A Comparison of the Main Approaches to Personality Psychology

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A Comparison of the Main Approaches to Personality Psychology

Psychology of personality is a difficult concept to define and quantify, therefore most personality theories, however different they may be in other respects, share the basic assumption, that personality is a particular pattern of behaviour and thinking, that prevails across time and situations and differentiates one person from another. Most theories attempting to explain personality represent part of the classic psychological Nature verse Nurture debate. In other words, is personality “inherited”, or developed through our interactions with the environment. In addition, we shall compare and contrast two of the main approaches to
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The third structure is superego (moral/judicial part of personality), it’s subdivided into conscience and the ego-ideal. The conscious is the internalisation of the rules and restrictions of the society. It determines which behaviours are permissible and punishes wrongdoing with feelings of guilt. The ego-ideal, however promises the ego reward (in the form of pride and high self- esteem) for good behaviour.

Freud believed that the healthy personality must keep all three systems in balance. If the id is too strong, the person is likely to be selfish, impulsive and antisocial. However, someone who is too controlled by the superego is likely to be rigid, moralistic and authoritarian. Someone with the weak ego is unable to balance personal needs and realistic limitations and may suffer from vague and unwarranted feelings guilt and unworthiness. Personality differences also arise from the different defence mechanisms that people use. According to Freud three parts of personality are often in conflict, and Freud regarded conflict as the core of personality. Defence mechanisms become active whenever unconscious instinctual drives of the id come into conflict with internalised prohibitions of the superego.

There are six important defence mechanisms:

1. Repression (responsible for actively keeping threatening or anxiety- provoking memories from our conscious awareness).


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