Thursday, July 10, 2008

Personality Acquisition

I. Intro

The fact that the billions of human beings that have ever lived have/had a unique personality intrigued many philosophers, psychologists, psychiatrics, neurologists, criminologists, sociologists, and students of all kinds. So is still true nowadays. Personality for me is more than a person’s thinking pattern and behavior. It is what defines one’s own feelings and intelligence. However, because each person possesses a unique type of personality, finding its roots is a tremendous task to undertake. To say that the findings on personality acquisition are accurate represents a big responsibility for any person because all individuals have different life stories, which shaped their personality.

Personality development begins before we are born. We are born with the characteristics of our parents, such as physical features and personality traits. This is the biological part of personality. As infants grow up friends, family, religion, and personal experiences color their personality, in this case their perception of the world, this is the dependable part of personality, nurture. This research paper will discuss the variables that determine personality, however, it will not be limited to nature versus nurture. Have fun reading.

II. Theories.


Development is the changes that occur over time and it is continuous but not gradual. For some skills, however, it is necessary to maturate first before learning the behavior. Learning how to walk, for instance, requires the muscles in the leg to become strong enough to support the body. The study of development is relevant to this research because it can be the root of personality acquisition. Through development, we can tell what changes in one’s life affect the cognitive behavior of a person. Thus, molding the personality.

One big figure in the study of development is Jean Piaget. In his theory of development he talks about cognitive development. Cognitive development is the process by which one’s psychology changes through the passage of time. According to Piaget, there are four stages of development that every person goes through from birth to adulthood: sensorimotor (birth to 2), pre-operational (2 to 7), concrete operational (7 to 12), and formal operational (12 to adulthood) (Silverthorn, Pam). Piaget theorized that the trigger for these changes is the child’s desire to make sense of the world (Silverthorn, Pam).

Another Developmental psychologist is Erik Erikson. Relevant to this research paper is his view on development. He stated that conflicts in one’s life must be resolved in order to move on. Thus early development affects later development (Harder. Arlene F.). Furthermore, his theory covers moral development, and adulthood. Adulthood is compounded by three stages:

a) Young adulthood: occurs between the ages of 20”s to early 40’s. In this stage the conflict in intimacy vs. isolation.

b) Adulthood: occurs between the ages of 40’s to 60’s. The conflict in this stage is generativity vs. stagnation.

c) Late adulthood: occurs between the ages of 60 and up. The conflict in this stage is integrity vs. despair.

On moral development Erikson categorized in three stages what causes a person to choose right from wrong.

a) Pre-moral stage: fear of punishment.

b) Conventional stage: fear of authority.

c) Post conventional stage: because it is the right thing to do.

As people develop, their schema of the world changes to perceive and understand their surrounding. They create a reality of their own, by accommodating and assimilating the schema. I believe that all of us are experiencing these stages of development. However, each of us is experiencing these stages differently. That difference is what creates the variety of personalities. Furthermore, the developmental stages can help explain why a person’s personality is able to change and why some adults posses childish behaviors.


Alfred Adler is one of the psychologists known for his work on personality development. He stated that people change to become better. He who is inferior will struggle to become superior (Boeree, George). I find this to be self-evident, for we all know the rag-to-riches stories. Napoleon Hill, for instance, came from a very poor family. Nevertheless he struggled, despite his many failures to succeed, he continued struggling until he finally succeeded. Others, however, suffer from the condition called learned helplessness. These are the kind of people with a weak personality, because they do not make the effort to come out of their depression.

Maslow following Adler’s theory talked about self-actualization, which means to reach one’s own potential. However, Maslow stated, most people do not reach their full potential because they get stocked in one stage. (Boeree, George). The self-actualization is represented in a chart as a pyramid. Maslow stated that the need must be met in order, from button to top.

Dr. Boeree C George, “Abraham Maslow”, Personality theories. 1998-2006. <>


I have talked about development and how it is rooted to personality. I have also written about some personality theories. Based on the chapters of development and personality of this research paper, I can hypothesize that personality is rooted to both nature and nurture. I believe we come to this world pre-wired with some natural instincts. These natural instincts, for instance, trigger hunger whenever the body needs food and that causes a person’s behavior to change. Babies cry to get their mothers’ attention in order to communicate displeasure. This is certainly not a learned behavior. It comes pre-wired to the babies’ brain. However, natural instincts only satisfy the needs of the body. In order to find a purpose to live, people develop a sense of self-esteem based upon the perception of others towards the person. The level of self-esteem a person has can determine one’s personality. Confidence and shyness for instance are dependable on the level of self-esteem. The more confidence a person has the more self-actualized that person is going to be.


Dr. Boeree C George, “Alfred Adler”, Personality theories. 1997-2006. <>

Dr. Boeree C George, “Abraham Maslow”, Personality theories. 1998-2006. <>

Harder, Arlene F., “The Developmental Stages of Erik Erikson”, Stages of Life, Learning Place Online. 2002.

Silverthorn Pam, “Jean Piaget’s Theory of Development”, EDIT 704, summer 1999. <>

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