At WiseGEEK, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.
The dominant personality type is a description used for people who generally like to take control of a situation or, in a less healthy way, other people. An individual with a dominant personality may have several characteristics common among naturally dominant people. He or she may enjoy controlling or bossing others around, and may get angry if expected to obey others, or he or she might be laid back in relationships with other people but be extremely task-oriented and focused on achieving goals. Some individuals with a dominant personality will be more likely than others to take it beyond a simple issue of control and into an abusive situation. Conversely, some naturally dominant individuals have no desire to hurt or control others' lives, but simply enjoy being able to take charge and get things done if the need arises.
It is a fairly common belief that men are more likely than women to have a dominant personality. To a certain degree, some people believe it is more acceptable in society for a man to have a dominant personality than if a woman acted in the same way. For example, in some relationships, the man expects to control the finances and the major decisions simply because he is the male in the relationship. If the roles were reversed, some people would find that odd, and assume that the man must be unhappy in that situation, having to "obey" a woman. In reality, both men and women can have a dominant personality, and it is no healthier or less healthy in one gender than the other.
Some of these misconceptions may stem from a confusion between a "dominant" person and someone who takes it too far or acts aggressively toward people to whom he or she feels superior, sometimes referred to as a "domineering" person. Where a dominant personality would be very useful, for example, in a business situation where a charismatic, influential person can successfully lead others, someone who is domineering, or dominant to an unhealthy extent, might try to micromanage others and be unwilling to listen to the opinions of coworkers. Dominant people are extremely important to the way businesses, relationships, and even whole societies work as long as they do not become domineering.
At the opposite end of the spectrum from a dominant personality would be a submissive personality. A submissive person is more likely to enjoy being controlled and taken care of than he or she would be to take charge. For this reason, relationships often form between people with opposing types, where one partner is dominant and the other submissive. This kind of relationship has the potential to be unhealthy if taken to an abusive extent, but it also has the potential to be a happy relationship for both partners because they are each in the role they find most comfortable.