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What is Personality Psychology?

Question:

Discuss about the Recent Trends and the Emerging Directions.

Personality psychology is that branch of psychology that focuses on the variation of personality among different individuals. In other words, the aim of this branch of psychology is to present the fact that psychological forces brings about individual differences in people (Buss & Cantor, 2012). The term personality can be defined as the combination of physical, mental and moral qualities that makes one individual different from others (Engler, 2013).  The difference of personalities found in human beings can be measured by traits (Kreitler & Kreitler, 2013). A person having trait of extroversion is likely to be sociable and outgoing in majority of the situations rather than inhibited and shy (Ellis, Abrams & Abrams, 2009). Differences in personality are also due to people’s experiences, genes and environment (Buss & Hawley, 2011).

This assignment focuses on three key objectives namely the factors influencing personality, analysis of the personality of selected individual and effects of personality on the various aspects of life of such individual. The factors influencing personality of an individual determine whether an individual will be categorized in the group of sick personality or healthy personality. In this assignment, an individual is selected and an analysis of the personality is made from the viewpoint of three levels of analysis i.e. human nature, individual and group differences and individual uniqueness. On the basis of the observations and analysis made, explanation is made regarding the effects of personality on the various aspects of life of that individual.

Personality is an organized and dynamic set of characteristics owned by a person that brings about a distinctive influence on their cognitions, environment, motivations, emotions and behaviors in different situations. It also refers to the pattern of feelings, thoughts, behaviors and social adjustments consistently demonstrated over time that have a strong influence on one’s self- perceptions, expectations, attitudes and values.

The factors affecting the personality of an individual include biological, cultural, family and situational factors (Citeman, 2009).

Biological Factors- Personality is affected to a great extent by the biological factors which include heredity, physical stature and the brain. According to geneticists and psychologists argument, an important role is played by heredity in one’s personality. However, such importance of heredity is varied from one personality trait to the other. For example, an important role is performed by heredity in the determination of the temperament of a person than in the determination of ideal and values. Another factor is brain which gives signal to the body which reflects in the personality of an individual (Makrani, 2016). On the other hand, physical stature also has an influence on the personality of an individual. For example, the facts that a person is fat or skinny, tall or short, good looking or not have an influence on others and ultimately affects the person himself. It also includes genetic traits and characteristics such as innate drives, reflexes and intelligence (Altman, Valenzi & Hodgetts, 2013).

Cultural Factors- There is a great contribution of cultural factors on the personality of an individual. Culture consists of values and beliefs shared by a group of people and is transmitted from one generation to another. The difference in the behaviors and perspectives of people living in one culture often results in difference in personalities from the people living in other cultures. The concepts, techniques and needs of child rearing along with the set of expectations regarding behavior are different in each culture.

Factors Influencing Personality

Family Factors- The personality of an individual also is shaped by the family and social factors. The personality development starts with the contact with the mother and then to the other members of the family and social groups. The overall environment create in the home by the parents of an individual is critical to the personality development. The social class of an individual also leaves an imprint on the personality. For example, the interactions and experiences of a black man raised in a ghetto are different from a white man raised in upper- class community. As a result, the methods of coping with the world and self-perceptions are influenced in several ways thereby leading towards different behavioral response patterns.   

Situational Factors- Human personality is also influenced by situational factors. There is a strong effect of the environment on the personality (Ismail, 2007). The language, knowledge and skill are acquired by a person in accordance with the environment and are known as learned modifications of behavior. These learned modifications are incapable of being passing on to the children. Therefore, these are acquired by the children on the basis of their personal experience, effort and interaction with the environment. 

I selected my closest friend for the purpose of observation and analysis of personality. The analysis is made with the help of three levels of personality analysis i.e. human nature, individual and group differences and individual uniqueness. 

My friend, Harry, is a tall and good looking individual which means he has an attractive personality. But he is an introvert person who always prefers minimally stimulating and calm environments. He has only few friends but has a desire to belong to social groups and to live with others. His introvert nature comes in his way when he tries to socialize with people. He is an intelligent person who not only scores good marks in exams but has an intellectual mind who loves coming up with new and innovative ideas. Since he is an introvert person, he never expresses himself to anyone which results in difficulty for him in dealing with his feelings. Moreover, he always finds himself unable to revert back to those people who try to create harsh situations and circumstances for him. This has made him emotionally week over a period of time though he looks strong physically. His parents also applied a lot of restrictions on him in the childhood in exploring and manipulating the environment since they were over protective which ultimately resulted in lack of motivation in him. The over- protection made him complaint, submissive and passive. This also resulted in lack of confidence in him regarding his abilities and strengths. When the personality of my friend was analyzed on the basis of three levels of personality analysis namely-

  1. The human nature level (like all others)
  2. The level of individual and group differences (like some others)
  3. The individual uniqueness level (like no others)

Human Nature- Human nature consists of the first level of the personality analysis which describes the mechanisms and traits of personality that are typical of our species and are possessed by everyone or nearly everyone (Larsen, 2011).  As far as Harry is concerned, he possesses fundamental psychological mechanisms such as the desire to belong to the social groups and to live with others. His intellectual mind encourages him to learn new things, languages and culture in accordance with his surroundings. In this way, he is like every other person.

Biological Factors

Individual and group differences- The next level of personality analysis comprise of individual and group differences. Individual differences consist of unique qualities that make him different from others (Kazdin, 2013).The first individual difference is his introvert nature. Secondly, he always put little value on his ideas and opinions and therefore has low self- esteem. Group differences include the personality features in common of one group that make the group different from other groups. His group of friends consists only of boys and no girls. All of them are of similar age i.e. around 20 or 21 years belonging to upper middle class families. None of them is violent or aggressive and therefore have pleasant personalities. These qualities make their group different from any other group.

