There are several theories of personality development by experts in psychology. A lot of research work has been done by experts on this interesting subject. Ok, let's understand what a theory is? It is an idea which is used to justify a course of action or the reason why a particular situation occurs.
Personality development is the process by which a particular type of behaviour, attitude or attribute is developed in an individual. This is what makes that individual different from every other person. It is unique to that person.
I said earlier that there have been several theories which focused on various aspects of personality development which includes cognitive, moral and social development. A lot of experts in psychology have propounded these theories based on years of research on our an individual's personality develops and the factors that play a major roles in its formation. For the purpose of this article, I will focus on the theories of three (3) major experts in the field.
The first is the Sigmund Freud's theory of personality development:He is known as one of the best in his field and also regarded as controversial. In his work, he suggested that there is a correlation between 'nature' which is our innate instincts and 'nurture', that is, the parental influences we had. He said that an individual's personality is made up of various factors such as: instincts- aggression, food and sexual drives; the unconscious
processes and early childhood influences.
He emphasized that personality development in an individual is dependent on both the instinct and environment they grew up in the first 5 years of their lives. He stated that the behaviour of parents play a crucial role for either a normal or abnormal development in the individual. He argued that problems that have to do with mental health or personality in adulthood can be traced to the first five years of life. He propounded that the three (3) components which make up personality include: the id, ego and superego.
The Id- this is the part of personality that is instinctive and primitive. It is present when a child is born into the world. It is this part that drives individuals to try to satisfy their basic needs and desires. The Id is said to contain all the inherited aspects of personality. It is also defined as the impulsive part of personality that respond easily to the instincts.
The Ego- this part of the personality is in charge of controlling the urges of the Id and makes it behave properly. It mediates between the unrealistic aspects of Id and the real world. This is the decision making aspect of personality thus it is said to work by reason. It also seeks pleasure just like the Id and likes to avoid pain. It adopts a realistic and rational approach to problem solving.
The Superego- this develops between the ages of 3-5 years. It helps the individual develop and maintain the values taught by parents. It helps to control the Id's excesses in the areas of sex and aggression. It tries to force the Ego to behave accordingly and consists of the conscience and ideal self.
The second theory of personality development which I will examine is that which was propounded by Erik Erikson:He is also known to have propounded one of the most widely known theories on the subject and chose to place more focus on the impact which social relationships have on personality development. He proposed that human development goes through an eight-stage process.
- Hope: 0-2 years
At this stage the child depends solely on the parents to meet basic needs and how this interaction leads to trust or mistrust.
- Will: 2-4 years
When the child begins to explore his surroundings while the parents provide a strong security base which allows the child express his will.
- Purpose: 4-5 years
At this stage, the child begins to take initiatives as he learns to control his environment.
The child also begins to struggle with feelings of guilt.
- Competence: 5-12 years
At this stage, children are now becoming aware of themselves as individuals.
- Fidelity: 13-19 years
This is the adolescent stage and children are now concerned with their appearance. The child begins to develop a sense of sexual identity in the later stages of this stage.
- Love: 20-39 years
At the age of 30 years, the conflict between intimacy and isolation.
- Care: 40-64 years
This is the adulthood stage and more concern here is on contributing to society and guiding the younger ones.
- Wisdom: 65-death
At this stage when people are getting older, they begin to slow down and gradually retire. People reflect on their lives and how they have fared over the years. It may lead to feelings of satisfaction or dissatisfaction.
The third theory of personality development was propounded by Lawrence Kohlberg:Lawrence Kohlberg theory of personality development focused on moral thought and its effect on personality development. He suggested that moral reasoning played a great role in determining ethical behaviour. He grouped the stages into three levels which are: pre-conventional, conventional and post-conventional.
1st Level = Pre-conventional Morality
Stage 1: Obedience and Punishment driven
At this stage in their moral development, children view rules as the norm. They understand the importance of obeying rules and see it as a means of avoiding punishment.
Stage 2: Self interest driven
Here, they become more interested in what the benefit is to them. They tend to consider themselves more than the need of others at this stage.
2nd Level = Conventional
Stage 3: At this stage, they try to measure up to the expectations of other people and feel that they should conform to what society or family expects of them.
Stage 4: They consider the society as a whole and understand that it is important that rules be obeyed in order to maintain a functional society.
3rd Level = Post- conventional
Stage 5: At this stage, individuals account for values and opinions of others. The law is seen as a social contract and not a rigid edict.
Stage 6: This final level in his theory is based on universal ethical principles and abstract reasoning. People believe in the rule of law but also that the law must be just.
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