What are some insights on the history of personality theory?

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CLASSMATE #-1 KEVIN K.

Good Morning Esteemed Colleagues and Dr. Shoemaker,

This morning, in our final post together, I will be sharing some insights on the history of personality theory. While I refer to the historical sections of the Lecci & Magnavita (2013) text and to the Lombardo & Foschi (2003) article, I will explore the connection between historical and modern personality theory. I will then identify if I see any patterns emerging. I will support this post with specific examples to support my claims.

To begin, I would like to set the stage for the history of personality theory. As Lombardo and Foschi (2003)suggest, the historical roots of personality theory can be traced back neatly 100 years ago with Allport’s publication of Personality: A Psychological Interpretation. Within this publication was the start of understanding that personality was made up of traits, and each individual expressed various traits and to various degrees. In other words, each individual had a unique personality profile made up of their unique combination of traits.

Since those years, some patterns have emerged. First, traits were expanded to include non-cognitive traits such as temperament or disposition. In other words, our understanding of personality is really a combination of several cognitive and non-cognitive functions that drive behavior. Second, as Lombardo and Foschi (2003) describe, personality is actually a stratification of planes, in that each level contributes to the personality as a whole. In many examples of the personality theorist studied in this class, most have suggested the “strata” or levels of behavior. A third pattern is that personality theories typically start at the individual level, and then advance to the environment. In other words, personality theorists start with identifying the behaviors or traits of the individual as a first step, and then may or may not examine the sociocultural influences on the individual. Finally, from a personal perspective, I am at a loss at the dearth of true scientific studies to support several of the personality theories presented. In nearly all (or maybe all) the personality theories I researched throughout this class, one of the consistent drawbacks to these theories was the lack of empirical evidence to support the theory.

REFERENCES

Lecci, L.B. & Magnavita, J.J. (2013). Personality Theories: A Scientific Approach. San Diego: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.

Lombardo, G.P, & Foschi, R. (2003).  The concept of personality in 19th-century French and 20th-century American psychology. History of Psychology 6(2), 123-142. (EBSCOhost PsycArticles AN: 2003-03729-003).

Reply

————————————————————————————————-CLASSMATE #2-Kaitlyn P.

One of the incredible things about the field of Psychology is that it is always changing and adapting to the modern times and society. It is fascinating to read past writings on how psychologists thought the brain functioned or how they attempted to reduce mental illness symptoms. Many of their methods and research has changed due to the increases technical advances in our modern society. Doctors and psychologists can now access images of one’s brain to help determine various irregularities that could lead to behavior change. I have a cousin with down syndrome who was always described as very calm and friendly. Randomly one day her behavior became very aggressive. Doctors and behavior specialists were able to assess her and do brain scans to determine, she had a tumor that they believed was causing the behavior changes. Since she was not able to communicate her pain she was feeling, her behaviors began to develop. If this had occurred in the 1940s, they would not have had the technology and proper understanding of behavior to be able to provide her with the assistance she needed. I am so grateful I live in this more modern era, aren’t you?

One can also assess the medication we have in our modern times compared to the medication that was used in previous decades. In our times now, some can argue that medication is not always needed thanks to intense behavior intervention.

Lecci, L.B. & Magnavita, J.J. (2013). Personality Theories: A Scientific Approach. San Diego: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.

Lombardo, G.P, & Foschi, R. (2003). The concept of personality in 19th-century French and 20th-century American psychology. History of Psychology 6(2), 123-142.

 
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