Characteristics: The Traits and Qualities that Make Up a Person


Characteristics are identifiable qualities or traits. They may describe the physical body. They could also describe the psychological makeup or personality of a person. Researchers refer to the most well-known personality characteristics as the “Big Five.” These include openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Physical characteristics may include traits like face shape and eye color.

Personality characteristics tell you about the inner workings of someone. These traits can also show you how they operate in the workplace and mesh with society. Physical characteristics describe the outward appearance.

Personality Characteristics

Personality characteristics work together to make up who a person is. It tells you how he or she interacts with the world. The “Big Five” were born in 1970. Researchers found that everyone has these characteristics to some degree.


The willingness to experience new things plays a large role in who someone is. Some people are always ready for change. They’re up for new adventures. Open people have a high appreciation for art and imagination. People with less openness prefer sticking to their habits and what they know. Others fall somewhere in the middle. 


Someone who is conscientious tends to plan. They have a strong sense of duty and obligation. This drives them to become dependable and focused on success. People with low levels of conscientiousness are free-spirited and spontaneous. They may seem careless, according to LiveScience.


Extroverts are often called “social butterflies.” They enjoy socializing and seem to get energized when they’re in a crowd. They’re often cheerful and chatty. Introverts process social interactions differently and crave alone time to recharge. They’re charming and sociable but prefer smaller groups or one-on-one interactions.


This characteristic measures an individual’s kindness and warmth. If someone is very agreeable, they’re often helpful and trusting. Disagreeable people tend to cooperate less. They tend to be distrustful of others. 


Neuroses is an 18th-century term. It’s characterized by worry, anxiety, and depression. Even when things are going well, someone with a high degree of neuroticism still worries. People with low neuroticism are more likely to be even-tempered and stable.

Physical Characteristics

When you look at a person, what do you see? Those are the person’s physical characteristics. Unlike personality characteristics, these describe someone’s outward appearance. Many of these traits are genetic. For example, many people who have dimples go on to have children with dimples too. Common examples of physical characteristics include:

  • Curly, straight, or wavy hair
  • Hair color
  • Skin tone
  • Freckles
  • Eye size and color
  • Nose size and shape
  • Left-handedness or right-handedness
  • Age, such as baby, toddler, teen, or adult
  • Good-looking, average, or ugly
  • Overweight, slim, or toned

Can Physical Traits Reveal Personality? 

It’s dangerous to make broad generalizations about physical and personality characteristics. Researchers have found that there may be a connection between the two. It’s possible that when you see people with certain qualities, you perceive them a certain way. 

For example, many people view people with a rectangular face shape as strong leaders. A rectangular face includes high cheekbones, a strong jawline, and a wide forehead. Researchers compared companies led by people with different face shapes. Companies led by someone with a rectangular face shape experienced greater financial success.