In ancient Latin, persona meant "mask." Today it does not usually refer to a literal mask but to the "social masks" all humans supposedly wear.

A persona, in the word's everyday usage, is a social role or a character played by an actor. The word is derived from Latin, where it originally referred to a theatrical mask. The Latin word probably derived from the Etruscan word "phersu", with the same meaning, and that from the Greek πρόσωπον (prosōpon). Its meaning in the latter Roman period changed to indicate a "character" of a theatrical performance.


In communication studies

In the study of communication, persona is a term given to describe the versions of self that all individuals possess. Behaviours are selected according to the desired impression an individual wishes to create when interacting with other people. A person may inhabit various social roles through intentional or unintentional expression of behaviors and appearances that convey meanings maintaining these roles during social interactions.[1] Therefore, the persona one presents to other people varies according to the social environment the person is engaged in, in particular the persona presented before others will differ from the persona an individual will present when he/she happens to be alone.

In design

As used in the design field, the Persona is an artifact that consists of a narrative relating to a desired user or customer's daily behavior patterns, using specific details, not generalities. A very popular artifact is the 'persona poster' that is usually presented in an 18 inch format with photo and text. For more details see Persona (marketing).

In literature

In literature the term has become associated with the work of two modern poets, Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot. They understood the term slightly differently and derived its use and meaning from different traditions. Eliot had taken over and developed Laforgue's ironic "I", whereas Pound worked from Robert Browning's dramatic monologues. Eliot's personae were Prufrock and Sweeney, Pound's were Cino, Bertran de Born, Propertius, and Mauberley. Whereas Eliot used 'masks' to distance himself from aspects of modern life which he found degrading and repulsive, Pound's personae were poets and could be considered in good part alter-egos who are to be dissociated from 'characters' like Malatesta, John Adams, Confucius, or Thomas Jefferson that we find in Pound's later poetry, The Cantos. For Pound, the personae were a way of working through a specific poetic problem. In this sense, the persona is a transparent mask, wearing the traits of two poets and responding to two situations, old and new, which are similar and overlapping. In Homage to Sextus Propertius, for example, Pound 'translated' parts of Propertius's elegies and by means of various modernisations of diction, drew attention to parallelisms existing between Propertius's situation and Pound's own, especially the pressures of living in an empire at war and Pound's need to cease writing shorter lyrical poems and start on longer epic structures. Pound at that time (1917) had written his first three Cantos but was doubtful of their value. In writing the Homage he worked through his anxieties of whether the epic was compatible with modernity or worth writing at all, given the political and social statement of the genre. Pound at that time had no political education, which he would start to acquire only after the end of WWI with C.H. Douglas and A.R. Orage in the offices of The New Age.

Assuming personas was a Greek and Roman tradition that was abandoned during the Medieval period. Instead of wearing masks the actors assumed their characters' personality. As part of a teaching strategy, teachers in Iowa state in the US have adopted this method to teach their students Shakespeare. The students were asked to become the character to reduce their alienation from the text and to assist them to reflect on the character's beliefs, values and motivations. This experiment achieved a few goals: 1) the student was able to connect to the concepts and context. 2) They are able to construct meaning. 3) Allows students to choose whether to like or dislike Shakespearean text.[2]

In music

David Bowie as The Thin White Duke at Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto 1976

Usually the performers assume a role that matches the music they sing on stage, though they may also be composers. For that reason, many performers make use of a Persona. Some artists create various characters, specially if their career is long and go through many changes over time. That is the case, for example, of David Bowie, initially largely recognizable as the alien Ziggy Stardust and later as The Thin White Duke.[3] More than just artistic pseudonyms, they are independent characters used in the artist's shows and albums (in the case, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars and Station to Station). However, in music, a Persona does not always mean a change. Some authors, for instance, has noted that Bob Dylan's charisma is accredited largely to his almost stereotyped image, always with a harmonica, guitar, and with his distinctive hair, voice and clothing.[4] The persona also serves to claim a right or to draw attention to a certain subject. That is the case of Marilyn Manson and his interest on death and morbidity, and Madonna and her interest on sexuality.[5]

The concept of Persona in music was introduced by Edward T. Cone in his The Composer's Voice (1974), that dealt with the relation between the lyrical self of a song's lyrics and its composer.[6] Nowadays the concept of Persona can be used to refer also to an instrumentalist, like a pianist and his playing style,[7] although the term is more commonly used to refer to the voice and performance nuances of a vocalist in a studio album or in a live concert, such as in the cases of Maria Bethânia, Elis Regina, Edith Piaf, Nina Simone and also Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones, who takes the guise of Satan in the song "Sympathy for the Devil" and of a housewife in "Slave", etc. It's also remarkable in the case of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles, which presents a group persona,[8] specially the character Billy Shears "played by" drummer Ringo Starr.[9]

In psychology

The persona is also the mask or appearance one presents to the world.[10] It may appear in dreams under various guises (see Carl Jung and his psychology, and Persona (psychology)).

