The History of
A Basic History of Personality
What is personality and how did it begin? How important is it? How does it effect our relationships, happiness and ability to succeed in life?
Let’s examine a bit of the history in the world of personality.
We will begin by defining the different between personality types and personality traits. Personality type refers to the psychological classification of different types of individuals. Personality types are sometimes distinguished from personality traits, with the latter embodying a smaller grouping of behavioral tendencies.
Types are sometimes said to involve qualitative differences between people, whereas traits might be construed as quantitative differences. According to type theories, for example, introverts and extraverts are two fundamentally different categories of people. According to trait theories, introversion and extraversion are part of a continuous dimension, with many people in the middle.
Why are most psychology tests built off of FOUR Quadrants?
Four temperaments is an early theory that suggests that there are four fundamental personality types, sanguine (pleasure-seeking and sociable), choleric (ambitious and leader-like), melancholic (analytical and quiet), and phlegmatic (relaxed and peaceful). Most formulations include the possibility of mixtures of these four types.
Carl Jung founded analytical psychology. The central concept of analytical psychology is individuation—the psychological process of integrating the opposites, including the conscious with the unconscious, while still maintaining their relative autonomy. (Memories, Dreams, Reflections, p. 209) Jung considered individuation to be the central process of human development. (Jung's Individuation process Retrieved on 2009-2-20) Jung developed four psychological types.
Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI): Officially published by Henry C. Chauncey in 1962, this old classic was developed by Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers and has been around for close to 50 years. It was built off a swiss psychologist, Carl G. Jung’s work entitled Psychological Types, The Psychology of Individuation.
Taking the test results in one of 16 types with titles like “ESTJ” and “INFP”. These refer to four polarities (such as extroversion / introversion and thinking / feeling). The test is used to assess preferences without easy links to strategies or role models, so really require an expert to interpret the results and translate it into effective action.
TRUE COLORS: In 1978, founder Don Lowry, the person behind True Colors, became interested in the work of clinical psychologist David Keirsey. Keirsey, author of the best-selling self-help book Please Understand Me, studied the work of psychologists Carl Jung, Katherine Briggs and Isabel Myers who theorized that all people fit into one of four broad categories of personality.
DiSC: The origins of DiSC began in the early 1900’s, and was pioneered by the work of Dr. William Moulton Marston (1893 – 1947). With a PhD from Harvard in the newly developing field of psychology, Dr. Marston set out to examine the behavior of individuals in their environment, and focus on the styles and preferences of such behavior. Dr. Marston authored a book in 1928 (Emotions of Normal People) which explained his view that characteristics of behavior can be grouped into four major behavioral styles.
DISC refers to the four behaviour types the test assesses: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance. It is more focused at behaviors than preferences, but has the same Jungian roots as MBTI, and there are correlations to the two. Teams find DISC easier to grasp and explain back than MBTI, but both systems lack clear strategies for success, or tailored tools for specific industries or modern challenges.
Color Code: The Color Code Personality Profile created by Dr. Taylor Hartman, once again, divides personalities into four quadrants and uses a basis of colors: Red (motivated by power), Blue (motivated by intimacy), White (motivated by peace), and Yellow (motivated by fun). The general breakdown suggests that Reds comprise 25% of the population; Blues 35%; Whites 20%; and Yellows 20%. A 45-question test assesses one's color. Dr. Taylor Hartman maintains behavior is only an outward expression of what is truly happening on the inside of a person. The theory of driving core motive (DCM) to answer the questions of why was Dr. Hartman’s goal.
The following quote sums up the CORE color code problem, “In all the years of Dr. Hartman’s research into the subject, he has never come across someone who was motivated by something other than power, intimacy, peace, or fun.” I think quote lacks a full examination, and bundles important motivators that make look similar but can in reality motivate very different.
Note: The Primary Colors Personality Test (explained in more detail below) takes motives into important consideration as well, but divides them into six categories and further distinguishes between personal motivators and there opposites, relational devastators. These motivators and devastators correlate with the centered and extreme personality tendencies that Primary Colors Personality Insight Tools focus on as part of a person’s contextual color blend. PCPT’s six motivators are Power, Fun, Appreciation, Excellence, Fairness and Effectiveness, while the relational devastators that correlate with those personal motivators are Domination, Impulsivity, Victimization, Perfectionism, Prejudice, and Compulsive Productivity.
Strengths Finder: A more modern test created by Gallup and championed by Marcus Buckingham, Strengths Finder focuses at your strengths rather than focusing on preferences or behaviors. The test identifies your top 5 strengths out of a possible 34. Accompanied with a relevant modern philosophy (focus at your strengths and you will be happier and more productive for it), this test is more prescriptive on proactive strategy than MBTI and DISC, but lacks an intuitive model that team members can transfer and implement easily.
What are the Big Five Personality Traits?
In the 1970s, two groups of personality researchers independently came to the conclusion that most personality traits can be boiled down into five broad categories, now known as the Big Five. They are:
1. Openness: Those who score high for this trait tend to enjoy adventure and be open to new experiences
2. Conscientiousness High scorers for conscientiousness are generally organized and dependable
3. Extraversion Those who are high on this scale draw their energy from being around others, so they tend to be more sociable (not to be confused with outgoing!
4. Agreeableness High scorers for this trait are often trusting, helpful and compassionate.
5. Emotional stability (or Neuroticism) People with high scores for this trait are usually confident and don’t tend to worry often (this may be tested as neuroticism, in which case high scorers would be prone to worrying and anxiety).
