Perspectives of Human Development, from Where Does Personality Come? - Psychology Essay Example

Perspectives of Human Development, From where does personality come? - Perspectives of Human Development, from Where Does Personality Come? introduction?? The search for where does personality come from is the question this paper will try to answer by exploring of psychoanalytic, behavioral, cognitive, and systems theories. The Oxford dictionary defines personality as “the combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual’s distinctive character. ” With this definition in mind, we will explore the different theories, ideas, and assumptions on the subject of personality.

The different theories ask relevant questions such as from a psychoanalytical perspective, tell me what, was your childhood like (McLeod, 2007)? As where a behaviorist would be, asking questions on how to apply reinforcements for the desired behavior (Miller, 1999). A cognitive theorist would be asking a question; to reveal what stage of development a person has reached (Cherry, 2012). The system theorist would ask has there been a change on the micro level between the child and caregiver (Suzuki, 2001).

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With each theory assumptions and questions answered, this paper will try to explore and answer how the theories view the impact on nature verse nurture and different developmental stages a person passes through while developing a personality. Psychoanalytic Theory A psychoanalytic view is to establish the idea that human behavior and personality have been shaped by early childhood experiences, often driven by influential unconscious forces, which affect decisions made every day and during a lifetime. Freud’s theories have many different characteristics and core concepts that he revised over his professional career.

The one’s that shape his theories and affect psychology and culture to this day are the Id, Ego, and Superego. This trio considered by Freud, shapes personality by the interplay and connections of biological needs being satisfied on the Id level. Here, is where the ego starts to develop on how to act and make a decision between the needs of the Id and the new developing outside world full of dangers and risks. The ego is walking a thin line on using logic and rational thought to provide for the Id and survival.

When the ego is overcome by anxiety or the Id, other concepts from Freud’s theories provide relief through defense mechanisms, which have a bearing on behaviors and personality. These mechanisms are used by the ego to control or reduce anxiety producing moments by changing reality. These defenses include repression, reaction formation, projection, regression, and fixation. Freud believed using these defenses during each anxiety moment might prohibit normal personality growth due to its ability to change reality and deluding oneself. Freud added a third element to his personality theory that individuals have a superego.

The superego is the last to develop as a child acts on relationships with adults that provide food, security, love, and discipline. Freud believes the superego is the conscience and regulates the quilt and thoughts of the ego (Miller, 1999). Other fundamental concepts from Freud’s theories of personality have caused a lot of controversy in the psychology field to this day. The psychosexual stages of infancy, and child development and its effect on personality. Freud believed by knowing how behavior develops in a person’s early years leads, to understanding how learning and dealing with anxiety later in life (Miller, 1999).

These stages are defined as movement in growth (or not) driven by biological and physical growth. “Although a stage builds upon and is dominant over the previous stage, it does not entirely replace that stage” (Miller, 1999, p. 125). This is where Freud’s defense mechanisms would use early behaviors to stem off the feeling of anxiety. These stages of oral, anal, phallic, period of latency, and genital, all require the infant to learn the difference between pleasure, frustration, and anxiety. While learning how to gain acceptance and self-control, and a maturing ego to develop a healthy personality.

Freud’s theory on personality development uses these areas of inquiry to obtain answers or assumptions on describing behaviors, explain the behaviors, predicting the behaviors, and influence the behaviors to a better outcome. As with many of Freud’s theories, his methodology challenges the current scientific methods on having empirical observation that can be replicated by other scientists. Freud’s use of childhood memories and dreams from an adult patient to describe child development pose difficulties in proving Freud’s theories.

His ideas on nature and biology affecting an infant’s behavior in the early years that last and influences how an adult personality responds are still valid today. Questions a psychoanalyst would ask, what was your childhood like, do you see things, and do you get panic attacks and what brings on these attacks? (McLeod, 2007) This would be the starting point for a practitioner in psychoanalysis to find the deep-seated anxieties from the four stages theorized by Freud on how personality develops. If an adult has episodes of panic attacks, that person may not have successfully transitioned out of the oral stage.

