Gordon Allport’s Theory of Personality

Throughout history, the set of characteristics that make people different from each other, having a distinctive way of interpreting, acting and living life have been studied conscientiously. This distinctive pattern is what we commonly call personality. When it comes to an abstract concept, the personality is interpretable from a large number of approaches.

Among these approaches, some consider that personality is a unique configuration in each person, and no two are alike. Thus, each person is totally unique, although some similarities with others can be found. This view is what we consider an idiographic approach, being the maximum exponent of it Gordon allport and his theory of personality.

    What makes us do what we do?

    Whether we behave or react to the world in one way or another is due to a large group of variables and factors.

    The situations we live in, what they demand of us and how we interpret both the situation and what we can see are very relevant elements in deciding one course of action or another. . However, not only does the situation control behavior, but there are a number of internal variables that govern alongside the environmental requirements that we formulate and even that we specifically think about.

    These correspond to the set of characteristics that make up our personality, which according to the principle of functional autonomy of the motives, is a force that motivates us to act in a certain way, being in turn this action motivating the cause of the activation of learned patterns throughout the life cycle.

      Propium and its configuration in the personality

      Personality has been conceptualized in many different ways depending on the author, the theoretical stream, and the approach that took it. In the case of Allport, this important psychologist sees the personality as a dynamic organization of the psychophysiological systems which determine the way of thinking and acting characteristic of the subject. Through these elements, Allport creates a theoretical system aimed at explaining the behavioral style of individuals.

      However, the personality needs a building block in which the different personality characteristics are structured. This axis is what the author calls propium, that is, the self-perception of being a differentiated entity. It is the subject’s perception of himself as a being integrated by different characteristics, experiences and desires, being the self-perception of being a differentiated being.

      In Allport’s personality theory, this perception of the entity itself is considered to be made up of different factors. The elements that make up this skeleton of mental life, which are acquired throughout psychic maturation, are as follows.

      1. I body

      This part of the propium is essentially the experience of bodily and perceptual sensations, Which allow an experience with the external environment. It is the component of awareness of the parts of the body itself and how it feels when it comes into contact with external stimuli.

      2. Identity

      It is the idea that we are one “something” continually, having different experiences throughout life. It can be understood as the backbone of our own life story, how we interpret the journey we have taken, and from there the conclusions we draw about ourselves.

      3. Self-esteem

      The perception that we are not passive, but that we are changing our experience and our life with our actions, is a very important part when it comes to integrating personality. We see ourselves as precious beings.

        4. Self-image

        It is a comparative element, which takes into account on the one hand the performance itself and on the other hand the reaction of the media to them. In other words, it is what you think others think of yourself.

        5. Eye extension

        This part of oneself refers to the perception that the person has specific interests, these elements being important for us. These goals and objectives form a vector of action that guides behavior.

        6. Rationality

        Self-perceived ability to find adaptive solutions to different problems and demands that the environment may provide. It’s very much related to self-confidence.

        7. Intentionality

        The most complex element of propium, creating an intentional self involves self-awareness of being a being with one’s own goals and objectives, the ability to motivate and strive to achieve.

        Personality structure

        Personality is an element which can be understood as a kind of organized system which generates behavioral patterns from the activity of the subject. To explain its organization and allow the study and prediction of behavior, it is necessary to take into account the main and most elementary of the elements that compose it: the traits.

        Traits are that element that allows us to assess different stimuli as a whole to which we can respond in a similar fashion, our behavior being somewhat adaptive to these.

        Traits are understood as the point of union between mental processes and physiological components, this union being responsible for our action. like that, Allport Says Traits Drive The Tendency To Always Act The Same.

        Characteristics of Allport’s personal theory

        As a major representative of the idiographic approach, Allport argued that each person’s behavioral patterns are unique and different from subject to subject. Yet, humans are generally considered to possess the same types of traits, such as addiction, aggression, sociability, and anxiety, so it is not uncommon for similar patterns to exist. What makes each individual have their own unique personality is the relationship that occurs between the personality traits that stand out in each.

        Personality traits can be classified based on how identifiable the general behavior of the subject., Considering the author three main types of traits

        1. Cardinal characteristics

        They are considered cardinal traits personality traits that are part of a person’s heart, Affecting and defining most of the person’s behavioral repertoire. Simply put, they are the ones who carry the most weight in how each individual is.

        2. Central features

        The central features are those sets of characteristics that influence a person’s behavior in different contexts. They participate in our performance and the trends we have even if they influence a more restricted set of behaviors, such as socialization, being generally independent of each other.

        3. Secondary characters

        Here are some elements that although they are not part of the general personality of subjects, they can occur at times, As if to deal with a specific situation.

        This set of factors makes Allport’s theory a complex element that attempts to make sense of personality from a structural point of view, being the main characteristics of the personalist theory the fact that each person is configured through a composition. different traits unique to each person and the fact that the human being is a being who does not limit himself to remaining static as life passes, but actively participates in his environment to build, experience and achieve his goals and objectives.

        What kind of theory is Allport’s?

        Allport’s personality theory is interesting not only for its content, but also for the confluence of various ideologies and theoretical perspectives.

        Whether limited or not to an idiographic point of view, in which the variables that make each person unique and different are highlighted, The theory established by Allport indicates that although each person’s configuration is unique, there are common patterns of behavior, Because personality traits are generally shared innate elements.

        Likewise, although her theory is innate in nature, it does not ignore the influence of situational factors in explaining behavior, so it addresses interactionist positions that see behavior as a combination between the biological and the environment.

        Finally, Allport’s theory is part of the structuralist theories of personality. These theories are based on the idea that personality is an organized configuration of characteristics with a specific structure, which predicts future behavior by tending the individual to act in accordance with that structure.

        However, it also shows a certain interest in the process, that is to say for the process by which it is developed and not only its structure, by analyzing the formation of propium.

        Bibliographical references:

        • Allport, GW (1961). Growth of role models and personality. New York: Holt.

        • Bermúdez, J. (1996). The personal theory of GW Allport. In Bermúdez, J. (Ed.) Psychology of the personality. Madrid: UNED.

        • Hernangómez, L. and Fernández, C. (2012). Personality and differential psychology. CEDE PIR preparation manual, 07. CEDE: Madrid.

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