenges. One who scores high in neuroticism has the tendency to experience negative emotions. On the other hand, those who score high in emotional stability react less emotionally and don’t get upset easily. They are usually calm and stable, though it does not mean they experience a lot of positive feelings. Those who are high in neuroticism are emotionally reactive and feel threatened or get into bad moods even in a normal situation. They may also find it difficult to think clearly when they are stressed. Those with high emotional stability are preferred in most professions as they have control over their emotions while those with low stability can be distracted by deadlines, personal situations and pressure. The sub traits here include: anxiety, anger, depression, self-consciousness, vulnerability and immoderation.

Personality Development Stages

Infant stage – 2 years

During this stage, the infant begins to learn to trust or not to trust. If well taken care of and loved, will begin to develop a sense of security and have positive outlook to life. If it is also not done properly, it will lead to the infant becoming insecure.

Toddler stage – 18 months to 3 years

At this state, the child begins to develop the will. If guided properly, the child begins to have self confidence. It is not an easy process and the child could be seen as being stubborn.

Preschool stage – 3 years and above

This stage is referred to by some as the ‘play age.’ The child begins to develop some form of initiative. They also start using their imagination. At this stage they also gradually begin to understand how to lead and follow others.

School age stage

At this stage, the child begins to learn formal skills. They begin to know how to relate with their peers and begin to develop basic intellectual skills. The success at this stage in their development will dependent on how the early stages were.

Adolescent stage

The child begins to mature at this stage and begins to nurture a set of values which will help them in life. They also begin to understand themselves at this stage.

Personality Development Traits


Here, we refer to traits that a child comes with into the world which are genetically determined. These traits to a major extent influence the child’s approach to the world and how he or she learns in the process. From studies that have been carried out, some of these genes control the nervous system development which also controls behaviour.


The environment in which a child grows up affects to a large extent how the personality will eventually be. It is advised that quality parenting be given to help in the proper development of the child.


This is formed from the emotional, perceptive and behavioural patterns that are learned by experience and determine how an individual thinks, feels and behaves.

An individual’s personality continuously evolves throughout his life but we have seen that much of it is dependent on traits they were born with and experiences they have had through life.



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