The paper describes various foundations of personality. The purpose of the research paper is to compare different approaches to the study of the human’s nature and describe progression of personality. At present, there is no generally accepted opinion on what approach should be applied to the study of personality to explain the basic aspects of human behavior. Therefore, in the research, different theories of psychologists and sociologists are studied in order to describe a person as an integrated whole and explain the differences between people. With the use of scientific works of different authors, the problem of human’s behavior was studied. Frequently, the same actions of two individuals are caused by different reasons. Various psychologists and philosophers have different views on human’s nature. Some of them support the genetic approach of the inheritance of individual’s behavior, while others argue that only socialization can fully explain the individual differences. Understanding of human’s behavior in all differences is a difficult task.
At present, there is no generally accepted opinion on what approach should be applied to the study of personality to explain the basic aspects of human behavior. In fact, at this stage of psychology development, there are various alternative theories describing the person as an integrated whole and at the same time explaining the differences between people.
There are various opinions on the foundation of personality. Some psychologists confirm that only heredity is the crucial factor in the formation of human nature and behavior, while other authors state that without environment and education there will not be the formation of a person. However, some psychologists emphasize the interaction of such factors. The unconscious is another phenomenon that influences person’s behavior. It is a set of dreams and fantasies that controls the human nature together with the consciousness. Global personal “I”, as a dual formation, combines self-conscious and self-esteem. People try to express in words the main characteristics of usual self-perception. Such characteristics form a hierarchy of significant elements of self-description.
Concepts of development, motivation and maturation are interrelated. Such concepts form psychological and physiological changes of a person.
The mystery of human’s nature is probably the most confusing of all problems faced by people in the course of human history. The essential difficulty is that there are many differences between people. Humans differ in their actions, often extremely complex and unpredictable. Astrology, theology, philosophy, literature and social sciences make an attempt to comprehend the human behavior complexity and the very essence of a person. Nowadays, the problem is acute as never before, as most serious ailments of mankind - rapid population growth, global warming, pollution, nuclear waste, terrorism, drug addiction, racial prejudice and poverty - are the results of human behavior. The theory of personality is a set of hypotheses and assumptions about the nature and mechanisms of personality development. It attempts not only to explain but also predict human behavior. At present, there is no generally accepted opinion on what approach should be applied to the study of personality in order to explain the basic aspects of human behavior. The paper will discuss the human nature, as well as uniqueness and complexity of a person in a real world, as the meaning of personality is multifaceted. Moreover, it covers a wide range of internal mental processes responsible for particular human behavior in different situations.
Foundations of Personality
Nature and Nurture
Human beings are both included in the world of nature (by means of the body) and in the world of culture (through language). For a long time, the exact relationship between biological and cultural in the organization of human society was the subject of disputes in social philosophy and social sciences. In the debate about the relationship of nature and nurture, there are two extreme points of view:
- Supporters of the genetic approach argue that the characteristics of individuals, social groups and nations can be explained solely in terms of genetic inheritance.
- Representatives of cultural determinism argue that the national character and individual differences are fully explained by socialization.
Explanations in terms of genetic inheritance are often offered in theories of criminal behavior, intelligence and educational achievements. Thus, according to theories that emphasize the importance of genetic factors, intellect does not experience a significant influence of culture and education. Feminists oppose the emphasis on the biological field in explaining the differences between men and women arguing that such explanation reflects the values of patriarchy, whereas in reality such differences are generated by gender and, consequently, are social in nature. Although, sociologists have traditionally rejected any forms of genes, some of them, such as Talcott Parsons, sought for the more fruitful theoretical correlation of biological and social systems. Parsons drew a parallel between the characters, information and cybernetics in social systems and the transmission of “information” through DNA in biological systems.
The human body is not a passive object programmed by internal genetic forces or formed under the influence of the external environment. Hereditary and environmental factors are connected with each other. In process of children’s development, their behavior becomes less dependent on the maturation - changes in the body deriving more or less automatically in the predetermined irreversible sequence with the help of physical and chemical processes. There is education and training at the forefront. The important factor is that in the process of learning the human body undergoes changes by reacting: as the child grows, his/her mind is not detected but formed.
Therefore, people are not closed in the social system or a constant physical body and in the world, where there are complex interactions that give an impetus to the development, history and processes are of paramount importance. Individuals become active agents forming each other. Through their actions, they change the world in which they live and, in turn, form and change as a result of their activities. Such dynamic interaction between the environment and the individual is the basis of human intelligence, knowledge and culture.
