Motivation and emotion/Book/2019/Personality and emotion

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Personality and emotion:
What is the relationship between personality and emotion?

Overview[edit | edit source]

This chapter discusses the factors and theory that are involved in personality and emotion. It explores the relationship between the two system[grammar?] and highlights the similarities, influences on one another and shared mechanisms. This chapter discusses the implications and applications of personality through traits and measurements. It then discusses the aspects and perspective of emotion. Finally, the combination of personality on emotion will be analysed through stress, coping and daily functioning. This chapter aims to to analyze the most current literature whilst noting its gaps and its future implications.

Consider this

When your[grammar?] out in public, stop and pause for a second. Look around and observe the people around you. One of the first things you may notice is how different we are from one another. Some people will be talkative, confident and loud, whilst others will act in a quiet manner and keep to themselves. Now take a moment to think about those in your life. You will know people who are extremely active and know others who enjoy nothing more than staying indoors and relaxing on the couch. You will know individuals who worry constantly and others who almost never seem anxious. You refer to your closest friends as warm, bubbly and others as cold and assertive. When we label those around us, we are using these words to describe their personality- the characteristics of which individuals differ from one another.

Figure 1: A Stick figure contemplating choices

Focus questions:

  1. What is the relationship between personality and emotion?
  2. What is personality?
  3. What is emotion?
  4. Why is it relevant to our everyday life?

Personality[edit | edit source]

[Provide more detail]

What is personality?[edit | edit source]

Personality can be described as the process of consistent behaviour patterns and processes that originate within an individual (Burger, 2015). Within this definition are two factors that need to be considered. Firstly,[grammar?] are the patterns of behaviour, these patterns are considered to remain consistent across time and situations and therefore, are often referred to as individual differences amongst beings (Burger, 2015). Secondly,[grammar?] are the emotional, motivational and cognitive processes that occur sub-consciously and effect our thought and behaviour (Burger, 2015).

When considering the development of personality and behaviour, it is important to highlight the emphasis that culture can play in shaping it. Influences can come not only from experiences but also from the significance placed on possessing certain values, attributes and behaviours that are rewarded within particular cultures (Burger, 2015).

Personality traits

A personality trait refers to the dimension of personality that is used to categorize individuals accordingly to the degree of which they display a particular characteristic (Burger, 2015). Traits are enduring dispositions in behaviour that allow for differences across individuals to be seen, these differences tend to characterize and reflect the varying types of responses that can be seen across situations (Matthews, Deary, & Whiteman, 2003). According to trait psychologists, there are 5 dimensions (openness, consciousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism) of which all individuals fall somewhere on a continuum. Meaning that each individual could score low, medium or high on any specific trait (Diener & Lucas, 2019)[grammar?]. This suggests that personality traits reflect continuous distributions rather than distinct personality types (Diener & Lucas, 2019). Meaning that when personality psychologists discuss introverts and extroverts, they are not classifying two distinct types of people who may be considered to be completely and qualitatively different from another. Rather, they are discussing two individuals who score reasonably high or low on a continuous distribution (Diener & Lucas, 2019). Contrary to popular beliefs, it is found that most people lay somewhere within the middle of the continuums of most traits, with only few showing more extreme levels of the trait.  (Diener & Lucas, 2019). To be considered a personality trait, three criteria must be met; (1) consistency, (2) stability, and (3) individual differences (Diener & Lucas, 2019).

1.   An individual's trait like behaviour must remain somewhat consistent across situations. For example, if one is talkative at school, they tend to also be talkative at work.

2.    An individual's trait is somewhat stable over time in behaviour related to that trait. If they are shy at age 20, they will most likely be shy at age 30.S

3.     Differences can be found between individuals by their related traits. If all individuals engage in a behaviour with virtually no differences, it is not a trait. I. e walking using your two feet or using speech, as almost all individuals do these activities with almost no individual differences. However, the frequency that they engage in talking and how much time they devote to being active does. Hence, personality traits such as talkativeness and activity level do exist.

There are numerous different methods and theory that measure and relate to the conceptualization of personality traits. This chapter will focus on the most current and relevant model of personality, The Big Five.

