Running head: THEORIES OF PERSONALITY
Theories of Personality
January 31, 2011
Theories of Personality
Humans are exceptionally unique and individual creatures. No two people are exactly the same. Even identical twins retain distinctiveness as their behaviors and qualities may be very different. The numerous differences that are observed among people can easily be attributed to the various characteristics and traits of each individual’s personality. Personality is completely exclusive and unique to the individual. Though several people may possess a certain behavioral or personality trait, no two individuals will share the same combination of characteristics and traits, the personality in its entirety. In Philip’s Encyclopedia, personality is defined as the “emotional, attitudinal and behavioral characteristics that distinguish an individual” (2008). Just as unique as personality are the psychologists and theories designed to explain it. Five main subgroups or theoretical approaches to studying, describing and explaining personality have been identified. These include the psychodynamic theories, humanistic theories, existential theories, dispositional theories, and learning theories. The psychodynamic theory is most notably attributed to the work of Sigmund Freud. This approach relies heavily on the influences of the unconscious mind. This theory also places great importance on the individual’s childhood as a source of influence in a person’s adult behavior and personality. Finally this theory emphasizes the growth of individual personality as a result of facing and overcoming conflict throughout the lifespan (2001). The humanistic approach looks at personality while stressing the unique aspects that separate humans from all other species. Elsevier’s Dictionary of Psychological Theories states that this approach “emphasizes internal experiences, feelings, thoughts, and the basic self-perceived worth of the individual human being where...
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