Personality Theories Essay Examples & Outline

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Personality Theories

The majority use personality to allude to the most obvious traits in a person. Personality is behavior that manifests in the day-to-day activities of the majority of the people. However, this perception of personality is misleading given the fact that the personality entails more. In psychology, personality is concerned with the heredity and different outcomes in behavior. It explains why the people of the same heredity have different reactions to the same situation.

It explains why the people that are supposed to be similar owing to the nature and nurture environment display different perceptions and reaction to phenomena (Ellis, Abrams & Abrams, 2009). It is also used to look at the other side of the debate whereby, people that do not have any relationships have similar reactions to phenomena in their lives.

Study of personality entails the application of May idiographic and nomothetic techniques. The study of the personality entails the investigation of every aspect of the adult human behavior (Ellis, Abrams & Abrams, 2009). The personality studies have a focus on the adult behavior since the adults are more stable subjects to study since they have attained a level of little growth. The experience accrued by the adults from living also informed the decision to study personality using the adult subjects as opposed to the individuals.

Personality theories simulate new research findings, organize what is known and create formal perceptions of nature. There have been three groups of personality theories that have been advanced thus far (Ellis, Abrams & Abrams, 2009). The most common personality theories groups include trait, behavioral, psychoanalytic, and human learning. All the theories on personality state different attributions of behavior that persists in the lives of the individuals. They are optimizations of the real factors in life both of nature and nature that make the people behave according to a certain outline.

Human behavior, as explained from the different theoretical perspectives, does not mean that the outcomes of the analysis are the indicators of the real aspects that inform the human behavior (Ellis, Abrams & Abrams, 2009). Trait theory is one of the oldest theories that assert that the behavior or personality of a person is directly linked to the inherent traits in an individual. According to the theories, there is little that a person can do to influence his or her personality. Trait theories include phrenology, factor theory, and the typology (Fittskirk & Shohov, 2003).

Psychoanalytic theories are more modern given that they were established after advancement of theories such as traits theories (Fittskirk & Shohov, 2003). The psychoanalytic theories assume that there are two elements in the human nature that influence the outcome of the personality of the person. These two aspects of the psychic energy are the unconscious and the subconscious mind. The theory states that once a person has been awarded an identity, he or she will automatically develop the ego and superego. Ego and Superego form the structure of the personality. The personality theories advanced are based directly on the assertion of Sigmund Freud.

The learning theories were resultants of the attempts to express the psychoanalytic theory advanced by Freud in terms that could be subjected to the scientific rigor. Some of the advancements to the theory include the terming of the theories of human learning in terms of the cue and response (Ellis, Abrams & Abrams, 2009). The human behavior and personality are highly affected by the cue and the associated rewards.

The learning theories seek to link the learning and outcome of the people to the cues and the response that they will get (Fittskirk & Shohov, 2003). If a response is unwarranted, they learn to avoid the signal. If the cue is anticipated and more accurate, the human personality tends to align itself to the cues hence the development of a deeper understanding of the personality traits that may be erratic and contrary to the popular belief.

The learning theories occur in an individual context whereby if the context has the ability or trend of reinforcing a certain behavior, the people learn to adopt it and integrate it to the outcome. Therefore, the desirability of the outcome leads to the creation of the habit that is learned and assimilated in the learning theory. Improvements of the learning theories led to the creation of the learning theory in the conditioned environment.

The theory of operant conditioning assumes that the human behavior is a direct result of the condition (Fittskirk & Shohov, 2003). The assertion of operant conditioning implies that the human behavior is more so a result of the conditioned environment as opposed to the outcomes of the individual traits. The prevalence of a behavior is made possible through reinforcing the behavior, while a behavior that is not reinforced tends to be distinguished or weakened. The exposure of an individual led to the understanding of the conditions and the assimilation of the same in their learning behavior hence creation of a personality based on the conditioning (Ellis, Abrams & Abrams, 2009).

Further advancements of the theoretical findings of the previous researcher indicated that the human personality was a result of the interactions between the person and the environment. Albert Bandura asserted that the views of the self-efficacy and the environment led to the creation of the personality (Ellis, Abrams & Abrams, 2009). The theory seeks to explain the personality from the complex interaction of the above aspects. It also seeks to refute the exclusive nature that the other theories assumed when approaching the theoretical foundation creation.

Other important advancements in the theory of personality have been created such as the person-centered theory. Abraham Maslow focused on the wholeness of the persons more by empathizing on the importance of the needs in the creation and reinforcement of a certain behavior (Fittskirk & Shohov, 2003). Abraham Maslow’s assertions focused on hierarchal motivations of the behavior hence the outcome of a certain personality.

Other theories focus on the creation of the five factors that they purported to be central to the outcome of the human behavior and eventual development of the personality. The factors include the agreeableness the conscientiousness, the neuroticism, extraversion and openness that the person has to the experience (Fittskirk & Shohov, 2003). The above factors were mainly the major influencers of the decision of the person to take a certain course of action or not. More focus is not on the relationship between the person and the environment and the influence of the above relationship on the outcomes.

Before focusing on the in-depth analysis of the personality theories, it is important to understand personality from the different perspectives. Personality is the way that a person behaves, in short, the outcome of the human behavior. Personality is the main motivation of the human classification since it provides a chance for every individual to display a certain set of behaviors (Fittskirk & Shohov, 2003). Personality is the ability to aggregate different features that can be identified from different individuals and they work out for the individuals in a predetermined manner. Therefore, due to this reason, personality can be considered as an aggregate of human behavior (Ellis, Abrams & Abrams, 2009).

