Running head: Personality Paper Personality Paper Shacena Dunn Psy/405 – Theories of Personality November 29, 2010 Linda O’Connor Personality Paper The term personality has been heard throughout history. Each individual can give a description of their personality as well as her friends. What people fail to understand is personality is the most theorized and researched aspect of psychology. Throughout the report the reader will be able to define personality, explain the theoretical approach to studying personality, and be able to analyze factors that may influence an individual’s personality development.

Personality is defined as, “the relatively enduring characteristics that differentiate people- those behaviors that makes each individual unique” (Feldman, 199, p. 472). According to Feist (2009), personality is defined as, “a pattern of relatively permanent traits and unique characteristics that give both consistency and individuality to a person’s behavior. In order to get a better understanding of personality, one must be able to differentiate trait from state of personality. A trait is a permanent characteristic.

Example of trait is outgoing, shy, friendly, etc.These traits are used to understand one’s personality. While state is a temporary change in one’s personality.

Example of state is depressed, scared, angry, etc. States are used to describe one’s reaction. When studying personality there are many approaches that answer the question who we are and why we are alike and different.

The five theoretical approaches that will be discussed in this report are psychoanalytic theory, trait theory, cognitive-social approach, biological and evolutionary approach, and humanistic approach.According to Feldman (1999), the theoretical approaches to studying personality are as follow: * Psychoanalytic theory approach developed by Sigmund Freud based his theory that unconscious motivation and needs influence behavior. Freud suggests that personality consist of three components: the id, the ego and the super ego. Personality develops during series of stages in which the focus of pleasure is on a particular part of the body. * Trait theory approach identifies the basic traits use to describe one’s personality.They give a clear understanding of one’s behavioral consistencies.

* Cognitive-social theory approach identifies the influences of a person’s cognition, the thought, feelings, expectations and values in determining personality. B. F Skinner believed that personality is a collection of learned behavior patterns. Behavioral theory suggests that personality is a result of interaction between the individual and their environment. * Biological and evolutionary approach suggests that personality is determined at least in part by particular combinations of genes that are inherited.This approach tries to get a clear understanding of personality in regards to the body such as anatomy, chemistry, physiology and the brain. * Humanistic approaches to personality suggest that personality has the ability to change, improve and be creative in a unique way.

This approach shows how one will go out of their way to be liked amongst their peers. Shaping a person’s personality consist of many factors ranging from hereditary to environment. Heredity, birth order, parents, environment and situations are just to name a few that influences one’s personality and behavior.

Some hereditary factors that contribute to personality development are the physical and mental appearance of a person. Each individual have certain features they inherit from birth (body build, eye color, and hair color and skin complexion). People can develop low self-esteem from traits that they inherit. The way a person perceives herself and the views of others have an impact of her future. Birth order has an effect on the personality because children with siblings have a different look on the world than those without siblings.The order in which people are born also influence personality, mainly because the youngest child is following behind the oldest and picking up on some of their characteristics.

The oldest children are likely to be more responsible and achieve their goals. Older children are trying to be role models for their younger siblings, so they are going above and beyond what is expected of them. In some cases, the youngest children are more social, friendly, and affectionate and they are the risk takers. Parents also influence a child’s personality; the age of he parent can be an influence on the child’s development. The older a parent is the more laid back and easy going the child will be, the younger the parent is the more the chance of that child being aggressive or raised by their grandparents.

A parent’s level of education, religion, occupation, financial situation also plays a huge influence on a child’s personality and behavior. The environment has a strong influence on personality development. Environment determines the type of personality that will be found in society.In some environments children are raised to become independent and self-reliant. The children are often able to act like they are on the same page as their parents. For example, the children are able to make decisions about places they want to go or eat. Children are given household jobs and they are given money when they have completed their chores. This teaches the children some responsibility that they will need later in life.

Certain situations and interpersonal events shape personality as well.Having an alcoholic or drug addict parents, being involved in a serious car crash, or being raped by a close family friend or family member can scare a person mentally and cause they to develop fear and trust issues. In summary, the reader has learned the definition of personality.

They are able to understand the importance of studying personality and what influences personality development. An individual have learned that personality can be affected by the way a person lives. Environment and heredity plays a major role in shaping a child’s personality.A child is a product of their environment, meaning what the child is raised around they will adapt to it and think it is the way it’s supposed to be. Without personality a person will not be able to tell the difference between person A and person B.

Even though people share similarities in their personalities, they are still unique.References Feist, J. , & Feist, G.

(2009). Theories of personality (7th ed. ). New York: McGraw Hill. Feldman,R. (1999).

Understanding Psychology(5th ed. ). New York: McGraw-Hill


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