John Theiring – UNIT 04 / LESSON 09: Personality Matters

 John Theiring’s PSY 533 Ethics and Leadership Blog

UNIT 04 / LESSON 09: Personality Matters


When thinking of ethics, I have commonly heard the phrase ‘Character’ matters.   Although that is true, that is only one piece of the bigger psychological puzzle that defines and describes what makes people different from one another.   Personality can be associated with different type of traits that can help to understand or determine how someone may behave in various situations (Levy, 2014).   Traits reflect “people’s behaviors and conscious motives” (Myers, 2013) but are not causes but rather descriptions of peoples behaviors.   A single trait does not define a person or a personality.   Rather, individuals possess various traits and these traits then form a personality type.   While traits are descriptions of types of behaviors that have been compiled through quantitate observations, a personality type is describing the big picture of a person as a whole (Penn State, PSY 533, Lesson 9).

There have been many studies regarding personality and the most widely accept research is the Five-Factor model (FFM) of personality developed by Costa and McCrae (1992).     This Model defines five personality traits which include conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism, openness and extraversion.


People who are conscientious have the thoughtfulness and concern that are needed to behave in an ethical manner.

  • Thoughtful
  • Organized
  • Dependable
  • Efficient
  • Reliable
  • Ethical


William Bratton – Law Enforcement Officer


Someone who is accepting and trusting of others

  • Forgiving
  • Generous
  • Kind
  • NonCritical
  • Considerate
  • Trusting


Mother Teresa


Someone who is less predictable and can be emotional and unreliable

  • Anxious
  • Insecure
  • Emotional
  • Impulsive
  • Potentially Hostile
  • Tense


Robin Williams – Comedian


Someone who interested in many difference experiences

  • Creative
  • Curious
  • Unusual
  • imaginative
  • original
  • risk taker


Richard Branson – Entrepreneur


Someone who is social and assertive and has high energy

  • Outgoing
  • Active
  • Talkative
  • Energetic
  • Confident
  • Positive


Tony Robbins – Motivational Speaker


Personality is not something that is unchanging and fixed in stone and as with behaviors, you can change and shift it to address or rise up to a situation or event.     You have control of your personality. You are responsible for your behaviors and actions and can decide if you are going to be patient and caring or angry and loud. Why does this matter? Because your personality and behavior will affect others. Especially if you are a leader or have power over others, your personality and behaviors will impact and influence those around you.

If you are not careful, then you can go from Charismatic to pseudu-charisma which is a combination of extraversion and narcissism. On the outside you appear to be engaging and interesting but in reality you are only mimicking true charisma. In reality, the person is self-serving and only interested in themselves and what benefits them.

What could possibly go wrong with that ……..


Mimics true charisma but is self-serving and self-obsessed

  • Dishonest
  • Untrustworthy
  • Misinformation
  • Self-Serving
  • Bully
  • Inconsistent


Donald Trump



American Psychological Association. (2002). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct (Amended February 20, 2010). American Psychologist, 57, 1060-1073.

Levy, P. E. (2013). Industrial organizational psychology: Understanding the workplace. New York: Worth.

Lowman, R. L. (Ed.). (2006). Part VI: Billing and marketing issues. In The ethical practice of psychology in organizations (cases 48-51). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association

Myers, D. G. (2013). Psychology: In modules. New York: Worth.

Northouse, P. G. (2015). Leadership ethics. In Leadership: Theory and practice. Washington, DC: SAGE.

Penn State University, (2016). PSY 533 Lesson L09: Personality




  1. Wilson Diaz March 28, 2016 at 8:37 AM #

    Interesting Post John,

    I really enjoyed how you used famous people to illustrate the different personality traits. This allows readers to put a human face on the traits and makes them easier to understand. This election cycle I have found it interesting that Donald Trump is under attack for his personality. While I do not disagree with you assessment that he possesses pseudo-charisma, I would simply suggest that all politicians can be described in this manner. In fact, it seems to me that that is exactly what people are looking for in a politician. Seldom do we find politicians who give honest answers to questions or who don’t “spin” their behaviors in a favorable light gain any traction in the polls. If a politician were to give an answer in a debate such as “You know, I really don’t know what I would do in that situation, but here are the principles that would guide my decision”, which is the honest answer most of the time, would Americans support that candidate? Rather, we are attracted to these pseudo-charismatic leaders who will say whatever it take to get themselves elected, promoting their own welfare along the way.

    On a separate note, Mother Theresa is a saint. Darryl, I have read the pamphlet and it brings up interesting points to consider. But in my opinion it illustrates more that people can find evidence for whatever they are looking for. At some point in life, when evaluating someone else’s ethics and personalities, we have to take a leap of faith that we understand their true motives.

  2. Darryl Shawn Aiken March 25, 2016 at 8:04 PM #

    Hi John! I really like your post! I think you were definitely spot on with everyone here, especially the very dangerous and deceptive Donald Trump who is a textbook example of what can become of the Toxic Triangle we studied about earlier in the semester. He has the narcissism and the charisma necessary to feed into turbulent social conditions, and a population gripped with anxiety and fear to be a potentially terrifying leader. However I disagree with your assessment of Mother Teresa as having the personality type of agreeableness. While this may look like the case on the surface, there are very well documented writings and other sources about her that totally belie her public image. The 1995 book “The Missionary Position: Mother Theresa in Theory and Practice” by the late Christopher Hitchens is a thoroughly excellent account of a woman who was not as kind, generous, and trusting as the public was led to believe. Her image and name were synonymous with a type of goodness and holiness, but in fact, and you may find this hard to believe, the traits listed for the pseudo-charismatic type of person actually fit Mother Theresa well. I encourage and challenge you to broaden your mind and knowledge by taking even a cursory look at the documented proof of the life of a woman who literally caused the suffering and deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in India and Africa and was anything but a “saint.”

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