What are personality theories?

What Does Personality theories Mean

We explain what are the theories of personality in psychology and what are those proposed by Freud, Jung, Rogers, Kelly and other authors.

Each theory proposes a specific composition of the personality.

What are personality theories?

In psychology , the different theoretical approaches proposed by personality scholars in their respective times are known as personality theories , that is, the formal psychological attempts to define and classify human personalities based on some type of minimal shared traits. .

Personality is a stable and recurring set of human reactions and behaviors , which are part of our way of being and to a certain extent define us.

Personality makes us more similar to certain people and less similar to others, since there are shared and non-shared elements between the various personalities of the people we meet throughout life . It is, as will be seen, statistical generalizations, which serve to try to classify the way of being of people.

There are numerous theories of personality, ascribed to certain psychological or psychoanalytic approaches according to the school to which their authors belonged. The objective of each one is to build an analysis model that focuses on the minimum characteristics of people, in order to classify them and establish comparisons, or understand the way in which the personality is constructed.

See also: Low self-esteem

Freud's personality theory

According to Freud, the personality is founded on what we love and lose.

Proposed by the famous father of psychoanalysis, the Austrian Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), this theory proposes that the personality of individuals is formed throughout their life history , through the summation of all loved and lost objects.

Said "objects" would come to be, in the first instance, the parents, through whom a bond of love is initially produced, which the so-called "Oedipus Complex" will make us overcome through renunciation. But later it will be others who occupy that place of a loved and later lost object, such as friends, partners, colleagues, etc.

This dynamic of love and renunciation is forming the "I", one of the three basic instances of the psyche for Freud (together with the "superego" or the law, and the "it" or the unconscious), as it assimilates as own some of the features of each lost object. Thus, from a very dear teacher we can "inherit" our vocation , or certain tastes from a friend, and so on.

In any case, according to Freud, the personality would become a sort of "collection" of lost objects , which give us a unique affective journey, but with many points of encounter with others.

Jung's personality theory

Carl Gustav Jung proposed eight possible personality profiles.

Prepared by one of Freud's disciples, the Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961), this 1921 personality theory proposes that certain archetypes determine the makeup of our mind , which allow the existence of eight possible profiles personality, which are:

  • Thinking-introvert. Personalities focused on their inner world, much more than on the outside, and interested in abstract, reflective and theoretical thought.
  • Sentimental-introvert. Empathic personalities, who value their bond with others, although they are not very given to express it in an open and frank way.
  • Feeling-introvert. Personalities focused on subjective, introspective phenomena, but more linked to what their senses capture, that is, with their own sensitivity.
  • Intuitive-introvert. Dreaming personalities, who detach themselves from the immediate real and are given to fantasy.
  • Thinking-extrovert. Personalities who enjoy explanation, that is, to register what happens around them and thereby constitute an abstract mental system.
  • Sentimental-extroverted. Very sociable personalities, who enjoy the company of others and have a low propensity for abstract thought and reflection, being more immediate in their interests.
  • Feeling-extroverted. Personalities that yearn for new sensations from the outside and from others, so they are usually given to the pursuit of pleasure and are very open to the new.
  • Intuition -extrovert. Adventurous, charismatic and gifted personalities of leadership , who tend to occupy leading roles in their community and lead social, political or community causes, since they perform before others.

Carl Rogers personality theory

The work of the American psychologist Carl Rogers (1902-1987), this theory proposes a phenomenological approach to personality, that is, in the way of capturing reality and assuming it as one's own. To do this, Rogers defined what a "highly functional person" is , whose characteristics would serve to define the different types of personality that exist.

In this way, Rogers proposed that personalities consist of combinations of seven fundamental traits:

  • Openness to experience. How willing we are to explore new possibilities and new life experiences, or how defensive we are in the face of it.
  • Existential lifestyle. How much we give our own meaning to the experiences we live, thus creating a personal meaning for our life, or how much we tend to expect life to fit into prejudged parameters.
  • Self-confidence. How much we believe or do not believe in ourselves in the situations that arise.
  • Creativity . How given we are to imagination, to speculation or inventiveness.
  • Freedom of choice. How much can we assume new forms of behavior compared to traditional ones in situations that do not work well for us, thus creating our own decisions on the fly.
  • Constructive character. How much can we maintain the vital balance when responding to our needs.
  • Personal development. How willing we are to assume constant change as a growth process that does not have an end.

