Personality, like most core Psychology subjects, is difficult to define. Personality is essentially the science of describing and understanding people. No two people are the same; even identical twins will tell you that they are very different to their identical counterpart. There are some who are anxious and there are those who are risk-takers. There are some who are carefree while there are those who are highly-strung and there are those who are over-confident while some are just plain shy. It is this issue of differences that are fundamental to the study and examination of personality.
Johnny Depp, born June 9th, 1963 in Owensboro, Kentucky – self-proclaimed “barbeque capital of the world” – has led an interesting life filled with the “normal” ups and downs associated with the life of a worldly famous TV/Film Star with a twist. He lived his younger years attempting to become a rock star only to have the hopes of rock and roll success fall apart and his band split up. He then move into acting, trying to become famous that way, only for it to blow up in his face by accidentally becoming a teen pin-up and obsessed by teenage girls everywhere. In order to destroy this teen idol status, he embarked on a journey through underground filmmaking, taking on eccentric, dark and just plain weird roles. Very slowly, he has been able to prove himself to be part of the elite, nominated for countless Oscars (unable to win one as of yet though) and top billing for some of the biggest “money-spinners” in cinematic history.
Over the many years, theorists have tried to find the answers on a number of personality questions: What makes a personality so unique to the individual? What are the origins of a personality? Is personality a psychoanalytical phenomenon, a biological process or perhaps slow learning processes developed over the course of your life? These people have developed their own perspectives on personality which each try to describe a person. There are currently 5 personality perspectives being used today in order to describe or explain a person and their personality: Trait perspective, Biological perspective, psychoanalytic perspective, learning perspective and phenomenological perspective on personality.
The Trait perspective looks at words that describe someone, or “trait” and theorists using this approach tend to synthesize and formulate these many traits in order to explain and predict behaviour. The Biological and Evolutional perspectives on personality look at whether it is the variations in our biological make-up that cause the personality differences we observe in behaviour. The phenomenological perspective on personality is a very optimistic approach, focussing on people and their potential in life. Theorists in this perspective see humankind as being self-perfecting, growing and evolving naturally towards “completeness and greater beauty”.
Personality from a learning perspective is viewed as an accumulated set of learned tendencies over a lifetime of an individual. Theorists using this learning perspective try to explain that you can mould personality; that it is made into what it is by the events from the unique and individual history of a person. Finally, the psychoanalytic approach on personality offers its own explanation for human behaviour, in that it lies hidden in the unconscious of a person, and is a result of how a person attempts to deal with deep-seeded and often conflicting interests, desires and instincts.
The interesting thing about these different perspectives on personality is that they often overlap with one another. Psychoanalytic perspective can overlap with the learning perspective in that the psychoanalytic theorists see the early years of development making a critical contribution to the behaviour or “psyche” of a person. There is also a commonality shared between the evolutionary and phenomenological perspectives. The evolutionary perspective tends to focus on the past evolution...
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