When you give someone your word, how much is it worth?
If you say you’ll go to an event, or meet a deadline, how likely are you to do it?
The answers to these questions speak to your true character. They have nothing to do with whether you’re male or female, rich or poor, fit or unfit; those things are your external self, otherwise known as your characterization.
The same is true for a character in a novel. Externally observable traits are her characterization whereas the choices she makes under pressure reveal her true character. One may not have anything to do with the other.
Which one is more likely to inspire empathy in the reader?