The panic could have been derived from the caregiver’s postpartum depression or was not fed often enough to meet the child’s needs. This would cause stress in the infant that manifests into adult panic attacks. Psychoanalytic theory believes personality develops through nature and critical stages in the relative short time span from infancy to preschool years. This critical time forms the core development of personality. The adult with panic attacks can be cured by making the unconscious drives conscious by gaining insight and having a healing experience.

In comparison, Erik Erikson is a respected psychoanalyst whose theories complement and diverge from Freud’s theories. Where the two theories agree with each other, is Freud’s id, ego, and superego theory. Erikson believed the ego had a larger role than being a mediator between the superego and the id. That role was the ego had a positive force on personality. Such that, he believed the ego’s main purpose is to validate and maintain a perception of identity. Erikson’s theory states that a person with a strong sense of identity would have accepted their station in life.

This person would set attainable goals for change and growth. Also, have a strong social connection and a secure personality (Stub, 1980). Those with weaker egos, which have identity crises, are due to lacking a strong sense of identity or direction. Erikson believes a majority of us has had identity crises during their lifetime. Although these crises are not necessarily, negative but can be a force for positive change (allpsych. com, 2012). Erikson like Freud defended that personality develops in a logical order. However, they disagree on what drives the logical order of development.

Freud believed in sexual urges while Erikson believed that family and culture provides growth in the individual personality (Berger, 2011. ) Erikson’s first five development stages furthered Freud’s theory of an infant to adolescence development. Erikson saw personality development as a lifelong event and developed three more stages to describe these events through identity crises. Each of these eight stages has two possible outcomes. The assumption made by Erikson’s theory is successful completion of each stage establishes a wholesome personality and social environment.

Consequently, not passing a stage can reduce completing further stages and developing an unhealthy personality and alienation from society. Erikson positively believed all stages could be successfully resolved later in one’s lifetime (Allpsych. com, 2012. ) Behavior Theory Behaviorist theory uses a scientific approach to study human development that is a reaction to Freud and Erikson’s theory of psychoanalysis. Freud and Erickson describe childhood development in stages while behaviorists have children developing through experiences.

These experiences are new or old changing behaviors as the child grows in an ever-expanding social and physical world. Behaviorists have laws that include all behaviors that are shared by a person’s response to actions and environment. These external responses are what determine personality (Berger, 2010, p. 20). The essential laws that guide behaviorists and researchers in social learning have furthered the field of behavioral study. These laws are classical and operant conditioning, the first by Pavlov and the latter by B. F.

Skinner develop and prove through experiments that one can observe behaviors and with conditioning can change or reinforce a person’s behaviors. Classical conditioning is described, when both the unconditioned stimulus and conditioned stimulus arrive at the same time. The conditioned stimulus would ultimately evoke a response that primarily could be evoked only by the unconditional stimulus (Hall, & Lindzey, 1999). Pavlov’s contribution to personality theory is the contiguity of conditioned stimulus that provokes a conditioned response.

Skinner’s research adds to personality development with the uses of “operant conditioning” (Berger, 2010, p. 21). Operant conditioning describes responses that are not defined in classical conditioning. These responses are not easily identifiable evoking stimuli as are the ones found in classical conditioning. This is Skinner’s observation on what is now called operant conditioning. Where the “operant is a response that operates on the environment and changes it” (Hall, & Lindzey, 1978, p. 653). This change in focuses on reinforcement to increase or decrease behavior.

This will form an association between the behavior and the consequences for that behavior. Skinner rationalizes that a personality is nothing but a collection if behavior patterns based on the external circumstances and consequences. While believing humans do not possess free- will or an inner-self. The behavior field does believe that biology affects how and when a child can learn behavior and how quickly it can learn it. While acknowledging biological contribution, the behaviorist focuses on the environmental, non-biological consequences on behavior (Miller, 1999).

Behaviorist and social learning practitioners claim most learning and personality development comes from observational learning and instruction. For all intents and purposes learning is different from operant conditioning and trial-and-error behaviors. With operant conditioning producing relatively new behaviors through shaping, it does not account for complicated new behaviors turning up quickly after watching peers playing. The trial-and–error without observational learning can lead to not attaining the skills to avoid a costly or life-threatening mistake.