In marketing

Some marketing experts recommend that one creates a persona that represents a group of customers[11] so that the company can focus its efforts.

Advertising businesses base some of their business models on internet personas. They monitor pictures, browsing history and the ads people surfing the internet generally select or choose to click and based on that data they tailor their merchandise and targeted audience. Free social network sites rely on advertising companies to maintain their internet presence. They collaborate to develop terms of agreement over sharing data such that both parties benefit from the information. Therefore internet personas run the risk of becoming a target for fraudulent actions.[12]


  1. ^ Goffman, Erving (1959). The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, p. 6. Anchor Books, New York. ISBN 0385094027.
  2. ^ Burnett, Rebecca E. and Elizabeth Foster. "The ROLE'S the Thing": The Power of Persona in Shakespeare. The English Journal, Vol. 82, No. 6 , pp. 69-73. National Council of Teachers of English (Oct., 1993)
  3. ^ James E. Perone, The words and music of David Bowie (Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007), ppp. 39, 51, and 108. ISBN 0275992454
  4. ^ Paul Williams, Bob Dylan: performing artist 1986-1990 & beyond : mind out of time (Omnibus Press, 2004), p.229. ISBN 1844492818
  5. ^ Bhesham R. Sharma, The death of art (University Press of America, 2006), p.14. ISBN 0761834664
  6. ^ Deborah Stein and Robert Spillman, Poetry Into Song: Performance and Analysis of Lieder (Oxford University Press US, 2010), p.235. ISBN 0199754306
  7. ^ Deborah Stein and Robert Spillman, p.106.
  8. ^ Kenneth Womack and Todd F. Davis, Reading the Beatles: cultural studies, literary criticism, and the Fab Four (SUNY Press, 2006), p.21. ISBN 0791467155
  9. ^ Allan F. Moore, The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Cambridge University Press, 1997), p.75. ISBN 0521574846
  10. ^ Jung, Carl Gustav (August 1, 1971). "Psychological Types". Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-09774. 
  11. ^ Rind, Bonnie. "The Power of the Persona". Retrieved May 5, 2009. "The identification and application of personas improved Development’s efficiency and quality during the first development cycle in which they were used. In addition, the use of personas significantly improved corporate cohesiveness, focus and decision making at every level." 
  12. ^ Pike, Bob. Persona Management. Computer Fraud & Security, Volume 2010, Issue 11, November 2010, Pages 11-15, ISSN 1361-3723, 10.1016/S1361-3723(10)70145-7.(

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • persona — (Del lat. persōna, máscara de actor, personaje teatral, este del etrusco phersu, y este del gr. πρόσωπον). 1. f. Individuo de la especie humana. 2. Hombre o mujer cuyo nombre se ignora o se omite. 3. Hombre o mujer distinguidos en la vida pública …   Diccionario de la lengua española

  • Persona 3 — Shin Megami Tensei Persona 3 Développeur Atlus Date de sortie …   Wikipédia en Français

  • persona — sustantivo femenino 1. Uso/registro: elevado. Individuo de la especie humana, ya sea hombre o mujer: El autocar tiene capacidad para cincuenta personas. Eduardo me parece buena persona. persona física Persona capaz de tener derechos y… …   Diccionario Salamanca de la Lengua Española

  • Persona — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Para otros usos de este término, véase Persona (desambiguación). La persona es definida como un ser racional y consciente de sí mismo, poseedor de una identidad propia. El ejemplo obvio –y para algunos, el único– de… …   Wikipedia Español

  • PERSONA — Le mot latin persona désignait le masque de l’acteur. Puis il a signifié le personnage ou le rôle. «Personne» et ses dérivés en proviennent. Carl Gustav Jung reprend ce terme vers 1920 pour désigner une instance psychique d’adaptation de l’être… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Persona — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Persona 4 — Shin Megami Tensei Persona 4 Développeur Atlus Date de sortie 10 juillet 2008 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • persona — /per sona/ s.f. [lat. persōna ]. 1. [rappresentante della specie umana, senza distinzione di sesso, età, condizione sociale e sim.: c è una p. che ti cerca ] ▶◀ ‖ essere umano, individuo, soggetto. ● Espressioni: persona di servizio ▶◀ colf,… …   Enciclopedia Italiana

  • Persona — bezeichnete ursprünglich eine im antiken griechischen Theater von den Schauspielern verwendete Maske, welche die Rolle des Schauspielers typisierte. Der Name ist abgeleitet aus dem Lateinischen (personare = hindurchtönen). Hieraus wiederum… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • persona — (izg. persóna) ž DEFINICIJA 1. svaki čovjek pojedinačno; osoba, čeljade 2. pren. istaknuta ličnost; »netko« 3. psih. izraz za masku osobe kojom se svaka osoba predstavlja izvanjskome svijetu (C. G. Jung) SINTAGMA persona grata (izg. persona… …   Hrvatski jezični portal

  • Persona (EP) — Persona EP Karnivool Дата выпуска 1 марта 2001 (AUS) …   Википедия

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