Personality is a collection of emotional, thought and Behavioral Patterns unique to a particular person. The word “Personality” is derived from the Latin “personalis”, which means personal.
Personality Development refers to the fixed beliefs, moods, and Behavior Patterns that vary among children and adults who live in a particular society. The most common theories stress Personality traits that include: individualism, subjective conscience, being able to control emotions and impulses, interaction with strangers and personal achievement.
There are several theoretical views on the development of people’s personalities. They involve ideas about the relationship between Personality and other psychological forms, as well as theories about the way Personalities develop. Most theories can be placed into one of the following groups.
1. Extroversion (i.e., “extroversion” outgoing and physical stimulation oriented vs. “introversion” quiet and physical stimulation averse)
2. Neuroticism (i.e., emotional stability; calm, un-perturbable, optimistic vs. emotionally reactive, prone to negative emotions)
3. Agreeableness (i.e., affable, friendly, conciliatory vs. aggressive, dominant, disagreeable)
4. Conscientiousness (i.e., dutiful, systematic, and orderly vs. spontaneous, flexible, and unreliable)
5. Openness to experience (i.e., open to new ideas and change vs. traditional and staid views)
Longitudinal studies have shown that a child’s inherited biology, usually called a temperamental bias, is an important basis for the child’s later Personality. A child that shows a shy and fearful style of reaction to a challenge or novelty predicts, to a modest degree, an adult Personality that is quiet and passive to challenge, as well as being introverted.
Another hypothesis regarding Personality Development comes from Sigmund Freud’s theory that the division of the psyche, that is totally unconscious, serves as the source of instinctual impulses and demands for the immediate satisfaction of primitive needs.
The id, which is biological in nature, combined with family experience, leads to the development of the ego and superego. Freud suggested that differences in parental socialization produced variation in anxiety which, in turn, leads to various personalities.
A third theory revolves around the infant child’s direct ties of affection with the parents. Studies have found that, the nature of the infant’s relationship with parents or guardians, particularly the mother, created a profile of emotional reactions, towards adults, that might last indefinitely.
The fourth set of views on Personality Development look on whether it is necessary to assume a self that monitors, integrates, and initiates a reaction. This idea traces itself to the Judeo-Christian belief that it is necessary to give children a will so that they can be held accountable for their actions.
Another theory is based on the discovery that children who had the same influential experiences develop different Personalties because they assume different conceptions about themselves and others who have undergone the same experiences. The idea that each child imposes a personal interpretation on their experiences, adds the concept of being self critical, to the child’s Personality.
The importance of the concept of self, in Personality Development is the significant gain in identifying with parents. All children wish to possess the good qualities that are found in adult members of our society. Some of these qualities are produced by identifying with one’s parents and emulating their accomplishments.
A final hypothesis regarding the origins of Personality Development comes from results based on direct observations of a child’s behavior. This exercise focuses on the different features of children at various ages. Babies differ in degrees of irritability, three-year-olds differ in degrees of shyness, and six-year-olds differ in their seriousness of mood.
Children that play alone instead of with others do so for a variety of reasons, some may be shy and are uneasy with other children while others may just prefer their own company. A behavioral pattern that includes avoidance of strange places, fear of certain animals, extreme shyness, sensitivity to pain, and guilt feelings is called the internalizing profile.
However, a behavioral pattern that includes disobedience towards parents and teachers, insolence, bullying, aggressiveness, and impulsive decisions is called the externalizing profile and these children are most likely to turn out to be juvenile delinquents.
The connection between the inability of a three year old to control socially unacceptable behavior, and antisocial conduct later on in life, is the most reliable evidence that exists to identify a connection between a child’s early Personality Development and an adult personality trait.
Generally, the eldest child in most families is more willing than the younger children to conform to authority and is more strongly motivated to achieve at school, is more conscientious and less aggressive.
A child’s social class will have an affect on their academic achievement. Children from middle class families are more likely to get higher grades in school than children from working or lower class families, because of the different values that are accepted by families from different backgrounds.
The social status of parents also influences a child’s personality. Researchers suggest that parents could be classified as authoritative, authoritarian, or permissive. Competent and mature preschool children usually have authoritative parents who were nurturant but made maturity demands. Children who are introverted and self reliant, generally have authoritarian parents who relied on forceful discipline. The least mature children have very permissive parents who are nurturant but fail to employ any discipline.
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