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The Dispositional and Learning Theories Essay

An individual’s personality is his/her distinctive pattern behavioral tendencies or psychological process that defines how he/she reacts with the environment. Personality manifests itself in one’s behavior towards others people and situations in the surrounding. While some aspects of personality are genetically inherited, others are picked from one’s environment. Personality that is influenced by the environment is developed by the context of the family or culture of the close society (Carver et al, 2000). Psychologists who study personality characterize personality traits and scrutinize their influence on and prediction of one’s behaviors.

In addition to comparing and contrasting dispositional and learning theories of personality, this paper discusses the role of personality in influencing one’s behavior. The personality theories of disposition and learning and the resultant characteristics are used to explain interpersonal relations in individual. The Dispositional and Learning Theories Psychologists have developed many approaches to human personalities such as existential, humanistic, biological, or genetic, descriptive, and psychodynamic theories.

The dispositional theory that regards personality to be composed of behavioral tendencies, traces its roots to ancient Greek Philosopher, medicine guru, and psychologist Hypocrites. The dispositional theory explains that psychological characteristics remain stable in an individual over a long period of exposure to a given situation. Learning theories stresses the concept that behaviors are a consequence of one’s encounters with the environment and his/her reactions to different life experiences. An individual’s experiences shape his/her behavior in different situations.

The classical conditioning and punishment one receives while growing up tend to shape the way they react to similar or related scenarios in future. The learning theory may be divided into a sub-class called the Cognitive social learning that expounds on the role of cultural values and related ways of facing situations borrowed from the society. The traits are learned and internalized without any pressure applied to an individual. Personality Characteristics and Interpersonal Relationship The theories discussed above explain the origin of certain traits or characteristics upon which one’s personality is based.

These traits are vital in dictating the interpersonal relationships of a person. The main characteristics include emotional stability, conscientiousness, agreeableness, extroversion, and openness or intellect. Extraversion entails being assertive, excitement seeking and state of seeking high levels of activity. The individual is always filled with positive emotions and warmth. Agreeable persons are always straightforward in their actions and are generally trustworthy. They also profess to altruism, carrying out acts that are beneficial to others while the actor forgoes comfort and happiness.

These individuals are not only yielding but are also more likely to agree to other’s desire and demands. In addition, they are modest in their actions towards others and different situations. Conscientiousness on the other hand refers to positive traits such as self-discipline and dutifulness in an individual. This trait is mainly explained by the learning theory where discipline is instilled in a person by a learning process. Such people are in most cases orderly in their handling of different situations, making them develop healthy interpersonal relationships.

Those with this trait tend to deliberate a lot when faced with new situations and they always strive for achievements (Carver et al, 2000). In addition to these features, such individuals are in most cases competent in their actions. Neuroticism is another characteristic attributed to the personality theories. Neuroticism refers to impulsiveness in actions, anxiety, and vulnerability of an individual. Besides being generally hostile, the person is always prone to depression when faced with unfamiliar situations. Exposure to environments of depression or cruelty enhances one’s risks of adopting such traits.

Neuroticism is thus attributed to dispositional theory of personality. Openness refers to being welcoming and accommodative to new ideas, feelings and values. Such an individual easily welcomes new types of experience in his/her life. Their personality traits allow them to adjust and effectively manage unfamiliar situations. These individuals learn pick up new modes of action necessitated by interaction with new environments. Openness, which fosters good interpersonal relations, is attributed to dispositional theory of personality. Personality and Situational Behavior

Debate rages on whether one’s behavior towards certain situations is controlled by the personality or the situation itself. The debate has however been productive, as an approach that is more dynamic has been adopted regarding the role of personality in facing different situations. The two approaches widely contrasted are the personality view and the situational circumstance. While the personality approach argues that one’s personality styles dictate the behavior, the situational theory stresses that behavior depends on the immediate situation.

Are there situations where one’s personality surpasses the immediate situation so that he/she make rational judgment on the situation? Individuals should apply their personality to control situations and not the other way round. A person’s conduct towards a situation should not be controlled by the situation at hand. The main psychological variables upon which one’s behavior in different situations hinges are personality traits. An individual’s behavior in face of a situation is predicted by his/her personality (Carver et al, 2000).

One’s behavior is influenced by the interaction between his/her personality traits and the immediate situations. However simplistic this view seems, there is always a mutual existence between the situation, and one’s personality in developing a behavioral inclination. Different situations may affect an individual in different ways. While some situations make an individual to express his/her personality traits, others limit their choices or behavior in relating with the situation. People also vary in how they allow their personality to react to different situations.

While others have a high tendency to adapt to the situation, others have a consistent personality-situation relationship. This dependency on their personality is due to their inability to adapt to different situations. Personality also most often show up in situation where they are needed to help solve a problem. People also tend choose situations depending on their personalities. Personality however does not predict how one will react to a specific situation that lasts for a short/specific time. Personality therefore only predicts one’s general or overall behavioral trend towards general situations.

Some individuals show behavior that is more consistent and their personality traits only emerge in some situations. Research has also shown that the influence of personality on handling of situations wanes with time. Whatever people do in life and the situations they are comfortable with are dictated largely by their traits. These choices may be in relation to careers, relationships, and lifestyle in general. Conclusion Personality, which refers to the psychological classification of people results from the different traits/characteristics inherent in individual.

Among the theories that explain personality are the dispositional and the learning theories. These theories explain how individuals interact with different situations in their environment. While some people use judgment to interact with the environment, others use the approach of perception in developing a behavior towards situations. There are various characteristics attributed to these personality theories, namely emotional stability, conscientiousness, agreeableness, extroversion, and openness or intellect.

Reference Carver, C. S. , & Scheier, M. F. (2000). Perspectives on personality. Needham Heights


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