How would one approach writing a paper based on the following activities: Interview someone you know (e.g., family member, significant other, or best friend who will be kept anonymous) or research an historical figure for this project. Describe your subject’s background and any information relevant to your analysis of the subject’s personality based on the personality theories that you have learned in class. Analyze the subject’s personality and provide specific examples to support your analysis. Explain which theorists and theories most influenced your analysis and why you aligned with these ideas in order to create your analysis. Explain whether your theory functions as a philosophy or science.

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To write your paper, you first want to gain a thorough understanding of the personality theories developed by psychologists over the decades and of the research they used to develop their theories. The reason why is because such psychologists have already developed methods of inquiry to use to uncover personality traits, and developed their personality theories based on the answers they derived from their methods of inquiry. For example, Hans Eysenck developed his own questionnaire concerning behaviors to use to interview hospital patients to determine personality traits and developed his own personality theory based on the patients' answers. Knowing exactly how psychologists like Eysenck approached their research helps you determine exactly how to approach your own research. Without this knowledge, you might ask fruitless questions if you decide to conduct an interview or flounder in researching the correct details if you choose to research a historic figure.

Personality refers to the consistent ways in which we think, feel, conform, and behave over time. Such personality traits impact our values, our beliefs about ourselves, our mindsets, and our optimistic vs. pessimistic anticipations of things to come. Personality theories have been developed based on science and philosophy and continue to be developed. One example of a philosophy upon which personality theory has been developed is determinism vs. freedom. Some philosophers/theorists posit human beings, through freewill, have complete control over their behaviors, whereas others posit our behaviors are controlled by our environment, our unconscious minds, and by various aspects of biology. One scientific approach to the development of personality theory concerns the study of how genetics plays a role in developing personality traits. The theory is a part of behavioral genetics and studies the relationship between how genes activate cells and how the environment controls the activation of the cells. The theory notes that it is the interaction between genes, cells, and the environment that shapes the development of our brains and our personalities.

Numerous psychologists have developed personality theories. Among the names of theorists are Sigmund Freud, Anna Freud, Erik Erikson, Hans Eysenck, and Carl Jung, to name a few. Hans Eysenck's theory is one of the most popularly referenced because he is the one who catalogued behavior into the following three dimensions:

  1. Introversion/Extroversion
  2. Neuroticism/Stability
  3. Psychoticism

People who are introverts display introverted behaviors. Introverted behaviors include being reserved, very considerate of others, and contemplative or self-reflective. Introverts also have a tendency to be careful planners, be in much better command of their emotions than those with the opposite personality traits,  be very serious, and often pessimistic (Dr. Boeree, G. C., "Hans Eysenck (1916-1997)").

People who are the opposite, extraverts, also spelled extroverts, display extraverted behaviors. Such behaviors include being very friendly, even gregarious, and able to talk to new people easily. Extraverts also seek change in their lives because they need excitement and are impulsive. They are also often optimistic in contrast to their introverted counterparts (Dr. Boeree).

Those who are neurotics are gloomy, depressed, and become easily worried or fearful. They are also easily emotionally excitable and do not calm down easily once aggravated. In contrast, those who are stable do not worry easily, do not easily react emotionally, and are much more calm emotionally (Dr. Boeree).

Finally, those who are psychotics have an inability to empathize with others, intentionally hurt and distress others, attack others easily without or with little provocation, and often keep to themselves (Dr. Boeree).

Eysenck also posited that these personality dimensions can combine to produce a number of different personality traits. For example, there can be neurotic introverts, stable introverts, neurotic extraverts, stable extraverts, etc. (Dr. Boeree).

To continue understanding personality theories, continue reviewing your coursework and researching them. Once you have a thorough understanding of personality theories and have either conducted your interview or your research on a historical figure, you will then be able to analyze the personality traits of either your interviewee or your historical figure by determining what their traits are based on the personality theories. You will then be able to explain which theories influenced your decisions concerning their traits the most.

As you synthesize theories to analyze personality traits, you will be creating your own theory concerning personality traits. As you develop your own theory, you can think about whether or not philosophy or science is most influencing the decisions you are making concerning your theory. You'll then be able to write your paper based on all of the directions to your assignment.

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