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Jonathan Mariani

Dr. Whitney Jeter

6 December 2016

Psy 425 Personality

Personality Theory

Many people have tried to define personality for years. What is personality? Is it how

others perceive us? Is it how we perceive us? For almost two centuries, people have been trying

to uncover what goes on within a person. But the problem is we cannot read peoples minds to

accurately see what truly is going on. We can make all the experiments we want, but all we get

is what is only a reflection of what someones personality is, and that is their behaviors, or

reactions to certain stimuli. For all we know, in an experiment, people could act in a way they

know could possibly get a reward out of, and may not be how they truly feel. Now that could be

an indicator of their personality, hunting for rewards no matter what, but we can never truly

know that.

Nevertheless, that is how I would describe a persons personality. Any action that is

performed by an individual is an action seeking a reward of some kind. I do not care whose

personality theory you look at, that statement could possibly fit into any mold. The first one to

come to mind is Freuds theory, and the part of that theory that comes to mind is that we are

pleasure seeking creatures and do anything to seek pleasure. That is the main point of this

theory, and everything leads up to that statement. However, other personality theories explain
that in different ways and seem to fit different people better. That is why these theories are still

studied and have research done on them to this day, because they are still very relevant.

Another factor for shaping someones personality is the environment they were raised in

or the environment they currently are in. For instance, Freuds developmental stage theory relies

heavily on the way a child was raised to try to figure out why a person acts the way they are

now. That definitely holds some weight today. For example, the way somebody was raised

could determine what they feel is right or wrong, and somebodys actions, if they feel they are

doing right, feels that reward of feeling good about the action they just performed. Also, this

could work in a social environment as well. People are also social creatures, and we desire to fit

in and to be loved. So a person may perform an action that fits that current situation, but is that

who that person really is? It could possibly, if that is the reward that they are seeking at the time.

Cognition also plays a huge role in personality. Cognition is just the way we acquire

knowledge and/or understanding through thought, the senses, or experiences. This is where

Kellys theory comes into play. Many people can perceive certain events or stimuli differently,

even though we can agree it is the same event. For example, when the Cubs won the World

Series this year, it made me burst with joy because I was raised a Cubs fan. Even for another

Cubs fan, they may or may not have had a different reaction than I did because of the way they

perceived it. It all goes back to the way I was raised and why that brought me pleasure. Another

example would be if someone provoked me, I would just try to leave that uncomfortable

situation, because I do not find pleasure on the idea of confrontation, where as someone may
thrive on the idea of confrontation. Again, it goes back to the environment I was raised in, or the

context of the situation that may have occurred.

When most people talk about personality, the word trait comes to the mind almost

immediately. Most people associate traits to words like caring or loving or even the words

extroversion/introversion. These words do have meaning for personality, as many of the well-

known theorists often use them as a part of their definition of personality. And they are

important, as we can get an idea of how to categorize people into certain personality types.

However, I believe that once again these are just indicators of how one feels that they will

receive a certain type of reward. I cannot stress enough how important that is. We are pleasure

seeking individuals. Individuals may express these traits or behave in those manners because

they feel they will receive a reward, whether that is a physical reward, or a moral reward in that

they are doing what they believe is the right way to act.

Often, that perception of what is right can be molded quite early on in development.

Bandura was one of the first to work with this kind of thinking. His model focused heavily on

modeling, and by that, he meant that, as young children, we modeled what an adult would do,

because an adult did something, then it must be alright to do, and this is shown in the Bobo doll

experiment. Children were in room full of toys with an adult, and for the most part, they

modeled what the adult did to that Bobo doll, because they felt it was alright to do, and perhaps

the child was looking for approval from that adult. This can be applicable today, because many

children that have good relationships with their parents, try to grow up to be like them. Their
reward they are seeking is parental approval, because they looked up to them growing up.

However, many people try to not be like their parents as well, possibly due to poor relationships

with their parents. Their reward in that situation would be that they are trying to get the

satisfaction of proving their parents wrong, or they are trying to be better than them in their

mind. It all depends on how they were brought up, and how their relationships were formed.