Learning to drive a car does not allow for a trial-and-error without dangerous consequences. A behaviorist might predict a child or adult with aggressive habits could have learned through an environment of harsh discipline from a caregiver or have witnessed aggressive behavior. Questions a behaviorist or social learner would ask, what is the behavior we are focusing on and is use to in control behavior? (Miller, 1999) Another consideration is how to apply reinforcements for the desired behavior.

Behaviorists believe that nurturing from an involved and caring caregiver using reinforcements and conditioning is a positive foundation for a childhood filled with stimulus and response learning. If a child or adult, act a certain way and it is not instinctual, their response is from being conditioned to act that way, or they have been reinforced to do it (Cherry, 2012). Bandura’s social learning theory assumes that people learn from one another through observation, imitation, and modeling. The study by Bandura using the inflatable doll “Bobo” showed through modeling children struck the doll imitating what they witness in the film.

The main point of this study showed children changed their behavior without being rewarded or conditioned to do so, which is contrary to behavioral learning theory. Bandura further moved away from behaviorism, which believes in “one’s environment causes one’s behavior” (Miller, 1999, p. 137). He suggested personality was an interaction among three concepts; the environment, behavior, and the person’s psychological progress. Bandura defined psychological progress to consist of one’s ability to entertain images in our mind and use language.

This third definition in Bandura’s theory bridges the gap between behaviorism and cognitive learning theory. Cognitive Theory Jean Piaget and his observation that children think differently than adults lays the ground work for his cognitive theory and the four stages of human development. These theories describe thinking, behaviors, beliefs, and hypothesis of a developing infant into adulthood. Piaget’s view on early cognitive development involves “how people think (not just what they know) changes with time and experience, and human thinking influences human action” (Berger, 2010, p.

22). The first of the four stages is “Sensorimotor” (Miller, 1999, p. 42) spanning the infant’s development from birth to age two. The identifying personality skills include using all the behavior genes and nature provided at birth. These are sucking, looking, and listening to learn about its environment. Other skills the infant needs to move to the next stage of personality growth include “Object permanence” (Miller, 1999, p. 50). Where the infant understands that objects, continue to exist although they cannot be seen or heard.

For instance, when a caregiver leaves the room the infant does not cry. During this growth period, the infant starts building experiences through action of imitation or recognizing objects such as a bottle or the sound of a rattle when shaken. An infant from these actions and experiences develops thinking of this world through the use of symbols which increases the infants understanding of the world. Development of a child in the second stage of “Preoperational” (Miller, 1999, p. 51) occurs roughly between the ages of two to seven.

The behaviors learned during this stage include language development, which influences the thinking process to include past experiences as a starting point for self-expression and play. During this time, the child develops “Egocentrism” (Berger, 2010, p. 171). This state of mind is where the child is not able to understand another person’s point of view. This stage is one of unusual focus in the developing child they do not have the abilities to understand objects can change yet remain the same and other people have different views than the child. This self-centered behavior can manifests from the child’s developing personality.

As an adult egocentrism can inhibit the ability to understand another person and impede the development of a deep personal relationship. The third stage of development in Piaget’s theory is “Concrete Operation” which begins about age seven until age eleven (Miller, 1999, p. 56). The child now uses thinking to understand its nurturing environment where more ideas and concepts will enhance a developing young personality. The behaviors learned in this stage require developing the concepts of deductive logic and reversibility knowing actions can be reversed. Piaget’s fourth stage of “Formal Operational” (Miller, 1999, p.

60) spans approximately from age twelve into adulthood. The skills developed during this time will have a lasting effect on the social status, economic level, and inter-relationship with other people. These skills are the ability to think about abstract concept while using deductive reasoning and methodical planning to enhance positive personality traits. Besides the four stages of cognitive development, there is the need to examine how we adapt to one’s environment through cognitive learning. One’s interaction with the environment involves using adaptation or accommodation with our past and present learned behaviors.

