Personality Theories Essay

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Personality Theories

Personality is a set of characteristics that influences the way a person thinks and behaves in numerous situations. It also influences the person's motivations.

Over the years, there have been different theoretical approaches in understanding personality. One perspective proposes personality to be shaped by an individual's interpersonal interactions and relationships (Cardillo, 1998). Another perspective proposes that personality is a direct or indirect result of genetics. This perspective holds that chemical, experiential, interpersonal, biological, and social factors all affect personality. Buss and Plomin presented a theory on inherited personality traits, proposing the "existence of four basic temperament dimensions present in human beings" (McAdams as cited in Cardillo, 1998). These four basic temperament dimensions, which are modified and shaped by social environment, are emotionality, activity, impulsivity, and sociability.

Another perspective on personality is proposed by Sigmund Freud. According to Beystehner (1998), Freud's proposes the idea that "the instincts are the ultimate cause of all behavior." These two basic instincts, which are unconscious, are called Eros or love and destructive or death instinct. "The purpose of Eros is to establish and preserve the unity through relationships. On the other hand, the purpose of the death instinct is to undo connections and unity via destruction." (Beystehner, 1998) According to Freud's theory, the act of breastfeeding is a child's the initial encounter with intimate behavior. This encounter provides the child both nourishment and pleasure which therefore reduces the tension brought about by the hunger drive. Freud proposes that the engagement in such activity "serves as the prototype for relationships that develop later on in life." (Cardillo, 1998)

Bowlby and Ainsworth provide another perspective in personality. According to them, "the love between a mother and an infant is the result of an attachment bond formed during the first year of life." (Cardillo, 1998) Personality is the result of the "interactions between a child and his or her mother." (Cardillo, 1998) A mother's or a caregiver's sensitivity and responsiveness to the child lead to a child's development of a secure attachment style. Children with a secure attachment style are said too be confident and at ease in relating to other people. Personality is also said to be influenced by an individual's interaction with his or her peers. In the Attachment Theory that Bowlby and Ainsworth proposes, it is said that "parent-child bonds are the most important in forming the child's personality." (Lee, 2003)


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Cite This Essay:

APA Format

Personality Theories.  (2009, July 20).  Retrieved January 21, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Personality Theories."  20 July 2009.  Web.  21 January 2020. <>.

Chicago Format

"Personality Theories."  July 20, 2009.  Accessed January 21, 2020.