The big five[edit | edit source]

Proposed by McCrae and Costa Jr (1999), the Five Factor Model (FFM) of personality is considered to be the most widely recognised and used model of personality today (Rossberger, 2014). The model was influenced by the original work developed by Cattell (1943), who linked 35 bipolar clusters of terms that were related to personality traits. In conjunction with this, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) was also considered. From this, a model was developed that would use factor analysis to assess participants on five continuums of personality traits. Costa and McCare[spelling?] (1999) defined the five factors as Openness to experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.

These five factors encompass a large number of underlying personality characteristics. Each factor is not a necessarily a trait in and of themselves, but rather a factor that many characteristics and related traits fit (Ackerman, 2019). For example, the factor 'openness to experience' encompasses terms like creativity, originality, intellect and depth on the high side; and inflexibility, shallowness and unimaginative on the low side. An individual who measures high on openness to experience is likely to be someone who likes meeting new people, enjoys creativity and has a love of learning (Ackerman, 2019). Whereas, an individual who scores low on openness to experience will most likely prefer routine over spontaneity, have limited interests and prefer more mainstream mediums of entertainment. (See Table 1 for an in-depth description of each factor). A large body of evidence supports the existence of the FFM across cultures, however there is often variation in the labels used (Cattell, 1957; Goldberg, 1993)

Table 1. Description of the Five Factor Model to Personality and their associated characteristics (adapted from Costa & McCrae, 1992; Cherry, 2019).

Factor Description
Openness to experience This trait is related to characteristics such as creativity, imagination, insight and acceptance of new ideas. People who score high in this trait tend to have an appreciation for art, adventure and novelty. They have a broad range of interests and curiosity about the world and its people. They are interested learners, non-traditional and enjoy new experiences. People who score low on this trait often have more traditional views, struggle with abstract thinking and prefer routine and the familiar.
Conscientiousness This trait is related to characteristics such as goal directed behaviour, high levels of thoughtfulness and good impulse control. People who score high in this trait tend to be mindful of others, are organized, respectful and responsible. They are careful and disciplined. They are mindful of deadlines and pay attention to detail. People who score low on this trait are often careless, undisciplined and disorganized. They often dislike structure and routine and procrastinate on important tasks.
Extraversion This trait is related to characteristics such as assertiveness, excitability, talkativeness, optimism and high amounts of emotional expressiveness. People who score high in this trait tend to be outgoing and enjoy social events. Being within and around groups of people helps them to feel excited and energized, people high in extraversion are known as extroverts. People who score low on this trait are often more reserved, prefer solitude and dislike being the center of attention. They often require periods of isolation or solitude after social events to “recharge” as they find it exhausting. Those who feel this way are known as introverts.
Agreeableness This trait is related to characteristics such as affection, compassion, kindness, trust and altruism. People who score high on this trait tend to be helpful and cooperative with others. They exhibit a range of prop-social behaviours and generally dislike conflict. People who score low on this trait tend to be more self-serving, competitive, suspicious of others and even manipulative.
Neuroticism This trait is related to characteristics such as moodiness, emotional instability and sadness. People who score high on this trait tend to experience more sadness, irritability, mood swings and anxiety. They are prone to becoming overwhelmed by daily stressors and do not take criticism well. People who score low on this trait tend to be well adjusted and stable. They are emotionally resilient and self-satisfied.  

Measures of personality[edit | edit source]

The use of personality testing is increasing across the world. The use of psychometric measurement can be helpful in gaining insight and understanding into one’s self and the management of people. The use of personality or aptitude testing should be considered when recruiting or developing people. There are many tests which can measure personality. Despite the questions and categorization varying in each test, they are all able to provide insight into the human psyche. These tests can provide information on present characteristics or traits that may not have previously been recognised. Additionally, the categorization they provide can help in predicting how individuals may react to a situation. The tests provide a basis for self-reflection and understanding. They are able to highlight skill deficits across areas and can assist in future development.

