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  • Victor Clark

Character is unseen beneath the surface of personality.

Updated: Jun 16

A list of personality traits does not map the contours of character. Unlike personality, the intrinsic nature and dynamic structure of character cannot be directly observed and must be indirectly evaluated using orthogonal scales from personality-trait, -type and -projective tests. Character is grasped in its essentials not in isolation as a single trait but in context of the total personality.





Traditional personality tests compare an individual with a group. This norm-referenced scale can only measure individual differences on the social surface of personality. Comparisons between people might empirically determine a character trait, but such a listing of personality traits alone does not map the nature and depth of character.


William Stern:

“Character is evaluated as to the inter-individual comparability, intrinsic nature and dynamic role within the total personality of each empirically discovered character trait.”

Unlike personality, the intrinsic nature and structure of character cannot be directly observed and must be indirectly evaluated. Intrinsic nature refers to how a character trait relates to the readiness for directed dynamic acts of will of a definite kind. Character structure refers to the dynamic role of the character trait within the total personality.


Theoretical Pluralism

Character is specifically evaluated from the inter-individual comparability, intrinsic nature and dynamic role of an empirically discovered character trait. Theoretical pluralism is required for this threefold examination using the following:

  1. Norm referenced trait-test scales,

  2. Diagnostic type-test scales and

  3. Psychodynamic projective test scales.


Talent

A norm referenced trait test scale assigns the character trait to a place on a normal curve scale. Talent strength is measured by comparison with the abilities of successful people in a specified field such as executive administration.


The inter-individual comparability for the strength in ability of extraversion, for example, becomes manifest by assigning the character trait in a place on a scale that can then be rated with the strength of the character trait in other people. The character trait’s qualifications for the solving of super-individual social and business problems is predicted by this rating of a character trait against the strength of the same trait in a reference group (i.e, executive assistants).


Potential

Motivation related to talent potential is clarified by personal preferences for direction of development. A diagnostic type-test scale identifies a person’s emphasis for using developed (dominant) and potential (auxiliary) abilities. The intrinsic nature of their character trait, extraversion for example, is grasped in its essentials not in isolation as a single trait but in context of the total personality.


The intrinsic nature of extraversion related to psychological function-attitude pairs (dominant and auxiliary) is understood from narrative description not from statistical comparisons. Carl Jung’s dynamic typology about extraversion is not scaled objectively to a group for comparison of statistical strength in extraversion as a personality trait, but instead focuses on the person’s deeply subjective motivations, fears and desires as a dialectic conflict between their inward and outward directed acts of will.


Character

The structure of character specifically relates to the role of a character trait within the total personality. Norm-referenced personality trait-test scales measure isolated personality traits compared to a statistical group cluster of traits, while projective test scales measure multiple character traits within a single person.


Psychodynamic projective test scales designate the valence (or polarity) of each character trait, extraversion for example, within the total dynamic structure of introversion-and-extraversion motivating tendencies. Character structure concerns the valence or polarities between divergent and synergistic motivations, as motivating tendencies are conflicted or amplified, respectively



Carl Jung:

“Extraversion is not an isolated personality trait that is objectively scaled to a group for comparing statistical strength of the extravert, but is a polarity of the bipolar psychological attitude in the dialectic of inward and outward directed acts of will.”

Psychography is the comprehensive study of a single person to understand the interrelationship of character traits within them. Personalistic psychography as defined by William Stern is the subdiscipline for mapping character in the context of the total personality.


Psychometry, as the study of isolated personality traits in group personality tests, unfortunately indoctrinated by the cult of personality that ignores character will otherwise create a straw man without substance and lead to a dead end.





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