The role that one assumes or displays in public or society; one's public image or personality, as distinguished from the inner self.
This is a general definition found on the web which I feel suits the context I am trying to covey. Although I have one qualm with the definition itself. To me a persona does not have to be fully distinct from the inner most self, it seems that portion is entirely subjective to the situation and the person. Depending on the circumstances a person may let out various bits of them self though various personas, each carrying a portions of the source.
Besides this little problem, I feel the rest is accurate. Others may disagree.
In my experience in Social Sciences I see a lot of this persona usage in the day to say, especially during studies with a participant one on one. Depending if they feel threatened, judged, uneasy or a wide variety of mood a person can manipulate their demeanor or personality to fit. This can often be troublesome for qualitative research because it is hard to determine at times if a person is answering as them self or how they are expected to answer.
Personas often carry social baggage it seems, often coming from a lack of individualism and the expectation that one fits in a specific role and cannot stand free from it. This is often the root cause of indoctrinated ideas, or at least a heavily influential part of what makes them so dangerous. However, this is another topic for another day.
In professional fields personas are quite expected, and usually have some realistic reasoning behind it. You wouldn't wish to have a doctor not treat you because of some bias they have towards the color of your skin, this explains such things like codes that professionals are held accountable under. In my field, any studies which require human interaction of any kind require that I abide to the rules and customs of "ethical social science". Which makes sense, since people can leave a lot at stake in such personal interviews.
Thinking over I've compiled a list of distinct personas I often take on within social situations. These are for various situations and some are for particular purposes like while doing Social Science, Attending School, or Working. Others are less specific and are for situations like my blogging identity, online social networking sites like forums, when I go to the grocery store... etc. These tend to be less rigid and open to more variation and additives from the core of your personality.
Seems people are never themselves, at least not in the social world.
Well kind of a boring post, but it was the only thing I could get my mind around today. I've been dealing with major writers block. So I'll make note again that any questions or topics I can touch on will be appreciated. Depending on the knowledge I have on the subject It may take a while to post but I'll get to it.