The study of personality is one of the major topics of interest within psychology. Numerous personality theories exist, and most of the major ones fall in to one of four major perspectives. Each of these perspectives on personality attempts to describe different patterns in personality, including how these patterns form and how people differ on an individual level.
The Psychoanalytic Perspective
The psychoanalytic perspective of personality emphasizes the importance of early childhood experiences and the unconscious mind. This perspective on personality was created by psychiatrist Sigmund Freud who believed that things hidden in the unconscious could be revealed in a number of different ways, including through dreams, free association and slips of the tongue. Neo-Freudian theorists, including Erik Erikson, Carl Jung, Alfred Adler and Karen Horney, believed in the importance of the unconscious, but disagreed with other aspects of Freud's theories.
The Humanistic Perspective
The humanistic perspective of personality focuses on psychological growth, free will and personal awareness. It takes a more positive outlook on human nature and is centered on how each person can achieve their individual potential.
The Social Cognitive Perspective
The social cognitive perspective of personality emphasizes the importance of observational learning, self-efficacy, situational influences and cognitive processes.
Major Theorists and Their Theories:
• Sigmund Freud: Stressed the importance of early childhood events, the influence of the unconscious and sexual instincts in the development and formation of personality.
• Erik Erikson: Emphasized the social elements of personality development, the identity crisis and how personality is shaped over the course of the entire lifespan.
• Carl Jung: Focused on concepts such as the collective unconscious, archetypes and psychological types.