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Introverts. Extroverts. Ambiverts. These are some examples of people with different types of personalities. There are those that are outgoing, those that are closed off, and some a mix of both. And these types of personalities are influenced by a lot of factors around them. These factors can either be their environment, past experiences, innate nature, own choices, or the people around them. Different theories arose from different perspectives of psychologists that have different beliefs on how personality develops or works and what factors influences its development. Some of these are the psychoanalytic, cognitive and humanistic theories.
Personality, according to the American Psychological Association, “refers to individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving.” One personality theory is the psychoanalytic theory, mainly developed by Sigmund Freud, who proposed that the dynamic, and mostly unconscious interactions or conflicts between the three fundamental structures of the human mind: ID, ego and superego, are what causes the development in the personality and behavior. These changes are believed to be rooted from childhood experiences and are mainly driven by sexuality, as it is believed that the progress is through a series of psychosexual stages. Another is the cognitive theory, mainly developed by Albert Bandura, who focuses more on what other people think and places emphasis that behavior is influenced on how the person views things. It believes that personality traits can be learned through observing others. Unlike the psychoanalytic theory who views human nature as selfish and evil, cognitive theory views human nature as neither good nor bad.
Lastly, the humanistic theory, mainly developed by Abraham Maslow, who believes that free will of the individuals and their drive to self-actualization are important. This perspective believes that the human’s innate drive for self-growth and the choices they make along the way is what determines personality, Maslow proposed a hierarchal model of human needs that needs to be satisfied from bottom to top. Like the psychoanalytic theory of Freud, one must satisfy one level first before proceeding to the next (Thompson, 2019). Also, they both view humans are the center of the development, how they satisfy their needs and wants, and not through external factors like what the cognitive theory believes. It also believes that human nature is innately good and focuses more on their potential and free will, unlike the psychoanalytic theory whose view of human nature is pessimistic (Lahey, 2009) and since most of the structure of personality is unconscious, it does not account free will. Also, similarly to the cognitive theory, it believes that the development of personality occurs over time, unlike psychoanalytic theory who believes it stops once the individual reaches puberty. All of these three perspectives however, believes that internalization of the individual is an important aspect of the personality.
Different theories about the development of personality were proposed and up until today, is still being studied by psychologists. Several other theories were also proposed by different psychologists and existing theories are being improved by others. Although some of the theories have similarities, some also have completely different views regarding personality development. This just means that up until now, psychologists are still far from discovering the true explanation on just how personality works.
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