Six Major Tenants of Personality Theory
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This paper will review the six major tenants of personality theory. The first discussed are the foundations of psychology, which are: nature versus nurture, the unconscious, and view of self. Each of these foundations are important to the development of a psychologically healthy person. Nature versus nurture is a long time debated concept within psychology that argues whether a person’s behaviors are derived from genetics and what are derived from the things we learn. The unconscious is a part of the mind that humans are unaware of, but it is responsible for dreams, sexual desires, and even aggression.
The view of self is important because it is how an individual sees themselves. Second the progression of psychology such as development, motivation, and maturation will be discussed. Each of these plays a huge role in the field of psychology and that role will be discussed. Finally, in this paper we will delve into how these things are biblically integrated and how each principle is connected with biblical ideals and principles.
Psychology as a whole is founded on several major tenants. Each of these things plays key roles in the development of a psychologically healthy person. There are three foundations of personality; Nature versus nurture, the unconscious, and the view of self. There are also three progressions of personality; development, motivation, and maturation. Even though there are many theorists who have different ideas on each of these, they all simplify to the same basic principles.
Foundations of Personality
Nature versus Nurture
The first foundation of psychology is nature versus nurture. Nature versus nurture is one of the oldest debated principles in psychology. The main idea behind nature versus nurture is basically a debate on what aspects of our behaviors are genetic and what aspects are learned characteristics. The idea of nature versus nurture was coined by Francis Galton the first cousin of Charles Darwin in the late 1800’s (Gottlieb, 1992). He came up with this during a conversation about the influence of heredity and environment on the advancement of people. Obviously our DNA is what determines physical characteristics such as eye color, height, and body structure, but Nature versus nurture addresses the more complex issues like where did an individual’s athleticism come from? Or why does this person love books and has a sarcastic sense of humor?
These are the things that the great nature versus nurture debate seeks to discuss. Many theorists believe that things such as personality are determined by genetic predisposition, where as many other theorists believe that one’s behavior stems from everyday life, the environment one grows up in, and the way a person is taught i.e. nurture. So if a person graduates college with a degree and gets recruited by the NFL to play professional football would nature or nurture account for this? Both sides of this argument have valid points, but so far there is no winning side. It is simply a matter of opinion.
The bible says that we are made in the image of God in Genesis 1:27. This means that before genetics, before environmental influences or anything else God first designed us in his likeness. This debate was created without God in mind so it’s hard to take a stand with either side. I believe that we were created in the image of God, but because we are in a sinful world there are tons of negative environmental influences we encounter daily. The choice to have character in our daily actions and to live according to the Word of God is a daily decision we have to make and then God will bless our lives. The Unconscious
The next foundation of psychology is the unconscious. The unconscious as described by Sigmund Freud is the reservoir of all the thoughts, feelings, and urges that lie outside of awareness. The unconscious also has human’s urges of sex and aggression. People are aware of the thoughts and things within one’s conscious mind, whereas one is unaware of what all takes place within their unconscious mind. In cognitive psychology, the unconscious is responsible for subliminal information processing (Bargh & Morsella, 2008). Freud believed that the unconscious was responsible for repressions, which are slips of the tongue, dreams, and certain types of forgetting. He also believed that the only way the unconscious could be proved is indirectly.
Adler believed that all humans are guided by plans or goals that they are either dimly aware of or totally unaware of. This is how he viewed the unconscious. He rejected Freud’s view that the unconscious was majorly influenced by repression (Ansbacher 1982). Regardless which view one stands by, the overall conclusion on the unconscious is that it is a part of the mind that one is not fully aware of what occurs there. The bible says in 1 Corinthians 2:16 that we have the mind of Christ. Despite having an unconscious aspect of our mind, we still are supposed to think purely. By filling our thoughts and heart with things that are noble, pure, honorable and right are the things we are to dwell on according to Philippians 4:8. If we fill our hearts and conscious mind with these things, then it will also influence our unconscious. View of Self
The last foundation of psychology is the view of self. The view of self or self-concept is a generalized term to describe how one perceives themselves as a whole, including one’s relations with others and their general surroundings. . This also includes how a person consciously or unconsciously views their own actions and beliefs. Self-concept is important because the beliefs or feelings a person develops about themselves decide how they will handle any given situation. The self is also described by Freud as the ego. Many times self-concept is thought to only pertain to self-esteem. While having a high self-esteem is important, self-concept goes above just the reason of self-esteem. Self-esteem is based largely on feelings and input from outside sources, whereas self-concept is derived from our own thoughts and opinions from within. An individual’s self-concept is important to their psychological health because when a person has a healthy self-concept they are positive, confident, and self-assured.
