Personality Development Theories

Personality assumes various names and concepts in present day world. Since humans started believing that they are superior than other creations, because they possess this rare tool called mind, they have used every possible means to explain how mind can affect the development of human characteristics and perspectives, and all of they constitute personality.

Eighteenth century was a booming era for a school of theorists who practiced psychoanalysis; Freud, Erikson, Adler and Jung were few of them. They believed in the innate basis of personality development psychology. Freud described the various stages of personality through which a child progresses and reached adulthood. He famously talked about Id, ego and superego, and how inner sex drives and how inner conflicts between the drives and what a child gets from his/her surroundings determines his fixation and deviant personality development later on in life. He claimed that humans have minimal control over such development as the stages are determined on an unconscious level.

While psychoanalysis was still in boom, behaviourists slowly started taking over the psychological arena. They theorized a stimulus and response phenomenon, where human beings behave in response to the situations and triggers in the environments, and that’s the cause of variant personalities. These behaviourists took a step ahead and started studying animal models and relating them back to human behaviour. They believed that personality forms as a result of situations invoking a response in us. Which is positively or negatively reinforced by the environment, and after sufficient reinforcements, we develop a certain pattern of behaviour called “habits”. Dollard and Miller are some of the pioneer behaviourists.

The humanistic approach is another way to address personality development theories. Humanists believe in complete independence of mind, and contrast the other approaches who believe in human tendency to have innate or learned personality development. Maslow and Carl Rogers have been the fundamental humanists. Maslow brought out the stages to achieve of self actualization and utmost fulfilment. He like other humanists believed in the free will of human mind, which can make good and bad choices for itself and thus bring out individual personality traits. The whole emphasis has been placed on consciousness and how it brings about personality depending on subjective view of the self. Since every self is different, it would view the world in a different manner and thus present a variant personality. No importance has been associated to unconsciousness, as basis of human mind has been claimed to be the awareness and independence of self.

There are several conflicts and disagreements within each panel of theorists, but combines them all are their fundamental beliefs on what determines personality i.e. psychoanalysts believe in sex and aggressive drives to be the motive, behaviourists signify environment and its interaction with human drives, and humanists believe in the inner choice to reach fulfilment and self actualization.