What is the personality structure and dynamics defined by Raymond Cattell's Structure-based systems theory?

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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The Structure-Based systems theory basically states that the traits that individualize our personality (attributes that are dependent on the environment) make or break our chances of leading a prosperous and healthy life. In other words, the traits build our personality because they are the agents that help us understand the environment around us.

As far as personality dynamics Cattell offers that personality traits can be built through any of the following dynamics:

  • through biological/genetic factors, or "constitutionally"
  • through environmental, social learning
  • learned through skills (such as stress and anger management)
  • developed due to our immediate moods

As far as structure, Cattell's theory says that the personality traits that form us can be

  • surface traits- characteristics that are controlled by source traits
  • source traits- the inner characteristics that we develop as we intermingle with our environment.

The process through which the traits become internalized, according to Cattell, is dynamically. We organize our traits in subcategories that we summon at will from what is known as the dynamic lattice. This process of categorization is called subsidisation. The process of subsidisation depends on our emotional state which, in turn depend on the "erg", which is the combination of things that dominate your inner drive.

This is the structure of personality and the dynamics by which such structure is developed.

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