Research into personality is something which is highly important in psychology today and has been researched and developed over the years. Personality is described as “Individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking feeling and behaving.” (American Psychological Association, 2017). Research and development in this area is highly important as its what distinguishes us from other people and makes us interesting. Its been researched since very early times such as ancient Greek times by physicians such as Hippocrates (460-370BC) to more well-known Researchers such as Sigmund Freud (1856-1959) and Eysenck (1952, 1962, 1982) who argued that personality was based on biological factors. Personality has been broken down by many theories and approaches over time, e.g. implicit and explicit personality types and also models such as The Big Five which are highly influential today. The aim of this essay is to help understand the development of research in Personality and also how important it is in psychology. Personality comes in useful in ways way don’t realise, from making friends to applying to jobs. Understanding personality can help psychologists predict how people will respond to certain situations by using personality tests to assess them, and the type of things they prefer and value.
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Personality has been studied for a long time. The “Four Temperaments” test was a personality test made back in ancient Greek time. It was a medical theory that there were four core body make-ups, these being blood, yellow bile, black bile and phlegm. If any of these were to go unbalanced it would cause you to become ill. It was developed into a medical theory by physician Hippocrates who believed that certain behaviours, mood and emotions were caused by unbalances in these specific internal areas. It is described to be a part of an ancient medical idea called “humorism” which focused on the medical system of the make up of the body. However, as psychology has developed, it is no longer believed that the internal parts of the body correlates with personality. This theory of Personality had developed over time, with Polymath (930-1037AD) extending the theory with their own version. He applied the theory to aspects such as mental capacity and moral attitudes in ‘Canon of Medicine’ which was a popular, standard book in universities during medieval times. After developing for many years, this theory is still relevant today. Writer Tim LaHaye tried to make this theory popular again by writing about it in his books and overall it is widely known and talked about. However, a criticism of this would be that we shouldn’t compare our physical body with our personality. Stereotyping these kind of things have caused problems in the past, for example, a physically attractive person is less likely to be found guilty of a crime than a less attractive person found guilty of the same crime.
Another popular theory is known as ‘The 5 Factor Model’ which is regarded important and a core model by psychologists today. The 5 factors include, experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism. To help remember this, it’s often shortened to the acronym ‘OCEAN’ and is used to measure and understand differences in our personality. This approach is completely different from The Four Temperaments as it doesn’t deal with internal factors. It was developed following the trait theory, meaning our personality can be categorised into individual factors. The trait theory takes a lexical approach meaning single adjectives or phrases alone can be used to describe personality or traits. The initial model was made in 1961 by Ernest Tupes and Raymond Christal but unfortunately this didn’t get any popularity until the 1980s. J.M. Digman developed this theory in 1990, with Lewis Goldberg extending it to its fullest. Research into the big 5 personality traits has developed over time, with things such as links to aggression being researched which is highly important today considering the UK has high crime rates, and violent crimes being up to its highest level in 7 years in Scotland. One particular study shows that openness and agreeableness were both directly and indirectly related to physical aggression but only indirectly related to violent behaviour. On the other hand, neuroticism was indirectly related to physical aggression through aggressive emotions but not violent behaviour.
Comparing this to ‘The Four Temperaments,’ psychology has developed a lot over time. In Ancient Greek time people focused more on internal factors which would lead to why a person is the way they are and they lacked scientific knowledge. In modern time, in ideas such as traits and ‘The 5 factor Model’ it is understood that both genetic and environmental factors affect how we act, feel and behave. Nowadays, we also have more resources and have a lot more research done to help support our theories. With science to back us up it’s much easier to have a solid idea with supporting evidence. However, there is also criticisms of the Five Factor Model. In the five factor test, it’s easy to mark your answers corresponding to what personality type you want. Another problem is that people don’t act consistently in every situation, we often change our behaviours based on our environment and who we are with. This shows there’s still some development needed in this test to get accurate results. Putting aside these criticisms, these tests can be helpful in the real world in situations such as job interviews where some places require you to take a personality test such as the 5 Factor Model to evaluate your suitability for the role.
Eysenck (1952, 1962, 1982) similarly proposed a theory of personality based on biological factors. He argued that individuals have a type of nervous system genetically which is what helps them adapt to their environment. In 1947 Eysenck found that personality can be categorised into 2 parts, the first being Introversion/Extroversion and the second being Neuroticism/Stability. These were called second-order personality traits and were due to a different biological cause. This theory later developed in 1966 when he added a third category, Psychoticism/Normality. However, Eysenck doesn’t take social factors into consideration. Other psychologists have developed this theory, Loehlin, Willerman and Horn (1988) found that only 50% of the variations on scores on these categories are due to genetic traits. This particular theory is highly important as it’s lead to future research and further developments in this area of psychology. Traits such as extroversion can come in useful when it comes to jobs such as retail where you will be required to be outgoing. In comparison to the Four Temperaments, research into personality has developed a lot, as this theory looks at traits in comparison to the physical make up of the body. In comparison to The 5 Factor Model, both are similar in ways as they focus on traits, however, The 5 Factor Model takes more traits into account instead of comparing to ideas such as you are either introverted or extroverted.
In conclusion, all three of these are important to psychology today in their own ways. Older studies such as The Four Temperaments are highly important today as it’s helped psychologists develop our current theories and have given them a basis for research in this field. The Five Factor Model is important in relation to how we assess people when getting to know them, we often assess their traits to decide how well we would get along. Finally, Eysenck’ theory is helpful as it’s so simple and can be useful for assessing job applications. Research into personality, and more specifically traits is particularly important as they reflect people’s characteristic patterns of thoughts feelings and behaviours. Personality is important as it can help you gain acceptance from your peers and is what draws us to each other, without it we would not be able to bond. Personality still has a lot of research to be done as we do not fully understand it yet, however, research is developing quickly. Theories such as The Big 5 Model and Eysenck’s theory are still highly important and influential on research today and are helpful for us in everyday life. Overall, researchers have focused on the biological factors more on the past and have ignored how the environment and out upbringing might affect how we act and think, which is something which is developing in newer studies.