The Development of Personality Extremity

Paper Type: 
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1842 Words
Date:  2021-03-09

The Development of Personality Extremity from Childhood to Adolescence: Relations to Internalizing and Externalizing Problems

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Behaviors of a person especially an adult according to Thomberry et al. (2010) can be traced to his or her early days in life as it can be a direct reflection of what they used to do. On the other hand, it has been established through research that some behaviors are outgrown with time as a person becomes an adult through adulthood from childhood (Branje, Van Lieshout and Gerris, 2007).) At some point in life, we have come across the common words people say about us either directly or indirectly that we have grown out of some habits that used to be part and parcel of our lives. We intend to see this scenario as normal concerning the various levels of life we come across. This change of behavior as we get to grow into adulthood from childhood has been investigated by scientists and found compelling evidence that the traits of one's personality changes in across the whole lifespan of a person. The main question tagged to this development is, how does the change in traits proceeds and what initiates it in the life of a person? This paper analyzes the psychological theories and principles regarding the change of personality traits of a person from childhood through to adulthood.

Literature Review

Scientific research has assisted in conceptualizing personality traits through a variety of theories that have simplified the understanding of the characteristics as they occur in the behaviors. After years of research, a general taxonomy of traits of personality was arrived at, the big five dimensions of personality. They are a taxonomy of personality coordinated to map traits that go together in people's ratings or descriptions of one another. These dimensions according to Branje, Van Lieshout and Gerris (2007) have an integrative function as they can explain the various and diverse personality traits that eventually can result in understanding the dynamics of life. The big five dimensions of personality are (1) extraversion, encompassing traits like being energetic, assertive, as well as talkative. These traits are usually peculiar to a person. (2) Agreeableness entailing qualities of being affectionate, sympathetic and kind. (3) Conscientiousness, having traits of being thorough, planning and organized. (4) Neuroticism, also known as emotional stability and with traits like being moody, tense and anxious. (5) Openness or intellect, characterized with traits of being imaginative, wide interests and insightful Branje, Van Lieshout and Gerris (2007)

During the growth and development of a child, they can either internalize or externalize behaviors depending on the prevailing conditions and circumstances surrounding their lives. This is according to Eccles, J. (2009) who says that personality is an individual's choice. Internalizing behavior in children as they grow can be dangerous to themselves if the behavior being acquired is a bad one. It is the act of incorporating other behavior from the society to one's self and the behavior sticks to the person. The symptoms of this act are represented in the form of anxiety, depression, substance abuse and withdrawal. On the other hand externalizing behavior involves the opposite of the internalizing where there is the behavior of lashing out towards others (Eccles, J. (2009).

Taking personality extremity, the behaviors that a child adapts in their childhood is very possible to extend to their future as adolescents and adults. Therefore, children with behavioral complications have got the high likelihood to deal with future negative outcomes. In this regard, finding solutions for the negative behaviors at early stages can act as a remedy for the future when the child grows to be an adult.

The act of internalizing behavior manifests itself through withdrawal from others, depression, and anxiety. This behavior is very common in children according to Thomberry et al. (2010) while the act of externalizing behavior is seen much at later stages of development in the children. The consequences of this behavior can range from mild to severe and because it involves drawing towards oneself other traits; it has the potential of affecting the emotional and psychological state of the individual. This negative result from the internalization can lead to a negative influence on the environment.

Thomberry et al. (2010) further say that depression developed as a result of internalizing behavior can result as early as three years old. It is the act of feeling sad, desiring to be lonely and loss of interest in many things. On the other hand, the anxiety disorder due to internalizing behavior can be manifested in the form of obsessive compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress. To the end, the internalization of behavior sometimes results in suicide, that some of them stem out from drugs and substance abuse.

Looking at externalization of behavior as the opposite of internalization, it is manifested in children being disruptive, aggressive, violent and defiant. It is the manifestation of the child's feeling that is displayed negatively to the external environment. These behaviors if not checked at early stages can lead to adult violence and crime. To some extent, externalization of behavior can be likened to antisocial behavior (Gosnell, Britt, and Mckibben (2011).

