Theory of personality

Theories of Personality

As there are so many definitions of personality, so are theories of personality as well. As such, there is no con-sensus among the theorists admit the theories of personality. Among several theories, the more prominent are: type,trait, psychoanalytic, social learning and self theory. A brief discussion of each follows.

Type Theory

Like other sciences, the first students of human nature also endeavoured to study human personality by classifying them into certain types. Personality classification was made on two bases:

(i)Body Build, an a
(ii) Psychological Factors.

In case of body build basis, personalities were classified into types by establishing relationship between one’s body build/features and personality. Accordingly, persons having a short or plumb body build were characterized as sociable and relaxed, tall and thin persons as restrained, self-conscious and fond of solitude and those with heavy set mascular body build as noisy, callous and fond of physiS Bodybuild physique may exert some influence on his/her personality, yet the relationship between the two seems much subtle than what such classification implies. Personality types on the basis of Psychological factors are based on the assumption that personality is the totality of a person’s interacting sub-systems. Then, personalities are, accordingly, classified into two types: in-
(i)troverts, and (ii) extroverts. Introverts are those who primarily look inward at themselves, avoid social, contacts and interaction with others, quiet and enjoy solitude. On the contrary, extroverts are sociable, friendly, gregarious, aggressive, etc. No doubt, typing personalities into introverts and extroverts looks simple and interesting, out it does not serve much of its purpose in understanding personalities in more detail and depth. The reason is that, most of the people tend to be neither introverts nor extroverts but ambiverts,that is, they are in between the two extremes of introverts and extroverts.

Trait Theory

Some psychologists have tried to understand personality on the basis of individual’s traits. Trait is an enduring characteristic of a person in which he/she differs from.another. Popular human characteristics include shy, aggressive, submissive, lazy, ambitious, loyal and timid. In practice, the more consistent the characteristics and more frequently- these occur in diverse situations, the more impor-
tant traits become in describing a person. Thus, traits can be described as individual variables or dimensions.

Trait theory is based on the following three assumptions:

1.Traits are common to many individuals but vary in absolute amounts between the individuals.

2.Traits are relatively stable. Their consistent occurrence influences the human behaviour.

3. One’s trait can be inferred by measuring his/her behavioural indicators.

Allport and Cattell have been among the early psychologists who made efforts to isolate individual traits.Allport, in his study, identified as many as 17,953 traits.Obviously, predicting human behaviour based on such a large number becomes virtually impossible. Realising the need for reducing such large number to a manageable one,Cattell first isolated 171 traits and then the same reduced to 16 traits, which he termed as source or primary traits.

recent years, John has propounded a personality model called The Big 5 Model. In this model, he advocates that the following five basic personality variables/dimensions underly all other variables:

Thus, trait theory of personality attempts to understand how a set of personality variables exerts on one’s behaviour. However, this theory suffers from one lacuna is that it is very descriptive rather than analytical. In fact, no hard evidence supports trait theory as a valid measure of personality.

1. Extraversion – Who is sociable, talkative, and assertive.

2. Agreeableness. One who is good-natured, cooperative and trusting.

3. Conscientiousness – A person who is responsible,dependable, persistent and achievement oriented.

4. Emotional Stability. Someone characterized by calm, nervous, enthusiastic, depressed and insecure.

5.Openness to Experience – A person who is imaginative, artistically sensitive, and intellectual.

Psychoanalytical Theory

Psychoanalytical theory is yet another type of personality. The basic notion on which psychoanalytical theory is based on is mat human behaviour is influenced more by unseen forces than conscious and rational thoughts.Sigmund Fraud developed psychoanalytical theory based on his 40 years of writings and clinical practice. Fraud’s clinical experiments on his patients’ behaviour led him to conclude that behaviour is mainly influenced by unconscious framework. This unconscious framework is composed of three: clements-id, ego and super ego. Fraud himself considers the division as hypothetical one rate er than specific structures of one’s personality. The reason being the failure of neuroanatomy in properly locating them within the central nervous system.A brief description of these three elements i.e., it ego and super ego, follows:

(ii) The Ego – The id is unconscious part while the.ego is conscious part of human personality. The ego is as- sociated with reality. It checks the id through logic and intellect. The ego can best be described as Controlling is through realities. A starving man cannot Control or satisfy his hunger simply by eating images, but by really having food. Thus,here lies the role of ego i.e. reality in satisfying hunger or reducing tension created by hunger.

(i) The ld – The id is innate and the source of psychic energy. It seeks immediate gratification for biological or instinctual needs. It is like raw and, thus, remains basic to their individual throughout life. The id follows the basic principal of all Human life i.e., the immediate discharge of psychic energy (libido) produced by animal drives such as sex and aggression which if pent up, causes tension in the personality system. The id, by immediately reducing tension, thus, Obeys the pleasure principle. As id knows and obeys no laws and rules, it may result in, as fraud himself felt, danger for the person concern and for society as well.

(iii) The Super Ego – The super ego represents system of values, norms, and ethic that guide and govern person to behave properly in the society. In one sense, the super ego can be described as conscience. It provides norms and values to ego to determine what is wrong or right at a given time in given situation/society. In other words, the super ego judges whether an action/behaviour is right or wrong as per the set norms and standards of the society,In total, it can be concluded that the id seeks pleasure, the ego verifies reality and the super ego strives for perfection

As mentioned earlier, Fraud’s psychoanalytical theory is hypothetical based on theoretical conception However, it does not provide any measure for its scientific verification and validity. That is why this theory is not found very relevant and appropriate in predicting human behaviour. Nonetheless, it provides the idea of unconscious motivation which adds to the understanding of human behaviour in a better manner.

Social Learning Theory

In fact, human behaviour is generally either learnt or modified by way of learning.Learning can simply be defined as any change in one’s behaviour that occurs as a result of experience. In other words, learning occurs when an individual behaves as a result of experience in a manner different from the way he/she formerly behaved.Learning occurs through two ways:
(i) Reinforcement,and
(ii) Observing others.

Learning by observing others is also called ‘vicarious learning’. The social learning theory emphasises on how an individual behaves of acts in a given situation. This theory holds the view that the specific characteristics of a situation determine how an individual will behave in such situation. His her understanding of the situation and behaviour evinced in past in similar situations may also influence how he/she will behave in given situation. Admittedly, situation evokes an individual’s behavioural pattern. At the same time, it is also true that an individual’s behaviour also at time, influences the situational conditions.Individual, by selectively attending to wha happening,can prevent certain conditions from impinging on him/her.Thus, the relationship between the situation and the individual is of reciprocal pattern.

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