103 Introduction to Personality


A photograph shows two children running outside through an open doorway.
What makes two individuals have different personalities? (credit: modification of work by Nicolas Alejandro)

Consider two brothers. One of these siblings will grow up to become a world leader. The other will struggle with alcohol and drugs, eventually spending time in jail. What about each of their personalities propelled them to take the path they did?

Three months before William Jefferson Blythe III was born, his father died in a car accident. He was raised by his mother, Virginia Dell, and grandparents, in Hope, Arkansas. When he turned 4, his mother married Roger Clinton, Jr., an alcoholic who was physically abusive to William’s mother. Six years later, Virginia gave birth to another son, Roger. William, who later took the last name Clinton from his stepfather, became the 42nd president of the United States. While Bill Clinton was making his political ascendance, his half-brother, Roger Clinton, was arrested numerous times for drug charges, including possession, conspiracy to distribute cocaine, and driving under the influence, serving time in jail. Two brothers, raised by the same people, took radically different paths in their lives. Why did they make the choices they did? What internal forces shaped their decisions? Personality psychology can help us answer these questions and more.


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