Different theorists have created many ideas on the self. The article listed below delves into Bandura’s view of self, known as self-efficacy. The article “Do People’s View of Self Matter?” Says: “In his social cognitive theory, Bandura (1986, 1989) defined perceptions of self-efficacy as “people’s judgments of their capabilities to organize and execute courses of action required to attain designated types of performances” (Bandura, 1986, p. 391). Theoretically, efficacy self-views influence the choices people make, the effort they expend, how long they persevere in the face of challenge, and the degree of anxiety or confidence they bring to the task at hand.
Although these perceptions do not alter people’s capabilities, they help determine what individuals do with the knowledge and skills they have. Efficacy self-views thus help explain why performances differ among people who have similar knowledge and skills. Consistent with the specificity notion, Bandura (1986) insisted that self-efficacy judgments should be specifically rather than globally assessed, must correspond directly to the criterion task, and must be measured as closely as possible in time to that task.”(Swann, Chang-Schneider, and McClarty, 2007)
Regardless of the different opinions between the well-known theorists who have developed ideas about the self, the overall conclusion remains that the self, self-concept, self-efficacy, and ego all describe the view a person has about themselves and is vital in the development of a psychologically healthy individual. As mentioned earlier, in Genesis 1:27 the bible says that we are made in the image of Christ. In John 3:16 the bible says that God loved the world so much that he gave his only son to die for our sins. So, if we are made in the image of God how can anyone have a negative self-concept?
Do you have a negative view of God? Of course not! We are made in the image of God so one should have a positive view of themselves. If we were such terrible creatures then why would God give up his only son for human kind? He gave his only son because he loved the world that much. He wouldn’t have done that if there wasn’t something special about each and every human being. This affects self-concept because we should not have a negative self-concept because we were created in the image of God. Progression of Personality
The first progression of personality is development. Development refers to the way one grows and becomes the person they are. Development starts in the womb as an embryo grows and develops into an infant. After a child is born their development continues and their personality is developed. This is a key area where the nature versus nurture debate takes off because science wants to know how a person’s personality develops, whether it is genetic or environmentally influenced. One of the most well-known theories about psychological development is Jean Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development. The main thought behind this theory that children think differently than adults. Freud also had a theory surrounding development.
His theory is the Stages of Psychosexual Development which suggest that personality develops in stages that directly link to erogenous zones and if each stage is not reached and completed it would lead to personality issues as an adult. Again, regardless of which theorist one agrees with, all show the importance of healthy development. Jeremiah 1:5 says that before God even formed us in the womb he knew us. He knew exactly who we would be and what we would do. Psalm 139:13 talks about how God created our inmost being and how he knit us in the womb. He knew how we would develop before we even took our first breath. Our development was designed by God.
The next progression of personality is motivation. Motivation is the driving force behind the things any person does. Allport was one of the most important theorists who thrived to show the importance of motivation in a psychologically healthy person. He believed that most people are driven by present things rather than things from the past and that for the most part people are aware of what they do and why they do it. A person’s motivation is directly affected by their personality because different traits and characteristics cause people to act different ways.
Without some sort of motivation, what reason does a person have to live? All humans are motivated by some driving force, whether big or small. Without motivation, an individual has no purpose or drive which then results in personality issues. The bible says many things about motivation. 2 Thessalonians 3:10 says that if a man doesn’t work he doesn’t eat. This is one way of being motivated. If people were unable to eat if they didn’t do some form of work then all people would be fully motivated to complete whatever task they needed. As Christians, we are to be motivated to worship Christ. Psalm 40:8 talks about how David spoke to God and said that his desire was to do the will of God. As Christians our desire should be to worship God and to carry His will by sharing His Word with the world. Many individual’s motivation in life is to achieve success or to become wealthy, but if we focus on Christ and obeying His commands our lives will be blessed because of our obedience and faithfulness. Maturation
Maturation refers the process on begins at puberty and continues in through adulthood. Maturity comes with age. As an individual gets older their views of themselves and of the outside world totally change. They also will learn to respond to situations appropriately and develop a stronger self-concept. If one did not reach maturation they would suffer psychologically because if their body’s mature but their minds do not they would not be able to function as an adult in society. Maturation plays a huge role in personality because as an individual matures their personality changes and develops into what they will have as an adult. Maturing is a part of growing into an adult. 1 Corinthians 13:11 discusses how when we are children we do and say childish things but that when we become adults we are supposed to give up those childish things and grow up. This means that we are supposed to mature. Ephesians 4:14-15 also discusses how when we become adults we are to speak the truth in love and grow in His imagine. This means that our personalities change as we become adults and that as we change we are to be Christ like. Conclusion
There are three foundations of psychology; nature versus nurture, the unconscious, and the view of self. There are also three progressions of personality; development, motivation, and maturation. All of these have been addressed by several different theorists, but for the most part many of them simplify down to the same things. The main thing to remember when studying psychology or any other area of study is that despite what books or people may believe, we were made in the imagine of God. Our entire being was created with Him in mind and He knew exactly who each person was going to be.
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