In a broad sense, unconscious is the area of mental, which is not seen by consciousness (unconscious sphere of mental), and for which there is no subjective control. When people talk about unconscious, they generally mean bodily automatisms, embedded habits, habitual fears and natural attraction. The concept “unconscious” was proposed by Freud, who suggested that many human activities that usually appear random are not really random but are symptoms of deep intrapersonal conflicts. They are so serious that the psyche cannot bear them and refuses to see making unconscious. According to Freud, the main conflict is the conflict between the primary child attractions and the demands of society.
Unconscious is those phenomena, processes, properties and conditions that affect person’s behavior but are not recognized. “The unconscious beginning is represented in almost all mental processes, states and properties of a person”. People have an unconscious memory, mind, motivation and feelings. In the human personality, the unconscious include such qualities, needs and interests that a person does not recognize, but which are manifested in various involuntary actions and psychic phenomena. Unconscious is manifested in the form of errors (slips of the tongue), forgetting (names, promises, intentions, facts or events), fantasies or dreams. According to Freud, errors are not random disturbances of the written or spoken language. The error is the result of the predominance of the unconscious over conscious. Unconscious phenomena alongside with consciousness control human behavior.
View of Self
In the scientific literature, the concept of “view self” appeared in connection with the need to study and describe the underlying psychological structures and processes of the individual. It is used together with such concepts as self-awareness and self-esteem and is inextricably linked with them. To date, the content and scope of the view of self concept remains debatable. Many scientists have made the contribution to the study of current phenomenon. The founder of the view of self study is W. James. He saw global personal “I” as a dual formation, which combines self-conscious and “I” like an object. These are two sides of integrity, which always exist simultaneously. One of them is a pure experience and the other - the content of that experience.
In the first decades of the XX century, in sociology, Charles H. Cooley and John G. Meade studied the view of self. The authors have developed a theory of the “mirror self” and put into the basis of their position a question that it is society that determines the development and content of the view of self. “Development of self-image is based on two signals: direct perception and consecutive reactions of people”. At the same time, a central function of the self-concept is the identity as a generalized position in society originating from the status of an individual in a group, a member of which he/she is.
The ideas of an individual about himself/herself, as a rule, seem convincing no matter how they are based on objective knowledge and subjective opinion. The subject of the human perception may, in particular, be the body, abilities, social relations and many other personal manifestations. Specific methods of self-perception leading to the formation of the view of self can be very diverse. Describing himself/herself, a person usually resorts to the help of adjectives: reliable, sociable, strong, beautiful, which, in fact, are abstract characteristics that are not related to a specific event. Therefore, people try to express in words the main characteristics of usual self-perception. Such characteristics form a hierarchy of significant elements of self-description, which may vary depending on the context, life experience or simply under the impact of a moment. Such self-description is a way to describe uniqueness of each individual through a combination of the individual features.
Progression of Personality
Concepts of development are focused on the question of how the motivational aspects of personality change from infancy to maturity and then in the old age. The explanation of such changes is a key component in the personality theory. Personal development occurs throughout life. Accordingly, some theorists have proposed the phasic model for understanding of the growth phases and development in human life. Freud's theory, in which the formation of a person is presented as a sequence of psychosexual development stages, is an example of such approach. Another example is the concept of the eight stages of “I” development formulated by Erickson. In contrast to these authors, many theorists emphasize the role of the relationship between a parent and child as a significant factor in understanding the problems of development. Carl Rogers, for example, attached particular importance to the fact how a self-concept of an individual is formed under the influence of parental attitudes and behavior on the stage of the personality formation.
Personal growth is caused by many external and internal determinants. The external or environmental determinants include membership of an individual to a particular culture and socio-economic class. On the other hand, the internal determinants include genetic, biological and physiological factors. A further description of the set of changes that accompany person’s development - physical, social, intellectual, emotional and moral - shows the difficulty of the problem of human development. “Personality development represents far more than unfolding of a genetic program or the impact of cultures on individuals”. Belonging to a particular culture leads eventually through socialization to the normative model of thinking, emotions and behavior. Cultural environment generates the image of a person and a form of relationships with others, as well as the goals towards which a person strives. Similarly, belonging to a particular socio-economic class affects the values, attitudes and lifestyles of a person. The influence of family environment also has a great impact on the individual’s development. The form of parental behavior, beliefs and goals are of particular importance. Alongside with the environment, genetic factors play a key role in the conditioning of the individual. Thus, a study conducted on twins provides reliable evidence that emotional stability, extraversion, altruism, shyness and timidity are stably inherited.