Most personality testing relies on objective measurement to ensure they aren’t influenced by rater bias ("Assessing Personality", 2015). Testing usually involves the administration of a bank of questions. These are then marked and compared against standardized scoring. Whilst objective tests usually have more validity than projective measures, they are subject to potential inaccuracy as they rely on the individual to be truthful and accurately represent their true personality, rather than what is socially desirable ("Assessing Personality", 2015).

The self-report measure is the most common form of objective personality testing used. It involves the participant providing information about themselves or beliefs through a question and answer format ("Assessing Personality", 2015). They typically involve a 5 point Likert scale of which answers are usually range from (1) strongly disagree to strongly agree (5) ("Assessing Personality", 2015).  Self-report measures are able to be within clinical and non- clinical populations. The most widely used personality testing that use self-report measures include; Eysenck Personality Questionnaire, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, MMPI/MMPI-2, 16 PF and the Neo Pi-R ("Assessing Personality", 2015).

Find out what personality type you are!

To see what you score on each of the Five Factor Scales, you can complete this short version of the IPIP-NEO test.

Quiz[edit | edit source]

1 What trait is most associated with optimism and excitability?


2 Personality traits are considered to be ..... over time

No option
Option A and B

What is emotion?[edit | edit source]

Figure 2: The Circumplex model of emotion

[Provide more detail]

Definition[edit | edit source]

Due to its complex nature and origin, for years there has been debate about a sufficient, objective and all-encompassing definition of emotion. Hockenbury (2007),[grammar?] defines an emotion as a complex psychological state that involves three distinct components including; a subjective experience, a psychological response and a expressive or behavioural response. Whilst Reeve (2009), describes emotion as a psychological construct that is made up of four elements including; feeling, arousal, purpose and expression[grammar?].

The circumplex model of emotion[edit | edit source]

The circumplex model of emotion suggests that there are eight basic emotions that have evolved to support relevant survival mechanisms. The basic emotions are fear, anger, acceptance, disgust, anticipation, joy, surprise and sadness (Plutchik, 2001). The model suggest that complex emotions are produced by the blending of basic emotions in specific combinations (see Figure 2).

The model is made up of 4 key factors which include; primary, opposites, combinations and intensity (Russell, 1980).

Primary: is used to refer to the eight basic emotions.

Opposites: refers to the idea that all basic emotions have a polar opposite. I.e

  • Fear is the opposite of anger
  • Trust is the opposite of disgust
  • Sadness is the opposite of joy &
  • Anticipation is the opposite of surprise

Combinations: The emotions that lay in-between the eight basic emotions and have no colour, represent emotions that are made up of 2 primary emotions (Russell, 1980). For example, fear and surprise combine to create awe, likewise anticipation and joy combine to be optimism.

Intensity: The model’s labels of emotions that lay vertically are representations of intensity. As emotions move from the outside to the center of the wheel, they intensify. This is also indicated by the deepening of the colour, the darker the colour becomes the more intense the feeling of emotion (Russell, 1980). For example, at its least level of intensity anger is annoyance; at its highest level, it becomes rage. This is likewise for the feeling of acceptance which can become admiration at its highest level (Russell, 1980).

Factors affecting emotions[edit | edit source]

There are many factors that can contribute and influence the effect of emotional experience. These include; culture, genetics and environmental factors.


Figure 3: an Alaskan family smiling.

Culture provides many individuals with structure, rules, expectations and guidelines that are used to understand, guide and interpret behaviours (see Figure 3). There is a large body of evidence that suggest that there are different social consequences amongst varying cultures for having and displaying particular emotions. Field work done by Jean Briggs on the Utku Eskimo population in 1963 found that anger was rarely ever expressed, in the rare occasions that it was displayed, it resulted in social ostracism. The cultural expectation of emotions can be referred to as display rules. It is believed that these rules are formed and learning during a socialization process (Ekman & Friesen, 1969). Ekman and Friesen (1975) go on to add that these rules govern the way in which emotions can be expressed. They suggest that the internalization of rules may happen as a function of the individual's gender, culture or family background.

