Thursday, November 7, 2013

Introduction to Personality

          One of the more so complex aspects of psychology is personality. Personality theorists have developed theories to explain personality. However, these theorists do not agree on a one definition of personality (Feist & Feist, 2009). Through each of the theories developed by these theorists one can gain a better understanding of personality and a personality definition. A personality definition; however, does not detail why an individual’s personality develops, therefore knowing what factors influence an individual’s personality development is key to understanding an individual’s personality.   
Definitions of Personality
          Defining personality is not a simple task because several theorists developed theories as for what personality is and why an individual’s personality develops. Sigmund Freud, Alfred Adler, Carl Jung, Melanie Klein, Karen Horney, Erich Fromm, Harry Stack Sullivan, Erik Erikson, and other theorists developed vital and unique theories because there was no agreement among them as for the nature of personality, and each had an individualist view of personality. Therefore, there is no single definition of personality agreed on by personality theorists. However, personality is a pattern of unique characteristics and relatively permanent traits, which are individuality and consistency to an individual’s behavior (Feist & Feist, 2009). Traits are what contribute to individual behavioral differences, behavioral consistency over time, and the behavioral stability across situations (Feist & Feist, 2009). Feist and Feist (2009), “traits may be unique, common to some group, or shared by the entire species, but their pattern is different for each individual” (p. 4). Therefore, each individual, although similar to other individuals in certain ways, have distinctive personalities. As for characteristics they are every individual’s unique qualities, which include attributes such as intelligence, physique, and temperament.
Factors that may Influence an Individual’s Personality Development
          An individual’s personality development and what factors influence it has been a topic of interest for personality theorists in psychology. Therefore, personality theorists developed several theories to describe the stages and steps that occur during personality development. Freud, one of the most influential thinkers of personality development, developed the stage theory of psychosexual development. Freud thought an individual’s personality developed in stages, which related to certain erogenous zones. Freud thought that when an individual failed to complete successfully any of the stages, he or she would have personality problems as adults. Freud thought individuals had barely any choice or no choice in the forming of personality. However, Adler developed individual psychology in disagreement of Freud, and thought individuals are responsible for who he or she is. Jung, also in disagreement of Freud thought an individual’s personality developed through a series of stages, (referred to as analytical psychology), which peak in self-realization or individuation.
          Of emphasizes was the second half of an individual’s life, or the time-frame after ages of 35 or 40, when individuals possess opportunities to bring certain aspects of personality to obtain self-realization (Feist & Feist, 2009). Klein developed object relations theory in opposition of Freud, whereas he emphasizes the importance of the first four to six months after birth, which contribute to an individual’s personality development. Klein thought that the drives of an infant, such as sex, hunger, and others direct toward an objects, such as a vagina, a breast, a penis, and so on. Horney developed psychoanalytic social theory, based on the assumptions whereas cultural and social conditions, particularly experiences during childhood, bare the responsibility of forming an individual’s personality. Fromm a student of Freudian psychoanalysis, who was also inspired by Horney, Karl Marx, and other social theorists, developed humanistic psychoanalysis. It emphasized that an individual’s personality development influences of history, sociobiological factors, class structure, and economics influence an individual’s personality development (Feist & Feist, 2009).
          Sullivan developed interpersonal theory, which emphasized the importance of developmental stages, such as infancy, childhood, juvenile era, preadolescence, early adolescence, late adolescence, and adulthood (Feist & Feist, 2009). Sullivan thought an individual develops personality within a social context. Erikson developed his Post-Freudian theory or eight-stage theory of human development built on Freud’s psychosexual development stages. Erikson focused on social relationships that affect personality development. His theory extends beyond childhood and looks at the development of an individual throughout his or her lifespan.
          Viewing the theories of these personality theorist and others, one sees how the formation of personality may form by different factors, whether biological or environmental. Basically, personality theorists do not agree on how an individual’s personality develops. Personality development seems to fall under the nature versus nurture debate because numerous factors influence an individual’s personality development, such as heredity and the environment. Heredity includes several internal factors, which may influence the development of personality. As for environmental factors that may influence personality development include experiences as a child and social interactions with other individuals. Several factors contribute to an individual’s personality development, whether as a means of heredity or the environment, which is evident because of the personality theories created by personality theorists.
          Personalities are patterns of unique characteristics and basically permanent traits, which are individuality and consistency to an individual’s behavior (Feist & Feist, 2009). Personality has no singular definition that is agreed on by personality theorists; however, an individual’s personality distinguishes him or her from any other individual, thus making an individual’s personality unique. Numerous factors, such as heredity, and the environment may influence the development of an individual’s personality, and understanding how these factors affect an individual helps to understand how personality develops. Personality theories help to understand how the development of personality occurs. Personality theories build foundations on heredity, social, and situational interactions, an individual’s response to environmental factors, and personal assumptions and observations.

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