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2 Oct 2014

Change of Personality or Change of Perspective?

We easily think of our personalities as being a uniform whole. The idea of aspects of our personalities hiding, even for decades and more, isn’t considered. Yet, a change of personality is really a change of perspective.

Very often, how we see ourselves – our self-view – is based on what others say about us or what we’re told to do. Pavlov’s classical conditioning theories apply to humans as well as dogs. Habitual, unthinking actions come to represent our behaviors and us. In actuality, they were formed by following rules and leaders, and by following the prompts of family and friends. In effect, thinking for ourselves and discovering ourselves can be challenging.

Illustratively, looking at the top half of the schematic below, we see one dot brighter than its surroundings, another darker and one blended in. In reality, as the bottom half shows, all three dots are the same. The left dot could illustrate that we come across brighter and happier than those around us, the right darker and moodier. Thus, the personalities and culture around us will shape our self-view especially if they prompt us as in “you’re always so happy.”

Change of Personality or Change of Perspective

Just as we can alter the appearance of photographs by changing frames, changing the frameworks of people lives can give the appearance of personality change.

If the dots now represent an aspect of our personality, the center dot hides for long periods if circumstances or culture don’t change. When something changes, that particular aspect is brought out, as shown by either left or right dot. Tremendous challenges and crises often bring out dormant personality aspects. Introverted celebrities are quite different on stage. Yet, we claim “events changed them.”

We easily change photographs’ appearances by changing frames. Highlighting different colors for example changes perspective. Photographs don’t change though. Similarly, changing the framework of people’s lives will give the appearance personalities have changed.


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