Before we introduce and interpret the main personality types, let us clarify the fundamental difference between behaviour and personality in psychological systems. You may have read various things about personality, but in essence, personality is the alpha and the omega of our decisions. This is true even if the traits and reactions dictated by our personality are not evidenced by our actions, because, as we have already discussed, our personality can be modified.
Psychology, as a science, says that behaviour is part of our personality, usually its transmission to the outside world. But this book is not Psychology 101, so let’s move on! Behaviour, when it comes to psychological systems, is the sum of the appearance, communication, and reactions we have chosen in order to achieve our goals. So, behaviour stems from the fact that because we have short- to medium-term goals, we often find it easier to play a role to achieve these goals. In other words, we try to pick up traits — personality traits — that are not necessarily part of our own personality trait repertoire. We do this to make it easier or even faster to achieve a desired result. Results can be simple, like quicker acceptance by a new community, where it seems easier to put our best foot forward because showing our true self is a more complex process. If we are trying to land a new job, we want to show during an interview that we are very much in tune with the interviewer’s ideas, and since they tend to focus only on positive qualities, there is little impetus to reveal who we really are. But unfortunately, it is possible to escape into “phony” behaviour in especially important situations, for example, when you want to sell your better self to your future companion, bond with them, get married, and have kids. But once you are together for a long time, you’ll inevitably rock the boat. In both the job-hunting and partner-seeking scenarios, many professionals say to just keep “behaving” because, if you get what you wanted in the short term, then you can slowly go back to your original self, and after all, you now have a job or relationship, so you can become a happier person. Another question, of course, is whether this happiness can be sustained if you have achieved it via false information; sooner or later, it will come out, but you can simply pretend not to care. The bigger problem is with the deeper role-playing games, because in a marriage, you can damage not only your own life, but those of your partner and children, because this whole “beautiful” life is built on a lie. I know these are strong words, but I have first-hand experience that most people get out of this situation much better, because the companion prefers the real personality much better than their adopted behaviour. But this is not the situation in most cases. This leads to bad marriages, and I do not need to describe their consequences.
How can we “fool” our personality? How can we “behave”? Well, from the beginning, Marston’s technique was ideal for answering this. After all, he began typing people based on information that was clearly visible from outside.
Clothing, hairstyle, and accessories.
Of course, we use these tools as the easiest and quickest way to deceive our environment. All a precise, systematic person needs to do is to start dressing in brighter colours, colouring their hair, and they will immediately look more dynamic, creative, and flexible.
The work environment.
What kind of furniture we use, where we work, and how we organise our workstation can be highly informative about our current behaviour.
Visible, tangible assets.
Cars, laptops, watches, phones, other devices. And of course, the eternal companion in role-playing: communication. That is why Marston divided people into groups based on these factors and further elaborated on 4 main personality types.
Behaviour accompanies our lives. It is healthiest if our behaviour follows the direction dictated by our personality. Most of us do not want to be deceptive, so we do not want to surprise people. This makes us stable and reliable; people can count on us. But just because we are predictable does not mean we are boring. This is far from the case! It is not the intensity of the change in behaviour that determines how exciting someone is, but rather the colours of their personality. This is also a general misunderstanding. Changing our wardrobe from time to time doesn’t make us more interesting people, especially if we do it for some defined purpose and not intuitively. But it is also true that a personality that forces its “owner” to change their wardrobe from time to time, though they cannot explain this compulsion, is indeed an interesting person. Do you feel the difference between the two directions? That is, we are dishonest when our behaviour differs from our personality, although it does not mean that we are liars; but if the two directions are very remote, then we are lying, because we are deliberately and consistently deceiving our environment. This is true even if we just want to be better, more lovable, and more pleasant people. We have reliably observed that when this “long-term mask” — which is when our behaviour is inapposite to our personality — creeps in and stays in our life, then sooner or later, we cannot be honest. It’s worse when we lie in a situation, even though we think we are telling the truth, all because we left truth behind long ago when we deviated from the path dictated by our personality. When a dynamic person who’s always looking for changes — the Individual personality type — discards their traits and tries to be predictable, routine-oriented, empathetic, and put others’ interests before their own, is asked by their companion “Will you stay with me forever, for better or for worse?” The first reaction will be “yes!”; however, if that person were to live and communicate with their own personality, the true answer would be “I will try”. Of course, we can wonder what would happen to the world if everyone were to behave according to their personality. That is why I must emphasise that this example is theoretical. Although I also add that, for example, this is how I approached my relationship from the first minute — having learned from a previous 9-year relationship full of masks — and I have spent 14 years living happily and with true honestly, and therefore, in complete stability, with my partner.