With the externalized behavior, the children are bound to be delinquent adolescents as well as violent criminals as adults. One factor that accelerates this behavior is when the children have experienced the violence at early stages through their parents or guardians who have externalized the behaviors. The result of the maladjustment of behavior is early death, jail term and destructed lifestyle. At the early stages, the children are very keen to what their environment gets them exposed to and with enough exposure they are likely to behave as the environment has taught them. In this context, aggressive behavior of parents put the kids in a very delicate position of maladjustment of their behavior as they grow (Branje, Van Lieshout and Gerris 2007). The hostile environment acts as an orientation opportunity that gears them towards becoming violent as well as their parents or guardians as well.



Thomberry et al. (2010), children are like sponges, because they absorb any behavior that they are exposed to by the environment. Where the environment, in this case, is comprised of the society in which the children live. Many times parents punish and isolate the children who for some reasons find themselves in the wrongdoing either intentionally or unintentionally, without finding the help they need to have the behavior corrected. This instead of helping the children, in the long run, destroys them, and they learn to deal with such like situations the wrong way. As much as the children are young, they also have the ability to comprehend issues when explained to them and through this, they can grow in a way that they are capable to question and follow the right way of life.

The agreeable part of the big five taxonomy supports this as the children as they grow they have the capability to reason out to some extent and agree to some issues within their comprehension. Situations that calls for their sympathy and kindness further strengthen this trait. This explains why the children should be reasoned out with in a case where they are required to make decisions regarding their characters or behaviors. It also gives them the opportunity to express themselves and heightening their self-esteem through their opinions being heard by their guardians or parents (Branje, Van Lieshout and Gerris 2007).

Saving the situation of extreme behaviors needs cognitive behavior therapy, counseling, and psychotherapy. This is where the psychology professionals come in handy do save the maladjustment of behavior as they feature in children through either externalizing or internalizing behaviors (Yeates et al..2007). Taking psychotherapy as a treatment for a childs behavior, it makes the child open up to psychologists and communicates whatever they are experiencing. This may reveal the problem to the child at an early stage and get it solved before it is too late. The parents and other family members can also participate in the in the process, and this creates a stronger bond between the child and other family members. The treatment through intervention by psychotherapists if done early enough can act as a way of preventing future negative consequences.

Appropriate Place for the Study

Bullingham and Vasconcelos (2013) conducted research to investigate ten different scenarios of second life individuals and bloggers as well. The participants were mostly involved with online stuff like the social network platforms where they could express their selves freely and without fear of being identified by the larger public. They could answer questions posted by their fellows regarding certain common issues in life and as well give their opinions to the rest to react on by either supporting or criticizing (Bullingham and Vasconcelos, 2013).

Another appropriate group for the study according to Gosnell, Britt, and Mckibben (2011) is normal setting such as a school. In this setting, the children are behaving normally because they are with their peers whom they can influence or get influenced. In this case, it will be possible to find out where the behavior stems from as either the home settings with their parents or the school settings with fellow peers. After the identification of the cause of the maladjustment of the children behavior, appropriate measures can be taken that will lead to success in the children.


From Bullingham and Vasconcelos (2013), the participants were found to have the tendency of hiding their identity while fully expressing themselves. In this case, Bullingham and Vasconcelos, (2013) utilizes Goffmans framework on the change of persona by others to please the general public. This study's findings are antagonistic to other theories like that of Van den Akker et al. (2013), as they hold that personalities are self-instilled and never inherent.

Gosnell, Britt and Mckibben (2011) findings put it that, maladjustment of children stems out right from their childhood and can extend into their adulthood through adolescence. These may be through internalizing or externalizing of the behaviors of the children through the influence of the environment which they are exposed to. The internalization of behavior, in this case, means the child is having withdrawal symptoms from peers, expression of anxiety and depression. On the other hand externalization of behavior means the opposite of internalization and the child with the disorder can be aggressive and rebellious with peers as well as with parents and guardians. The earlier intervention of the maladjustment of the behaviors is sure way of making the behavior not to overlap in the future of the child as an adolescent or an adult.


Yeates et al. (2007) internalizing, as well as externalizing factors, have significant impacts on the development pathways of children. This as discussed above can start very early in the life of a child through them expressing the behaviors to their peers and even adults. The consequences of the personality extremity include child delinquency, peer problems, negative behavior and social outcomes. Addressing the children's issues at an early age plays a big role in saving the situation before it gets worse in the future of the child. At an early stage, a child can be assisted by a social worker who can put them in therapy services to prevent negative behaviors from coming up in the future....

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The Development of Personality Extremity. (2021, Mar 09). Retrieved from

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