I would like to know whether identity and personality are the same thing, as they both answer the question of who you are. Nevertheless in a cognitive approach, identity is considered a part of personality, concretely it's considered as a brain structure inside of the memory.

  • $\begingroup$ Personality has a formal definition accepted in psychology, but what do you mean by "identity"? $\endgroup$
    – Seanny123
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 6:46
  • $\begingroup$ By identity I mean the things that contribute to make you essentially unique, the things that are yours and anyone else's. The purpose of the question was that personality is only seen as identity in certain approaches but not in all, for example no-one would say that the Big Five Factor model is taking about identity, but McAdams integration model talks about three levels in personality and the third one is referring to identity. All in all it is a very complex concept in cognitive sciences as nobody knows exactly how to study it in a scientific way, so in fact it would be somethig subjective $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 16:00

4 Answers 4


I think the relation is more or less subjective.

Identity is something that you give yourself. It has to do with what you stand for, morals, values, etc.

It is who your are physically and legally, but that's just a basic "you already know that" statement.

Personality is the way in which you portray or "live in" your identity.

For example, you can identify parts of someone's personality: humorous, attractive, intelligent, funny.

Both adapt and change over time, but your identity changes less often, I believe. Together, they are what makes a whole person.

It's really difficult to give a concrete answer because a lot of this can be subjective, debatable and complex.

It's also important to remember that while in some cases your personality and identity may be the same, in the end, they serve different "roles." If someone says "you're unique", it's true. Both your identity and personality are what makes you unique. They help each other in that way.

Let's take a look at this from a different angle: Let's say that we know this guy named Tom is a murderer. That is his identity. His personality, however, may not portray that and can come off as fun or charming. Personality is how someone behaves. They both go really well together but that doesn't mean that they are always similar. In most cases, you will find that they are similar, though.


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  • $\begingroup$ Is he a murderer? Or has he murdered? There's a big difference between what you do and what you are. To be honest, I can't even think what it would take to identify as a murderer -- what would you need to stand for (morals, values, beliefs) to identify as such? $\endgroup$ Commented May 30, 2022 at 13:11

Identity as defined by the American Psychological Association (APA). Some key characteristics include:

  1. self-defined (i.e. an individuals sense of self)

  2. sense of continuity over time

  3. physical, psychological, and interpersonal characteristics, including values, beliefs and expectations pertaining to the self

Personality as defined by the APA. Some key characteristics include:

  1. emerges from individual’s unique adjustment to life (dynamic integration of nature and nurture, such as hereditary and social influence)

  2. includes major traits, interests, drives, values, self-concept, abilities, and emotional patterns

  3. continuity over time

One key distinction, based on the APA definition of concepts, is that identity is self-defined. Emotional patterns and traits are exclusively personality domains, whereas interpersonal roles (i.e. mother, brother, group member) are exclusively identity domains.

At the same time, there is some grey area between the two domains. Such as values. For example, Latin Americans (compared to those in the US) may be more likely to have collectivistic (as opposed to individualistic) value systems (relating to identity), centering around prioritizing the needs of the group over that of your own, likewise, have extroverted personality types.


In my opinion, I think identity is a kind of inheritance. Something that the world gives you that you can't change. For example, you can't change your date of birth or where you were born. My birthday is part of my identity. I'm Iranian and being Iranian is a part of my identity. My parents gave me a name so it's another part of my identity. Although, personality is something that makes me unique. For example, there are many people who were born on the same date and even live in the same place. Many people have the same name as me, but not my rules, demands, priorities, experiences, education, and so on. None of them think and act like me. Personalty is all of those covers and masks I use on myself in the world. This is my personalty. Maybe all I said was false, but I just wanted to share my opinion.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Psychology.SE. Please visit our site tour. We work differently to most SE sites, where we have a strict policy that all answers should be backed up with reliable references so that the answer can be independently verified, regardless of the reader's/answerer's background. Unreferenced claims can lead to answers being deleted. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 17, 2019 at 23:16
  • $\begingroup$ You said that identity is inherited, but I think it is a bit more complex than that. What about identity which conflicts with your biology such as transexual identity? The world, or society, does not give you a male physical body but a female identity within. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 17, 2019 at 23:24

Personality is both something we're born with - inate personality traits - and something we develop based on our environment, hopes and dreams.

Identity is something we grow into as a result of society reflecting back on us who the wish us to be, who they demand us to be, and the individual circumstances of our existence - where we fit into different status roles.

Our personality can imact our identity and how adapative we are to life's turn of events. We can be stubborn (a personality trait) and that makes it hard to change when needed, such as an identity loss occurs (from married to single) and we need to figure out who we are now, with that irretrivable loss.

On the other hand, our identity can be so fragile that we often adapt our personality to fit the needs of others over our own needs. The people pleaser identity.

Both words are comopeltey intertwined and it's a chicken or the egg phenomonon. And to me - identity is the gestalt, defined by the roles we play and our beliefs about our status.

While personality is more about behaviour - actions that others can actually see.

In the end, identity is the answer to the question "Who are you?"

Personality is the answer to the question "What type of person are you?"

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Psychology.SE. Please visit our site tour. There are a lot of bold claims in your answer without corroborated evidence. We work differently to many SE sites, where we have a strict policy that all answers should be backed up with reliable references so that the answer can be independently verified, regardless of the reader's/answerer's background. If you still have trouble with this, feel free to visit the help center or Psychology & Neuroscience Meta. Unreferenced claims can be challenged and lead to deletion of your answer. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 16, 2021 at 18:37

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