It’s no secret that many of us are annoyed by certain people, and many people are probably just as annoyed by us. In as little as a brief encounter, we develop a feeling about people that we meet. Almost instantly we decide whether or not we would ever like to see them again. A person’s personality is a strong element in the romantic and platonic relationships we maintain. Personality is so complex that highly educated psychologists could not pinpoint its development to one single theory. Rather, it is believed that any of four different theories are responsible for the way we behave.
The first theory is Biological, in which Hans Eysenck believed that our personality is based on genetics (Wagner, p. 1). The saying “You’re just like your father” could verify this belief. The next theory is Behavioral. B. F. Skinner and John Watson, who studied this theory, claimed that personality is developed by our interaction with the environment (Wagner, p. 1). Old western saloon fights could validate this belief. One guy punches another, and pretty soon everyone in the saloon is beating each other up. The third theory is Psychodynamic.
Influenced by Sigmund Freud and Erik Erickson, this theory insisted that unconscious mind and childhood events are responsible for developing a person’s personality (Wagner, p. 1). A fear of clowns in one’s adult years could be the result of a negative experience with clowns as a child. Finally, the Humanist Theory, studied by Albert Maslow and Carl Rogers, is based on free will and individual experiences (Wagner, p. 1). An example to prove this theory would be a divorced woman who, after an individual experience with an unfaithful ex-husband, no longer trusts men.
Because each one of these theories plays a role in our in personalities, it is difficult to discuss just one. But perhaps the most well known would be Sigmund Freud’s and Erik Erickson’s Psychodynamic Theory. As a child, we develop a sense of right and wrong, friend and stranger, fear and comfort and so on. We carry this knowledge with us throughout adulthood…like looking both ways before we cross the street and going to the bathroom before we go to bed. Based on the psychosexual stages (oral, anal, phallic and latency), our personality is developed according to how we dealt with conflicts during each stage (IoHT, p. 2).
Conclusions, however, were developed with limitations. A 3-18 month old child cannot tell us what they are experiencing during the oral stage. Similarly, a 3-6 year old child experiencing the phallic stage may be embarrassed about discussing their fascination with their genitals. As the child approaches latency (by puberty), they become more reluctant about discussing sexual issues. All grown up today, the study of the Psychodynamic Theory has offered the contribution of figuring out who we are exactly. The conclusions may be a bit on the inconclusive side, but it’s interesting to believe that were who we are when we were just kids.