What Shapes Our Personality Traits

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Introduction to Personality

The purpose of this paper is to define personality, examine the theoretical approaches in studying personality, and to analyze factors that may influence an individual’s personality development. According to Feist 2009, although there is no single definition of personality that is acceptable to all personality theorists; we can say that personality is a pattern of relatively permanent traits and unique characteristics that give both consistency and individuality to a person’s behavior. To better understand how traits and characteristics shape personality one must first understand the concept of traits and characteristics. Traits contribute to individual differences in behavior, consistency of behavior over time, and stability of behavior across situations. Traits may be unique to an individual, common among certain groups, or shared by the entire species, but their pattern is different for each individual. Therefor each individual may be like others in some ways but also have differences; the differences are what shape a unique personality for each individual. Characteristics are unique qualities of an individual that include such attributes as temperament, physique, and intelligence (Feist, 2009). According to Feist 2009, personality theories differ on basic issues concerning the nature of humanity because each personality theory reflects its author’s assumptions about humanity. These assumptions rest on several broad dimensions that separate the various personality theorists, and have resulted in truly different personality theories, not merely differences in terminology. The six dimensions we use as a framework for viewing each theorist’s concept of humanity are determinism versus free choice, pessimism versus optimism, causality versus teleology, conscious versus unconscious determinants of behavior, biological versus social influences, and uniqueness versus similarities (Feist, 2009 p.11-12). From these different concepts...
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