If we truly are pleasure seeking creatures, then what is to stop us from causing anarchy

among the town. Some would say it is the laws, but if we are pleasure seeking then those would

not stop us as a society. Freud touches on this in his theory with the id, the ego, and the super

ego. This all takes place in the unconscious, which is very important for talking about

personality. The id is the pleasure principle of the unconscious, which I believe is the

fundamental part of our personality. The super ego is the part of rational thoughts, where our

morals come from. The ego is the mediator between the two. This is important because many of

us have felt this struggle go on in our daily lives and may not have noticed it. An example of a

conflict that may happen like this goes like this: A student wakes up for an 8:30 class in the

morning. The pleasure principle that may immediately arise within the student would be to shut

off the alarm and go back to sleep. This would give that student instant gratification. However,

the rational or moral side of the student would be that they should get up and go to class. After

whatever decision that student may come to, that reward would overpower the reward of the

other choice. For instance, if they chose to go to class, then they may have felt that they would

have disappointed their parents, teachers etc. They felt that the reward for going outweighed the

instant gratification of going back to sleep. Now, if someone decided to go back to sleep, they
may have not felt the need to go to class because their upbringing may have told them that it is

not important to regard those consequences of skipping class, and felt it was alright to go back to

sleep. Many factors could lead to that decision, but that is just one example of how our

unconscious keeps us in check of what a person deems as right or wrong.

Another important part about the unconscious comes from Jungs theory. This comes

from the persona portion of his theory, and to put it in simple terms, it is the mask we wear in

certain situations. This comes back to the environment we are in. With this, people may act

differently in certain situations, depending on what the situation calls for. People act differently

in different situations and we cannot deny that. This comes back to how a person feels they

should act in that situation to necessitate that mask in order to get the reward. Another part of

this would be Skinners idea about reinforcement. If people get rewarded, or reinforced, for

acting a certain way in a certain situation, then that person is going to keep acting that way to get

that reward. For example, people act differently in the classroom than they would at a bar. I

would even take it a step farther in that people could act differently in different classes based on

the way different teachers teach, or what kind of class it is. Once again, it would all come back

to the reward people feel like they are receiving.

The most important part about personality is that we must realize that it is based on the

individual. Adler studied this angle and some of it is important. For instance, he categorized

people based on their social interests, and their adaptation to challenges. With social interests,

he was interested to see how well an individual cooperated with others and how their actions

benefited society. Many of these signs would show that we are social creatures and that we want
to belong, and the scale that we try to fit in is the reward factor that we seek. Social interaction

is a part of society, and the level of social interest a person may or may not show is the level in

which they are comfortable being a part of that entity, and does not show if they are a good or

bad person. The adaptation to challenges would be if a person is mentally stable enough to

handle change and to stick to the rewards they are after, regardless of what happens. Once again,

it does not show if they are a bad person, but only the level of comfortability they are willing to

participate in that kind of behavior.

The concept of self is what makes us human. The fact that we are studying what kind of

creatures we are is amazing. That is why understanding this concept is very important to

studying personality. Maslows hierarchy to me perfectly describes what it means to understand

ones self. The hierarchy basically says that certain needs need to be met before a person can

move up the ladder, so to speak. For instance, the first level is basic needs, like food, water, and

shelter. If those needs are not met, then the pleasure principle driving force is going to be

focused on that, and nothing else. It is only after you climb all the way up the ladder you get to

be self- actualized. When you reach that level, you can see what your pleasure principles are for

yourself and understand who you truly are. Many people go through life and are never self-

actualized, and do not realize it. This once again goes back to the way we were raised and if

those needs were properly met.

Emotions can also be confused with personality as well. To me, emotions are just

manifestations of whether or not we meet our pleasure seeking side to our satisfaction or not in a
certain situation. And whether we express them or not depends on whether or not it is

appropriate in that situation as well. A person can feel a certain way in a certain situation, but

they do not determine how that person really is.

In conclusion, personality is an ever changing entity in an individual and it varies from

person to person. This includes context and how a person reacts to that context. If a person feels

that it is alright to act in that situation, then they will. I believe that this theory is a good theory

because it encompasses what many of the renowned theorists have said, without many of their

flaws. However, I would not know how to research this theory, this theory comes mainly from

my observations and personal experiences, as well as from the other theorists. One of its main

weaknesses would be that it may not be able to be tested, because I said in the beginning that

testing for categorizing personalities may not be possible. With that being said, I still believe it

encompasses what personality means to me and how it fits the mold of society.