Sub-topic: Meaning of the terms personality and personality development

Personality- Refers to the sum total of the characteristics or traits of an individual. Personality can be public, that is expressing features that can be seen, for example, attitude. It can also be private, that is, it can be hidden. This includes experiences that cannot be seen. Broadly speaking, personality is used to describe;

  1. Temperament e.g. even tempered or ill-tempered.
  2. Physical praise e.g. complexion, weight and height.
  3. Can be used to describe intelligence e.g. brilliant, average etc.
  4. Moral value e.g. good morals, bad morals etc.

Characteristics of Personality

  1. It involves behaviours as well as thoughts.
  2. It is dynamic, that is it grows and develops as the individual develops and it depends on the environment.
  3. It includes overt (what can be seen) and covert (what can’t be seen).
  4. Personality is unique.
  5. Personality refers to relatively stable qualities of an individual.
  6. Personality is greatly influenced by social interaction.

Types of Personality

It can be described in terms of extroversion, introversion and ambiversion.

1. Extroverts

These are individuals who are sociable, outgoing and prefer occupations in which they work directly with other people. They like and seek company of others in times of stress. They value association with others.

2. Introverts

These individuals are shy and tend to be alone and work alone. They tend to withdraw from others particularly in times of emotional stress or conflict. They enjoy social interaction but also enjoy solitary activities that is, they move away from others.

3. Ambiverts

These are people who neither talk too much nor too little.

Factors Influencing Personality Development

1. Heredity

Genes determine hereditary characteristics that can’t be changed e.g. intelligence.

2. Environment

The environment that influences the personality development of an individual mainly comprises the home and the school.


A child is born in a family which is a social set-up. The home plays a significant role in the development of attitude such as dislikes or emotional habits. All these have profound effects on personality in the following ways;

  1. Family with high moral values tend to be more independent and well-adjusted than those from families with low moral values.
  2. Children from homes which experience conflict are deprived of a sense of security. They may grow without concern for others.


The child spends a significant part of his/her life in school where habits or attitudes already acquired at home are reinforced. In the school environment, the teacher acts as a substitute for the parents. The teacher’s behaviour is important because it presents a model for the child to emulate.

3. Socio-cultural

Personality are modelled by beliefs, customs, rituals, religious and other forms of training experiences through the process of learning or socialization by which children acquire values, customs and beliefs of their culture.

Sub-topic: Theories of personality development

  • Psycho-analytic theory according to Sigmund Freud

This theory is based on the fact that personality is motivated by inner forces about which individuals have little awareness and over which they have no control. Sigmund Freud argued that much of our behaviour is motivated by the unconscious, a part of the personality. Freud viewed that personalities of people develop through conflict between their primary drives (sex and aggression) and social pressure; and early childhood experiences are extremely important in the development of personality.

  • Psycho-social theory according to Eric Erickson

According to Erikson each stage involves a “crisis” in personality – that is important at that time and will remain an issue to some degree throughout the rest of life. In each stage there is the balancing of a positive tendency and a corresponding negative one. Initiative vs. guilt is a conflict children face between their urge to form and carry out goals. When they fail to reach their goals, they feel guilty. The sense of right and wrong morality emerges as a result of identification with the parents. Children can resolve this crisis to acquire the virtue of purpose. Erikson defines it as the courage to envisage and pursue valued goals. Children can then develop into adults who combine spontaneous enjoyment of life with a sense of responsibility. Those who cannot resolve this crisis may become repressed. If initiative dominates, they must continue to believe. Erikson’s last stage is ego-integrity. The virtue of this stage is wisdom.

As Erikson mentioned different stages of human development, crisis is very typical of each stage and resolution of it is a must. Resolution requires balancing a positive trait and a corresponding negative trait. Both are required for healthy development. If either of the two predominates, there will be imbalance and the conflict remains. Hence, the development of ego suffers.

Sub-topic: Effects of gender responsiveness on personality development

Sub-topic: Personality disorders

This refers to emotional and behavioural problems of individuals.

Types of personality disorders

Characteristics of people with personality disorders

  1. They are fearful and lack confidence or independence.
  2. Some cry uncontrollably and unnecessarily.
  3. They are uncooperative and defy orders.
  4. Some are unsympathetic and lack warmth.
  5. They are disruptive and restless.
  6. They engage in immoral behaviours e.g. stealing, cheating etc.

Causes of personality disorders

  • Biological disorders e.g. hereditary
  • Disease and illness
  • Frustration and stress
  • Drug and substance abuse
  • Abnormal birth
  • Occurrence of disaster
  • Accidents that lead to injury on the brain
(Visited 389 times, 1 visits today)
Share this:

Written by