Know About the Theories of Personality Psychology

Know About the Theories of Personality Psychology

Know About the Theories of Personality Psychology

What is Personality

Personality can be defined as an individual’s unique and stable behaviour, thoughts and feelings. It is the psychological force that makes people unique There. are various factors that help in building one’s personality these include: genetics, upbringing and different experiences in one’s life. The personality of an individual can keep changing over time due to various factors as mentioned above but some of the key characteristics tend to remain as it is even in adulthood.

What is Personality Psychology

Personality psychology can be defined as a part of psychology whose major work is to study the personality of people and its various aspects. It is considered one of the biggest and most popular fields of psychology. A personality psychologist tries to find the differences and similarities among different people and the scientific reason behind them. Personality psychology tries to understand how psychological factors play an important role in determining one’s personality. A personality psychologist also diagnoses and treats mental disorders related to a personality for example borderline personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder antisocial personality disorder etc.

Personality psychology helps mental health experts to understand how people will respond to different stimuli.

History of Personality Psychology
  • Ancient Greek physicians like Hippocrates and Galen believed that a person’s personality is derived from the humours that are present inside one’s body.
  • Ancient Greeks used to believe that the career choice of a person should depend upon the desires and talents they possess this shows that the Greeks were concerned about the inherited and acquired traits of an individual.
  • According to the Greek philosopher Plato, the personality of an individual starts to develop from childhood only.
  • In the 19th century and 20th centuries, psychologists became interested in personality and why people have similar characteristics or why people have different characteristics.
  • In the year 1937 Gordon Allport published a book by the name “Personality”.
  • In 1937 a theory of personality was proposed by Henry Murray who was an American psychologist. According to the theory, it is the person’s response to the various stimuli present in the environment that determines a person’s characteristics.
  • In the year 1940, Raymond Cattell developed a statistical procedure known as factor analysis which was used to measure the variability among individuals.
  • In the year 1947, Hans Eysenck proposed that there are only two dominant dimensions of personality i.e.; neuroticism and extraversion.
  • In the year 1961 Ernest Types, Raymond Christal and Warren Norman proposed that there were five recurring factors within the 16 fundamental factors i.e.; agreeableness, culture, emotional stability, currency, and conscientiousness.
  • In 1981 Lewis Goldberg introduced the idea of the “Big Five”.
  • In 2001 William Flesson studied how traits and characteristics vary among contexts and times.

Theories of Psychology

  • Humanistic Approach:
  • According to the humanistic approach, people are in constant demand for growth and development.
Roger’s Self Theory:

    In this Carl Rogers proposed the idea of a fully functioning person. According to Carl Roger, the need for fulfilment is the motivating force behind building one’s personality. According to this people are continuously engaged in actualising their true selves. According to Roger, there is the ideal self( the self that the person wants to be ) and the real self ( the self which the person is in reality ) and this difference between the ideal self and real self leads to unhappiness and disappointment in an individual. He states that personality development is a continuous process and people are constantly evaluating themselves and maximising their self-concept through self-actualization. 

  1. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:
  2. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, people are always motivated to move above levels up upon the hierarchy of needs in order to fulfil their basic needs and grow in the process. The highest level of the hierarchy of needs is self-actualization which includes achieving one’s full potential and satisfying inner needs.
    • Cultural Approach

    This approach focuses on how the ecological and cultural environment plays a role in determining one’s personality. The ecological conditions like habitat, natural terrain, availability of food, settlement patterns etc; and cultural conditions like the rituals and religious practices being followed, art forms, games being played and ceremonies etc. And people develop various personality characteristics in order to become a part of their group and also to adapt to the various ecological and cultural patterns of the group.

    • Behavioural Approach

    This approach focuses on the phenomenon of stimulus-response. According to this human beings are constantly learning new characteristics as a response to the stimulus being presented. The behavioural approach see the development as a change in response characteristics. This approach focuses on response according to which response is a behaviour that an individual does in order to specify a particular need and it is this reduction of needs that increases the chance of repetition of a particular behaviour.

    • Psychodynamic Approach

    This is one of the famous and important approaches to the study of personality. According to this approach, there are three stages of personality: id, ego and superego.

    1. Id: The id is that part of the personality which is a product of basic instinct ( the natural tendency of an individual to behave ). The Id is guided by the pleasure principle particularly in children several behaviours are led by the pleasure principle.
    2. Ego: The ego is that part of the personality which is guided by the reality principle. It seeks to satisfy an individual’s instinctual needs by reality. It directs the way to the most appropriate way of behaving by reality.
    3. Superego: Superego is that part of the personality that talks about the morality principle i.e; what is right and wrong. It is the work of the superego to tell the id and ego whether the gratification in a particular moment is right or not.

    This approach to personality is important as it talks about proper development and fulfilment of desires. If the emotions and desires of an individual are not satisfied in a proper way then it can lead to deviation from the normal range of behaviour and can lead to distorted behaviour and personality characteristics.

    Apart from this, there are various approaches to personality such as the train approaches and type approaches.

    • Assessment of Personality

    Personality assessment can be stated as a formal procedure conducted in order to understand the personality of an individual. There are various techniques that psychologists use in order to assess an individual’s personality like self-report measures, projective techniques, behavioural analysis and psychometric tests etc.

    1. Self Report Measures

    This method was introduced by Allport according to whom in order to assess an individual’s personality we have to ask the individual about his/her characteristics. This includes The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, Eysenck Personality Questionnaire and Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire etc.

    1. Projective Techniques

    This technique was introduced to understand unconscious motives and desires. This technique works on the principle that an unstructured stimulus can help to understand an individual’s feelings, desires and needs on that stimulus. This includes sentence completion, story writing, expression through drawings and stating associations with stimuli. Various tests like The Rorschach Inkblot Test, The Thematic Apperception Test, Rosenzweig’s Picture Frustration Study, the Draw a Pattern Test and the sentence completion test.

    1. Behavioural Analysis

    A person’s behaviour in various situations can provide an idea about a person’s personality. A study of this behaviour forms the basis of behavioural analysis. This includes interview, observation, ratings, nominations and situational tests.

    Scope and Use of Personality Psychology 

    • In today’s life, there is a constant demand for assessment and predictions of personality.
    • To understand the social interaction and social aspects of people, it is important to first understand their personality

    • Personality psychology is useful for predicting an individual’s behaviour in response to a particular stimulus.

    • It helps us to understand how different characteristics and traits of an individual contribute to our behaviour

    • It helps us to understand how individuals adapt to various ecological and social environments in order to become a member of the group they are seen as a part of.


    In conclusion we can state that personality is very dynamic and complex in nature and it requires much knowledge and training in order to understand an individual’s personality and to predict his/her behaviour in various situations. Although much research has been done in the field of personality there are much research to go. There are various theories of personality and each theory has its own pros and cons and each focus on personality from a different point of view. However in order to understand personality in an effective way it is important to consider a multi-dynamic approach to the study of personality and also to personality psychology as a whole.

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