This paper is a comparison of three different viewpoints on the subject of personality. Carl Jung, B.F. Skinner, and Carl Rogers all had very different outlooks on what defined someones personality. As an added feature I have included myself as a theorist because my views are also different from the previous mentioned theorists. This paper will also look briefly into the background of each theorist because their views on life began in their childhood. Amazingly you will notice the all had similar backgrounds, but came up with completely different ways of looking at life.
Personality is the unique, relatively enduring internal and external aspects of a persons character that influence behavior in different situations. To understand the many different theories of personality you must understand that personalities are as unique as snowflakes. No two people are exactly alike. Everyone has different experiences, parents, and lives.These differences cause all people to view the world a little differently than the person next to them.
There are various thoughts of how and when personalities develop and grow. Psychoanalysts, Humanists, Behaviorists, and a psychology student at Ohio University all have different outlooks to personality. Carl Jung, Carl Rogers, B.F. Skinner and Don Verderosa represent each of these views. To get a better understanding of each theorist you need to look at where each one is coming from.
The Backgrounds of the Theorists
According to Theories of Personality by Schultz and Schultz, Jung had a very unhappy and lonely childhood. The only friend he had was a wooden doll that he carved himself. His mother was neurotic and when he was three she admitted to the hospital for a mental disorder. His father was moody and very irritable and wasnt a strong figure in the household and one of nine clergymen in the family. Jung had one sister that was born when he was nine years old, which probably added to his loneliness. Jung spent most of his childhood alone in the attic. He felt cut off from the
real world and escaped to his own reality of dreams and fantasies. His loneliness throughout his life showed greatly in his work on the inner self on the individual rather than experiences with other people.
Rogers was the fourth of six children in his family. His parents were very strict, religious, and domineering. He and his siblings were not allowed to dance, play cards, attend movies, smoke, drink, or show any sexual interest (Schultz & Schultz, 1998, p. 310). There was a lot of competitiveness between them because Rogers felt that his parents showed favoritism towards his older brother.
Rogers described himself as shy, solitary, dreamy, and often lost in fantasy (Schultz & Schultz, 1998, p. 310). This loneliness like Jung reflected in his work. That feeling led him to depend on his own experiences and not those of others.
Skinner was the older of two sons. His parents were very strict and hardworking. I was taught to fear God, the police, and what people would think (Schultz & Schultz, 1998, p. 362). His grandmother reinforced the fear of Hell by showing him burning coals in the stove. His father showed him what would happen if he were to become a criminal by taking him to state prisons.
Skinner spent a lot of his time designing and building things like wagons, seesaws, carousels, model planes, and potato guns. That gave him the insight of people was like machines that operated predictively. Many instances during his childhood guided his belief that adult behavior was determined by rewards and punishments.
Verderosa is the oldest of three children. He had a decent childhood, considering the many changes that occurred throughout it. His parents went through a bad divorce when he eleven years, and was put in the middle of it. He moved around a lot, which caused him to become reserved and introverted. Like Jung and Rogers he felt alone in the world. He compensated for this feeling by concentrating on athletics and his schoolwork.
Views of Human Nature
Free Will vs. Determinism
What gives a person his/her personality Do they choose it on their own or is it predetermined for them Rogers felt everyone had a choice in who they were. Fully functioning persons have free choice in their selves; no aspect of personality is determined for them (Schultz & Schultz, 1998, p. 319). Jung felt it was a combination of both. Personality can partly be determined by childhood experiences but there is always room for a person to have free will.
Skinner, on the other hand, felt that personality was determined for you. Humans behave like machines behaving in a lawful, orderly fashion (Schultz & Schultz, 1998, p. 375). Verderosa also feels that it is a combination of both. Some people are predisposed to certain personality traits but each person has the freedom to decide which traits they will allow others to see.
Nature vs. Nurture
Another question in the development of personality is whether you are born with it or does your environment cause it. Both Rogers and Skinner believe its due to your environment. In Theories of Personality by Schultz and Schultz, Rogers felt that even though the actualization tendency is innate, the process of actualizing is influenced more by social than by biological factors. Jung had mixed feelings on the subject. The drive toward individuation and transcendence is innate, but it can be aided or thwarted by learning and experience (Schultz & Schultz, 1998, p. 99). Verderosa also feels that both play a significant part in the role of ones personality, but your environment plays a bigger role in the development of the personality.
Past Experiences vs. Present Experiences
Skinner and Jung believed that both past and present experiences are of equal prominence. Childhood experiences are more important than those that occur later in life because our basic behaviors are formed in childhood, but that does not mean that behavior can not change in adulthood (Schultz & Schultz, 1998, p. 375). Rogers is certain that people are not controlled by experiences from the first five years of life, rather that they can be overcome. Verderosa agrees with both of these
views, however it depends on the individual. The person must be willing to surpass any negative experiences they had during their childhood or they will dwell on those problems in the present.
Uniqueness vs. Universality
Jung and Rogers feel uniqueness and universality are equal in personality. Rogers acknowledged some universality in personality because fully functioning people shared the same qualities. These characteristics are unique though in how they are expressed. Jungs notion was that each individual is unique, but only during the first half of
life, when some progress toward individuation is made in middle age, we develop what he designated as a universal kind of personality in which no single aspect is dominant (Schultz & Schultz, 1998, p. 99). Skinner and Verderosa felt that each person is unique because we all have different experiences and we will perceive them differently and have diverse reactions to them.
Equilibrium vs. Growth
Jung, Rogers, and Verderosa all felt that growth was important in the development of your personality. They believed that people are motivated to grow and develop, to become all we are capable of becoming. However Skinner had a different view, he theorized that both equilibrium and growth were equally important, it all depended on the reinforcements. If it were better to grow then the person would seek ways to do it, but if the reinforcements made it more suitable to stay at equilibrium then the person will.
Optimism vs. Pessimism
All three theorists had an optimistic view of human nature. Skinners idea was that despite his belief that behavior is controlled by external stimuli and reinforcers, he did not see us as victims (Schultz & Schultz, 1998, p. 376). Rogers credits people with the ability, motivation, and responsibility to understand and improve themselves. In an interview, when Rogers was 85, he said that In working with individuals and working with groups my positive view of human nature is continually reinforced
(Schultz & Schultz, 1998, p. 319). Verderosa, on the contrary, has a pessimistic view of human nature. People have tendency to stay in their comfort zones and refuse change, without change you cannot grow as an individual. This society is too quick to blame others for their problems rather than look inward at themselves and try improve their own situations.
So what does form your personality Everyone has his or her own ideas on whether its this issue or that aspect, but no one has a definite answer. Every one of these theorists is correct in their views because no one can prove them wrong. Each has evidence that theirs is the correct theory or method.
Since there are so many variations in personality traits there will never be a definite answer. What may work for one person may not necessarily work for the next. To treat a personality disorder the person afflicted by it needs to decide what is the cause of the disorder and then seek the correct area. Was it something you learned or it became a habit, was it an issue with something from your childhood, or was it biological These questions to yourself will help you better determine what is the best course of action to treat it.