Personality – Approaches, Theories, Influence on Consumer behaviour

Personality refers to the inner psychological characteristics or traits of a person that determine, how a person responds to his/her environment.

Inner psychological characteristics are specific qualities, attitudes, mannerism that differentiates one person from another. The behavior of Consumers gets influenced by many factors internal and external. Personality is the inner factor that influences an individual`s product choice and brand choice.

People generally choose the products that match their personality. Hence, marketers must associate a product or broad with different personality traits to develop an effective marketing strategy for a type of personality. Personality of a person may change gradually from time to time due to learning, personal experiences or major life events.

Characteristics of Personality

  1. Personality is more of an internal factor

  2. It gets reflected in the pattern of response in humans

  3. It is a collection of mannerisms, attributes and factors which are unique to every human being

  4. It is associated with the psychological factors related to the human

  5. Conglomeration of many traits makes a personality

  6. Personality is a highly integrated structure which gets formed due to the rounded effort of all factors concerned

  7. Personality serves its needs all by itself without much dependence on external factors

  8. The individualistic characteristics of personality is what differentiates one human being from the other

  9. Personality expresses itself in the form of behaviour by being overt

  10. Personality once established remains the same exhibiting high levels of consistency

Approaches to Personality

Many approaches have been adapted by researchers to study the personality of an individual. They are:

(1) Psycho-graphic Approach

Psychographic Approach takes a different pathway for inferring traits of each personality than other approaches. While the other approaches use Personality traits to understand the reasons behind behaviours, Psychographic approach studies the tendencies of individual behaviours to arrive at Personality traits.

(2) Typology Approach

Typology approach tends to group people who are of similar personality types. Studies based on this approach take up to understanding each personality type in an in depth manner by focussing on each of them individually.

(3) Psychoanalytic Approach

Psychoanalytic Approach relies upon Psychoanalysis which is an in depth study into the situations, events and processes that has determined the personality factors. Known also as Freudian Psychology, Psychographic Approach tends to make people understand the factors that have shaped their personality type. This helps individuals cope up with their life events in a more efficient manner.

(4)Trait & Factor Approach

The Trait and Factor Approach tends to analyze each and every factor associated with personalities. All such factors that make up a rounded personality are then arrived at by categorizing the same in an individual manner.

Personality Theories

Based on the above approaches, many personality theories have been formulated like:

  1. Freudian Theory or Psychoanalytic Theory

  2. Trait Theory

  3. Non-Freudian or Socio-psychological Theory

(1) Freudian Theory or Psychoanalytic Theory

Most studies related to Personality takes Freudian Theory as their basis. They work on three factors which act as the basis for all behaviors triggered by psychology.

First is the ID which relates to the desires of human beings triggered by the unconscious aspect of human mind. This includes the intuitions that people get in frequent intervals. ID asks for immediate satisfaction and works based on the principle closely related to Hedonism (pursuit of pleasure; sensual self-indulgence). Satisfaction of pleasures matters the most to ID. Relating ID to consumer behaviour in a typical purchase context, the unsatisfied desires of consumers which are more of fantasies creates frustration in their minds. It tends to make consumers handle issues in a subjective manner rather than with objectivity

Second is the Ego which is nothing but the fully conscious self image. This is a highly practical aspect that works with ID as its basics. Behaviors that appear more impulsive tend to get controlled by Ego. Ego is that aspect of mind which seeks to experience pleasure that is desired by the ID aspect of the same. Ego being a realistic one, in a typical consumer context, it tends to control the impulsive behaviours of consumers. It does not get frustrated by dreams and fantasies and enjoys the same from a pleasure experiencing angle. 

Third is the Superego which is that portion of mind that controls the behavior of human beings. This is the aspect of mind that helps people seek perfection in all that they do. It sets moral and discipline codes which in turn control the aggressive behaviour in human beings. A typical consumer who works from a Super Ego angle tends to be highly matured in all their purchase related decisions.

Freud advocates that a proper balance in all the three above given aspects makes a person become rounded personality. A consumer who has a balanced ID, Ego and Super Ego exhibits a balanced approach in all their decision pertaining to purchase of products.

(2) Trait Theory

According to Trait Theory, traits are considered as the basic factors which decide the response of people. This response is nothing but the behaviour of people to given situations. A trait is a predisposition to behave in a particular way to a particular situation.

Traits have been divided into 16 major categories by Cattell they are:

  1. Tensed (versus) Relaxed

  2. Outgoing (versus) Reserved

  3. Controlled (versus) Undisciplined

  4. Bright (versus) Dull

  5. Self Sufficient (versus) Group Dependent

  6. Aggressive (versus) Docile

  7. Experimenting (versus) Conservative

  8. Happy Go Lucky (versus) Serious

  9. Self Respective (versus) Self Assured

  10. Stable (versus) Unstable

  11. Polished (versus) Unpretentious

  12. Conservative (versus) Expedient

  13. Imaginative (versus) Practical

  14. Uninhibited (versus) Shy

  15. Suspicious (versus) Trusting

  16. Tender Minded (versus) Tough Minded

According to Traits Theory, traits can be acquired at an early age through learning or may be inherited in a person. Traits that define the personality of humans are highly stable in nature. Many traits are found in general amidst the common people. However, the exact depth of a trait in individuals will vary based on many factors and can be measured using rating scales, questionnaires, etc.

(3) Non-Freudian or Socio-psychological Theory

Socio-Psychological Theory is also called as Non-Freudian Theory. It is based purely on relationships which are considered as the reason for the development of different types of Personalities. Based on this consideration the behaviour of consumers has been divided in to three types. The three types of consumer behaviors have been grouped into one and termed as CAD. Under this model, individuals have been classified as:

  1. Compliant

  2. Aggressive

  3. Detached

(1) Compliant Individuals are the ones who are compassionate about being loved by others. They relish care and attention given by others. They are highly compliant in all their activities and can be termed as Conformists.

(2) Aggressive Individuals are those who act against the intention of others. They are highly manipulative. They enjoy power and being at authoritative positions. Consumers who fall under this individual type go in only for branded products owing to their desire to be noticed. 

(3) Detached Individuals least care for brands. Freedom is important for them. They love to feel independent and are mostly self reliant in their thinking and activities.

The above put together is termed as CAD Model. CAD Model has high reference points with respect to classifying consumer behaviour in a holistic manner.

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