Person, persona, and personality modification: An in-depth qualitative exploration of quantitative findings

Dawn Querstret, Oliver Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
9 Downloads (Pure)


Quantitative and qualitative methods can work productively together to explore the conundrum of personality. In this study, a personality questionnaire tool (TIPI-3C) was used to screen for participants with high levels of personality variability across three social contexts. One hundred and twelve participants completed the questionnaire, which assesses the Big-Five traits as they manifest when with parents, friends, and work colleagues. Eight participants between the ages of 20 and 40 whose scores categorised them as high in personality variability were then interviewed using semi-structured interviews. Transcripts were analysed using Thematic Analysis. Participants described personality modification through the adoption of social personae. Motivations for this included a) to make a good impression, b) to protect and suppress emotions, and c) a fear of rejection and social anxiety. Adopting personae was related to feelings of anxiety and insecurity, while acting in line with one's own personality was described as relaxing and preferable. The mixed-methods study shows how qualitative methods can be used to dig underneath quantitative findings to help explain and account for them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140-159
Number of pages19
JournalQualitative Research in Psychology
Issue number2
Early online date21 Jan 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • mixed methods
  • persona
  • personality
  • personality modification
  • social context
  • thematic analysis


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