Personality and the workplace: where are we now?

Understanding personality is an important aspect of being able to work with others effectively, and Occupational Psychology has been helping us to build this understanding for decades. Understanding how different individuals think, behave and work is invaluable to an effective workplace. Being able to understand that you prefer to work in a systematic way or that your colleague likes to think out loud can help build a more relaxed and happy working environment - and who doesn’t want that?

New personality assessments are being developed and refined all the time which help individuals and organisations to work better in teams, develop good leaders, and understand staff better. As a recent Occupational Psychology graduate I am constantly impressed with how Occupational Psychology can continue to contribute to the advances in thinking and working. I am always fascinated by how people behave and interact with each other and how these behaviours seem to change in different contexts. From the disappointment one football fan feels, to the anger of another and the elation of his friend following a single goal to two colleagues trying to solve an issue together with very different viewpoints, my understanding of human behaviour and personality has enabled me to ask questions like “how have these individuals approached this situation?” and “why is their reaction to this information so different?” I wouldn’t be able to find the answers to these questions if it wasn’t for the advances of psychological research.

The advances in understanding personality that psychology has made over the last 100 years have been extraordinary. We’ve come a long way from theories that suggest our personalities can be classified based on our body shape, or the amount of blood and phlegm we produce. Through the years, many different factors have been credited with shaping our personalities from our subconscious drives to other people’s behaviour and of course, the “genetic vs environment” debate. As the evolution of personality theory continues, new ways of thinking are being put forward. A new personality assessment that takes a fresh look at personality from the “type” viewpoint is the "Pearman Personality Integrator". This assessment allows you to explore what behaviours are comfortable for you and also allows you to discover how comfortable you are with alternative behaviours. Along with this, the Pearman Personality Integrator helps you explore how resilient and mentally flexible you are. This new approach to personality encourages individuals to look at their personality at a deeper level and analyse how they work best. This is just one example of how the advances in personality theory have had an impact on various aspects of our working lives.

Along with the insight gained from assessments like the Pearman Personality Integrator, we can now understand what motivates people to learn and work harder, how they cope with change and challenges and how people with different thinking styles can work together. We have reached a point in personality theory where we can move away from simply classifying personality and move towards a deeper and insightful understanding of personality. The possibilities of personality assessment and theory seem to be endless and I look forward to the next 100 years of research, well what I get to see of it anyway.

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