An exercise: describe humanity in one word.
Hmm. Humans can be cruel, selfish, and ruthless -- but we can also be altruistic, generous, and self-sacrificing. We can be curious, but we can also be oblivious to events all around us. We can be inventive or mired in tradition or anti-intellectual, slapstick or witty or humorless, adventuresome or stay-at-home. We love and hate. We can be suspicious, sympathetic, and gullible. We act both capriciously and with cold, calculating premeditation.
I'm not having a lot of luck with my own challenge.
I succumb on occasion to checking out comments about my own books, both by professional reviewers and by (via Amazon and Goodreads, for example) the general readership. Most authors do. And while it's always enjoyable to see praise, critiques provide more in the way of learning opportunities. As in: What aspects of a plot did some readers not accept? What character behaviors did some readers find implausible? What background elements might have been insufficiently described?
So: How does that exercise of authorial due diligence (or rationalization -- another human trait) have anything to do with today's challenge?
Puppeteers and the Pak Protectors first created by Larry Niven. The Puppeteers, in a word, are cowardly. The Pak, in a word, are scary-smart. If you permit the Pak a second descriptor, they are ruthlessly territorial at the clan level.
In his solo novels where Larry introduced Pak and Puppeteers, readers knew these traits because we were told of them. Certainly the traits apply. But are these traits ubiquitous and all-controlling?
Maybe not. These books directly involve very few aliens, seldom seen on their home worlds. Generally, the aliens are not point-of-view characters, so we do not see into their thoughts.
The Ringworld series features the Puppeteers Nessus and Hindmost -- whom we never see together. When human characters briefly visit the Puppeteer home world, they meet only one new Puppeteer (and he only as a hologram). Instead, we see a Puppeteer interacting with human characters or with a Kzin -- not among a Puppeteer population. We're told that both these Puppeteers are insane and not representative of their species.
Similarly, the novel Protector focuses on a single Pak Protector character, mostly seen far from home. When, in the Ringworld series, we meet a Pak Protector, she has been apart from her own kind for eons and is likely also insane.
The Fleet of Worlds series took a different tack: these novels consider alien societies, often seen on their home worlds or significant colony worlds.
Such critiques may be correct. But -- getting back, finally, to this post's challenge -- might some aliens manage, to some degree, not to follow, like a robot, a one-word characterization? A Pak may be very smart, and yet unable to build a super weapon on demand from bread crusts and belly-button lint. A Puppeteer may be very cowardly, but still show some empathy for the rights of other beings to exist. And a certain human character prominent in the Fleet of Worlds series may have more depth than the single word "paranoid."
In the Star Trek universe, a Klingon who's not a half-human hybrid might still resist attacking against all odds at the slightest offense.
I submit that intelligent aliens, like humans, may have personal quirks, foibles, hobbies, philosophies, likes and dislikes, knowledge (and gaps in same), life lessons, and moods. Aliens, like humans, may be individually shaped by their upbringing, local culture, personal-relationship status (or lack thereof), economic/cultural status, employment, profession, and the specific political entity in which they live. That's true whether "shaped by" manifests as support for -- or rebellion against -- formative influences.
None of this post is intended as a rebuttal of critiques. The author always bears the responsibility of making his case. For some readers, we failed in that task.
But to those who are comfortable with the notion of aliens constrained by a single term ... I'd be interested in knowing the word you picked that equally describes: Adolf Hitler, Mother Theresa, Albert Einstein, Torquemada, Oscar Wilde, the Three Stooges, Socrates, Florence Nightingale, Marcus Aurelius, Buddha, and Paris Hilton.