Lively debates about the relative importance of genetic and environmental factors (opposition of nature and nurture) recently gave an impetus to the development of new theoretical concepts. It deals with understanding how such factors should interact in order to emerge certain behavioral characteristics. Theorists occupying such position believe that any individual grows experiencing the impacts of the environment and develops under the influence of genetic endowment. According to such point of view, heredity imposes restrictions on range of the development of different characteristics. However, nevertheless, within this range, further development of the characteristics is determined by environmental factors.
An integral personality theory explains why people act in one way and not otherwise. Concepts of motivation, or in other words, the procedural aspects of an individual focus on dynamic and varying peculiarities of person’s behavior. “Motivation invigorates and energizes behavior”. Efforts associated with attempts to understand the passing aspects of behavior led to a variety of theoretical findings. Some theories have suggested that all personal processes - from sexual release to a sense of humor - are derived from an individual’s attempts to reduce stress. The so-called reductionist model of motivation suggests that the physiological needs of an individual create stress and it causes to seek detente by satisfying the needs. Many kinds of basic needs are stacked in the explanation of human motivation by the reduction of stress. Other theories make the emphasis on the human desire to dominate over the environment and a thirst of obtaining a new experience for the purpose of enjoyment. Proponents of such view argue that, as a person grows, his/her behavior is directed at the acquisition of skills mainly to improve the competence and effectively interact with the environment. Maslow, a prominent theorist in the field of motivation, thought that in some moments an individual is driven by the deficit of needs and then a person strives to reduce stress. At other times, a person is led by the growing needs, and then he/she tends to exacerbate the tension using it as a means to realize a personal potential. Although, such generalized view seems plausible, most of theorists tend to use one of two models in explaining the motivation of human behavior.
The approach of the development in terms of maturation dominated in psychology long enough. Biological maturation includes all processes occurring spontaneously under the influence of endogenously programmed, genetically determined and internally controlled pulses of growth. Such processes include the physical changes that are important for mental development - the maturation of the brain, nervous and muscular systems. Based on the psychophysical unity of a person, the connection of physical and mental processes, biologically-based models of development represented mental development similar to the anatomical and physiological maturation as internally regulated process of maturation.
Psychologists mention about the process of maturation when they want to emphasize the genetic aspect of mental development. “Maturation, by definition, is the process of physical and mental growth that is determined by heredity”. Maturation is a process, the flow of which depends on the inherited characteristics of an individual. The process of maturation consists of a sequence of preprogrammed changes not only of the appearance of the organism but also its complexity, integration, organization and functions. “Psychological maturation requires the ability to face reality and accept the truth”. Maturation is a process of quantitative changes in the improvement of one or another mental function. Development, maturation and growth are interrelated. Maturation and growth are quantitative changes providing the basis for the development of quality changes. In its final form, the organism is not a product of functional maturation but functional development. It functions developing and develops functioning.
Scripture’s teachings about the personality have no enough specificity and accuracy needed to qualify how the formal scientific theory of personality functions. “A general opinion of theologians is that the Bible does not inform neither about the scientific doctrine of a person nor anthropology, which must coincide with scientific anthropological studies of a person”. There is no purely psychological theory of personality able to explain successfully all moral and religious concerns and interests of people.
The Bible does not say directly about the nature of human motivation and maturation. The careful examination of the first two chapters of the Bible is very instructive, as they allow seeing the tasks assigned to the first people in the beginning. If people believe that God created a man and a woman in perfect harmony to fulfill the intended role in the Garden of Eden, then a part of this harmony is the principled motivation to live and perform tasks prescribed to people. In Genesis 1:26, it is written that people were created to manage all of a created world.
Personality is one of the central themes of modern psychology. A term person and personality have their history and are understood differently. Every psychological approach or direction has a different personality theory. A problem of personality is an immense, significant and complex problem covering a vast field of researches. The concept of personality is among the most complex in the science of a person. Individual behavior largely depends not only on innate but also acquired properties. Every person can be represented by such important elements as orientation, ability and character. Despite the significant correlation, such components can be considered as personality characteristics affecting behavior of a person.