Psychodynamic Perspective, Behavioral and Social Cognitive Perspective, Essay

Compare and contrast the various personality theories: Psychodynamic perspective, Behavioral and Social Cognitive perspective, Humanistic perspective, and Trait perspective) and discuss which perspective you think is most applicable. Support your argument (based on what you learned, examples, etc). Psychodynamic Perspectives- view personality as being primarily unconscious and as developing in stages. Psychodynamic theorists believe that behavior is merely a surface characteristic and that to truly understand someone’s personality we have to explore the symbolic meanings of behavior and the deep inner workings of the mind.

These ideas were sketched by the architect of psychoanalytic theory-Sigmund Freud. Most psychodynamic perspectives emphasize that early experiences with parents play an important role in sculpting the individual’s personality. Freud believed the personality had three structures. (The id, the ego, and the super-ego). The id consists of instincts and is the reservoir of psychic energy. It is unconscious and has no contact with reality. The id always seeks pleasure. The ego, deals with demands of reality. The ego abides by the reality principle; it checks the demands of the id for pleasure against what is possible into the real world.

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The ego helps us to test reality, to see how far we can go in satisfying our desires without getting into trouble and hurting ourselves. The super-ego is the moral branch of personality. It is what we often refer to as our “conscience”. Like the id, the superego does not consider reality; it only considers whether the id’s sexual and aggressive impulses can be satisfied in moral terms. Some psychoanalysts who followed Freud, embracing his core ideas about personality, soon took issue with some aspects of his theory.

Dissenters questioned his ideals about sexuality, early experience, social factors, and the unconscious mind. Behavioral perspective- Skinner argued that personality is the individual’s external behavior, and that behavior is determined by the external environment. According to Skinner, we do not have to understand biological or cognitive processes to explain personality, and that behavior always has the capacity for change if new experiences are encountered. Because behaviorist believe that personality is learned and often changes depending n experiences and situations, it follows that, by rearranging experiences and situations, the individual’s personality can be changed. Social Cognitive perspective- states that behavior, environment and cognitive factors, such as thoughts, memories, and expectations, are important in understanding personality. Like the behavioral approach of Skinner, the social cognitive view relies on empirical research in studying personality. But this research has focused not just on observable behavior but also on the cognitive factors that influence what we are like as people.

Alber Bandura and Walter Mischel are the main architects of social cognitive theory. Humanistic perspective- Stresses that a person’s capacity for personal growth, freedom to choose one’s own destiny, and positive human qualities. Humanistic psychologists believe that each of us has the ability to cope with stress, to control our lives, and to achieve what we desire. Each of us has the ability to break through and understand ourselves and our world; we can burst the cocoon and become a butterfly, say the humanists.

Trait perspective- States that personality consists of broad, enduring dispositions that tend to lead to characteristic responses. In other words, people can be described in terms of the basic ways they behave, such as whether they are outgoing and friendly or whether they are dominant and assertive. Gordon Allport, the father of trait theory, believed that each individual has a unique set of personality traits. He argued that if we can determine a person’s traits, we can predict how that person will behave in various circumstances.

Although, trait theorists disagree about which traits make up personality, they all agree that traits are the fundamental building blocks of personality. I personally believe that each individual is created differently for a reason. If we all thought the same, behaved the same, and responded to situations the same, we would have no unique qualities. With that being said, after reviewing the different perspectives, I believe each theory and comprehensive study is relevant, and has an application which can be useful with the study of personalities.

But, the most applicable I believe would be the Psychodynamic Perspective. I think that our childhood nurturing, and parental involvement play a drastic part in our personality development. As Sigmund Freud explained, I think the unconscious mind holds the key to understanding people. I believe that individuals keep troubled memories and painful feeling locked in their unconscious minds. I think you have to explore the conscious and the unconscious mind to totally explore an individual’s personality. I sincerely believe that personality is primarily unconscious, and operate in developing stages.

I base my opinion on my childhood experiences. I have two siblings that cannot get over what they consider a bad childhood. They consistently place blame on my parents for the way that their lives turned-out, instead of their decision making process. One in particular, has stated that she purposely suppressed a portion of her childhood, because of what she considered “horrifying. ” I on the other hand, think I had a wonderful childhood. I am the youngest of four children, all my siblings are girls. I am the only biological child of my father’s.


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