With adaptation, we process new experiences with other experiences we have had before. While the use of accommodation makes a new experience fit in to what we already know. With these capabilities, a person can gain balance and reach higher levels of cognitive thinking. A cognitive practitioner would be ask questions along the lines of, what are you good at or what were you thinking when this happened (Cherry,2012)? These questions would reveal what stage of development a person has in Piaget’s theory. While cognitive theory does not address what is personality, it does believe in intelligence.

This starts as innate reflex to “formal operations of thought” (Miller, 1999 p. 76). An infant starts with what nature provides and develops to become the intelligent cognitive person from a nurturing environment. Piaget with his belief in humans as active organisms always exploring, hypothesize, test and evaluate embody the four stages of development. “In other words, to be is to do” (Miller, 1999, p. 73). Therefore, a cognitive personality needs physical maturation to be able to exercise self-regulation and produce a personality that is ever changing.

Vygotsky’s works are based on two main ideas; first, that intellectual development can be understood in terms of the historical and cultural context of the child’s experience. Secondly, he believed that development depends on the child’s cultural way of communication through language, writing, or counting methods (Miller, 1999). Vygotsky also believed that learning took place when children were working within their “zone of proximal development” (Miller, 1999, p. 179). This zone of proximal development describes tasks that a child has not yet learned but is capable of learning at a given time.

This learning is advanced through scaffolding with assistance provided by more competent peers or adults (Berger, 2010). Scaffolding provided a child with a great deal of help during the early stages of learning. In contrast to Piaget, Vygotsky’s proposed that cognitive development is strongly linked to input from others. Like Piaget, however, Vygotsky believed that the acquisition of language and thinking occur in an unchanging sequence of steps that are the same for all children. Vygotsky’s theory suggests that learning precedes development. Whereas psychoanalysis, behavioral and cognitivism development needs maturation prior to learning.

System Theory The theory of “Ecological systems” (Berger, 2010) developed by Bronfenbrenner is based on the idea that environment profoundly influences a child’s development. Bronfenbrenner borrowed from the scientific method naturalist’s use in studying an organism in its environment and theorized his research on the connection between the child and a person by observing this connection and relating to its environs (Berger, 2011). This theory seeks to demonstrate individual knowledge, maturation, and intelligence in terms of regulation, support, and a framework provided by outside social influences.

While taking into account that social change happens over time in terms of a lifetime and decision by personal choices. , According to Bronfenbrenner, each child is significantly affected by interaction among the overlapping ecosystems in his theory. These four systems of Bronfenbrenner’s model start at the microsystem level that includes family and peers along with adjacent environment. The second is ecosystem, which includes the local levels of institutions in the community that affect a person’s interaction. The third system, macrosystem endorses the larger social forces from cultural values, economic, and political policies.

The fourth system of chorosystem accounts for all the conditions over time that affects the child and personal development from the other three systems (Yeatts, 2011). Bronfenbrenner added a fifth system to show the importance between the other four systems and the effect on a child or person’s personality development. The mesosystem is the intermediary between the other systems to explain how the interdependence effects personal development. While this theory believes both nature and nurture are crucial to the development of a child or person. , There is evidence a range of development outgrowths are driven by genetic aptitude.

Along with the microsystem family and peers, their closeness provides guidance to promote accepted habits and social interactions (Bronfenbrenner, 1999). One assumption made by Bronfenbrenner on the microsystem level that has the most impact on a child’s relationships. This impact has two directions, away from and towards the child. An example, a child’s parents may affect her beliefs and behaviors while the child also affects the beliefs and behaviors of the caregiver. These are the “Bi-directional influences,” that Bronfenbrenner believes occur amongst all levels of his systems theory levels.

At the micro level, bi-directional influences are the most pronounced and have the most impact on the child. However, interaction from the meso level still affects the inner levels (Paquette, D. and Ryan, J. , 2001). A question that Bronfenbrenner might ask what has changed on the micro level between the child and caregiver? Are new influences from the exo or macro levels affecting the caregiver or child’s abilities to change? (Suzuki, 2001) Discussion Using the Oxfords definition on personality as a guide, a combination of characteristics or qualities forms an individual’s character.