Adding to this further is work done Miyamoto & Riff (2011) on cultural scripts. Cultural scripts refer to the influence that cultural norms place on the expectation of emotions to be regulated. They dictate how an individual should experience both positive and negative emotions (Miyamoto & Ryff, 2011). They guide the individual on how they choose to regulate their emotion, which ultimately influences their emotional experience. An example of this is the dominant social script present in Western cultures to maximize positive emotions and minimize negative ones (Heine, Lehman, Markus & Kitayama, 1999). In contrast to this is the dominant social script in eastern cultures, dialectical thinking. Individuals of this culture tend to try and find balance between experiencing positive and negative emotions. Because there is variation of normative behaviors within these two cultures vary, it should also be expected that their cultural scripts would also vary.

Research by Tsai et al. (2007) suggest that cultural differences in which emotions are desirable or, ideal affect, become evident very early and can be dictated a preschool age.

Figure 4: A stick figure representation of shared genes.

Biological predispositions

Evidence suggests that emotional experience can been affected by biological predispositions.  It has been found that biological variations at a genetic level can influence individual difference in perception (Todd et al., 2013) (see figure 4). The ADRA2b deletion variant gene is responsible for influences on the hormone and neurotransmitter, norepinephrine (Todd et al., 2013). The gene has previously been found to impact the formation of emotional memories and has now been found to play a role in real time perception. A study by Todd et al., (2013) found that the gene can influence the perception of emotional events (namely, negative ones) more vividly than others. The study was the first of its kind to reveal that genetic variation can significantly affect how people perceive and experience the world around them. Within the study, participants who possessed the gene variant were more likely to perceive negative words than others, pick out angry faces within a crowd and notice potential environment hazards before others (Todd et al., 2013). These findings suggest that combined with other factors such as culture and environmental factors, genetics can affect individual differences within emotional perception.

Environmental influences

Proposed by Fridlund in 1994 was behavioural ecology,[grammar?] within the view is the suggestion that facial displays function as social and instrumental displays due the nature they evolve in. Responses are usually from specific selection pressures that co-evolve with others responsivity to them (Hewstone & Stroebe, 2003). The notion stresses the role that others have in emotional processes of the self. This is influence comes from the notion that emotions are often directed at others, physically or figuratively (Hewstone & Stroebe, 2003).

Figure 5: A group of school children posing for a photo.

Fridlund (1994) goes on further to add that, to some degree, all contexts are social within nature. This is due to the fundamentally social nature of the self; even when alone or in isolation one is still inclined to think of events or situations that involve or are associated with other people (see figure 5). This phenomenon is referred to as ‘‘implicit sociality’’(Hewstone & Stroebe, 2003).

There are only a small number of emotions that have developed from biological origins (fear, anger, sadness), most emotions serve a social function (Maruszewski, Jasielska & Szczygieł, 2015). When not used as a communication function, they often constitute a tool for social influence. Exhibiting particular emotions or triggering them in others can often influence others to act within a specific manner. Whilst often implicit, social theories tend to govern how emotions are shown and controlled within others (Maruszewski, Jasielska & Szczygieł, 2015).  

The principle of emergence also influences the social determinant of emotions (Maruszewski, Jasielska & Szczygieł, 2015). When in a social context, emotions are often triggered, organized and exhibited in a different manner than when compared to emotions that appear outside of such contexts.  An example of this can be seen in the below case study.

Case study

Are you aware of the fact that when assuming certain attitudes, you can inhibit the responses of others? Take being submissive as an example, when assuming this role within a conversation it can inhibit aggression in others. Yet even when knowing this, people still anticipate reproaches, avoid eye contact and stand with their hand dropped when having conversation with their boss. This too works in the other direction, people can be surprised at that when exhibiting an impulsive outburst of anger, behaviours of other people that infringed on their interests or dignity, suddenly disappear.

Quiz[edit | edit source]

1 Plutchik believes there are how many basic emotions?


2 Reeve (2009) describes emotion as psychological construct made up of five key elements:


Personality traits and their effect on emotion[edit | edit source]

[Provide more detail]

Stress and coping[edit | edit source]

Figure 6: An anxious face. A common emotion for those high in neuroticism.

