Theories of Personality Essay

Humans are exceptionally unique and individual creatures. No two people are exactly the same. Even identical twins retain distinctiveness as their behaviors and qualities may be very different. The numerous differences that are observed among people can easily be attributed to the various characteristics and traits of each individual’s personality. Personality is completely exclusive and unique to the individual. Though several people may possess a certain behavioral or personality trait, no two individuals will share the same combination of characteristics and traits, the personality in its entirety.

In Philip’s Encyclopedia, personality is defined as the “emotional, attitudinal and behavioral characteristics that distinguish an individual” (2008). Just as unique as personality are the psychologists and theories designed to explain it. Five main subgroups or theoretical approaches to studying, describing and explaining personality have been identified. These include the psychodynamic theories, humanistic theories, existential theories, dispositional theories, and learning theories.The psychodynamic theory is most notably attributed to the work of Sigmund Freud.

This approach relies heavily on the influences of the unconscious mind. This theory also places great importance on the individual’s childhood as a source of influence in a person’s adult behavior and personality. Finally this theory emphasizes the growth of individual personality as a result of facing and overcoming conflict throughout the lifespan (2001).

The humanistic approach looks at personality while stressing the unique aspects that separate humans from all other species.Elsevier’s Dictionary of Psychological Theories states that this approach “emphasizes internal experiences, feelings, thoughts, and the basic self-perceived worth of the individual human being where self-actualization/self-realization are the overall goals” (2006). The humanistic theory also examines personality in a much more global way. Prominence is placed on the human experience as a whole and the similarities shared, as well as the differences of individuals across various cultures. This approach also examines the importance of an individual’s unique perspective of reality in regards to the shaping of personality (Funder, 2001).Learning theories of personality explain that an individual’s personality is formed and shaped through several forces of both simple and complex learning. Behaviors are learned and actions are guided through observational learning, social and cultural norms and influences, behavior modeling, memory of past or similar experiences, reinforcements such as rewards or punishments, and self-regulation (2006).

The existentialist theory of personality stems from scholars of theology and philosophy who question the deeper meanings of human existence such as who am I? what is the meaning of life? nd what is truly important? This approach to personality focuses on seeking and embracing a person’s individualism. Striving towards, achieving and accepting authentication of the self is of utmost importance (Raymond, n. d. )The dispositional theory of personality examines the individual characteristics and traits of the individual as a pattern and uses this pattern to describe or categorize the individual. In this theory “the readiness of a person to act selectively in social situations depends mainly on how that individual has acted in the past in similar settings” (Personality Theories, n. . ) As an individual grows and matures, so does the individuals personality. Though an individual’s personality grows and develops over the years, his personality comprises characteristics and traits that remain fairly constant and stable with very little change.

In Theories of Personality by Feist and Feist the authors emphasize that personality provides “consistency to behavior over time, and stability of behavior across situations” (Feist & Feist, 2009). Several sources of influence contribute to the formation of an individual’s personality.Much of a person’s personality is based on biological factors such as genetics. Traits and behavioral responses that result from a person’s DNA can be viewed as a blueprint or groundwork for the individual’s personality. Genetics set up an individual with predispositions for certain traits and personality characteristics.

This could explain why individuals often share personality traits similar to parents or siblings. Biological effects are not the only sources of influence, however. Environmental influences play a major role in shaping personality as well.Individuals may model the behaviors and responses that they observe among their family members, guardians, authority figures and peers. The mimicked behaviors or responses do not arise organically as part of the individual’s genetics but instead as a result of learning. This learning becomes embedded in the individual until the responses become automatic, thus shaping the individual’s personality. Personality is also shaped through cultural values and societal norms.

An aspect of an individual’s innate personality may be met with either encouragement or disappointment.If the behavior is socially acceptable then this quality of the individual’s personality will be strengthened. Yet if the behavior is frowned upon, the individual may try to conceal or subdue this trait. Neither biological nor environmental factors have a greater influence on the shaping of personality. Instead, it is through the combinations of many factors of influence working together that produce and shape individual behavior and personality. Perhaps the greatest dynamic to assist in the development of an individual’s personality is experience.

Individual experience gives a person the opportunity to utilize and express the characteristics and traits that are inherent. Conversely, a challenging or difficult experience may push hidden or dormant aspects of an individual’s personality to rise to the surface. Although aspects of personality are arguably genetic, the lack of a necessary situation to display these behaviors may result in underdevelopment of the individual’s personality. Much of an individual’s personality is a pattern of the individual’s typical responses to certain situations.Responses follow stimuli, the situation. However, if the necessary situations never occur, the individual will not display or produce the responses or behaviors. Without experiences as well as the learning and memories that one gains from personal experiences, an individual’s personality would not be able to fully develop.

Personality clearly epitomizes the uniqueness of the human species. Personality encompasses an individual’s distinctive and complex combination of traits, characteristics, dispositions, responses, and behaviors.The psychodynamic, humanistic, dispositional, existential, and learning theories of personality explain the origins of an individual’s personality, the causal connection between personality and behavior as well as the application of personality to the individual’s daily life.ReferencesFeist, J.

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