Personalities and Social Styles

Countless theories have been developed to help understand the different personality traits and styles observed in human beings. For example, personality tests exist that categorize an individual as everything from a type of animal, a character from literature, a person from the Bible, or a set of letters. Common inventories include the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Keirsey Temperment Sorter, and the DISC. While no one personality inventory is perfect or completely describes each personality, some are sounder than others and some seem to more accurately capture a personality description. In general, if a personality test fits you 80% or more, it is a good match.

One generalized way of looking at differences in individuals is to view their varying social styles, or how they interact with others and the world around them. Below are descriptions of four primary social styles.


Expressives get involved with people in active, rapidly changing situations. These people are seen as socially outgoing and friendly, imaginative and vigorous. Because people react to behaviors as a result of their own value biases, some see the expressive style as dynamic and energetic while others perceive the same behavior as egotistical. Expressives can get things going but may sometimes settle for less than the best in order to get on to something else. They lack a tolerance for details, are highly competitive, and may need to learn to work with others in a collaborative manner.


Amiables value interpersonal relations. These people try to minimize conflict and promote everyone’s’ happiness. Some people see the amiable style as accommodating and friendly, while others describe it as wishy-washy and nice. Amiables frequently find it difficult to say “no” and thus may be over committed. They can be counted on to do what will please others. They are people-oriented and non-aggressive.


Drivers want results. They love to run things and have the job done in their own way. “I’ll do it myself” is a frequent motto. They can manage their time to the minute; they seem businesslike to some and to others they may appear to be threatening and unfeeling. Drivers make sure the job is done. They get impatient with long discussions about the “best way” or “the way to please everybody.” They are confident in their ability, take risks, and push forward.


Analyticals are problem solvers. They like to get all the data before making a decision. Some say they are thorough, but others complain they are slow. They have valuable conceptual skills, ask the difficult yet important questions and may seem aloof and cool. They miss deadlines, but they will have reasons to support the delay.

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For Further Information:

Keirsey Temperament Sorter
This website allows visitors to take an online version of the Keirsey Temperament Sorter, a commonly used personality and communication styles inventory (similar to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator). The results provide helpful information about how a person prefers to communicate, take in information, make decisions, and interact with others. The results can be used to help individuals understand each other better and build bridges instead of polarizing. It provides helpful information for engaged and married couples, coworkers, etc. []

Smalley Personality Test 
This short, fun personality test developed by Gary Smalley and John Trent provides a quick glimpse into four basic personality types (Lion, Otter, Golden Retriever, Beaver). The document helps you identify your primary personality type and shares a simple overview of each category.


The Gift of Mercy: How to Understand Differences and Forgive Others
Author: Ed Schwartz
This 194-page book addresses how to understand differences between people and deal with them in a Christ-like manner. Topics include dealing with differences in gender, personalities, backgrounds, experiences, spiritual gifts, etc. Developing a Christ-centered self-worth and identity is also discussed.


Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
Author: Susan Cain
This 368-page book explores and brings understanding to the extrovert ideal within our culture and its influence on the perception of introverts. It is a recommended book for introverts and their families.