Personality in the second case is the way the person presents himself to the other people. The issue of definition led to the creation of the idea that the personality theories are contradictory (Ellis, Abrams & Abrams, 2009). The cause of the disagreement in terms of the personality can be seen as both present and absent. The theories of personality are mere indications of the different standpoints as far as the human personality is concerned. They are not concerned with the outcome of the personality per se. There are different ways of explaining the different personality as defined.

Theories of personality

The theories of personality are often categorized according to the human behavior and the dependency or relativity of the behavior in groups of different people. A trait is an enduring and a stable characteristic of human being (Fittskirk & Shohov, 2003). The traits are the aspects of human behavior that persist tot eh extent of increasing the accuracy level in the prediction of the reaction of the person to a certain scenario. Therefore, any change in behavior is indicative of a change in the traits of the person. The body features could be used to introduce certain aspects of the personality or make assumptions about the behavior of the person.

According to the human behaviorist, the aspects of a person’s physique could be sued to explain some of the humanistic traits that the person displays. The traits have been used to advance assertions such as the Napoleonic syndrome, which associates the human behavior to a certain body morphological aspect. The theories also assume that the traits can be overt and covert. The limited behavior of the individual is influenced by the underlying factors that may lead to a certain pervasive behavior (Berelson & Steiner, 1964).

The psychoanalytic theories of development emphasize on the relationship between unconscious impulses and overcoming conflicts. It can be used in the therapy as well as an explanation of the human behavior. The theory of psychoanalyzes assumes that the outcome of the personal traits depicted by any individual is related to the ability of the person to relate the past and the present. It assumes that the experiences of the persons will determine the outcome of the human behavior that he or she will depict in the end (Wade & Tavris, 2000).

The psychoanalytic theories identify the subconscious aspects that are influenced by the previous experiences of the person, and they affect the overt abilities to relate. Therefore, if the person had a certain experience that hindered or suppressed the expression of the trait, he or she may indicate a version behavior towards the trait.

The experience could be influenced or driven by external forces such as the parent reinforcing a certain trait in the child (Berelson & Steiner, 1964). It could also arise from the most overt experiences such as the treatment of another person who depicted given trait. The psychoanalytic theories postulate that the human behavior or the personality that one depicts is a direct outcome of the human experience.

The theory also assumes that the ego of the person has an impact on outcome of the personality of an individual. The people that have big egos have different personalities as opposed to the people that have personalities that are more erratic (Fittskirk & Shohov, 2003). Therefore, the human behavior is more or less of a depiction of the relationships between the subconscious mind which is by large affected by the previous experiences and the conscious mind which is affected by the present and more persistent aspects.

Modern theories of personality have more different emphasis contrary to the ones that the previous theories, the theories on social learning focus on the development of the personality according to the learning experiences (Berelson & Steiner, 1964). The previous theories approached character as an isolated matter that was distinct from the environment and social interactions. Social theories or learning theories of personality seek to refute the assumption that the human behavior is an isolated aspect.

They focus on the creation of the synthesis of the interactions between the environment and the person (Berelson & Steiner, 1964). They also focus on the interaction of the different people in the environment as the main influences of the personality (Myers, 2004). Social learning theories are, therefore, more accurate compared to the original theories.

The social learning theorists focused on the creation of scientific method on which they would investigate the assertions of the previous theories (Wade & Tavris, 2000). The scientific process was initially meant to subject the psychoanalytic theory into the rigor of scientific process in order to identify the replicability of the findings and the assertions in the different contexts. Social learning theorists also focused on the creation of a more in-depth understanding of the aspects that inform the human behavior.

The assertions were more focused on the observation of the behavior as opposed to the theorization of the different behavior (Berelson & Steiner, 1964). Therefore, the outcomes of the observed studies were more reliable compared to the outcomes of the mere theorization. The theories indicate that the human behavior or personality is also learned and not inherent as some of the original theories such as the traits theories postulated.

With the above assertions, the issue of the main determinant of the personality of person is still evident in the modern theories (O'Hagan, 2003). Some of the theories state that the outcome of person is mainly based on the heredity of the person. The assertion assumes that the outcome of a person could be affected by the genetic aspects. This is true since some of the traits indicated such as aggression have been suggested to be linked to the personality and the heredity. Therefore, some of the assertions of the trait theory are true (O'Hagan, 2003).

However, there are also assertions that the outcome of a person is mainly affected by the environment. The environment that a person is exposed to has a major bearing on the personality of the person (Myers, 2004). In most of the cases, whenever a person is incarcerated or placed in an environment that requires aggression survives. There is a high chance that the outcomes of the person will be affected by the environment.

Therefore, the environment is a major determinant of the eventual outcome of the individual. The environment determines the outcome of a person in terms of the ability to trust oneself. The self-efficacy is also a construct of the environment (Berelson & Steiner, 1964). In the event that a person has the environmental influences that assert that one has to behave in a particular manner for him or her to be considered worthy, the environmental impacts will result in the creation of open approach to the new influence such that the outcome will be in tandem with the environmental influences (Myers, 2004). Therefore, the theories of personality are accurate depending on the character being explored and extent of the exploration (O'Hagan, 2003).


Berelson, B., & Steiner, G. (1964). Human behavior. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World.
Ellis, A., Abrams, M., & Abrams, L. (2009). Personality theories. Los Angeles: SAGE Publications.
Fittskirk, P., & Shohov, S. (2003). Focus on behavioral psychology. New York: Nova Science Publishers.
Myers, D. (2004). Psychology. New York: Worth Publishers.
O'Hagan, A. (2003). Personality. Orlando: Harcourt.
Wade, C., & Tavris, C. (2000). Psychology. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.