According to Geoffrey Miller each of these traits acts like a continuum, where you fall at some point along the scale between high and low. These personality traits developed from patterns that emerged from large amounts of research data, and present a bit of a translation problem for many people.
Geoffrey Miller emphasized: "One implication is that the “insane” are often just a bit more extreme in their personalities than whatever promotes success or contentment in modern societies—or more extreme than we’re comfortable with."
Although these traits are genetically heritable and mostly stable throughout our lives, Helen Fisher’s essay emphasized the fact that people are malleable: "We are not puppets on a string of DNA."
Again, Helen Fisher has an excellent point to make on this: "… we are social creatures, and a deeper understanding of who we (and others) are can provide a valuable tool for understanding, pleasing, cajoling, reprimanding, rewarding, and loving others."
Which leads us to Primary Colors Six Personality Color Hexad: 1988-present
Background: Dawn Billings studied under personality experts, Drs. Robert and Joyce Hogan as she worked toward her doctorate degree in Organizational Psychology. Dawn received her master's degree in Clinical Psychology and had a private practice working with women, couple's and families who could not afford therapy and believed that understanding personality from both a clinical perspective and an organizational perspective would provide a broader base.
Dawn was also doing family systems work which meant that she would have four to seven members of a family in one session and she learned two things very quickly. In order to initiate change and insight you must quickly be able to create a new language that will break through the always, already listening and knowing that people come to you with, and as a therapist, you must capture the family's attention in order to interrupt their strong desire to capture yours to sell you on "their" side of the family dynamics story.
Being born into poverty, to a family ravaged by addition, Dawn wanted to understand what made people choose addiction and dysfunction versus success and contribution in their lives. She wanted to better understand what motivated, inspired hope and growth, as well as, what inhibited and seduced people into choosing dysfunction?
Because she felt she understood the challenges faced by the less fortunate, uneducated and generationally self-victimized, she chose to work with people (with a focus on women) who had limited access and resources, limited education, and limited relationship skills. Therefore she needed a basis for her personality insight test that was simple for anyone to understand, very easy to implement, but that would prove to have a powerfully positive impact on the way individuals viewed and perceived themselves and others.
Drs. Robert and Joyce Hogan were not fans of type or personality trait theories. They believed that reputation and past behaviors were the best predictors of who a person was and is. They spent many years developing highly respected organization assessments that were very complex. These assessments were not suitable for the work that Dawn wanted to do with her clients.
Although Dawn was frustrated with the limitations of the traditional four quadrant personality type and trait tests, she believed that people did have "personality tendencies" that showed up consistently in different contexts. She realized that the broad term personality, as in "you are A personality type" was incomplete because human beings are complex, and contextual. The personality tendencies used in one context, say 'me at work' might be very different than the personality tendencies a person used in another context, say 'me as a wife'. Dawn believed that the power behind gaining personality insight was not in being categorized, but in learning who we are in different life and emotional contexts.
Dawn, who like hundreds of thousands of others over the years, admired and was inspired by the work of Carl Jung. She agreed with Jung that "the psychological process of integrating the opposites, including the conscious with the unconscious, while still maintaining their relative autonomy" was imperative to the individuation process, but she also was frustrated by the four quadrant model on which personality types had been explained for decades because it was she realized while working with people that it extremely limiting and lent itself to categorization versus contextual insight. She began looking for a more in-depth, comprehensive model that, while remaining simple to understand and implement, could build into a much deeper, more complex and contextual personal insight tool.
Fascinated by the idea of her husband's artist color wheel that he used to mix the varying shades of his paints, Dawn began to study colors as they worked together on the artists wheel. She then began to study the colors as they related to light and realized the colors on the artists color wheel were based on very similar colors that light refracted through a prism. For Dawn, it was exciting that these colors, and their blends of colors, were found throughout nature in millions of compliments, shades and intensity. This primary and secondary color combination was so simple and yet could be used to help explain core motivations, relational devastators, centered and extreme personality tendencies, distinct core value differences, as well as, differing interpretations of the world as seen through different colored lenses. The fullness of the color wheel colors and the relationship between them was the perfect base to help her explain her ideas about personality, context, blends, intensity and centered and extreme behaviors that she watched her clients move in and out of day after day. And so began her development of the simple, yet complex, insight tools that she named Primary Colors Personality.
Present-Day: Although incredibly simple, this personal insight tool could help people understand opposites in their personality such as centered and extreme personality tendencies. Although universal, it was a tool that could, and would, become very personal for those who used it to gain insight into their choices, attitudes and behaviors. The Primary Colors Personality Insight tools gave people from every educational and socio-economic level a way to understand their strengths and motivation to center their extreme personality tendencies that were causing havok in their lives. It helped people understand who they were in different context of their lives, without defining, pigeon-holing or excusing inexcusable choices and behavior.
Since its conception this personality insight tool has been licensed and utilized by relationship researchers, the armed services, corporations, churches, volunteer organizations, schools, and most importantly within family structures to transform relationships into healthy, happy, strong, functioning and connected bonds. It provides a way for people to understand how to use their strengths and talents to live the dreams in their hearts, while also understanding those extreme personality tendencies that cause them great misery, frustration, disappointment and despair.
Over the years Dawn has continued to develop these insight tools in order to help families deal with stress, conflict and challenges in a more stable, respectful and insightful way. Respect is a cornerstone of healthy relationships and understanding the personality color blend of yourself and those you love brings a deeper, more loving, understanding to life.
To learn more about how Dawn's Primary Colors Personality Insight Tools can benefit you, your family, your work place, your church, or your organization you may email Dawn Billings at or click on the button below to visit Primary Colors Pesonality.com.