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What sort of a person should a designer be? Do personality traits affect professional outcomes? The student will find it useful to be aware of personality traits that may influence the designer and the design. Though there are several models or frameworks, the ‘big 5’ or HEXACO model is most widely studied. The six traits in this model are: Honesty-Humility, Emotionality, Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness and Openness to Experience. Studies on personality differences also point to the two triads — the ‘dark triad’43 of machiavellianism, narcissism and psychopathy and the ‘light triad’44 of humanism, Kantianism and faith in humanity — supporting the idea that there is a little bit of ‘dark’ and ‘light’ in all of us.

Should a designer be honest and humble, unwilling to manipulate others for their personal gain? Does an extrovert make a better entrepreneur? Does being a good listener and accommodating others’ views make a designer a better practitioner? Is perfectionism desirable, or does it lead to obsessive ruminations over frivolous details? Is a designer an inherently curious and creative person, or can these be honed?

These are questions that should matter to the student, for the education of a designer is inextricably linked to one of the larger goals of education – the cultivation of character45.

  1. read Delroy L. Paulhus and Kevin M. Williams in The Dark Triad of Personality: Narcissism, Machiavellianism, and Psychopathy (2002).
  2. read Scott Barry Kaufman et al in The Light vs. Dark Triad of Personality: Contrasting Two Very Different Profiles of Human Nature (2019).
  3. read Harold Nelson and Erik Stolterman in Becoming a Designer (Chapter 14) in The Design Way (2012).