The main theories of personality

Personality, understood as the relatively stable set of tendencies and patterns of thought, information processing and behavior that each of us manifests throughout life and across time and in different situations, is the ‘one of the main aspects that have been studied and analyzed by psychology. Different currents and authors have established different theories and models of personality.

Here are some brief explanations of the main theories of personality., Which start from different approaches such as the internalist, the situationist and the interactionist or the correlational, the experimental or the clinical.

    The most important personality theories in psychology

    It is the contributions to the study of personality that have traditionally carried the most weight throughout the history of psychology. However, not all of them are in effect today.

    1. Freud’s theory of personality

    The psychodynamic current has provided various theories and models of personality, The best known being those of the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. For him, behavior and personality are related to the existence of impulses that we have to put into practice and the conflict that this need entails and the limitation that reality implies for its realization. It is a clinical and internalist model.

    In his first subject, Freud proposed that the human psyche was structured in three systems, An unconscious governed by the pursuit of stress reduction and operates through the pleasure principle, a conscious which is governed by the perception of the outside world and logic and the reality principle and a preconscious in which the unconscious content can become conscious and vice versa.

    In the second theme, Freud determines a second great structure of the personality compatible with the previous one, in which the psyche is formed by three psychic instances, the Id or that, the Ego and the Superego. It is our most instinctive part, which governs and directs internal energy in the form of impulses and from which all other structures originate.

    The Self would be the result of the confrontation of impulses and impulses with reality, Being a mediating structure and in continuous conflict which uses different mechanisms to sublimate or redirect the energies coming from the impulses. Finally, the third instance is the Superego or the part of the personality which is given by society and whose main function is to judge and censor behaviors and desires which are not socially acceptable.

    The personality is built throughout development, in different phases, on the basis of the conflicts existing between the different bodies and structures and the defense mechanisms applied to try to resolve them.

    2. Jung’s theory of personality

    In addition to Freud, many other components of the psychodynamic current have proposed their own personality structures. For example, Carl Jung proposed that personality was shaped by the person or part of our personality which serves to adapt to the environment and which relates to what others can observe and in the shade or in the shade. the part in which it is found “ include those parts of the Self which are not admissible to the subject itself.

    Likewise, from the archetypes acquired by the collective unconscious and the different complexes that we adopt in our evolution towards identity, different types of personality are generated depending on whether the concerns are directed inward or outward. if they are more sensitive or intuitive and if they tend to focus more on thinking or feeling, Being able to think, feel, intuitively and perceive the main psychological functions.

      3. Carl Rogers’ phenomenological theory

      From a humanist-phenomenological perspective of the clinical approach, Carl Rogers suggests that each person has his own phenomenological field or his way of seeing the world, depending on the behavior of this perception.

      Personality is derived from the concept of self or the symbolization of the experience of one’s own existence, which arises from the integration of the tendency to update oneself or the tendency to improve oneself with the needs to feel the love from the environment and self-esteem derived from the contrast between their behavior and the consideration or response they receive from the environment. If there are any contradictions, defensive measures will be used so as to hide this incongruity.

        4. Kelly’s theory of personal constructions

        How? ‘Or’ What example of personality theory derived from cognitivism and constructivism we can find Kelly’s theory of personal constructions, also from a clinical approach. For this author, each person has their own mental representation of reality and acts scientifically by trying to give an explanation to their surroundings.

        Personality is considered to be constituted as a hierarchical system of dichotomous personal constructions which influence each other, which form a network of nuclear and peripheral elements through which we try to respond and make predictions for the future. What motivates the behavior and the creation of a system of constructs is the attempt to control the environment thanks to the prediction capacity which derives from it and to the improvement of the aforementioned predictive model by experience.

          5. Allport’s ideological personality theory

          Allport considers that each individual is unique in that they have an integration of different characteristics different from the rest of the people (it is based on the ideography, in which it makes us unique), as well as we are active people who focus on achieving goals.

          He is one of the authors who considers the personality that works the personality from structural and stable elements, traits. For him, we try to make our behavior consistent and act in such a way that we create a system from which we can create different equivalent sets of stimuli, so that we can respond to different stimuli in the same way.

          Thus, we develop ways of acting or expressing behaviors that allow us to adapt to the environment. These traits are of different importance depending on the influence they have on our behavior.They can be cardinal, central or secondary.

          The set of traits would be integrated into the propium or self, which is derived from the self-perception and self-awareness generated and composed of the experience of identity, the perception of corporeity, interests and self-awareness. self-esteem, rationality and intentionality.

          6. Cattell’s theory of personality

          Raymond Cattell’s Theory of Personality is one of the best known and recognized factorial theories of personality. Structuralist, correlational and internalist like Allport and based on the analysis of the lexicon, he believes that the personality can be understood as a function of a set of traits, which are understood as the tendency to react in a certain way to reality.

          These traits can be divided into temperament (the elements that tell us how to act), dynamics (the motivation of the behavior or attitude) or aptitude (the subject’s abilities to perform the behavior).

