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Our personality is what defines us as individuals. It is the sum total of our...

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kcbrosell | Student, College Freshman | eNoter

Posted June 6, 2012 at 6:07 PM via web

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Our personality is what defines us as individuals. It is the sum total of our experiences and biology.

How then can psychologists categorize personalities into types? Choose a particular theory of personality and explain how it can be used to describe an individual's personality.

Because no two people have identical experiences, you would not expect any two people to have the same personality. 

Choose a particular theory of personality and explain how it can be used to describe an individual's personality.

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wordprof | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted June 6, 2012 at 8:36 PM (Answer #1)

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Taxonomies—the arrangement of individual specimens into categories—are never innocent.  That is, when a psychologist divides people into types, the underlying motive is to prove or support their hypothesis, hoping to promote it into a theory.  Freud, by dividing the human impulses into id, ego, and superego, sought to identify those parts of the mind that caused actions.  A theory ripe for discussing personality and the balance between nature and nurture is Personology, the study of human physiological traits and how those traits affect behavior.  Personologists take the term “ego” and divide it into forward ego and backward ego(among other traits—this is a simplification), claiming that people act differently based on some development of the brain.  More understandable is skin thickness, which determines whether a person is an outdoor type or an indoor type.  Personologists have over 60 of these physical measurements (highbrow and lowbrow, etc. etc.) with which they can predict human personality predilections.  It is a simple matter, then, to put personalities into categories and make generalizations about them.  Thus there are thousands of combinations of these traits, leading to millions of personalities (when nurture and experience are added), but these personalities can be clustered together into “types.”   

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William Delaney | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 6, 2012 at 9:30 PM (Answer #2)

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C. G. Jung's book Psychological Types has had a great influence on everyone interested in classifying people according to their personality types. Jung distinguished two kinds of "attitudes," introversion (I) and extraversion (E), and six kinds of conscious functions, thinking (T) vs. feeling (F), intuition (N) vs. sensing (S), and judging (J) vs. perceiving (P). Therefore, according to Jung, there are sixteen basic personality types that combine these measures: for example, INTJ, or ESFP. It is of course much more complicated than that, but those are the sixteen main types he identifies. His book also surveys the efforts of philosophers and psychologists to classify personality types going all the way back to the ancient Greeks.

Jung's Psychological Types is covered by eNotes. You can access the website by clicking onto the links below.

You might find it interesting to test your own personality type through a Briggs-Meyers personality test, which could find online. 

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