Kelly's personality theory

Derived from cognitivism and constructivism , this theory proposed by the American psychologist George Kelly (1905-1967) is known as the Theory of personal constructs.

This author proposes that each individual organizes his experience of reality based on an ordered set of constructs , through binary opposition systems (pretty-ugly, true-false, etc.) that serve to evaluate situations and to predict future events .

As we have experiences, these constructs would be constantly remodeling, implying that our personality is constantly changing and restructuring while we live.

Allport's personality theory

Allport classified the personality traits as cardinal, central, or secondary.

For the American psychologist Gordon Allport (1897-1967), personality is the integration of a set of unique traits , which distinguish us from others, organized in a response system that, unconsciously, we try to use to respond to all questions. situations in the same way.

But since this does not work, logically, we adapt to the environment, incorporating or eliminating fundamental elements of the personality , which Allport called “traits”.

Traits can be cardinal, central or secondary, depending on their structural importance in the system of our mind and, therefore, some will be easier to change than others. Personality would be the set of traits that persist in us.

Cattell's personality theory

This is perhaps one of the best known personality theories, proposed by the British psychologist Raymond Cattell (1905-1998), which has many points of contact with Allport's.

For example, Cattell argues that personality consists of the function of a set of traits, understood as tendencies to react in a certain way. These traits can be temperamental (how to act), dynamic (why to act) or aptitude (what it takes to act).

In this way, Cattell developed the primary personality factors, which are 16 in total and are measured with the famous 16PF personality test , and they would be: affectivity, intelligence, ego stability, dominance, impulsiveness, daring, sensitivity, suspicion, conventionalism, imagination, cunning, rebellion, self-sufficiency, apprehension, self-control and tension.

Eysenck's personality theory

Hans Eysenck (1916-1997) is the English psychologist who authored this theory centered on the biological, for which he devised the PEN model, an explanation of the motivations of the personality based on internal elements of the organism. Thus, Eysenck determines three central factors to define personality :

  • Psychoticism Or a tendency to act harshly, which would depend on the activation of the Ascending Reticular Activation System (SARA).
  • Neuroticism Or stability of emotions, which would depend on the limbic system.
  • Introversion / extraversion. Or a tendency to focus on the internal or external world, which is linked to the levels of androgens and neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin.

Based on the levels of these factors, personalities may be one way or another, according to Eysenck.

Costa and McCrae's personality theory

Known as the Big Five Model ( Big Five in English), this theory proposes the existence of five alternative personality factors , which would be "basic" traits on which it is based. Each one is made up of a pair whose ends denote a certain basic trait of the personality, and which are:

  • Extraversion-Introversion. High or low sociability and tendency to enjoy the company of others.
  • Openness to experience. Active imagination, aesthetic sensitivity, vital daring, on the one hand, and more conventional and familiar behaviors on the other.
  • Responsibility . The degree of commitment and self-control of the individual, not only in the face of their impulses but in the planning, execution and organization of their tasks.
  • Kindness-Egocentricity. Also considered cordiality or affability, it represents empathy and the degree of emotional connection with others, although in its opposite degree is competitiveness and skepticism .
  • Neuroticism or emotional instability. It is about the desire for control or order of individuals, or their ability to "let things be." High levels of neuroticism translate into anxiety , hostility, depression, or vulnerability .

Gray's personality theory

This theory is also known as the BIS Model ( Behavior Inhibition System or Action Inhibition System ) and BAY ( Behavior Approximation System or Action Approach System ).

Jeffrey Gray explains that there are two mechanisms of activation or inhibition of human behavior , anchored on the one hand in introversion and anxiety , and on the other in impulsivity and extroversion. Both systems would work together to form our personality.

Follow with: Character

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