Individual uniqueness- The personal qualities that every individual possess which are not shared by any other person in the world comes under individual uniqueness. Harry’s individual uniqueness includes his sharp mind that enables him to perform better in exams than anyone else in college. In this way, he is known to everyone as he is the topper of the college who gets prizes every now and then. Harry is also an innovative person who tries to find innovative way for performing every task. Moreover, he is also a good singer and has a desire to be selected in the singing contests.

The personality of an individual significantly impacts the various aspects of life (Nettle, 2007). The aspects of life considered here are social, health, spiritual, learning and work. Similarly, the various aspects of life of Harry face the effects of his personality as described below.

Social Relationships- The social aspect of life includes the relationship of Harry with others. The introvert personality of Harry stops him from expressing himself freely. As a result, he does not have a strong relationship with his friends because he does not talk much. He shows less involvement in other’s lives. He still has a desire to belong to social groups but his personality stops him from doing so. Therefore, his personality significantly impacts his social relationships by lacking social support.

Health- This aspect of life includes the physical health of Harry. The lack of social support in his life results in difficulty in coping with worse situations and unhealthy behaviors. His lack of bonding with others results in increase in stress level and harmful effects to the immune system (Haupt, 2010). Excessive stress can also make him susceptible to mental health issues and depression.

Spiritual- This aspect of life include the relationship with greater power. Since he does not express himself to his friends and family, he believes in a religious process known as spirituality which is oriented at the image of god.  The empty feeling inside Harry despite of being so successful in academics makes him feel that everything he has achieved is meaningless (Life Optimizer, 2018). He tries to get out of his loneliness by having faith in god. The effect of his personality is seen in him when he tries to follow his life purpose by following his heart in the things he do along with making time for praying and reading spiritual text every day.

Cultural Factors

Learning- This aspect of life refers to the personal development of the individual. The introvert personality of Harry has effect on his learning capabilities. Introverts prefer processing ideas and information in their own minds and same is the case with Harry.  He performs better by working and studding on his own. He generally focuses on individual ideas and concepts rather than making a discussion of the problem with others.

Work- This aspect include the career of an individual. He is not working yet as he is still studying for achieving his career goals. However, when he will start working, he will be good for positions related to information technology that will keep him behind computers for whole day or accounts payable job which does not require much interaction with staff members and vendors. He will be unsuitable for jobs of customer service as it requires greater interaction with others and are meant for extroverted personalities (Munroe, 2018).

Conclusion

Every individual have different personality due to their personal experiences, genes and environment (John, Robins & Pervin, 2010). In this assignment, the factors having influence on the personality of an individual i.e. biological, cultural, family and situational factors are discussed. These factors help in concluding that the personality of an individual is not an in-born characteristic but is shaped as a result of these factors. This assignment also provided a complete analysis of the personality of my friend Harry with the help of three levels of personality analysis which helped in concluding regarding his introvert personality and his qualities and weaknesses. Moreover, the effect of personality is discussed on the various aspects of life of Harry. Therefore, it can be concluded that personality of human beings makes them different from one another.

References

Altman, S., Valenzi, E & Hodgetts, R. M. (2013). Organizational Behavior: Theory and Practice. Elsevier.

Buss, D. M.  & Cantor, N. (2012). Personality Psychology: Recent Trends and Emerging Directions. Springer Science & Business Media.

Buss, D. M. & Hawley, P. H. (2011). The Evolution of Personality and Individual Differences. Oxford University Press.

Citeman. (2009). Factors influencing personality. Retrieved February 19, 2018 from https://www.citeman.com/7039-factors-influencing-personality.html

Ellis, A., Abrams, M. & Abrams, L. (2009). Personality Theories: Critical Perspectives. SAGE.

Engler, B. (2013). Personality Theories. Cengage Learning.

Haupt, A. (2010). How Your Personality Affects Your Health.  Retrieved February 19, 2018 from https://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/heart/articles/2010/09/22/how-your-personality-affects-your-health

Ismail, J. H. J. (2007). CHAPTER THREE: PERSONALITY. Retrieved February 20, 2018 from https://lib.kedah.uitm.edu.my/psblibrary/notes/am110/layout/subject%20material/notes/dpa/PAD%20330/CHAPTER%203.pdf

John, O. P., Robins, R. W. & Pervin, L. A. (2010). Handbook of Personality: Theory and Research. Guilford Press.

Kazdin, A.E. (2013). Individual Differences. Retrieved February 19, 2018 from https://www.personality-project.org/revelle/publications/ids.html

Kreitler, S. & Kreitler, H. (2013). The Cognitive Foundations of Personality Traits. Springer Science & Business Media.

Larsen. (2011). Personality Psychology. Tata McGraw-Hill Education.

Life Optimizer. (2018). The Five Aspects of Optimizing Life. Retrieved February 20, 2018 from https://www.lifeoptimizer.org/2014/06/17/aspects-of-optimizing-life/

Makrani, I. (2016). A Psychological Study of Personality Creativity. RED'SHINE Publication. Inc.

Munroe, S. (2018). How Personality Affects Work Behavior. Retrieved February 20, 2018 from https://smallbusiness.chron.com/personality-affects-work-behavior-45940.html

Nettle, D. (2007). Personality: What makes you the way you are. OUP Oxford.

Teach Pe. (2018). Personality & Individual Differences. Retrieved February 19, 2018 from https://www.teachpe.com/sports-psychology/individual-aspects-of-performance/personality-individual-differences

The Green Rooms. (2014). Introvert or Extrovert – A Test of our Personalities. Retrieved February 19, 2018 from https://www.thegreenrooms.net/introvert-extrovert-test-personalities/

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