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vocab for personality traits [LONG]

From:And Rosta <a-rosta@...>
Date:Tuesday, June 11, 2002, 17:26
As us conlangers know, the first stage of the process of creating
a vocabulary that is not a mere relexification is tantamount to
encyclopedism -- dauntingly so, and also, to those who to fields
of study are, at least shallowly, omnivoraginous, exhilaratingly.

Let me say, though, that even though encyclopedistical discussions
are technically on-topic on a conlanging list, even when without
specifically linguistic content, I do appreciate that they might
try the patience of conlangers whose conlanging interests are
confined to the specifically linguistic. Therefore if asked to
move such discussions to another list I shall without chagrin
endeavour to do so, though no obvious alternative home has so
far occurred to me. Perhaps the endeavour can count as work on
philosophical lgs, and qualify for transfer to Engelang.

The discussion of personality types leads me to pose two
questions that seek the same answer. First, what are the major
dimensions that (we feel) define/characterize personality?
Second, what vocabulary for characterizing personality does
a functionally complete (con)lang need, especially a conlang
of the Philosophical type?

I have begun by taking 30 dimensions listed on a page on a
site Bfowol posted about. The wording and commentary are mine.
I invite other people to suggest further dimensions absent from
the list but at least as important as some of those present in
the list. Once a satisfactory inventory of dimensions has been
achieved, I shall devise for them an assignment to Livagian

The 30 dimensions are 6 subdimensions of each of 5 larger
classes. At this stage I have simply preserved the structure
of my source, without attempting to find other patterns,
though I'd welcome anyone's pointing out patterns.

Relevantly to us, the dimensions were derived not from
theories of psychology but from inspection of natural-language
vocabulary, reasoning that the most important traits would be
those denoted by the largest groups of synonyms.

1a. susceptibility to becoming worried, anxious
1b. susceptibility to becoming angry
1c. susceptibility to becoming discouraged
1d. susceptibility to becoming embarrassed
1e. susceptibility to succumbing to urges/temptation
    [I think this must be restricted to the urge to seek pleasure
    or avoid pain, since other urges would be subsumed by other
1f. susceptibility to becoming flustered

2a. Cold, reserved, (formal) : warm, affectionate, (informal)
    [More a triangle, this, because people can be informal yet
     not warm and affectionate.]
2b. gregariousness
2c. 'assertiveness'
    [This one is also a triangle: leader : follower : loner.
    Furthermore, the triangle needs one version for how we
    interact with other people socially, and another version
    for how we engage with society/the world in general.]
2d. vigorousness
    [This one needs to be broken up into:
    (i) the tendency to always be occupied
    (ii) the intensity with which your activity consumes your
    (iii) activeness/passiveness within occupation/activity
    (iv) balance of physical/mental energies expended.]
2e. thrill-seekingness
    [Best to take this as stimulation-seekingness, since the
    prototypical bungee-jumping thrill-seeker presupposes
    specific loci on certain other independent dimensions.]
2f. exuberance, cheerfulness, optimism
    [This one too needs to be broken up into something far
    more nuanced.]

To this list should be added:
2g. source of stimulation is internal/external to self
    [I would count reading as an external source of stimulation.]

3a. tendency to fantasy, imagination, daydreaming
3b. aestheticism (i.e. susceptibility to aesthetic stimuli,
    not a tendency to be an aesthete)
3c. placing high/low value on emotion
    [I don't really grock this one; maybe:
    (i) rational principle vs. own feelings (in determining our
    judgement of Right Conduct;
    (ii) rational principle vs. others' feelings (in determining
    our judgement of Right Conduct;
    (iii) value of own emotion in experience of life & art.]
3d. preference for the familiar vs. for variety/novelty
    [Really a triangle, adding +variety, -novelty]
3e. broad/narrow intellectual focus
3f. dogmatism, conservatism: fixity/mutability of 'values'
    [I don't know how narrowly 'values' is to be taken, nor
    whether 'dogmatism' means more 'adherence to principle'
    (i.e. opposed to pragmatism) or more 'resistance to Reason'.]

4a. 'cynical, skeptical : trusting, seeing others as honest and
    [Conflates related but distinct dimensions:
    (i) tendency to think others benevolent/malevolent
    (ii) gullibility, tendency to take things at face value]
4b. straighforwardness: guarded, oblique : frank, straightforward
    [Conflates related but distinct dimensions:
    (i) tendency to offer/withhold opinions
    (ii) tendency to state opinions directly/obliquely]
4c. altruism
    [(i) Should be a triangle, adding wishing to help others, reluctant
    to incur cost to self.
    (ii) Distinguish different motives: ethicality, desire to do
    good, desire for gratitude.]
4d. 'aggressive, competitive : yielding, deferential'
    [(I) A triangle, related to 2c: (i) conflict-initiating,
        (ii) conflict-avoiding, +yielding, (iii) -conflict-
        initiating, -yielding.
    (II) conflict with other people vs. conflict with Fate.]
4e. arrogance/modesty
    [I think this should be understood as a *need*, in two triangles:
    (i) a need to feel superior : a need to feel different : a need to
    feel alongside peers
    (ii) a need to be thought superior : a need to be thought different
    : a need to be thought alongside peers.
    The difference between (i)/(ii) would follow from another parameter,
    reliance on own/others' estimation of self.]
4f. "hard-headed, rational : tender-minded, easily moved"
    [I suppose this parameter applies only in circumstances (e.g.
     triage) when these putative poles are in conflict with each other,
     for they are not inherently incompatible.]

5a. tendency to feel unprepared/incompetent vs. capable/effective/
5b. organized/disorganized
5c. 'dutifulness: casual about obligations vs. governed by conscience,
    [A more nuanced analysis might make the following different but
    related distinctions:
    (i) obligations we choose vs. obligations we don't,
    (ii) willingness to contract obligations,
    (iii) doing the minimum necessary to satisfy an obligation vs.
    doing as much as possible.]
5d. low/high drive for achievement/success
    [As with 4c, this also varies according to whether achievement/success
    is judged by self/others.]
5e. 'self-discipline: procrastinates, distracted : focused on completing
    ['self-discipline' as a label seems better suited to (1e). (5e)
     seens to cover separate but related dimensions:
    (i) preferring to postpone sthg unpleasant vs. getting it over
    and done with;
    (ii) preferring to revise vs. preferring to finish;
    (iii) preferring to finish one thing before starting another, vs.
    preferring to flit to and fro between activities/tasks as the mood
    takes you;
    (iv) [related to (iii)] preferring to engage with one task at
    a time vs. multitasking;
    (v) [related to (iv) & (ii)] preferring to work on a single
    (large) project than a series of separate (small) projects;
    (vi) [related to (ii)] quantity of things achieved is more/less
    important than quality.]
5f. 'deliberation: spontaneous, hasty vs. planning in advance'