50 Personality Quotes From Psychologists and Theorists

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The world right now seems obsessed with the human personality. If you are meeting someone new, or maybe even having a conversation with an old friend, they might ask you, “What are you on the Myers-Briggs Test?” That is not the only test out there; there is also The Big Five, Enneagram, or The 16 Personality Factor Questionnaire.

But just what is our personality, and why are we all so invested in measuring and defining it? Well, personality is our individual pattern of thinking, feeling, and behaving. It is how we show the world who we are, and we have been interested in why we are who we are for centuries now. Some of these personality quotes are from pioneers in psychology like Freud and Jung, who were both a part of the psychodynamic movement.

Freud and Jung, along with psychologists like Harry Stack Sullivan, Karen Horney, and Erik Erikson, felt that our personality flowed from the unconscious and that aspects of our personality are beyond our awareness. They each held different opinions on the extent of the unconscious, but these theories led to psychoanalysis and figuring out just what goes on in those heads of ours.

There are personality quotes from psychologists from some of the other perspectives as well, such as the humanistic perspective (Rogers and Maslow), trait perspective (Allport and Cattell), behaviorist perspective (B. F. Skinner), and cognitive perspective (Bandura and Kelly).

Keep reading to learn more about personality from some of the biggest names in personality theory.

Don’t forget to also check out these psychology quotes that will teach you something about yourself.

Best personality quotes from theorists of The Psychodynamic Perspective

1. “The conscious mind may be compared to a fountain playing in the sun and falling back into the great subterranean pool of subconscious from which it rises.” ― Sigmund Freud

2. “The interpretation of dreams is the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind.” ― Sigmund Freud

3. “Men are more moral than they think and far more immoral than they can imagine.” ― Sigmund Freud

4. “The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no universal recipe for living.” ― Carl Jung

5. “Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” ― Carl Jung

6. “Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better to take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.” ― Carl Jung

7. “If I am what I have and if I lose what I have, who then am I?” ― Erich Fromm

8. “Personality is the relatively enduring pattern of recurrent interpersonal situations which characterize a human life… A personality can never be isolated from the complex of interpersonal relationships in which the person lives…” ― Harry Stack Sullivan

9. “Your emotional life is not written in cement during childhood. You write each chapter as you go along.” ― Harry Stack Sullivan

10. “The godlike [self] is bound to hate his actual [self]. … [and this is] the central inner conflict.” ― Karen Horney

11. “Men have always shown a dim knowledge of their better potentialities by paying homage to those purest leaders who taught the simplest and most inclusive rules for an undivided mankind.” ― Erik Erikson

12. “The psychoanalytic method is essentially a historical method.” ― Erik Erikson

Personality quotes from The Humanistic Perspective theorists

13. “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”  Carl R. Rogers

14. “A person is a fluid process, not a fixed and static entity; a flowing river of change, not a block of solid material; a continually changing constellation of potentialities, not a fixed quantity of traits.” ― Carl R. Rogers

15. “The conviction grows in me that we shall discover laws of personality and behavior which are as significant for human progress or human understanding as the law of gravity or the laws of thermodynamics.” ― Carl R. Rogers

16. “I regret it when I suppress my feelings too long and they burst forth in ways that are distorted or attacking or hurtful.” ― Carl R. Rogers

17. “I am less and less a creature of influences in myself which operate beyond my ken in the realms of the unconscious. I am increasingly an architect of self. I am free to will and choose. I can, through accepting my individuality, my ‘isness,’ become more of my uniqueness, more of my potentiality.” ― Carl R. Rogers

18. “The fact is that people are good, Give people affection and security, and they will give affection and be secure in their feelings and their behavior.” ― Abraham Maslow

19. “What a man can be, he must be. This need we call self-actualization.” ― Abraham Maslow

20. “Being a full human being is difficult, frightening, and problematical.” ― Abraham Maslow

21. “Finding the center of strength within ourselves is, in the long run, the best contribution we can make to our fellow men. … One person with indigenous inner strength exercises a great calming effect on panic among people around him. This is what our society needs — not new ideas and inventions; important as these are, and not geniuses and supermen, but persons who can “be”, that is, persons who have a center of strength within themselves.” ― Rollo May

22. “When we are dealing with human beings, no truth has reality by itself; it is always dependent upon the reality of the immediate relationship.” ― Rollo May

Personality quotes from psychologists of The Trait and Behaviorist’s Perspectives

23. “To understand what a person is, it is necessary always to refer to what he may be in the future, for every state of the person is pointed in the direction of future possibilities.” ― Gordon W. Allport

24. “Much of our life is spent wishing others understood us better than they do.” ― Gordon W. Allport

25. “It is here that we encounter the central theme of existentialism: to live is to suffer, to survive is to find meaning in the suffering. If there is a purpose in life at all, there must be a purpose in suffering and in dying. But no man can tell another what this purpose is. Each must find out for himself and must accept the responsibility that his answer prescribes.” ― Gordon W. Allport

26. “Of course the impression we make on others, and their response to us are important factors in the development of our personalities …. [But] what about the solitary hermit … or Robinson Crusoe before the advent of his man Friday? Do these isolates lack personality because they have no effect on others? [My] view is that such exceptional creatures have personal qualities that are no less fascinating than those of men living in human society … [and that] we must have something inside our skins that constitutes our ‘true’ nature” ― Gordon W. Allport

