personality that were developed throughout the 20th century were
varied in approach and substance. There were four major schools the
psychodynamic, humanistic, trait theorists, and the social cognitive
perspective (Gedney-Rubel, 2014). This paper will compare and contrast
two perspectives, the psychodynamic and the work of Sigmund Freud (1856 – 1939)
with trait theory and the work of Hans Eysenck (1916 – 1997).
As its name suggests, psychodynamic theory is centered on the idea
that there’s a continuous dynamic conflict between the conscious and the
unconscious mind (Deal, 2007).
This perspective was pioneered by Freud, who relied heavily on his clinical
observations with his patients in order to develop his theories (Ciabattari, 2014). Freud also proposed
two personality models, the topographic and the structural models. The first is
composed of the mental layers, the conscious, pre-conscious, and the
unconscious. The structural model includes the id, ego, and superego. Both
models overlap, where the id and the superego are unconscious drives, and the
ego is the conscious mind that mitigates between the unconscious desires of the
id, and the unconscious moral compass of the super-ego. When the dynamic
conflicts of the unconscious can’t be resolved, a state of neurosis presents
Freud’s theory relied heavily on the influence of the unconscious, but
because he relied heavily of self-report, introspection, and other subjective
techniques to form his theories, they were deemed unscientific due to the
difficulty of testing them empirically. (Twenge & Campbell, 2017).
Trait theory on the other hand was propelled forward by Gordon
Allport, who defined personality through conscious motivations and behavior
patterns, also by using traits as descriptive measures of personality rather
than attempting to explain it (Rosenzweig & Fisher, 1997). Hans Eysenck was a
trait theorist whose work revolved around the notion that people’s traits are
inborn and is rooted in biology, he designated those traits as temperaments (Eysenck, 1967) Eysenck was also the
first trait theorist to use the statistical tool of factor analysis to
determine personality traits, he developed what is known as the Eysenck 3
factor model . In it, people’s personalities are measured on a sliding scale
between two opposite traits. The three main factors are neuroticism vs calm,
introversion vs extroversion, and psychotic vs impulse control (Costa & McRae, 1995). Eysenck theorized
that high scores on the neuroticism scale meant that people will be more likely
to suffer from neurotic problems, and not neurotic themselves. As for
introversion and extraversion, he hypothesized that extraverted brains required
more external stimulation than introverted brains, which are more sensitive to
external stimuli. As for high scores on the psychoticism scale, they indicate
that in certain environments, the individual will have very low impulse control
and a tendency to be out of touch with reality (Cooper, 2010).
Eysenck’s 3 factor model was later developed by Paul Costa and
Robert McRae into what is now known as the 5 factor model, which is the revised
and updated scientific approach to measuring personality (Costa & McRae, 1995). However, Freud,
even though was unscientific in his approach, he was the first to emphasize
unconscious drives, which shape personality (Deal, 2007).
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Rosenzweig, S., & Fisher, S. L. (1997).
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