Biological and Humanistic Approaches to Personality

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Biological and Humanistic Approaches to Personality

As research into personality progressed, scientists began to look beyond psychoanalysis and trait theories for other explanations into how personality develops. They started to look at the biological factors that influence personality formation (Hans Eysenck, Jeffrey Gray, Sir Francis Galton (genetic study of twins)), the effect of growth needs on personality formation (Abraham Maslow), and the basic aspects of the humanistic personality theory and how it compares to the biological explanation of personality formation (Eric Fromm, Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow). These topics will be considered in more detail in the following discussion.

Although environment plays a part in personality, genes also make significant contributions. Some genetic disorders, such as Angelman or Williams syndrome are characterized by excessive happiness and friendliness. Biological aspects of a person’s temperament, such as introversion/extroversion, actively, and impulsively, also help shape the personality. Studies of identical twins have shown that twins separated at birth and raised in different environments still share many personality traits. Therefore, we are not simply blank slates totally influenced by what our environment writes on us. Responses to certain environmental stimuli seem to be hard-wired into our nervous system and endocrine systems. Electroencephalograms (EEG) have shown that, at a very basic level, extroverts show less arousal to stimulation then introverts do. Hans Eysenck theorized that because of this low level of arousal, extroverts seek out stimulating circumstances while introverts, who may be receiving too much stimulation from the environment, try to “get away from it all” by shying away from stimulating environments. Differences in activation of the brain’s hemispheres may also effect personality formation. Greater activation of the right hemisphere, which is believed to have a role...
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