The Circle Line

What's your personality?

Labels aren't always helpful. But there are some universal personality types
and it can be illuminating to discover yours.


Watch any film or read any book and you see various personality archetypes emerge.

Take 90s TV hit Friends. There’s the joker (Chandler), the quiet geeky one (Ross), the neat and tidy sensible one (Monica), the emotional “quirky” one (Phoebe), and so on.

But did you know that there are six fundamental personality types? Knowing yours helps you understand your response to life’s pleasures and its challenges.

What's your personality?

Psychological research dating back decades has found six main personality types, or “adaptations”.

All organisms, including people, adapt to their environment. Humans start adapting as soon as we are born in order to get what we need in our families and the world around us. These behaviours go back so far, and we’ve been doing them for so long, that they become ingrained as our “personality”.

Each of the below “types” encompasses behaviours associated with a particular style of functioning. Read on to find yours…

The Six Personalities

Let’s dive into a bit more detail…

Most of us display two of these personality types:-



The life and soul of the party. Enthusiastic over-reactors are imaginative, emotionally responsive with high energy. They makes great hosts and great mates to have around.

They engage through feelings and it is important to them that others care about their feelings. They are often nurturing or playful.

Their main driver is to please others – making them great hosts; they equate attention with love. They were most likely parented with an emphasis on socialising and keeping people happy, and so learnt to be emotionally responsive and pleasing, and discount their thinking.

Problems can occur when they are over-reactive, emotionally unstable, lose themselves in others and have inappropriate boundaries. They meet problems with feeling rather than thinking or acting so they can be seen as immature, self centred, and vain. They are often uncertain of their own reasoning. They may hide anger for fear of hurting others, and their response to challenge is to escalate feelings.

Their main learning areas for personal development are:-



The Responsible Workaholic is high achieving, conscientious, reliable, capable, and grown up.

They were parented with an emphasis on achievement, equating worth, value and subsequent performance with approval, with a major emphasis on ‘doing things right’ and perfection. They learnt to believe that their parents will think more of them if they are achieving.

They are happy to be on their own, relate better 1:1 and will initiate relationships in this way.

Problems occur when they are overly responsible, overly inhibited and tense. They are anxious if not busy, their own worst critic. Sometimes they have rituals, and can expect perfection from others. Their response to challenge is usually to be super reasonable. They want to “Be Perfect” and are driven by “shoulds” – and so their needs often go unmet, as they did in childhood.

Their main areas for personal development are:-



The Playful Resistor has lots of child energy and likes to have fun. They are engaging and enjoy being in a group, but often prefer others to initiate. Their dress may be a bit sloppy or incongruous. 

The Playful Resistor tends to see what is wrong, including with themselves. They criticise themselves internally and then fight back against themselves. Their response to threat is to whine, complain and struggle. They often pout or sulk, and resist any direction from others – they hate being told what to do!

They were parented in a manner that was over-controlling and probably quite competitive. The child had to struggle to survive and learnt to do things their way. Therefore problems can occur when they engage in pointless power struggles; they fight control even when there is none. Their behaviour can be aggressively passive.

They often want to be taken care of but don’t make their desires clearly known and then complain when they’re not. They can be passive and dependant in relationships too, liking lots of attention but often getting it in negative ways – substituting bickering for intimacy.

Areas for self-development are:-



They are clear, sharp thinkers, organisers and like to maintain control. They are bright, highly sensitive and perceptive.

The Brilliant Sceptic seldom misses a thing, and are good organisers. Their clothing is generally conservative and immaculate. Generally they prefer to be on their own or with one or two people.

They often having unrealistically high expectations of themselves that actually cover feelings of insecurity and inadequacy. Their belief is that if they can control themselves and others they will be OK; therefore they spend lots of energy in being careful and trying to control everything. They were parented in a manner that was inconsistent, and unpredictable, and often their boundaries were intruded upon.

As a child they learnt to become cautious and wary, therefore they tend to make contact with others and then pull away. They can also be aggressive, competitive, grandiose or rigid in their thinking. They may tend to project and blame and can be a little envious and suspicious. If scared they attack; their response to threat is to attack with razor sharp intellect.

Problems occur when they misperceive stimuli and assume their perception is true and then develop or act on it. They are attempting not to feel embarrassed or humiliated and are usually trying to do the right thing. Because they equate criticism with shame they attempt to do everything in a way that no one will find fault. This can make them uptight, disapproving of playful behaviour and afraid to relax.

Key learnings for the Brilliant Sceptic are:-



They are creative, artistic, kind, supportive and respectful of others’ space. They are deep thinkers, happy on their own, and want others to initiate contact.

Their main driver is to “Be Strong”.  They don’t like small talk but like non-verbal intimacy.

They can, however, get lost in daydreams; they may be overly compliant or behave with withdrawn passivity. They are often in dependant relationships and can take on the role of carer.

They were likely parented in a manner that was underdone, tentative, where as a child they withdrew so as not to place demands on parents (the parents may have been overwhelmed or preoccupied and the child somewhat emotionally neglected). So they grow fearful of making demands; their fear is that if they reach out the other person will be overwhelmed by their needs. Their response to threat is to keep a low profile.

Their main self-development areas are



Charming and charismatic, they intimidate and seduce. They love excitement, with all the gusto of life, and have a need for external stimulation. They may dress to seduce, shock or impress.

Their childhood message was most likely that in order to be OK you need to be one step ahead of others. Problems can therefore occur when this leads to manipulating and taking advantage of others.  They were parented in a manner that was overdone, competitive, where the parent put their own needs first, or was anticipatory; so the child learnt to expect constant stimulation.

They may be actively aggressive and have an underlying fear of abandonment, of being left to survive on their own. So they cope by making others look bad, or intimidating and seducing to avoid it happening again. They may therefore have developed difficulties with intimacy – seducing and then abandoning before they are abandoned.

Their dilemma is between closeness and freedom – they can be commitment phobic and fear control. Having learnt to be tough and appear that they do not care, they are afraid to trust that anyone will be there for them.

The Charming Manipulator’s key development areas:-


Which of these sound familiar? We can all recognise our friends or family in these “types” – but it may not always be so easy to recognise ourselves.

Exploring our patterns of behaviour and why we act like we do can help offer us more options for how we want to behave now. Recognising old family patterns that led to us adapting in these ways helps us move on to more freedom and satisfaction now in our current friendships, family ties and relationships.

Self-awareness helps us be more authentic in expressing ourselves, in showing what we really think and how we really feel.

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