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Lifespan Theories of Development

1. Which personality theory do you think offers the best explanation for how an individual's personality develops? Why? Defend your answer including citations of the appropriate literature on personality theory.

2. Identify a specific psychological disorder as listed in chapter 16 of your text. Describe the symptoms commonly associated with this disorder according to the DSM-IV. How do the behaviors associated with this disorder differ from similar behaviors considered normal in American culture? Finally, discuss ways in which this disorder is treated. Do not discuss personal experience and do not use a disorder you have or found in your family. Use your own words and reference the text and other Cybrary sources to support your answers. Use appropriate citation and documentation.

I need help with these questions. Any ideas and suggestions will be much appreciated. Please cite your sources/references. Thank you.

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Please see response attached, which is also presented below. I hope this helps and take care.


Let's take a closer look through discussion, examples ad research, which you can draw on for your final copy.

1. Which personality theory do you think offers the best explanation for how an individual's personality develops? Why? Defend your answer including citations of the appropriate literature on personality theory.

Personality theories are mainly concerned with the structure of the human mind or psyche, which subsumes explaining how individual psychological processes are organized and made coherent. As such, personality theories serve as the basis and synthesizing element for many other fields in psychology.

So, in deciding what personality best explains how a person's personality develops will depend on what theories you hold about human nature, as each personality theory is based on a view of human nature. Do you find yourself leaning towards Erikson's theory that sees personality developing along psychosocial stages? Do you agree with the trait theorists that argue that personality is about 'temperaments' and 'traits' that we are born with (biological driven)? Do you think humanistic theory explains personality develop which argues that we construct reality ad thus our personality develops through our own construction of our own reality as our biological make-up as human beings allows? Or, do you think like the behaviorist theorists, you argue that the environment causes behavior, and thus personality development? If the environment does not teach us, we do not learn and do not develop a personality.

Thus, behaviorists argue that the environment drives behavior based on the 'empty slate' view of human nature; since we are born with an "empty slate" all things need to be learned through the environment. This is reductionist, according to most (me included) as it ignored the biological and cognitive aspects of the human being. Similarly, the biological theorists argue that behavior is driven through biological processes and temperaments that you are born with (e.g. trait theorists); biology determines behavior.

On the other hand, the cognitive theorists argue the thinking drives behavior; so you think, so you are; based on the agents of free choice view of human nature. However, even though cognitive theorists do not deny the influence of biology or the environment, they pay attention to only one factor: how thinking and cognitions drives behavior and in this sense reductionist as well. Thus, for the cognitive theorist, thinking can override environment and biology, as human beings are actors that have a free will to make choices. If you decide to let the environment influence you, the cognitive theorist argues, then it will. So, if you think: "I am not going to react to the bully in the environment" then the bully will not influence your behavior. Likewise, if you think you are going to succeed, then you will act in a way that leads to success. Cognitive theorists are also reductionists, though, because they do not deny biology or environment factors, but in the end, thinking drives behavior. And, many people need counsel and training in methods of being an actor and not a reactor, as many times we react to the environment e.g., get grouchy when we tired or the room is too hot; when the driver ahead of us cuts us off, when someone is rude and talks sharp to us, to name a few. We might react, ad then only later think back and wish we had acted differently.

So, I think that a holistic theory of personality is best to explain human behavior. One that integrates the three aspects of human behavior (bio-psycho-social) is the best personality theory. However, to date, I think we must settle for one that seems to explain personality in the most holistic way.

In fact, Erikson's theory does explain personality development that represents reality (and tested empirically, with support for the theory, or at least some of the theory), from a psychosocial perspective, and also includes stages from cradle to grave e.g., throughout the life span. This is the first theory that suggests out personality continues to develop throughout the lifespan, which is an advantage to this theory. It also includes both sides of the coin, the normal development ad the "abnormal" development of personality in terms of ego-strengths.

So, let's look at Erikson's theory, which is, consider psychodynamic, focusing on the ego development throughout the lifespan. Although Erikson does not focus on how we think, it is implied in the different theories. I slant towards being a cognitive theorist, but let's look at Erikson, whose stages explain the development have validity based in research.

Illustrative Example: Erikson

Erikson is a Freudian ego-psychologist, which means that he accepts Freud's ideas as basically correct, including the more debatable ideas such as the Oedipal complex. However, In contrast to Freud's psychosexual stages, Erik Erikson believed we develop in eight psychosocial stages, which he called the epigenetic principle. Each stage consists of a crisis that must be faced. According to Erikson, this crisis is not a catastrophe but a turning point of increased vulnerability and enhanced potential. The more an individual resolves the crises successfully, the healthier personality development will be. These eight stages of personality development are summarized in the table below and then discussed more fully:


Trust versus mistrust is Erikson's first psychosocial stage, which is experienced in the first year of life. A sense of trust requires a feeling of physical comfort and a minimal amount of fear and apprehension about the future. Trust in infancy sets the stage for a lifelong expectation that the world will be a good and pleasant place ...

Solution Summary

This solution discusses examples of personality theory and which theory seems to be the most plausible explanation of how an individual's personality develops, and why. It also discusses a specific psychological disorder on several dimensions e.g., DSM-IV-TR symptoms, similarities to normal behaviors, and others.