27. “Creativity is closely correlated with personality factors of dominance, introversion, and ego strength. So I wouldn’t try to measure creativity by using a test of creativity per se, but rather by measuring personality factors that correlate highly with it. It has been shown that intelligence is also a precondition for creativity in any socially useful sense.” ― Raymond B. Cattell

28. “Dominance is negatively related to grades in high school and undergraduate work, but the opposite is true in graduate work—with dissertations and theses, the better work is done by high-dominance people who show more creativity and independence of mind. Of course, that dominance isn’t necessarily welcomed, because professors may still find docility in students to be a desirable trait.” ― Raymond B. Cattell

29. “The psychopath may do very well for himself as an individual—it’s only that a group with too many psychopaths wouldn’t survive. Group selection and individual selection work differently. Although individual selection may favor selfishness, for example, it’s caught up and corrected by group selection in the long run–one has to stress that. A society dies if it exceeds a certain degree of individual selfishness.” ― Raymond B. Cattell

30. “If you’re old, don’t try to change yourself, change your environment.” ― B. F. Skinner

31. “No theory changes what it is a theory about; man remains what he has always been.” ― B. F. Skinner

32. “We have not yet seen what man can make of man.” ― B. F. Skinner

Personality quotes from The Cognitive Perspective theorists like Bandura and Kelly

33. “People’s beliefs about their abilities have a profound effect on those abilities.” ― Albert Bandura

34. “The human mind is generative, creative, proactive, and reflective — not just reactive.” ― Albert Bandura

35. “Psychology cannot tell people how they ought to live their lives. It can, however, provide them with the means for effecting personal and social change.” ― Albert Bandura

36. “If humans were in fact incapable of influencing their own actions, they might describe and predict environmental events but they could hardly exercise any intentional control over them.” ― Albert Bandura

37. “A good deal is said these days about being oneself. It is supposed to be healthy to be oneself. While it is a little hard for me to understand how one could be anything else, I suppose what is meant is that one should not strive to become anything other than what he is.” ― George Kelly

38. “This strikes me as a very dull way of living; in fact, I would be inclined to argue that all of us would be better off if we set out to be something other than what we are. Well, I’m not so sure we would all be better off – perhaps it would be more accurate to say life would be a lot more interesting.” ― George Kelly

39. “[In our theory,] the term learning … scarcely appears at all. That is wholly intentional; we are for throwing it overboard altogether. There is no ego, no emotion, no motivation, no reinforcement, no drive, no unconscious, no need… [Thus] the reader who takes us seriously will be an adventuresome soul who is not one bit afraid of thinking unorthodox thoughts about people…” ― George Kelly

40. “There is another meaning that might be attached to this admonition to be oneself; that one should not try to disguise himself. I suspect this comes nearer to what psychologists mean when they urge people to be themselves.” ― George Kelly

Good personality quotes about happiness and positive psychology

41. “If positive psychology teaches us anything, it is that all of us are a mixture of strengths and weaknesses. No one has it all, and no one lacks it all.” — Chris Peterson

42. “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” — Viktor Frankl

43. “A joyful life is an individual creation that cannot be copied from a recipe.” — Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

44. “Once you start making the effort to ‘wake yourself up’—that is, be more mindful in your activities—you suddenly start appreciating life a lot more.” — Robert Biswas-Diener

45. “Probably the biggest insight… is that happiness is not just a place, but also a process. Happiness is an ongoing process of fresh challenges, and it takes the right attitudes and activities to continue to be happy.” — Ed Diener

46. “Happiness is not out there for us to find. The reason that it’s not out there is that it’s inside us.” — Sonja Lyubomirsky

47. “When we are open to new possibilities, we find them. Be open and skeptical of everything.” — Todd Kashdan

48. “Becoming is better than being.” — Carol S. Dweck

49. “Happiness is the only thing that multiplies when you share it.” — Albert Schweitzer

50. “It’s more selfless to act happy. It takes energy, generosity, and discipline to be unfailingly light-hearted. Yet everyone takes the happy person for granted.” — Gretchen Rubin

What did you learn from these unique personality quotes?

How many of those above-mentioned personality tests have you taken? If you have taken The 16 Personality Factor Questionnaire, it might interest you to know that it was developed by Raymond B. Cattell, one of the trait theorists whose quotes you just read through!

But why do we care about our personality so much? It’s simple really, humans like to understand things, especially about what makes us tick. That knowledge helps us live a happier life, have meaningful relationships, and improve the way we behave in certain situations.

Understanding personality can make us happier because we can use the information gathered to change our environments, how we manage our time, how we respond in certain situations, and how we leverage our strengths.

While we can’t control some aspects of our personality we can make changes, or use our strengths, to help us live life a little better, which can increase the happiness we feel. Understanding personality also helps us learn to communicate in an effective manner, which helps in relationships. Understanding parts of ourselves better also makes it easier to identify the kind of friends and lovers that balance out or enhance parts of our personality.

What is your favorite personality test, and did the results surprise you? Share your thoughts in the comment section below, along with any other inspiring personality quotes and sayings!

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