          The most relevant are the Capricious, from which Cattell would extract the sixteen primary personality factors measured at 16 FP (which would refer to affectivity, intelligence, eye stability, dominance, impulsivity, boldness, sensitivity , suspicion)., Conventionalism, imagination, cunning, rebellion, self-sufficiency, apprehension, self-control and tension).

          Personality dynamics also depend on motivation, Find different components in the form of dynamic traits or attitudes including ergios (way of acting when faced with specific stimuli such as sex or aggression) and feelings.

          7. Theory of Eysenck personality

          From an internalist and factorial position centered on the biological, Eysenck generates one of the most important explanatory hypotheses of personality from a correlational approach. This author generates the PEN model, which proposes that personality differences are based on biological elements that enable processes such as motivation or emotion.

          Personality is a relatively stable structure of character, intellect, temperament, and physique, each contributing respectively. will, intelligence, emotion and the biological elements that allow them.

          Eysenck finds and isolates three main factors that all the others can be grouped into, namely psychoticism or the tendency to act harshly, neuroticism or emotional stability and extraversion / introversion or focusing on the outside or inside world.

          The author would consider that the level of extraversion depended on the activation of the ascending reticular activation system or SARA, limbic system neuroticism and psychoticism, although no clear correlate has been identified, tend to be related to androgen levels or the relationship between dopamine and serotonin.

          The three factors of the PEN model they integrate different personality traits and allow the body to react in certain ways to environmental stimulation from more or less specific and frequent behavioral responses.

          8. Costa and McCrae’s Five Big Names Theory

          Another of the great factorial theories and based on a lexical approach (from the idea that the terms with which we explain our behavior allow after a factorial analysis to establish the existence of groupings of characteristics or personality traits), the Big Five theory or Costa and McCrae on the big five is one of the most popular personality models.

          Through factor analysis, this model indicates the existence of five major personality factors that we all have to a greater or lesser degree. It’s the neuroticism emotional adjustment, Extraversion as the quantity and intensity of personal relationships, cordiality as qualities versed in interaction, responsibility or awareness, organization, control and motivation towards goals and openness to experience or interest in experimentation.

          Each of these major factors is made up of characteristics or facets. The different traits are related to each other and together they explain how we perceive and react to the world.

          9. Gray’s BIS ET BAS model

          Gray proposes a factorial and biological model in which he considers that there are two dimensions that allow elements such as emotion and learning, from the combination of Eysenck’s extraversion and neuroticism factors.

          In this case, it is proposed that anxiety, as a combination of introversion and neuroticism, would act as a behavioral inhibition mechanism (BIS or Behavior Inhibition System), while impulsivity (which would be equivalent to a behavioral inhibition combination of extraversion and neuroticism) would act as a mechanism of approach and motivation to action (BAS or Behavior Approximation System). The two systems would act together to regulate our behavior.

          10. Cloninger model

          This model considers the existence of capricious elements, namely pain avoidance, addiction to reward, seeking new characteristics and persistence. These biological and acquired elements would realize the behavioral model that we apply in our lives, and largely depend on the neurochemical balance of the brain vis-à-vis neurotransmitters.

          It also incorporates elements of character that help place the self in reality, namely cooperation as social behavior, self-direction or autonomy and self-transcendence as an element that integrates us and us. gives a role in the world.

          11. Rotter’s Social Learning Theory

          This author considers that the behavioral model that we usually use is an element derived from learning and social interaction. He considers the human being as an active element and uses an approach close to behaviorism. We act on the basis of the existence of needs and the visualization and evaluation of those and the possible behaviors that we have learned to achieve. Always close to interactionism, it is situated in a situationist perspective

          Behavioral potential is the probability of achieving certain behaviors in a particular situation. This potential depends on things like expectations (Both the ability to influence the outcome and the outcome itself and the possible gain of benefits after the behavior) and the consideration or value placed on the consequences of performing the behavior in question, as well as how which the person deals with and assesses the situation (known as the psychological situation).

            12. The interactionist approach

            Throughout history, many authors have held one of two positions: that personality is an innate thing or that it is derived from learning. however there is a third option, advocated by authors like Mischel, In which the personality is formed by the interaction between the innate elements and the phenomena that we experience.

            This posture explores personality traits through the study of the existence of behavioral consistency across situations, temporal stability and the predictive validity of traits. The results indicate that they should use other types of categorizations other than traits, Since these do not reflect a fully valid predictive model to be of more innate character. He argues that it is more effective to talk about skills, values, expectations, constructions and self-control.

            Other authors like Allen believe that consistency can vary from person to person, as well as the core values ​​and aspects that best predict behavior. This way, the characteristics would be consistent but only if those that are most relevant to each person are taken into account.

            Bibliographical references:

            • Bermúdez, J. (2004). Personality psychology. Theory and research. (Vol I and II). UNED didactic unit. Madrid.

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

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