A large body of evidence has accumulated over the years that supports that personality and related to both stress and coping (see figure 6) . Neuroticism and Extraversion have been found to be predictors of stress and coping. Research has shown that individuals high in neuroticism experience more stressful events, where as their counterparts (individuals high in extraversion) experience both more stressful and pleasurable events (Bolger & Schilling, 1991; Fergusson & Horwood, 1987; Magnus, Diener, Fujita & Pavot, 1993; Suls, Green & Hillis, 1998) referenced as (Vollrath & Torgersen, 1999). Furthermore, it has been found that neuroticism predisposes individuals to experience distress and negative emotions, regardless of level of stress (Bolger & Schilling, 1991; Watson & Clark, 1984), referenced[say what?] as (Vollrath & Torgersen, 1999). Extraversion however, predisposes them to experience positive affects[grammar?] (Watson & Clark, 1992; Watson, Clark & Carey, 1988a) referenced as (Vollrath & Torgersen, 1999). Personality type influences coping and the strategies used.  Research by Vollrath & Torgersen (1999), found that individuals high in extraversion tend to engage in healthy coping behaviours such as active problem solving and seeking social support. Whereas those high in neuroticism engaged in passive and maladaptive coping strategies (Amirkhan, Risinger & Swicker, 1995; Costa, SomerÆeld & McCrae, 1996; McCrae & Costa, 1986; Parkes, 1986; Rim, 1987; Vollrath, Torgersen & AlnÒs, 1995; Watson& Hubbard, 1996) as referenced by (Vollrath & Torgersen, 1999). The relationship between coping and conscientiousness is strong Vollrath & Torgersen, 1999). This may be due to the factor being related to achievement, cautiousness and commitment to work and relationships (Costa, McCrae & Dye, 1991). When comparing this relationship to the last two factors, openness to experience and agreeableness is weak (Vollrath & Torgersen, 1999). Thus, it is considered that these [which?] three personality factors are the most important in determining how individuals will experience, response and cope with stressful situations and events within their lives.

A potential gap in the research?

When considering this research, it may be perceived that one can predict individual’s adaptation. However, before doing this, further knowledge exploring the personality factors and their effects of each is needed. The current research does not suffice when considering the possibility of someone scoring high in two competing domains in coping such as neuroticism and conscientiousness. These traits have completely different coping preferences and could even be considered as having opposite effects. It is unknown how these two personality traits combined effects an individual’s emotion and coping strategies.

Daily functioning[edit | edit source]

Within everyday life, dealing with negative emotions is one of the most consistent challenges. Personality traits, specifically neuroticism is able to predict how susceptible one is to experiencing negative emotions. This has a dual relationship whereas negative emotions can than in turn create bias within self-rated personality (Schindler & Querengässer, 2019). Within in[grammar?] Schindler & Querengässer (2019) experiment, personality and emotion regulation strategies were examined to see if they could predict the effectiveness of strategies used to deal with sadness and how this sadness affects self-rated personality.  A total of 82 participants were measured twice within a period of one month, within a neutral or sad emotional state (Schindler & Querengässer, 2019). The results found a bi-directional relationship between sadness and extraversion. Meaning that sadness led to decreased extraversion and elevated neuroticism scores[grammar?]. Additionally, neuroticism scores predicted susceptibility to sadness state (Schindler & Querengässer, 2019).

Meta-analysis research by Barańczuk (2019) adds to this further by finding that in over 132 studies, higher levels of extraversion, agreeableness, openness to experience and conscientious and lower levels of neuroticism were associated with greater adaptive emotional regulation strategies such as reappraisal, problem solving, and mindfulness and typically lower maladaptive emotion regulation strategies such as avoidance and suppression[Provide more detail]. This research is crucial for the discussion of possible intervention strategies based on personality traits.

