The History of Personality Psychology Essay

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1481 Words
Date:  2022-02-17


The personality psychology theories became a significant part of social sciences in the 1930s. The advancement of personality theories can be attributed to individuals such as Freud, Maslow, and Rogers. A critical analysis of historical perspectives of personal opinions reveals that such arguments were fundamentally theories of human nature. Sigmund Freud initially proposed the comprehensive approach of human personality. Freud's ideas, commonly known as psychoanalysis, were obtained from the clinical session with patients. Most of the patients who wanted help from him had complained of emotional suffering, disturbing behaviors, and thought. Freud had previously identified that individuals experience basic instinct, such as sexual and aggressiveness. Also, Maslow identified a universal hierarchy of needs for all individuals. Such requirements include psychological, safety, social, and self-actualization needs. The personality theories, therefore, appear to place greater emphasis on challenges of human motivation, arising from unobservable dynamics and those prompting from within. The personality theories also identified social differences as well as several similarities.

Historical Overview

The concept of personality psychology was developed as a new form of psychiatry and began at a period when the world experienced an outburst of human creativity. The new levels of creativity brought along a significant revolution in the fields of economics, architecture, literature, and psychology (Hogan, & Sherman, 2019). Also, there was an imminent increase in cases of mental illnesses. The personality theory identified instances for mental diseases as a function of intra-psychic dynamics that latter developed to physical symptoms, forcing affected individuals to seek treatments. Personality psychology was critical in the understanding of human nature and affairs. The personality theory was built around three major arguments, which include psychodynamic theories of clinical psychology, trait theories, and interpersonal theories. The trait theory identifies major issues concerning individual differences. The interpersonal methods provide a close assessment of social interactions and application to everyday life.

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The personality theory introduced dramatic changes to the face of psychology through the introduction of the concept of the unconscious mind. The personality theory provided comprehensive details on the creation of unconscious thoughts and expressions of unconscious thoughts. Also, the approach was widely used to assess the association between childhood experiences and unconscious beliefs and their contributions to the development of personalities and behaviors. The idea has been widely used to make tremendous achievements in the mental health field. Other areas that have significantly benefited from the psychoanalytic theory include art and popular culture.

However, most of the ideas of the personality theories are currently viewed with scepticism. The personality theories, such as Freud's observations and opinions, were strictly based on clinical case studies and observations. Such comments are difficult to generalize to a large population. The arguments have attracted criticism, particularly for its overemphasis on unconscious minds as well as other topics such as aggression, sex, and experiences during childhood. Also, it is difficult to measure and quantify concepts central to personality theories. The main ideas from the personality theories are based on personal observations and lack empirical or scientific research. Issues of individual differences are common in personality theories. For instance, one could argue that an individual could be fixated at different stages in their lives, thus resulting in differences in personal behaviors in adulthood. In Maslow's theory, individual differences could arise depending on the capacity for the fulfilment of their needs at each level of the critical hierarchy.

The Modern Personality Theory

The current theories of personality appear to shift from human nature and place focus on individual differences (Buss, & Penke, 2015). Personality psychology, therefore, seems to take a new definition, which is concerned with an exclusive focus on how individuals differ from one another. The theories, therefore, become providers of a systematic account of ways in which individuals differ from each other. Also, the theories of human nature are primarily identified as relics or references of historical interests. The authentic personality theories appear to have fallen out of favor with modern theories of psychology. However, past work presents a significant level of merits for contemporary approaches. Freud's approach to therapy is a perfect example of a concept that left a lasting plan on the treatment of mental illness. The historical approach is highly regarded by modern psychology as a revolutionary concept to current therapies. The definition of personality includes various attributes, collection of individual characteristics that fall beyond the superficial physical qualities.

In the 20th century, personality psychology grew mainly as a scientific field. However, changes in modern society present considerable effects on behaviour. Also, the contemporary world has become dynamic, thus raising new questions on the changeability of the character. The contemporary personality psychology has necessitated the need for empirical research. New ways to describe personality requires a theoretical understanding to explain modern psychology. The dynamic approaches to the understanding of personality psychology have become a reasonable alternative to the traditional structural-functions systems (Kostromina, & Grishina, 2019). In an attempt to avoid irrelevance, modern personality research is taking into consideration the current challenges to the individual's life context.

A language-based personality is also a new approach to nature. The advancement of modern science presents new capabilities for careful analysis and measurement of characters. The trait theory has provided a viable and detailed factor model approach to the definition of contemporary personality theories. The design of the trait approach allows for evaluation participant's self-reports on self-concepts. As such, trait approaches enhance understanding of general personality characteristics. The judicious use of self-reports provides complete and extensive personality scales for a large group of people (Boyd & Pennebaker, 2017). Also, the availability of large-scale data and information provides a favorable condition for the development of psychometric techniques. There is rapid adoption of automated language analysis as a tool to enhance psychological assessments. The availability of data in great abundance and psychometric tools allows for a greater understanding of lower levels of mental functioning and the development of personalities.

According to Boyd and Pennebaker (2017), modern personality psychology is engulfed in the process of constant change. The continuous interactions of individuals throughout the world require further sensitivity to challenges in the context of an individual's life. The changing realities of life and personalities require a new study on environmental and contextual influences. The analysis of personality changes is of paramount importance to contemporary psychology and presents the potential for self-development and personal transformation. Significant concepts that lead to the development of human character and traits such as personal integrity have become of paramount importance. As such, both dynamic and integral psychological concepts that identify explicitly and describe interactions between individuals and the world will remain relevant for personality psychology.

The Future of Personality Psychology

According to Kostromina and Grishina (2018), the scientific community has raised significant observations on the potential limitations of a structural approach to the understanding of personalities. Accordingly, individual personality traits have been identified as poor predictors of behaviors. Such an observation continues to pose a challenge to the traditional structured processes to understanding personality psychology. There is an obvious need to develop new solutions to description and understanding of personality. The search for new approaches presents a clear indication of inadequacies of personality descriptions, and the fundamental changes in the global environment will require flexible human responses. Such conditions, as well as limitations of structural approaches, will result in a shift to process-oriented approaches. The dynamic personality approach is the predictable future of the personality psychological approach and is also practically similar to the process-oriented approaches.

The personality psychology is multifaceted, and therefore not limited to structural and process characteristics. The future of personality will, therefore, include the development of substantial unity between historical knowledge and current information on character as obtained from future research. The agreement will be based on the notable interlinks of phenomena between various levels of personalities.

The future of personality psychology will focus on various experiments intended to uncover psychological processes. Such processes are available in digital human data. Language is also a critical tool and component of behaviors, and could, therefore, provide information essential for the assessment of social and psychological functioning important for the understanding of personality. Further development of evolutional character continues to provide the conceptual framework necessary to address critical issues in personality psychology. The essential points will include motives, traits, and conceptualization of the situation. The evolution will enhance the theoretical integration of personal psychology into other fields of psychology.


Boyd, R. L., & Pennebaker, J. W. (2017). Language-based personality: a new approach to character in a digital world. Current opinion in behavioral sciences, 18, 63-68.

Buss, D. M., & Penke, L. (2015). Evolutionary personality psychology.

Hogan, R., & Sherman, R. A. (2020). Personality theory and the nature of human nature. Personality and Individual Differences, 152, 109561.

Kostromina, S. N., & Grishina, N. V. (2018). The future of personality theory: A processual approach. Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science, 52(2), 296-306.

Kostromina, S. N., & Grishina, N. V. (2019). The Dynamic Personality:'Continuity Amid Change'. Psychology in Russia: State of the Art, 12(2), 34-45.

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