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Psychology and Personality Essay

The study of personality has a broad and varied history in psychology with an abundance of theoretical traditions. The major theories include dispositional trait perspective, psychodynamic, humanistic, biological, behaviorist, and social learning perspective. However, many researchers and psychologists do not explicitly identify themselves with a certain perspective and instead take an eclectic approach. Research in this area is empirically driven, such as dimensional models, based on multivariate statistics, such as factor analysis, or emphasizes theory development, such as that of the psychodynamic theory. There is also a substantial emphasis on the applied field of personality testing. In psychological education and training, the study of the nature of personality and its psychological development is usually reviewed as a prerequisite to courses in abnormal psychology or clinical psychology.

Personality Paper Personality is connected with Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. It generally explains why there are personality differences between individuals.[ Schacter, Daniel; Gilbert, Daniel; Wegner, Daniel (2011).] Personality also refers to the pattern of thoughts, feelings, social adjustments, and behaviors consistently exhibited over time that strongly influences one’s expectations, self-perceptions, values, and attitudes. It also predicts human reactions to other people, problems, and stress.[ Winnie, J.F. & Gittinger, J.W. (1973)][ Krauskopf, C.J. & Saunders, D.R, (1994)] There is still no universal consensus on the definition of “personality” in psychology. Gordon Allport described two major ways to study personality: the nomothetic and the idiographic. Nomothetic psychology seeks general laws that can be applied to many different people, such as the principle of self-actualization or the trait of extraversion. Idiographic psychology is an attempt to understand the unique aspects of a particular individual.

The study of personality has a broad and varied history in psychology with an abundance of theoretical traditions. The major theories include dispositional trait perspective, psychodynamic, humanistic, biological, behaviorist, and social learning perspective. However, many researchers and psychologists do not explicitly identify themselves with a certain perspective and instead take an eclectic approach. Research in this area is empirically driven, such as dimensional models, based on multivariate statistics, such as factor analysis, or emphasizes theory development, such as that of the psychodynamic theory. There is also a substantial emphasis on the applied field of personality testing. In psychological education and training, the study of the nature of personality and its psychological development is usually reviewed as a prerequisite to courses in abnormal psychology or clinical psychology.

Perspectives of Personality Many of the ideas developed by historical and modern personality theorists stem from the basic philosophical assumptions they hold. The study of personality is not a purely empirical discipline, as it brings in elements of art, science, and philosophy to draw general conclusions. Freedom versus determinism

This idea seeks to answer whether humans have control over their own behavior and understand the motives behind it or our behavior is causally determined by forces beyond our control. Behavior is categorized as being unconscious, environmental, or biological by various theories. [Engler, Barbara (2008)]. Heredity versus environment

Personality is thought to be determined largely by genetics and biology, by environment and experiences, or by some combination resulting thereof. Contemporary research suggests that most personality traits are based on the joint influence of genetics and environment. One of the forerunners in this arena is C. Robert Cloninger, who pioneered the Temperament and Character model.[ Engler, Barbara (2008).] Uniqueness versus universality

This is the argument discussing the extent of each human’s individuality Uniqueness or similarity in nature Universality. Gordon Allport, Abraham Maslow, and Carl Rogers were all advocates of the uniqueness of individuals. Behaviorists and cognitive theorists, in contrast, emphasize the importance of universal principles, such as reinforcement and self-efficacy.[ Engler, Barbara (2008).]

Optimistic versus pessimistic Personality theories differ with regard to whether humans are integral in the changing of their own personalities. Theories that place a great deal of emphasis on learning are often more optimistic than those that do not. [Engler, Barbara (2008)].

Three Theories of Personality Development The study of personality is based on the essential insight that all people are similar in some ways, yet different in others.[ Phares, E.J.; Chaplin, W.F. (1997).] There have been many different definitions of personality proposed. However, many contemporary psychologists agree on the following definition: Personality is that pattern of characteristic thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that distinguishes one person from another and that persists over time and situations. [Phares, E.J.; Chaplin, W.F. (1997)]. Trait theories

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, personality traits are “enduring patterns of perceiving, relating to, and thinking about the environment and oneself that are exhibited in a wide range of social and personal contexts.” Theorists generally assume that a) traits are relatively stable over time, b) traits differ among individuals, and c) traits influence behavior. They consistently are used in order to help define people as a whole. Traits are relatively constant; they do not usually change. Traits are also bipolar; they vary along a continuum between one extreme and the other (e.g. friendly vs. unfriendly).[ Feist, Jess Feist, Gregory J. (2009).]

Behaviorist theories Behaviorists explain personality in terms of the effects external stimuli have on behavior. The approaches used to analyze the behavioral aspect of personality are known as behavioral theories or learning-conditioning theories. These approaches were a radical shift away from Freudian philosophy. One of the major tenets of this concentration of personality psychology is a strong emphasis on scientific thinking and experimentation. Humanistic theories

Humanistic psychology emphasizes that people have free will and that this plays an active role in determining how they behave. Humanistic therapy typically relies on the client for information of the past and its effect on the present, therefore the client dictates the type of guidance the therapist may initiate. This allows for an individualized approach to therapy.

Personality Tests There are two major types of personality tests, projective and objective. Projective tests assume personality is primarily unconscious and assess an individual by how he or she responds to an ambiguous stimulus, such as an ink blot. Projective tests have been in use for about 60 years and continue to be used today. Objective tests assume personality is consciously accessible and measure it by self-report questionnaires. Research on psychological assessment has generally found objective tests are more valid and reliable than projective tests. Critics have pointed to the Forer effect to suggest some of these appear to be more accurate and discriminating than they really are.

Issues within Testing Issues with these tests include, false reporting because there is no way to tell if an individual is answering a question honestly or accurately.

Conclusion There are many theories on how a person develops a certain type of personality. A person’s personality is what defines them in all aspects of their life. People believe that you are molded into what you are today, but theories have proven that some people lead by example and some learn by example. If anyone is curious as to what type of personality they have, there are my types of assessments available to take that can tell you.


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