Personal Development: Quick Read Essential Theories

Why explore personal development essential theories? Well, ever wondered why people hold certain personality traits? If so, you’re halfway to understanding people – including yourself – much better.

Most of all, personal development is a lifelong process.

it’s the way we assess our skills AND how we set goals to achieve and maximise our potential.


Personal Development: Quick Guide to Essential Theories

Four Main Personality Perspectives

Personality is simply your unique pattern of thoughts, feelings and behaviors that persist over time and under different circumstances.

For a long time, personality development has been a major topic of discussion in psychology and other related disciplines. Numerous personal development theories have been developed, all with a single goal of trying to explain personality development.

In the study of personality, theorists have varied approaches. While some of these theorists set out to identify the most vital characteristics of personality, there are those concerned with understanding the reasons for the differences in personality.

Cognitive Theory of Personal Development

The cognitive theory of personality focuses more on information coding and retrieval plus the goals, motives, expectations and beliefs involved in the development of personality traits.  

Personality theories can either be nomothetic or idiographic. In nomothetic, a person has individual or lesser amount of traits common to all people while in idiographic, each individual bears a unique personality structure and will even possess qualities others do not have.

When it comes to the nomothetic approach, we can use a personal theory to generalise about a particular individual or to put them in various categories.

For instance, a person can have a particular trait or style. However, the idiographic approach makes an attempt at describing a particular individual with the goal of showing how that single person is different from the rest of the individuals.

Majority of the cognitive theories of personality mainly establish the ways in which personal knowledge and judgment are formed. Usually, the development happens in an asymmetrical fashion as individuals must first adapt to their environment.

It’s our desire as humans to always be consistent with our beliefs and behaviors so as to predict the outcome of our actions. We’re doing all we can to gain the social approval of others and boost the perception of ourselves.

That leads to a situation whereby we start comparing ourselves with others or even our actual self with an imagined self.

Psychodynamic Theories

There are several propositions central to all psychodynamic theories. Considering that most of the mental life is unconscious, we tend to behave in ways that we ourselves do not understand.

Besides, it’s possible for mental processes such as emotions, motivations, and thoughts to lead to conflicting feelings since they operate in parallel. Under the psychodynamic theories, stable patterns start forming during the childhood.

What’s more, the life experiences at a young age also greatly impact on our personality development.

Also, our mental perception of ourselves, the others and our relations tend to guide how we interact with other people. In the theories too, personality development entails learning how to regulate both the sexual and aggressive feelings on our way to becoming socially independent instead of dependent.

Carl Rogers Theory of Personality

The theorists of humanistic personality theory are Alfred Adler, Carl Rodgers, and Abraham Maslow. Carl Rogers believed that humans develop personalities in the service of positive goals and that we possess an innate drive toward fulfillment.

Abraham Maslow suggested that individuals are motivated by the hierarchy of needs. Usually, the basic needs are centered on the necessities of life that include food and water. But as the people move up the hierarchy, the needs get centered on stuff such as esteem and self-actualization.

Carl Rogers Theory of Personality builds on the Abraham Maslow’s perspective of the personality. He adds that for individuals to grow, they need an environment that offers genuineness, acceptance, and empathy. Without the traits, relationships and healthy personality can’t develop.

Rogers also had the conviction that every individual could achieve their personal desires, wishes, and goals in life. However, for individuals to reach their true potential, a number of factors must be achieved.

Trait Theories Perspective

The trait perspective of personality focuses on identifying, describing and even measuring the individual traits that make up the human personality. A better understanding of these traits will help us comprehend the major difference between individuals.

Once again, there are major theorists of the trait theory perspective – Hans Eysenck, Raymond Cattell, and Robert McCrae & Paul Costa. Eysenck thought that there exist three dimensions of personality. These are extraversion-introversion, emotional stability – neuroticism and Psychoticism.

Cattell suggested 16 personality traits that we can use to measure individual differences in personality. McCrae & Costa identified the big five theory that introduces five major dimensions of personality. These are extraversion, neuroticism, openness to experience and agreeableness.

Summary: Personal Development and Marketing

Clearly, humans are doing all they can to achieve personal development. It’s a trait or characteristic that they acquire with time.

Personal development theories can help explain why we have the different characteristics and the human behavior.

And when it comes to marketing, the different perspectives on personal development are highly effective at ensuring you that you understand what influences the consumers’ behavior.

That way, you can curate your marketing messages to target them better. Good luck!

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