So, short-term masks are not necessarily positive, although they do help us achieve our goals. It’s often not fair to the outside world, and it’s better to be aware of this. But to summarise: everyone has periods when they trigger certain behaviours, and if we are aware of this, no one can surprise anyone, so less trouble will happen to us or the people around us.
The same is not true, however, with personality change! This is a factor that goes deeper and causes long-lasting damage. In most cases, the one who suffers is not at all aware that they are “modified”. Psychological systems, including Marston’s and its successors, generally teach that “permanently wearing a mask causes a personality modification”. So, if we constantly behave in a way that does not mesh with our personality, then we talk about personality modification because the elements of the mismatched behaviour stuck around and affected our personality traits. “Constant” in this case usually means at least one year, so we have about one year to wear a mask before personality modification sets in. Of course, this is not so much carved in stone, as it depends on the personality type how much time the assumed behaviour takes to leave a real impression, but according to our measurements, the average is close to 12 months. This can be 6-9 months for some personality types and 18-24 months for others. One thing is certain: if someone does not behave in a self-consistent way for two years, the person will show signs of personality modification that are not necessarily positive. Well, this is an area where psychologists differ sharply from creators of psychological systems in terms of thinking. The psychologists are persistently trying to prove that it is a healthy thing to acquire personality traits that may be far from us, but that help us to integrate into society or make our lives easier. In contrasts, psychological systems emphasise “being yourself”, as that is the only way you can live a happy life!
From the get-go, I strongly agreed with the second way of thinking. My personality is capable of showing various behaviours in a believable way, and I used this gift as a child! I have experienced the positive effects as well as the long-term, negative ones. Moreover, the negative results appear in life’s most important area: the private life. In addition, it can be clearly seen that building a career by developing different behaviours is only possible for a while, but without being self-consistent, real development becomes more difficult. Many people can make money and build a career, but if they do not achieve them with their innate personality, they will have serious problems regarding happiness sooner or later. You have heard of rich, unhappy people, haven’t you? I’ve seen plenty as a business mentor! By the way, technological advances, the advent of social media, and the rise of the younger generations — the “Ambitionists” born between 1985 and 1996, and the “Followers” born between 1997 and 2008 — didn’t really help modified people. Twenty to thirty years ago, it was still a common technique for a manager to pump himself up in front of a mirror at home and then go to work, play a role, and then put down his mask when he got home. Even though not everyone could manage this change, it still worked for many. Since then, however, children have grown up with social media, which is centred around role-playing. As these children have grown up in this world, they have extensive experience with fake behaviour and its negative effects by age of 15, so from an early age they are reluctant to fake it in key areas, as they see how serious of a “tribute” they must pay later. Thus, these “fake mask” methods have been dying out. Not to mention that it was easy to take the mask on and off when the world wasn’t so online oriented, but nowadays, a manager always has their phone on them and checks emails at midnight, so this role-playing spreads throughout their life, and no one can manage it in the long run. In addition, young people spot these masks much easier, so the actor cannot be successful, because if they are not self-consistent, no one will believe them. And if they don’t believe them, they won’t follow them.