We all are born with some personality traits that determine who we are. Another significant aspect of human nature is the innate character that determines the way we relate to others or respond to situations in specific ways. Both character and personality make us unique beings but they are not the same aspect of the ‘self’.

When we talk about personality vs. character, it is important to understand that these two aspects of the person are not the same at all. The personality refers to the overall ‘self’ depicting what the person actually is. However, a character refers to the social attitudes, beliefs, and values that are applicable only in response to specific life situations.

In this article, we will describe these two terms separately and will draw the subtle differences between the two.

Personality vs. Character – Understanding the Concepts

Simply said, your personality is the sum total of your inherited traits, temperamental inclination,  thoughts, and feeling patterns that get portrayed externally and determines your actions, attitude, and behavior in general. In psychology, personality is your ‘self’; it’s you as an entity and a unique being.

The various life experiences and environments actually help you to shape who you are. Your personality develops over time with the help of your inherited traits and exposure to various life experiences. Personality is visible while the character is innate and hidden unless its expression is needed in specific situations. Moreover, personality is also easy to read. We often judge ourselves and others as extroverts, introverts, or having key traits such as energy, optimism, confidence, etc. 

On the contrary, the character is always hard to get revealed. It is puzzling to analyze and understand. The character of a person is defined as a distinguishing feature or a quality that is ethically inclined and reveals the person’s moral values and core beliefs. Character is in-built and consists of moral principles, values, and ethical standards that are esteemed in society.

Precisely, personality shows who you are outwardly but your character reveals what you are within. It reveals your true nature. Therefore, we can say that personality can be detected easily from outward behavior and social interaction. It gets revealed easily and you’ll stand out in the crowd. However, the character of a person gets revealed only under specific life circumstances. It doesn’t always form a part of behavior patterns.

Personality – Definition

Personality is the outer ‘self’. It helps you get noticed in the public eye. Others will notice and analyze your easygoing nature or your assertive tone much more easily than whether you’re an honest person. Your honesty is an example of character. Whether you‘re an honest person or not will get revealed in situations that demand revealing this trait.

According to Gordon Allport (1961), personality is defined “as the dynamic organization of the individual of those psychophysical systems that determine his characteristic behavior and thought.”

Your daily behavior, attitude, and outlook toward life are all determined by the personality type that you possess. Your personality pattern remains more or less consistent but it doesn’t mean that you will never change your personality as per the needs of the situation. In certain ways, personality evolves over time. It is a slow process of growth that may change according to the necessities of the situation the person is in.

Sometimes others may use your personality traits to define the way you are. They may either appreciate you or judge you in subtle ways based on how you behave in front of others.

Personality encompasses all those distinct qualities that make up your identity. It can be observed through outward behavior and can be understood from a person’s thinking skills and emotional patterns.

Character – Definition

Character is considered a special quality of a person that can either outshine them socially or undermine their social dignity. It means a collection of moral and ethical principles that are innate and influences the person’s behavior in specific situations. 

Character is more objective and remains stable throughout a person’s life. For example, an honest person will always remain truthful and committed in their daily life, irrespective of the adverse situations that they might have come across.

Character lies deep inside you. It is rigid and will not change much under societal pressure. Moreover, your character is your true self that doesn’t depend upon external validation. You know that you have a firm character and that is often impossible to change.

The character of a person is influenced by upbringing, family values, and life experiences. 

Personality vs. Character – Comparison Table

Both personality and character play a vital role in a person’s life. They impact thinking, feelings, behavior, and actions. By understanding the personality traits, and character traits separately, you’ll be able to understand how you are in reality. 

It gives you and others a firsthand impression of your key qualities, areas of strengths, and weaknesses. Your character is long-lasting because it depends upon the moral ideals that are ingrained deep inside you. 

There are certain key differences between personality and character. For your easy understanding, we have used a table to show the subtle contrasts between the two key aspects of human nature.

Personality Character
Personality is the sum of a person’s physical, psychological, emotional, and social aspects that is manifested through behavior and actions.Character refers to the person’s moral and ethical qualities. It consists of beliefs and moral principles that can guide their behavior in discrete ways.
Personality can be identified as it manifests through outward behavior. It can also be understood as a part of a person’s nature.Characters cannot be identified and understood easily. Positive character traits and negative character traits get revealed under specific life conditions, not as daily actions.
Personality is susceptible to change as it tends to develop over time in a person’s life.Character is more or less stable and remains the same throughout. It is unlikely to change as per the situation. 
Personality can change and thereby it is subjective in nature.Character is objective because it always remains what it is. Therefore, a person’s character is an inbuilt disposition that hardly changes over time.
The personality of a person describes the thoughts, behavior, and actions that set him or her apart from others.Character is concerned more with morality and ethics, not much with patterns of behavior.
Personality is the way you present yourself to the outside world and the way others perceive you in the social space.Character is innate and gets revealed only in specific life situations.
Personality is revealed regardless of any effort. It becomes apparent without any hard work or provocation.Character is guided by discipline and a moral code of conduct that the person practices internally as always. It guides all their life actions and behavior.
Mood and emotional fluctuations can impact personality.Emotional fluctuations cannot change a person’s inbuilt character. It remains what it is always and under all sorts of circumstances.
Personality growth occurs without external validation.Character is based on validation. A person is assigned good character traits by other people in the larger society.
Personality is all about how we seem to appear in front of others.Character is who we actually are deep inside ourselves.
The personality of a person is manifested by appearance and behavior.Character is determined by abstract traits of the person that is either highly acclaimed or slammed in society. Good character traits such as honesty are acclaimed while arrogance is slammed as it is viewed as a negative character trait.
Personality is easy to read Character is not easy to read
Personality can be of various typesThe character has only one shade. It develops in a black-white shade as it encompasses moral codes of human behavior. It is not meant to explain 
Personality reveals the surface traits that make up an individual.Character reveals the core traits that define a person’s ideal and true nature
Personality gives an overall impression of the personCharacter gives an understanding of the person’s subtle qualities. 
Personality vs. character

To Sum Up

We are unique individuals and exclusive beings and it is obvious that we will possess varied personality types with both good and bad character traits. No two individuals can behave and show similar character traits under the same circumstance. There will always be big and small differences in attitudes, behavior, and moral code of conduct. 

Your personality will impact how you move along in your daily life while your character will impact how you become in your everyday life. Both these aspects of ‘you’ are important for your overall understanding of ‘self’ and others.

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