Role Personality and True Personality
If role. preparation were entirely adequate, each person would develop a personality which perfectly harmonized with his or her
role demands. But imperfections in preparation, plus unpredictability of future role demands, make it certain that many people will develop a personality which differs considerably from the pattern of personality traits which the '91e requires-the role personality. For ascribed roles and statuses, the divergence may be small enough so that little clash will occur between role personality and true personality. Thus, most children give up the pattern of crying and throwing tantrums as they grow up, and very few men wish to wear women's clothing.
For achieved roles and statuses which often are not selected until after one's adult personality has already been formed, considerable divergence between role and true personalities is fairly common. For instance, in the role of salesperson one needs to be friendly, extroverted, and perceptive of the reactions of others. Suppose one's true personality is Shy, withdrawn, contemplative, and insensitive to the reactions of others. Such a person is unlikely to become a salesperson or to succeed as one. If the person does succeed, . it is done by masking the true personality with an outward show of friendliness and a deliberately cultivated attentiveness to the clues to others' reactions.
This role playing is not easy to accomplish successfully and may entail a good- deal of emotional strain. If the role playing is done successfully over a"tong period of time, however, the true personality ay gradually be modified to come closer to the role personality. Eleanor Roosevelt was a rather shy young woman and a hesitant and
reluctant public speaker. In.her role as wife to a politically ambitious but physically handicapped husband, she forced-herself into vigorous political activity and became an eloquent speaker.
Apparently she found the role a rewarding one, for long after her husband's death she accepted a diplomatic appointment, remained a tireless world traveler and. public speaker, and became one of the most remarkable women of herbage, On.the other hand, the Wives of prominent In public life have of politician's wife and divorced their husbands. It is likely that a good deal of success and failure in achieved roles is explained by the" degree to which the true personality coincides with the required role personality. Personnel management uses job analyses, sociological tests, depth interviews, and other devices in are effort to fit people into jobs where there will be little clash between true and role person alienates.