Sensitive Personality Type

Idealist (melancholic temperament) subtypes

Sensitive Personality Type

Dr. John M. Oldham has defined the Sensitive personality style as follows: individuals with the Sensitive personality style prefer the known to the unknown, they are comfortable with habit, repetition, and routine; sensitive individuals care deeply about what other people think of them; they behave with deliberate discretion in their dealings with others; they do not make hasty judgments or act before they know what is appropriate; socially they take care to maintain a courteous, self-restrained demeanor; they function best in scripted settings: when they know precisely what is expected of them, how they are supposed to relate and what they are expected to say; sensitive men and women are not quick to share their innermost thoughts and feelings with others, even those they know well.

Character Strengths

  • Familiarity with the familiar, the known, habit, repetition, routine, predictability; family orientation, strong family ties, closeness, home life, family values; within the family and with familiars: warmth, openness, likability, friendliness, loyalty, kindness, self-confidence, a sense of humour, and strong opinions.
  • Concern, empathy, care, awareness, cautiousness, reserve, refinement, idealism; reliability, steadiness, effectiveness, thoroughness, concentration, responsibility.
  • Prudence, thoughtfulness, deliberativeness, discretion, ability to concentrate; attentiveness, watchfulness, alertness, vigilance, bravery, courage, protectiveness.
  • Polite reserve, courtesy, self-restraint, politeness, coolness, conformism, self-discipline, self-control.
  • Role-seeking (scripted settings, what is expected, defined role, role-play).
  • Privacy, creativity, artistry, imagination, spirituality.

Selected from Christopher Peterson and Martin E. P. Seligman, (2004). Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification.

Character values:

Creativity: Thinking of novel and productive ways to conceptualize and do things; includes artistic achievement;

Love: Valuing close relations with others, in particular those in which sharing and caring are reciprocal;

Humility/Modesty: Letting one’s accomplishments speak for themselves, not regarding oneself as more special than one is;

Prudence: Being careful about one’s choices; not taking undue risks; not saying or doing things that might later be regretted;

Self-control: regulating what one feels and does; being disciplined; controlling one’s appetites and emotions;

Appreciation of beauty and excellence: Noticing and appreciating beauty, excellence or skilled performance in various domains of life, in nature, art, mathematics, science;

Spirituality: Having coherent beliefs about the higher purpose and meaning of the universe; knowing where one fits within the larger scheme; having beliefs about the meaning of life that shape conduct and provide comfort”

Sensitive personality strives for:

acceptance; exclusive interpersonal contact with familiars, sympathy of others, habit, repetition, routine, to be socially adept and personally appealing, routine activities, approval and acceptance in social situations.

Sensitive personality tries to avoid:

criticism, disapproval, rejection; significant interpersonal contact with non-familiars, being disliked, attempts to shame or ridicule him, new interpersonal situations, being seen as personally unappealing, new activities and personal risk, being embarrassed, being criticized or rejected in social situations.

Character Weaknesses

  • no close friends
  • hypersensitivity to criticism
  • avoids people, out of fear to be hurt
  • uncommunicativeness
  • social awkwardness
  • avoids tasks with social demands
  • exaggerates “difficulties”

Compulsive beliefs of Avoidant personality:

  • I am socially undesirable
  • Other people are potentially critical or rejecting.
  • I cannot tolerate unpleasant feelings.
  • If people get close to me, they will discover the “real” me and reject me.
  • Being exposed as inferior or inadequate will be intolerable.
  • I should avoid unpleasant situations at all costs.
  • If I feel or think something unpleasant, I should try to wipe it out or distract myself, for example, have a drink or watch television.
  • I should avoid situations in which I attract attention, I should be as inconspicuous as possible.
  • If others criticize me, they must be right.
  • It is better not to do anything than to try something that might fail.
  • If I don’t think about a problem, I don’t have to do anything about it.
  • Any signs of tension in a relationship indicate the relationship has gone bad; therefore, I should cut it off.
  • If I ignore a problem, it will go away.

Galina Toktalieva

Kyrgyzstan-born author residing in Graz, Austria

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