Theory is a meaningful explanation of a particular phenomenon, which is partly based on facts, and partly on assumptions and speculations. Personality theories differ by what they are studying, by what methods and with what purpose. The important questions are how they explain the structure, dynamics and personality development. That is why there are a variety of theoretical approaches in the study of personality.
Four main theoretical approaches to personality:
1. Traits theory
The main representative of this theoretical approach is Gordon Olport. He considered that behavior was the result of the line, that the personality traits were inborn and lasting or difficult to change.
The main goal of the theory of the line is to describe a person by means of a line or relatively lasting tendencies towards certain behavior. The basic building unit (structure) of the personality is the personality traits. The goal is to discover the most important, because based on them we can envisages behavior.
The line of personality is represented as a dimension along which the different degrees of expression of a traits in people are arranged. The personality traits are unequally developed, so we need to find ways to evaluate. The extent to which a certain line is developed is assessed on the basis of comparison with other people based on a personality test. Thanks to these theories, today there are a large number of personality tests that evaluate the traits.
2. Theories of learning – behavioral theories
Developed by American psychologist John Watson at the beginning of the 20th century. He considered that psychology should only study behavior, because it can only be objectively observed and measured.
The name derives from the English word, “behaviour”. By this understanding, personality is only a hypothetical notion, since it can not objectively be viewed. Behaviorists study behavior.
Man’s behavior is a consequence of the influence of the environment. It reacts in dependence on the external conditions. These theories are also called S-R theory (S-stimulus, R-reaction).
A person behaves in a certain way in a certain way, because he has the habit of doing so. Habit is a basic unit of behavior, and personality is a system of habits.
3. Socio-cultural approach
Theoretical approach was founded by German psychologist and philosopher Erich Fromm. It emphasizes the importance of cultural, social, economic and ethnic factors in the formation of a personality.
Personality is not studied in isolation, but in interaction with the social environment. Behavior of people is a compromise between the aspiration for self-realization and the demands of society.
Self-development leads to the formation of a personal character which is define as a trait of personality traits by which a person is different from others.
A social character is a circuit of a personality that is common to members of a society. In the existing social systems, an individual has no opportunity for creative work and no freedom of choice.
4. Psychoanalytic approach
The basics of psychoanalysis were set by Sigmund Freud. He determined the psychoanalytic understanding of the structure, dynamics and personality development.
His theory was based on a conscious, preconscious and unconscious. When the structure of the person in question, Freud distinguishes three components of the personality:
- Id (it) innate motives (instincts, instincts) that seek immediate satisfaction.
- Ego (I) is a part of the person who deals with the control of immediate satisfaction of the instinct, taking into account the reality.
- Super-ego is a part of the personality that contains the rules of conduct of the human community. The unity takes over what governs social relations, social norms and values.
Personality dynamics explains through motives and dynamic processes. Freud’s theory is based on the appreciation of two basic motives (instincts):
- Sexual motive (motive of love) – a full motive called Eros, its energy is called libido.
- The motive of death is the motive of destruction, which is called Tanatos, and its energy is mortally. This motive of death has the manifestation in the aggression.
Freud also gave a specific interpretation for the development of personality. He said “The child is the father of a man”. In his view, everything happens from birth to 5 years. During this time there is the ripening of instinct, the instinct of love and instinct of death. The instinct develop as the libido moves through the body. This relocation depends on interaction with the environment and can be successful or unsuccessful. If the interaction with the environment unsuccessful, the libido is retained in a certain zone and there appear a fixation.