Psychology 101

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We all come in different shapes and sizes. We all have strengths and weaknesses. What is right for one person may not be right for another. How we feel, think, behave and react in different situations are shaped from when we are born throughout the rest of our lives. Our environment influences our personality, our experiences from when we first walk to the last day we breathe. There are a number of psychologists who support that individuals environment is the key aspect to influencing personality. Sigmund Freud believed that our childhood experiences are what influence our personality as an adult. The nurture theory proposes that environment is what influences each individual and determines their personality. B. F. Skinner and John Watson both suggest that personality is a result of interaction between the individual and the environment. The case study of “Genie, the wild child” comes to show how much we require all of the environmental factors in Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs to live a healthy and standard life. Sigmund Freud (1856- 1939) believed that the psychosexual stages affect your personality and your experiences as you grow up influence your personality as an adult. Each of Freud’s five stages determines certain characteristics in our personality as we become adults (see appendix 2 for details on stages). It was developed from patients' recollections, dreams and free associations. He “asserted that sexual instinct was the most important influence on personality.” (WiseGEEK, 2011). The oral stage develops a sense of trust and comfort. The next period, the anal stage, increases accomplishment and independence. The differences between males and females are developed throughout the phallic stage, as the individual wants to possess the opposite sex parent and has the desire to replace the same gender parent. The latent period is important in the improvement of social and communication skills and self confidence. The individual will develop a strong sexual interest in the opposite sex throughout the last stage, the genital stage. “Fixation gives each problem at each stage a long-term effect in terms of our personality or character.”(Boeree, George. 1997) This means that if difficulty occurs in the stages, it can affect your personality, such as independence can transform to becoming dependant on others. Everything you become is determined by your first few years. The adult is exclusively determined by the child's experiences, because whatever actions occur in adulthood is based on an outline laid down in the earliest years of life. Personality comes from adaptive patterns associated to an individual’s specific environment. Nature versus nurture is a debate upon the importance of an individual’s inborn qualities against personal experiences in influencing or causing individual’s personality and traits. Nurture is the influences on development occurring ‘from prenatal, parental, extended family and peer experiences, extending to influences such as media, marketing and socio-economic status.” (Answers, 2011). Nature is the genetic predispositions that determine how people behave. It provides us with inborn abilities and traits. A case study that supports the influence of nurture is John B. Watsons and his partner, Rayners, experiment on ‘Little Albert’. This case study conveys that Little Albert did not display any fear towards the white rat or anything furry, until associating the rat with the load noise. This event produced Little Albert’s fear of furry objects and demonstrates that experiences play a large role in developing our personality and particularly our traits. If environment didn't play a part in shaping an individual's personality, then identical twins should, supposedly, be exactly the same. “Although identical twins are genetically identical and share the same family environment, identical twins raised together do not have identical personalities. These differences must then be explained entirely by...
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