full essay on personality theories topic

Personality Theories
School Affiliation:
Personality Theories
The world consists of very many individuals each having their own unique
characteristics. Each individual has a combination of emotional, attitudinal, and behavioural
response patterns that are unique. Personality is that combination of characteristics or
qualities that form an individual’s distinctive character. Personality theories attempt to
explain personality structure and functioning to state why a person behaves the way he/she
There are many personality theories. They include, psychoanalysis theories, which
focuses on unconscious mental forces, self actualization theories, which focuses on the man
potential and motivation to better him, and the learning theories that focuses on the ability of
a man to change with experience. The psychoanalysis theory of Sigmund Freud and the
learning theory by B.F. Skinner are two theoriser that tend to explain why people behave the
way they do (Allen, 2006).
The psychoanalytic theory by Sigmund Freud
From Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theory of personality perspective, personality
is composed of 3 elements, which are: id, ego and the super ego elements. These three
elements work together to create complex human behaviours.
The id is the only element of personality that a person possesses at birth. The id is
entirely unconscious and it includes instincts and primitive behaviours. It is the source of all
psychic basic principle. It strives to gratify all desire and needs immediately, if these desires
are not satisfied the result is usually anxiety and tension. This personality is important in
children (Allen, 2006). However, immediate satisfaction of needs is unrealistic. To resolve
the tension, the id forms mental images of desired objects as a way of satisfying the need
(Ryckman, 2006).
The ego according to Freud is that component of personality that is responsible for
dealing with the reality. It develops from the id and ensures that the id is controlled and
expressed in a way that is acceptable in the real world. It thus tries to satisfy the needs of the
id in a socially and realistic manner and that is at the right time and the right place.
The super ego is that component of the personality that holds all our morals and ideals
that we acquire from the society and our parents. It is that element that tells a person what is
right and what is wrong. Super ego provides guidelines for making judgement.
Freud suggests that a healthy personality is only developed when there is a balance between
the id, the ego, and the super ego. These elements motivate and also govern human behaviour
(Ashcraft, 2011).
The learning theory by B.F. Skinner
According to Skinner, individual differences are as a result of different kinds of
learning experiences encountered by different people. Skinner suggests that behaviours are
learnt through direct experiences and that is when a person is rewarded or punished for
certain behaviour. However, behaviour is also learnt without being subjected to
reinforcement. This are learnt through observation or through vicarious learning.
There are two reinforcements that may cause and control behaviour: the direct and the
vicarious. The direct include tangible rewards; social approvals and disapproval while
vicarious include observing someone else receiving a reward or punishment as a result of
behaviour that is similar to one’s own. Vicarious learning may also be self evaluation of
one’s performance with self praise. If the consequences of behaviour increase there is a
chance that behaviour will be repeated (Ashcraft, 2011). Skinner suggests that reinforcement
can be used to shape behaviour. Behaviour is thus shaped by the past interactions rather than
any process occurring within an individual.
Comparison: Freud’s and Skinner’s personality theories
While Freud’s psychoanalytic theory emphasizes that human personality has stages of
developing from the infant’s id where the main purpose of that personality is gratification of
their desires immediately to the more controlled personality of the super ego that acts
according to the morals of the society Skinner’s learning theory on personality does not have
any stage of personality development (Allen, 2006).
Skinner emphasizes on learning as a source of difference in personalities in that the
environment plays an important role in shaping of behaviour while Freud in his
psychoanalytic theory proposed that human beings are motivated to behave the way they do
by a biological force. According to Freud behaviour is more from within a person than from
the environment (Ryckman, 2006).
Both Freud and Skinner recognise the importance that reinforcement does in shaping
personality. According to Freud, ones behaviour is reinforced by the need to satisfy certain
desire. Skinner basis his personality development theory on reinforcement related techniques.
Here a personality is formed if the stimulus continues receiving reinforcement or a reward.
Techniques of assessing personalities
There are many different ways of assessing personality constructs. They range from
paper and pencil tests to psychological tests where the psychologists act as the measuring
instrument, observing, judging, and recording. In either of these types a sample of behaviour
is recorded and is used to indicate a category of behaviour (Ashcraft, 2011). Some of the best
ways used to assess personality include, projective tests and self report tests.
Projective tests: in this kind of tests the person being tested is represented with certain
pictures and is asked for its interpretation. The interpretation one gives is used to provide
information about the personality of that person.
The other way of assessing personality is the use of personal tests. Personal tests are self
inventories in which a person is given a range of questions and their answers. The answer that
one chooses reflects on ones personality (Allen, 2006).
The personality theories of Sigmund Freud and B. F Skinner explain how
personalities develop and persist in human being. Freud suggests that personality evolve from
within an individual. He also farms stages of personality development that include: id ego,
and the super ego. On the other hand, Skinner suggests that personality develop as individuals
interact with the environment. Here behaviour is either reinforced though external rewards
for it to persist or is terminated if not externally reinforced. To measure various personalities
psychologists use various assessments methods and there after collection of data construct the
personalities accordingly.
Allen, B. (2006).Personality Theories: Development, Growth, And Diversity. Boston: Allyn
& Bacon.
Ashcraft, D. (2011).Personality Theories Workbook. Stamford: Cengage Learning.
Ryckman, R. (2006).Theories of Personality. Stamford: Cengage Learning.