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The Nature of Personality sample essay


There are many different theories on personality. Diverse approaches focus on different aspects of speculation. Humanists and Existentialists are more apt to focus on the perceptive part. They believe that much of what we are is way too multifarious and embedded in history and culture to “predict and control.” Behaviorists and Freudians, on the other hand, favor to talk about prediction and control. In other words if a thought is useful, if it works, go with it.

Typically when we talk about someone’s traits, we are talking about what makes that human being unlike other people, perhaps even unique. Some theories often spend substantial attention on things like types and behavior and tests with which we can classify or compare people: Some people are neurotic, others are not; some people are more introverted, others more extroverted; and so on. In my paper I will discuss the three major issues regarding the nature of personality. These issues are: Genetic vs. environmental influences; Conscious vs. unconscious behavior; and free will vs. determinism.

Genetic versus Environmental Influences.

Behavior genetics is a field in which dissimilarity between people is divided into genetic versus environmental mechanisms. Nearly all general study methodologies are family studies, twin studies, and adoption studies.

Environmental pressures can be separated into two classes, shared and non-shared environment. Shared surroundings are the upbringing shared by siblings reared in the same family. This includes such variables as socioeconomic rank and parent edification. Non-shared setting is the environment distinctive to the individual. This includes such variables as peer groups.

Conscious versus Unconscious Behavior.

A common conclusion is that routine processing is certainly the major way in which humans find the way through their situations throughout life, and this includes easy responsibilities as well as more intricate tasks involved in everyday living, and research into unconscious functioning is the order of the day. The conscious mind is what you are aware of at any particular minute, your present perceptions, memories, thoughts, fantasies, and feelings. Working personally with the conscious mind is what Freud called the preconscious, what we might today call “available memory:” anything that can easily be made conscious, the recollections you are not at the moment thinking about but can readily be brought to mind.

Unconscious means contents or processes that we cannot report being aware of, with automatic referring to processes and subliminal to external stimuli. Included here are contents and processes we cannot in principle become aware of, such as how the visual system builds perceptions, as well as those we can become aware of, such as a stressful situation we have momentarily forgotten. According to Freud, the unconscious is the basis of our inspirations, whether they are undemanding desires for food or sex, fearful compulsions, or the motives of an artist or scientist.

Free will versus Determinism.

There are three essential positions concerning man’s choices: determinism, indeterminism, and self determinism. Determinism is the idea that a man’s actions are the effect of precursor causes (Augustine). In the trial period, the normal process is to influence one variable and next measure its effects on another. This all results to a theory of personality that says that one’s setting causes one’s actions. Bandura thought that this was too fundamental for the occurrences he was monitoring — resentment in adolescents — and so he made the decision to insert something to the modus operandi: He suggested that environment causes conduct; but behavior causes environment as well. He called this concept reciprocal determinism: “The world and a person’s behavior cause each other”. Naturalistic determinists, such as Thomas Hobbes and B F Skinner, disagree that a man’s behavior can be completely explained in provisos of ordinary causes.

Skinner believes that all human being behavior is totally controlled by hereditary and environmental factors. These factors do not delineate the fact that men make choices; although the factors do rule out the likelihood that human choices are without charge. For Skinner, all individual choices are determined by precursor physical causes. Consequently, man is viewed as an active root of his conduct. A theoretical case often given for determinism can be stated as follows. All human behavior is either completely uncaused, self caused, or caused by something external. Mans behavior cannot be self – caused either, for each action would have to exist prior to it to cause itself, which is not possible. Therefore the only option is that all human behavior must be entirely caused by something outside.

Each theory has a large number of followers. None of them may be correct, as it is possible for any one person to be applicable to any one theory at a time. Perhaps a comparison of how much supporting literature there is for each argument is a useful method for deciding which theory an individual may choose to support. I personally believe that all the theories have some fact to them. The one I can most closely associate with is the genetic and environmental theory. I can see how genetics plays a role in a person’s behavior and at the same time that person is influenced greatly by the environment.


Augustine, The Free Choice of the Will

Lahey, An Introduction to Psychology, Eighth Edition; McGraw Hill Companies, 2003

Mischel, Shoda, Smith: Introduction to Personality; UOPHX text

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