What are the stages of personality development as described 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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Personality development as described by Raymond Cattell's Structure-Based systems is created through the interaction of the environment as well as heredity. It is a combination of what we inherit and what we learn.

We do this through

  • integrative learning- combining our system of values, common sense and problem solving abilities to attain goals.
  • operant conditioning- we learn consequences through punishment or rewards.
  • classical conditioning- learning to re-think about stimulus through changing our responses to it voluntarily.

Since Cattell's personality levels are not developmental, they do not come as stages, but as factors. Remember that, in the structure-based systems theory, it is interaction and not maturity necessarily what cause the development of the trait.

Hence, Cattell developed the 16-trait personality model which does show those factors that appear as traits are developed.

As they are, the factors are

  • warmth- Sizothymia vs Affectothymia
  • reasoning - Lower versus Higher Scholastic capacity
  • emotional stability- Lower versus Higher ego strength
  • dominance- submissiveness versus dominance
  • liveliness- desurgency versus surgency
  • rule-consciousness- Lower versus Higher Super Ego
  • social boldness- Trechtia versus Parmia
  • sensitivity- Harria versus Premsia
  • vigilance- Alaxia versus Protension
  • abstractedness -Praxeria versus Autia
  • privateness- Artlessness versus Shrewedness
  • apprehension- untroubled versus prone to guilt
  • openness to change- conservatism versus radicalism
  • self-reliance- Group Adherence versus self-sufficiency
  • perfectionism- low integration versus high self-concept control
  • tension- low ergic versus high ergic tension

Each of these sixteen factors are followed by a "versus". These are called descriptors. The descriptor is either low range, or high range. Depending on the factor, there will be a descriptor showing whether your behaviors are far from the factor (low range), or if your behaviors manifest the factor.

Take for example the factor "warmth". If you are someone who is the opposite of warm, or aloof, the consensus is to diagnose with Sizothymia while if you demonstrate behaviors such as outgoing and people-friendly you would fall on the higher ranger which is affectothymia.

As you can see these are not stages but indicators, mostly. Hence, Cattell should not be compared in style with psychologists such as Erikson.

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