For centuries, philosophers, theologians, and other thinkers have asked a multitude of questions regarding personality (Fiest, 2009). Very few personality theorists have been able to formally defined personality however each theorist has their own view and theoretical approach towards the study of personality. Many theologians have mixed views on the development of personality as well. Define Personality
The definition of personality has for centuries been debated. The word personality comes from the Latin word persona, persona was used to describe a theatrical mask worn by actors in (Fiest, 2009). Ancient actors wore masks to project a false appearance or persona (Fiest, 2009). Psychologists agree upon the origin of the word personality, however many do not considered it an acceptable definition. The rolls a person plays not the only focus of personality. Many psychologists simply cannot agree upon one definition due to their many different theories and approaches towards the study of personality. Even though there has been no single definition accepted by all personality theorists, it can be said that personality is a pattern of relatively permanent traits and unique characteristics that give both individuality and consistency in our behaviors and actions (Fiest, 2009).
To understand personality a theorist needs to first understand what traits and characteristics are. Traits are the individual differences in behaviors, stability of behaviors during certain situation and the consistencies of those behaviors as time goes on (Fiest, 2009). Traits can be commonly shared with groups and species or they can be unique to the individual. The patterns are not shared and different among each person (Fiest, 2009). There is a much simpler way to describe characteristics, they are unique qualities of an individual such as, intelligence, physique and temperament (Fiest, 2009). Theoretical Approaches.
When examining theoretical approaches to personality one would need to know what a theory is, scientific theory is defined as a set of related assumptions that allows scientists to use logical deductive reasoning to formulate testable hypotheses (Fiest, 2009). To truly find the fully understand of scientific theory there needs to be greater examination of the five main components of theory (Fiest, 2009). The first indicates that a theory is a set of assumptions because no single assumption could possibly fill all of the requirements for a useful theory (Fiest, 2009). The second states that a theory is a set of related assumptions that make up the criteria for a useful theory and meaningful hypothesis.
The third part of the definition is assumptions or the components in a theory that have not been fully proven yet are accepted as true to continue conducting research (Fiest, 2009). Logical deductive reasoning is the fourth aspect of scientific theory, researchers used logical deductive reasoning to establish new hypotheses. The fifth and final part used to define scientific theory is the qualifier testable, this may be the most crucial concept. Most hypotheses are considered to be useless if it cannot be tested, unless there are strong possibilities that it can be tested in the future after new tests have been developed (Fiest, 2009).
There are many different scientific theories on personality. These many theories on personality exist due to the idea that theorists can make speculation from each individual’s view point (Fiest, 2009). Maintaining an objective approach in very important to gathering data regarding personality, however what data is collected and how it is interpreted depends on the individual theorist. Most theories are a product of the conductor philosophy towards life, relationships and past experiences with the world and how he or she perceives the world. It may be fair to say that due to personality theories being developed from the personalities of the theorists, studies of those personalities seems appropriate. Looking in the personal traits of scientists has been call the psychology of science and in recent years has conducted studies of both science and the behavior of scientists.
The psychology of science examines how scientist’s individual social experiences, developmental histories, personalities and cognition can affect the kind of theories they may create (Fiest, 2009). Many investigations have been conducted in recent years it is important to have an understanding that theories of personality generally comes from information pertaining to the historical, social, and psychological world that each theorist lived during their theorizing (Fiest, 2009). Individual personalities among theorist may create disagreements, however one thing is agreed upon and it is that even though personality shapes a personas theory, it should never be the only determinant (Fiest, 2009). Prior to selecting a theoretical approach one evaluate the scientific criteria.
Factors that influence an individual’s personality development. Many factors can influence a person’s personality development. The nature verses nurture argument is heavily debated in the attempt to decipher exactly can and will influence personality development. Genetic factors such temperament, intelligence and physique can change to outcomes of environmental factors that influence personality development. Environment and genetic factors affect an individual’s unique personality (Kandler, 2012).
Theories suggest that personality changes are continually happening to personality and this may be a result of environmentally mediated processes of identity development due to social roles and individual life experiences, but also from biological maturity (Kandler, 2012). Identical twins for example share the same genetic make-up and if raise separately with different life experiences particularly from infancy to mid adulthood, the two would share very few common personality traits the longer they experience different situations, grow older and mature apart from one another (Ferrell, 2007).
In conclusion the study of personality has never been formally defined by theologians. Although we now know that personality is a pattern of relatively permanent traits and unique characteristics that give both individuality and consistency in our behaviors and actions (Fiest, 2009). Due to the many unique personalities among personality theorists, there are many theoretical approaches in the study of personality. This is also true with the study of personality development, no theories are necessarily incorrect. Each theory on personality development is ultimately up for a multitude of different interpretations.
Ferrell, J. E. (2007). Planetary Science Identical Twins. Nature, Volume 450; Issue 7166, 5.
Fiest, J. F. (2009). Theories of Personality 7th edition. New York City: Mc-Graw Hill.
Kandler, C. (2012). Nature and Nurture in personality. Directions Psychological Science Volume 21 number 5, 290-296.