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Personality Theories

Related: Self-Actualization / Expanding Consciousness / Personality Theory / Philosophy / Research / Forum



CONTENTS :    


Psychoanalytic

Sigmund Freud
Anna Freud
Erik Erikson
Jean Piaget
Alfred Adler
Carl Jung



Behavioristic

Ivan Pavlov
B.F. Skinner
Albert Bandura
Hans Eysenck
E.C. Tolman

Humanistic/Existential

Edmund Husserl
Snygg and Combs
Martin Heidegger
Friedrich Nietzsche
Ludwig Binswanger
Medard Boss
Viktor Frankl
Rollo May
Albert Ellis
Kurt Goldstein
Karen Horney
Erich Fromm
William James
Otto Rank
Gordon Allport
George Kelly
Abraham Maslow
Carl Rogers
C.G. Jung
Ken Wilber




Introduction



Personality theories are mainly concerned with the structure of the human mind or psyche, which subsumes explaining how individual psychological processes are organized and made coherent. As such, personality theories serve as the basis and synthesizing element for many other fields in psychology.


Intellectual Mistakes and Misinterpretations

Before proceeding much further, it's best to keep in mind that personality theorists often make intellectual mistakes in their theories, even the geniuses like Freud. Just a few of these mistakes are outlined below:

  • Ethnocentrism - biases due to one's culture. For example, Freud grew up in Vienna, not Tokyo or Africa. Hence, we expect his theories to be influenced by Viennese culture.

  • Egocentrism - biases due to one's individuality. These include temperament, genetics, family structure and dynamics, special personal experiences, education, etc. It could be said, not without too much exaggeration, that every personality theory may be explained in terms of the personality theorist's life experiences, and in fact, is limited by them.

  • Dogmatism - biases due to dogmatism; i.e. not allowing for questions, doubts, or new information. Often, dogmatic people will employ circular reasoning to validate their theories.

In addition, when trying to make sense of a personality theory, people will often run into the pitfall of misinterpretation. This is because words have many different associations and shades of meaning, and often we encounter a word used by a personality theorist that we unintentionally assign all sorts of associations and meanings to that the theorist did not have in mind.

For example, Freud's id, ego, and superego are all words used by his translators, though the original German terms were es, ich, and überich, which would be more properly translated as 'it', 'I', and 'over-I'.

In general, misinterpretations are prone to occur 1) when words are translated from other languages, 2) with neologisms (altogether new words), and 3) metaphors.


Evidence

Evidence for personality theories comes in the following five varieties:

  • Anecdotal
  • Clinical
  • Phenomenological
  • Correlational
  • Experimental


Philosophical Assumptions

Philosophical assumptions underlying personality theories:

  • Free will vs. Determinism
  • Uniqueness vs. Universality
  • Physiological vs. Purposive Motivation
  • Conscious vs. Unconscious Motivation
  • Nature vs. Nurture
  • Stage vs. Non-Stage Theories of Development
  • Cultural Determinism vs. Cultural Transcendence
  • Early vs. Late Personality Formation
  • Continuous vs. Discontinuous Models of Mental Illness
  • Optimism vs. Pessimism


Classifying Personality Theories

  • Psychoanalytic - the Freudians and neo-Freudians, who for the most part, attribute signifacance to unconscious processes.
  • Behavioristic - focus on careful observation of behavior and environment and their relations. Behaviorists include Hans Eysenck, B. F. Skinner, and Albert Bandura.
  • Humanistic/Existential - focus on phenomenological methods and believe that the answers are to be found in consciousness or experience.







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