Character: definition and characteristics that compose it

We often hear someone say “Subject X has a bad temper” or “And the girl has a strong character”. No wonder, considering how much we like to classify people according to the way they are and how little it costs us to label people according to the way they behave. But Do we know exactly what “character” means, what it encompasses and what factors shape it?

The following paragraphs are devoted to the answer to the previous questions.

Definition in character concept

First of all, it is important to clearly clarify and define the concepts. What is the character?

According to the Royal Spanish Academy, the meaning number six in the entry dedicated to the word, defines character as “the set of qualities or circumstances of a thing, a person or a community, that distinguishes, by its way of being or acting, from others “, and offers some examples of its use:” The Spanish character. The unbearable nature of Fulano “.

This explanation serves however to get an idea of ​​the use which is commonly given to it of the character (which is good and falls within the objectives of the SAR), but if we want to understand what is in a more global way , we need to know what they say about the character of psychologists who are engaged in research based on this idea. And it is that character is one of the most widely used concepts in the psychology of individual differences to categorize the differences between individuals; in fact, it is closely related to other concepts, such as personality or temperament.

Different ways of approaching the concept

There are many psychologists and psychiatrists express disagreements about the specific meaning they give to the concept of “character”. Despite this, among the similarities that we can find in the explanations of those researchers who work to extract knowledge related to the subject, there is the idea that a person’s character sums up the way that person usually reacts to a situation. , a given circumstance or action. In other words, character is not something that is produced by our body, but that is based on interaction.

Ernest Kretschmer, a leading German scholar of character building, well recognized for his biotypological studies, states that trait “arises from the set of basic biological characteristics based on the anatomical-physiological substrates of constitution and individual characteristics. . influence of the environment and particular individual experiences. ”As far as we know of the character today, it develops by merging the constitution of the temperament (inherited from our parents) and the instinct with the environment which surrounds us, or by external factors which act permanently on our individuality, modifying it more or less strongly and in an important way but without never transforming it.

It means that the character is part of a process. More precisely, it is in our way of relating to the environment and to the internal phenomena of our mind (memories), and therefore it is not a thing, something which remains fixed and interacts with the central elements. Neither in the brain nor anywhere in our nervous system is there a structure that produces the “character” of each.

The factors that make up the character

Several scholars of the character have agreed to emphasize several fundamental characteristics. As always, there are many points on which there is no general agreement, but among all the schools, one of the most accepted today is the character school of Groningen, among the members on can find Renne Le Senne, Gastón Berger, André le Gall and Heymans, among others.

Their work together it brings a conception of character according to which it relies on three constitutive factors: Emotion, activity and resonance.

1. Emotion

Emotion is often defined as “the state of psychosomatic concussion experienced by certain individuals under the influence of events which are objectively of equal importance”. This feature it serves as the basis for the classification of emotional and non-emotional individuals. If a subject involves their feelings first (or not) about a stimulus and we can recognize this through certain behavioral traits such as mobility of humor, demonstration, compassion, fervor, etc.

2. Activity

The activity has two aspects. On the one hand, the free need to act due to a congenital need (food, sleep, etc.). On the other hand, the need to remove any obstacle that tries to oppose the direction of the subject. Obviously, our character varies greatly depending on how well we manage to meet those needs.

3. Resonance

Resonance refers to the print the time given to us by an event and the time needed to restore normality before this act. Depending on this epoch, subjects can be primary (characterized by their impulsivity, mobility, the fact of consoling or reconciling quickly, etc.) or secondary (those who are affected for a long time by an impression, cannot console themselves, have grudges, etc.)

In addition to these constitutive factors, Le Senne adds other additional properties among which he includes egocentrism, analytical intelligence, allocentrism, etc. and the joint interaction with the primaries and the environment would result in the personality of each individual.

Type of character and its relevance in the field of criminology

In this link that I provide below, you have more information on character types and how this trait relates to criminal behavior:

“The 8 types of character (and their relation to criminal behavior)”

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