Introduction to Personality L. Michelle Cloud University of Phoenix Introduction to Personality Every individual person has a personality. This personality is also unique in every person, and is influenced by such things as the environment and his or her genetics. Personality theorists use theoretical approaches when attempting to define and understand personalities. Speculation, hypotheses, and taxonomy help bring together the facts about personality, and give one a better understanding of why people behave the way they do. Theories also present factors that can influence one’s personality development through the various stages of life.
While there may be some traits or characteristics that people have in common, each person will take those traits and characteristics and develop unique and individual personalities. Definition of Personality Personality is defined as being a pattern of relatively permanent traits and unique characteristics that give reliability and individuality to one’s behavior (Feist & Feist, 2009).
Each individual’s personality is a unique combination of traits and characteristics that provide consistency and stability in his or her behaviors over a period of time (Feist & Feist, 2009).
Personalities can be similar, but even identical twins have unique personalities. There are two main factors that affect personality development. These factors come by traits and characteristics. Traits are one’s individual aspects in behaviors, and though traits may have commonalities among groups and species, the pattern of traits is different in every person (Feist & Feist, 2009). The second factor in one’s personality development is his or her characteristics. Characteristics are made up of one’s temperament, physique, and intelligence.
When looking at these three categories, diverse and unique personalities are apparent and can help one to understand the many differences in behaviors. Some people may exhibit similar behaviors, but no two people have the exact same personality. Theoretical Approaches in Studying Psychology Theoretical approaches are used to study psychology. Each theorist has different methods of reaching conclusions about personalities. However, order in the approach to a new theory is important in substantiating the ideas behind the theory.
The theories behind personalities are obtained from the personality of the contributing theorist (Feist & Feist, 2009). Observations and experimental research are the first steps in developing personality theories. Psychologists utilize a systematic approach, which helps his or her accuracy in identifying particular behaviors. Psychologists use different assessment techniques to support predictions with accuracy. Tests such as the Big Five Personality test helps psychologists to measure different personality dimensions.
Reliability and accuracy are important aspects in understanding personalities, and this test’s big five are extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness to experience (“Big Five,” n. d. ). Extraversion is sometimes called surgency and encompasses traits such as talkativeness, energy, and assertiveness. Agreeableness includes traits such as sympathy and kindness, and conscientiousness includes traits such as organization, thoroughness, and planning abilities. Neuroticism includes traits such as moodiness, tenseness, and anxiety.
Openness to experience will include traits such as imagination and insight. These factors are all important to a theoretical approach in studying personalities. There are many aspects of personality that are not included in the Big Five. “The term “personality trait” has a special meaning in personality psychology that is narrower than the everyday usage of the term. Motivations, emotions, attitudes, abilities, self-concepts, social roles, autobiographical memories, and life stories are just a few of the other “units” that personality psychologists study” (“Big Five,” n. d. para. 6). These other units may have theoretical or empirical relationships with the traits seen in the Big Five, but they are theoretically different. “For this reason, even a very comprehensive profile of somebody’s personality traits can only be considered a partial description of their personality” (“Big Five,” n. d. , para. 7). The two types of validity that psychologists focus on are construct validity and predictive validity. Construct validity is the extent to which an instrument measures hypothetical constructs, and there are three important types of construct validity.
Convergent validity, divergent validity, and discriminant validity are hypothetical constructs that relate to observable behavior (Feist & Feist, 2009). Predictive validity is the extent that a test can predict a future behavior. “The ultimate value of any measuring instrument is the degree to which it can predict some future behavior or condition” (Feist & Feist, 2009, p. 14). Factors that Influence Individual Personality Development Understanding personalities through observation and with assessment techniques can give one a better idea of people’s personalities.
However, some factors, such as the environment and genetics, influence personality. The environment plays a role in how one’s personality develops because of social exposures and different cultures and beliefs. Children in all societies receive different treatment, and this difference also leads to a difference in personality. Boys are often encouraged to play contact sports and other risk-taking activities, whereas most girls are required only to perform duties such as babysitting, cooking, cheerleading, and housekeeping.
Although these activities are often a result of one’s upbringing and family traditions, not all traditions will be kept (O’Neill, 2006). A new generation has started to change how children function in society. Because of the emphasis on equality and acceptance, gender is not the major topic it once was. Genetics also play a role in personality development. There may be some members of a family who suffer from a mental illness, and mental illnesses are diseases that have genetic predispositions (O’Neill, 2006).
A child belonging to a family with a history of mental illness may not ever show any signs of the disease, until a traumatic event occurs. Molestation, child abuse, or neglect can trigger underlying emotions. This can produce symptoms of the mental illness, which will affect the child’s personality development. The factors that influence personality development seem unlimited. Everything from obesity to a speech impediment, single parent homes, unemployed or homeless parents can affect the development of one’s personality.
Some of these factors may be because of genetics, and others may come from the influence of society. Conclusion In day-to-day life, people’s personalities, or the differences therein, can cause some people to clash with others. Still other people will be able to live peaceably with just about anyone. Personalities may develop one way, but because of genetics and environment, may change to something different. Personalities are made up of traits and characteristics, and during conception, the foundation of one’s personality begins to take shape.
The environment begins to shape one’s personality at birth, and when combined with the child’s genetics, a unique personality develops in every child. A theoretical approach to examining and understanding personalities helps explain various theories on personality. Observation and experimental research conducted by psychologists help target patterns that some personalities may exhibit. While genetics and environment contribute greatly to one’s personality, one’s personal decisions will also affect his or her personality.
Theories, hypotheses, research, and data all help psychologists establish the reliability and validity of the predictions that are made about personality (Feist & Feist, 2009). Assessments, such as the Big Five, can also make personality assessment thorough and reliable. References Feist, G. J. , & Feist, J. (2009). Theories of Personalities (7th ed. ). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. Measuring the Big Five Personality Factors. (n. d. ). Retrieved from http://pages. uoregon. edu/sanjay/bigfive. html#whatisit O’Neill, D. (2006). Personality Development. Retrieved from https://anthro. palomar. edu
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