Part ONE: Think about
all the theories you have studied in the course. What is your opinion on whether a unified theory of personality is possible? Do you think such a theory would improve the field? Do you have any research that supports your argument? (2-3 parags)
In your responses to at least two other students, briefly state your position and discuss similarities and differences in your responses. Does the peer’s response reinforce your position? Does the peer’s response have you consider a different position? (1-2 parags for each prompt)
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Prompt 1: Throughout this course we learned that the basic approaches to personality involves five approaches: trait, biological, psychoanalytic, phenomenological, and learning and cognitive. Linking all these approaches to one unified theory in my opinion is impossible, this is due to the complex nature of personalities that sill has aspects that the field has yet to discover, as well as, individual uniqueness. The topics discussed within this course provided aspects of personality traits that are dominant within a population. I believe achieving a unified theory is impossible, I do believe that some of the theories provides evidence that personality traits and biological processes interact to influence behaviors. This suggests that to understand personality, we must also consider biological processes that interact with the traits.
This became evident to me within the research for my final project. Rotter’s social learning theory in short, posits that the expected outcome of a behavior influences the motivation of a person to engage in that behavior based on social or environmental cues. Yes, one’s environment can teach one behaviors that will work to their advantage within a given situation, but where does the confidence or belief in one’s ability to exhibit that behavior to obtain their goal originate from? This confidence or belief isn’t externally based, rather it’s an internal or possibly a biological process that creates this self-confidence, which relates to Bandura’s self-efficacy theory. In short, Bandura’s self-efficacy is defined as one’s belief in their ability to succeed in specific situations or to accomplish a task.
Viewing Rotter’s and Bandura’s theories together, it relates that the behavior that one exhibits to obtain something is based on social learning cues, but to execute the behavior within the situation, the person needs a level of self-efficacy or confidence in themselves that they can achieve their goal. Combining these two theories to me, shows that interactions between personality traits and biological factors are vital towards gaining a rich understanding of personality, and until both processes are merged or considered together within the construction of theories, a unified theory will be impossible. Hypothetically, if a unified theory was developed, I believe it would still only provide aspects of personality, but not a full explanation. This is due to individual uniqueness that cannot be measured or assumed, or fully explained, each person act, think, learn, and behave differently, which shapes our personality and our uniqueness; for instance, we have taken and viewed various personality tests and each provided us aspects of ourselves, but could not provide a whole picture.
This is due to the fact that personalities have traits and processes that are unknown that these tests cannot measure, as well as, the person taking the tests unique traits, our behaviors vary based on our personality. This is why in my opinion one theory will never be able to fully explain each person’s unique personality because if there are unknown aspects of personality how can we fully explain the concept of personality.
Prompt 2: I don’t think that a unified theory of personality is possible. Each theory of personality has its own strengths and limitations and trying to find a way to combine them all would be very difficult if not impossible. I personally enjoy the number of theories that exist because by studying them we learn more about the context of how they were developed and what schools of thought influenced them. If we had a true unified theory would we not pay as much attention to the influence of the psychoanalytic movement? What about the Neo-Freudians? Sure Freud’s sexual focus is not empirically supported, but we due to limitation of the concept, we cannot say definitively that unconscious factors and forces are/are not supported. In addition, much like the DSM taskforce it would be assumed that you would need to bring professionals who represent the carious fields of psychology and have them all agree one varying aspects of the theory. This can be very difficult. In addition, you would then need to bring all future students on board; what I enjoy so much about the field of personality psychology is how diverse the explanations for personality are; I am sure that all of us favor one theory over another or connect with one.
Because personality varies from person to person it would be almost impossible to conceptualize all the factors that go into what makes an individual’s personality. Trauma, hereditary factors, environmental issues, abuse/neglect, medical issues, and more as the list goes on. Further identifying how these factors explicitly influence personality development would be very difficult as well; likely impossible.
Looking back at personality history you have individuals such as: Freud, Erikson, Adler, Jung, Maslow, Rogers, Fromm, Buss, Horney, Eysenck, Allport, Bandura, Skinner, Mischel, and many others who could not agree and offered something different or variations of an already existing theory.
Succinctly, a unified theory is a terrific idea but in my belief it is impossible to attain at this time.