Personality can be defined as a dynamic and organized set of personal traits and patterns of behavior. "Personality includes attitudes, modes of thought, feelings, impulses, strivings, actions, responses to opportunity and stress and everyday modes of interacting with others." Personality style is apparent "when these elements of personality are expressed in a characteristically repeated and dynamic combination."
According to Oldham and Morris, "Your personality style is your organizing principle. It propels you on your life path. It represents the orderly arrangement of all your attributes, thoughts, feelings, attitudes, behaviors, and coping mechanisms. It is the distinctive pattern of your psychological functioning—the way you think, feel, and behave—that makes you definitely you."
"Personality styles should be recognized as constructed approximations of human experience" and should be arrayed on a continuum rather than be reifed or totalized. One should be vigilant to deconstruct the uses of personality style in favor of an ongoing reflexivity about the use and misuse of such labels.
McAuliffe, Eriksen and Kress contrast personality style theory with stage theory. Style "represents long-term constructive preferences whereas stage represents current constructive capacity." Also, "style is relatively long-term and consistent over time, whereas stage tendencies are mutable..."
"The range of normal variation in styles can explain much human behavior without reference to notions of pathology." Personality disorders can be reconceptualized as being on a continuum, with one end being a more adaptive inclination. And style assessment can also complement the search for personality disorder.
Specific personality style theories that might be useful include Costa and McCrae's NEO PI-R personality inventory, Holland's person-environment matching theory, Isabel Briggs Myers' personality type theory, Oldham and Morris' derivation of personality styles from DSM personality disorders, and Ivey's reconceptualization of the DSM personality disorders as a continuum of personality styles.
- Eriksen, Karen & Kress, Victoria E. (2005). A Developmental, Constructivist Model for Ethical Assessment (Which Includes Diagnosis, of Course). Beyond the DSM Story: Ethical Quandaries, Challenges, and Best Practices . Thousand Oaks, CA: Page Publications. ISBN 0-7619-3032-9
- Young, Gregory G. (1978). Your personality and How to Live with It. New York: Atheneum/SMI. ISBN 0-689-10918-0
- Oldham, John M. & Morris, Lois B. (1995). The New Personality Self-Portrait: Why You Think, Work, Love and Act the Way You Do. New York: Bantam. ISBN 0-553-37393-5
- Holland, John. L. (1985). Making Vocational Choices: A Theory of Vocational Personalities and Work Environments. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. ISBN 0-911907-27-0
- Myers, Isabel Briggs (1980); Gifts Differing: Understanding Personality Type. Davies-Black Publishing; Reprint edition (May 1, 1995). ISBN 0-89106-074-X
- Ivey, Allen E., Ivey, Mary B., & Simek-Morgan, Lynn. (1997). Counseling and Psychotherapy: A Multi-cultural Perspective. Boston: Allyn & Bacon. ISBN 0-205-19890-2