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Psychodynamic theories of personality have impacted greatly on the Developmental Psychology of today. They originated with the work of Sigmund Freud in the later part of the nineteenth and beginning of the 18th century. Freud, Jung, Erickson and Fromm all focussed on the unconscious mind and the effects of early childhood experiences on the development of personality. Freuds psychosexual model is based on 5 stages with the first five years of life being most crucial to development of personality.
Erikson proposed an 8 stage psychosocial plan, which placed importance on the whole lifespan, arguing that development does not cease at a certain age. According to Hayes (2000) both Freud and Jung argued that personality was set by childhood experiences and was due partly to maturation and partly to the influences of close family. Fromm on the other hand recognised both factors as well as acknowledging society as a third factor in the formation of personality.
A more current view based on both the psychoanalytical and biological approaches is that of Bowlby (1969) who studied attachment in children. His Affective perspective concentrates on emotional development and has had an impact how children are cared for whilst away from their central carer for example whilst in childcare or hospital. Genetic and Biological explanations propose that each individual is born with genetically determined characteristic patterns of personality.
Studies of twins show that identical twins brought up apart share much more in common than fraternal twins. The Minnesota twin study, (Bouchard, 1984 as cited by Bee 2000 p266) not only demonstrated this point, but also uncovered striking similarities in aspects such as taste in clothes, hobbies and interests, posture, body language etc. in identical twins who had never met each other. The biological approach to personality is strongly supported by a large amount of empirical research and as such is difficult to dispute.
As Bee (2000) explains ‘there is simply no refuting the fact that built-in genetic and physiological patterns underlie what we think of as both temperament and personality. ‘ (Bee 2000 p269) Some studies show that as much as 60% of our personality is genetically determined. A further strength in the biological explanation is that it is interactionist, thereby acknowledging the role of the environment in addition to the biological factors. The biological approach has one main weakness in that it does not account for change as temperament is not necessarily permanent.