Personality Theory and Emotional Style

This post is taken largely from The Emotional Life of Your Brain by Dr. Richard Davidson and Sharon Begley. The personality theory in current vogue is by Lewis Goldberg.1 It is a five dimension model of personality in which the five dimensions are:

Openness to Experience

Conscientiousness

Extraversion

Agreeableness

Neuroticism

(If you have not already read the preceding blog post, “The Six Dimensions of Emotional Style,” now would be a good time). Here is how Goldman relates his six dimensions of emotional style to the five dimensions of personality.

Someone who is high in openness to new experience has strong social intuition, is highly self-aware, and tends to be focused with respect to attentional style.

Someone who is conscientious has well developed social intuition, an acute sensitivity to context, and a focused style of attention.

Extraverted people are at the fast to recover end of the resilience spectrum and maintain a positive outlook.

Agreeable people are highly attuned to social context, have strong resilience, and tend to maintain a positive outlook.

Highly neurotic people have low resilience, a gloomy negative outlook, are relatively insensitive to context, and are unfocused in their attentional style.

Davidson would argue that his Six Dimensions of Emotional Style provide a better explanation of personality types. In later posts we shall see that his Six Dimensions of Emotional Style are also grounded in brain structures, and can provide a better account of pathological cases. He also offers remedies both for pathological cases and for non pathological individuals who would like to make alterations in their emotional style.

1Goldberg, L. (1993). The Structure of Phenotypic Personality Traits. American Psychologist, 48, 26-34.

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