The psychoanalytic theorist Freud believes nature and the critical stages from infancy to preschool form the core of one’s personality. Which Freud believes personality does not change after reaching adolescence. Although Erickson does agree with Freud, that personality develops during infancy, but believes that personality develops through eight stages during a person’s lifetime. Both theorists disagree on how nature or nurture influences personality. Freud emphasizes psychosexual motivation; Erikson maintains family and culture provide growth in the individual personality.

Theorists Freud and Erikson believe that nature and nurture provide the development of an individual personality. Freud’s belief in the unconscious and biological, are the driving forces from otherwise passive human beings (Miller, 1999, p. 141). This drive and Freud’s stages imply development involves qualitative change. While Piaget believes, the “organismic rather than the mechanistic view” affects personality (Miller, 1999, p. 73). With his influential stages of development, Piaget believes that qualitative changes occur when children’s cognitive structure changes.

As to nature versus nurture, Piaget strongly believes body and mind have a causal effect upon one another (Miller, 1999). Such that a child or person to develop needs to have, provided at birth the innate reflexes to thrive and develop physically to experience the surrounding environment through one’s own action. The other supporting belief by Piaget is nurture impacts social experience in where the child or person can benefit from the mastery of other. Whereas Vygotsky views, development is both quantitative and qualitative with duration of calm interspersed with the duration of change.

Vygotsky and Piaget’s view on nature versus nurture stand on the need for innate and cultural forces to form the child’s personality (Miller, 1999). Behavior studies see development as a process of quantitative change where learning is gradual and accumulates over time. Behaviorist views have the most divergent opinions amongst early and later researcher on personality development. This is demonstrated in the nature versus nurture arena. Early researcher Skinner believes humans are born “Tabula Rasa,” where the newborn does not have innate ideas and nurture develops personality (Oxfords, 2012).

Whereas a later behaviorist Bandura believes that nature does play a role through physical maturation. A child cannot develop without having the mental capabilities to act on what they are observing. Bronfenbrenner’s system theory does not use stages in the development of a child. Without stages the five interdependent systems, promote the development through the qualitative process. However, in the nature versus nurture, Bronfenbrenner believes both have an effect on personality development, with innate aptitude along with family and cultural values promotes personality growth.

In conclusion, the Theorists seek to understand personality development through similar paths. All note the importance through nature versus nurture. Where the psychologist, behaviorist, and cognitive maintain that stages are central for the development. Bronfenbrenner and Vygotsky believe, learning and growth happens when the child has reached a level of maturation to act on what it has observed. All theories place importance to early experiences. The field of personality studies has progressed significantly since Freud’s ego theory.

This has resulted in a more complex picture of human psychological growth and the forces that shape it. From Freud to Bronfenbrenner the rigid notions of genes and stages is being replaced with a view that human development is always changing and has the potential for change. With this said there are no concrete answers to where does personality come from. All theorists have parts to the puzzle of life for human personality development. The whole puzzle is not completed, and those pieces will be found when the ah ha moment reveals the answers in future. References Berger, K.

S. (2010). Invitation to the Life Span. Worth Publishers NY, NY. Bronfenbrenner, U, (1999). Parenthood library. Wisc. edu. Online Cherry, K. (2012). The differences between classical and operant conditioning, About. com Psychology http://psychology. about. com/od/behavioralpsychology/a/classical-vs-operant-conditioning. htm Hall, C. S. , & Lindzey, G. (1978). Theories of Personality. John Wiley & Sons, (3rd ed. ) Heffner, C. (2001). Psychology 101. http://allpsych. com/psychology101/personality. html McLeod, S. A. (2007). Psychoanalysis Freudian Theory. http://www.

simpypsychology. org/psychoanalysis. html Miller, P. H. (1999). Theories of Developmental Psychology. University of Florida, W. H. Freeman and Company, Worth Publishers (sixth printing) Oxford Dictionary (2012). Online Paquette, D and Ryan, J, (2001). Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological systems theory. People. usd. edu. Online Staub, E. (1980). Personality: Basic aspects and current research. Prentice-Hall, Inc. NJ Suzuki, J, (2001). Ecological model and system theories. hawaii. edu/dyson Yeatts, K, (2011). Early Childhood and Developmental and Learning Theories. Karolyeatts com online

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