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

There is a significant relationship between personality and emotion. Research suggests that the association between the two is significant due to the influence on daily functioning, stress and coping. Implications of these findings suggest that those high [missing something?]} neuroticism, experience more stressful events are predisposed to experience more distress and negative emotions. Conversely, scoring high levels of extraversion predisposes an individual to experience less daily stress and has a positive affect[grammar?] on emotions experienced. Future research should investigate the relationship between personality type and daily coping strategies so that the best psychotherapeutic intervention strategies can be utilized.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Ali, I. (2019). Personality traits, individual innovativeness and satisfaction with life. Journal Of Innovation & Knowledge4, 38-46. doi: 10.1016/j.jik.2017.11.002

Assessing Personality. (2015). Retrieved 20 October 2019, from

Ackerman, C. (2019). Big Five Personality Traits: The OCEAN Model Explained [2019 Upd.]. Retrieved 20 October 2019, from

Barańczuk, U. (2019). The five factor model of personality and emotion regulation: A meta-analysis. Personality And Individual Differences139, 217-227. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2018.11.025

Brebner, J., Donaldson, J., Kirby, N., & Ward, L. (1995). Relationships between happiness and personality. Personality and Individual Differences, 19, 251-258. doi:10.1016/0191-8869(95)00022-X.

Briggs, J. (1970). Never in anger ; portrait of an Eskimo family. Jean L. Briggs. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press.

Burger, J. M. (2015). Personality (9th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson-Wadsworth.

Cattell, R. B. (1943). The description of personality: basic traits resolved into clusters. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 38, 476-506.

Cattell, R. B. (1957). Personality and Motivation Structure and Measurement. New York: World Book.

Cherry, K. (2019). What Are the Big 5 Personality Traits?. Retrieved 20 October 2019, from

Costa, P., McCrae, R., & Dye, D. (1991). Facet Scales for Agreeableness and Conscientiousness: A Revision of the NEO Personality Inventory. Personality And Individual Differences12, 887-898. doi: 10.1016/0191-8869(91)90177-d

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Diener, E. & Lucas, R. E. (2019). Personality traits. In R. Biswas-Diener & E. Diener (Eds), Noba textbook series: Psychology. Champaign, IL: DEF publishers. Retrieved from

Ekman, P., & Friesen, W. (1969). The Repertoire of Nonverbal Behavior: Categories, Origins, Usage, and Coding. Semiotica, 1. doi: 10.1515/semi.1969.1.1.49

Goldberg, L. R. (1993). The structure of phenotypic personality traits. American Psychologist, 48, 26–34. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.48.1.26

Heine, S., Lehman, D., Markus, H., & Kitayama, S. (1999). Is there a universal need for positive self-regard?. Psychological Review106, 766-794. doi: 10.1037/0033-295x.106.4.766

Hewstone, M., & Stroebe, W. (2003). European review of social psychology (p. 139). UK: Psychology Press.

Hockenbury, D. (2007). Discovering Psychology 4th Edition. Worth Publishers, Inc.

Matthews, G., Deary, I. J., & Whiteman, M. C. (2003). Personality traits. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

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Miyamoto, Y., & Ryff, C. (2011). Cultural differences in the dialectical and non-dialectical emotional styles and their implications for health. Cognition & Emotion25, 22-39. doi: 10.1080/02699931003612114

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Reeve, J. (2018). Understanding motivation and emotion (7th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Rossberge, R.J. (2014) National personality profiles and innovation: The role of cultural practices Creativity and Innovation Management, 23 (2014), pp. 331-348

Russell, J. A. (1980). A circumplex model of affect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 39, 1161-1178.

Sato, T. (2005). The Eysenck Personality Questionnaire Brief Version: Factor Structure and Reliability. The Journal Of Psychology, 139, 545-552. doi: 10.3200/jrlp.139.6.545-552

Schindler, S., & Querengässer, J. (2019). Coping with sadness - How personality and emotion regulation strategies differentially predict the experience of induced emotions. Personality And Individual Differences136, 90-95. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2018.01.050

Todd, R., Müller, D., Lee, D., Robertson, A., Eaton, T., & Freeman, N. et al. (2013). Genes for Emotion-Enhanced Remembering Are Linked to Enhanced Perceiving. Psychological Science24, 2244-2253. doi: 10.1177/0956797613492423

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Vollrath, M., & Torgersen, S. (1999). Personality types and coping. Personality And Individual Differences29, 367-378. doi: 10.1016/s0191-8869(99)00199-3

External links[edit | edit source]