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Personality Theories

Please describe one of Allport’s “structure of personality. ” Gordon Allport believed that people are dynamic beings – constantly growing and evolving. Personalities have order and patterns, but are equally suited for change and diversity. Allport saw people as both product and process (Feist & Feist, 2007). They proactively act and react to the environment and cause the environment to react to them as well. People consciously determine their personality. For Allport, people are motivated by present drives (Feist & Feist, 2007). They understand what they do and why they do it.

Allport believed that the fault for most personality theories was that they limit people’s behaviors as being only reactive or as a result of people’s past. He held that an adequate motivation theory should allow for people’s concrete, individual motives, as well as recognize people’s intentions of living for the future as seen in their plans and goals. Allport argued that people can acquire personality systems that are independent from original motives. He called this capability the functional autonomy (Feist & Feist, 2007). Functional autonomy embodies Allport’s belief of people’s motives as changing rather than stagnant and monotonous.

The concept holds that human behaviors are independent of the original, instinctual behavior. That is, people do what they do because they like it or find some purpose in it, instead of people doing things because they have or need to (Feist & Feist, 2007). Allport deemed mature adults to be consciously motivated by self-sustaining, current motivations. Functionally autonomous motives grow from earlier motives but have become functionally independent of these early motives. An example would be a person who buys a dog with the initial intention of using it for protection.

Eventually, he or she becomes fond of the dog and considers it a pet and friend rather than a security instrument. Over the years, the dog has become too old and weak to serve its primary purpose of safeguarding the home. However, despite this, the person and dog owner still keeps and cares for the dog. His or her motive for caring for the dog has become independent of the original motives. 2. How do you see yourself in Costa and McCrae’s Five-Factor Model of personality? I chose to assess myself by Costa and McCrae’s categories of extraversion, neuroticism, and conscientiousness.

For every category, there are word pairs of high and low scores. I will pick one word from each opposite pair that best describes me to determine my personality. As it turns out, I am more conscientious than not, sometimes extraverted, and somewhat neurotic. I jumped fences in each category and could not pick all the traits of a high scoring neurotic. I do not see myself as being totally high in extraversion or an absolutely conscientious person. I believe that a person is and could never be just one personality and not the other.

On the category of extraversion, I picked the words affectionate over reserved and fun-loving over quiet. The truth is that I may be an affectionate person, but I also feel reserved sometimes. It depends on my mood and how I am feeling that day, and it could also depend on the people I am with. Yes, I love to have fun, but what if having fun for me is being quiet and reading a book? Does it mean I am a negatively extraverted but an extraverted person nevertheless? I am very disorganized, yet I am also hardworking and persevering, especially if the work brings me closer to my ambitions.

I also feel that very even-tempered, which is why I can be equally calm and anxious, vulnerable, and self-conscious as well as resilient and self-satisfied. I see myself as crossing margins in Costa and McCrae’s personality model. People’s personalities are not extremes or being exclusively just extraverted or neurotic. Traits exist on a continuum, and changes as people develop. Further, behavior and personality also differ per person, per situation, and per context. References Feist, J. & Feist, G. J. (2007). Theories of Personality (6th ed). New York: McGraw-Hill.

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