What Are the Main Differences Between Trait and Psychodynamic Theories of Personality?

June 2, 2018 General Studies

Oral is when an infant starts to bite or suck while feeding and it usually lasts for one to one-half years. Anal is when a child starts to take account of their conflicting tendencies: Id, ego, and superego. During the phallic stage, the child is able to distinguish between males and females. At the latency stage, the sexual drives are dormant. The last stage, genital, is when the child is learning to deal with the opposite sex (Stevenson, 2001). Trait theories attempted to study personality of people over time to understand human behavior.

The three main psychologists that introduced trait theories are Hans Eysenck, Raymond Cattell, and McCrae and Costa. Eysenck’s theory had introduced that there are two types of personalities: extroversion or introversion. He considered personality differences as surfacing out of our hereditary heritage, which is known as temperament (Boeree, 2009). Temperament theory consists of four types of personalities that include Melancholic, Choleric, Sanguine, and Phlegmatic. A Sanguine is a lively, talkative, carefree individual. Phlegmatic is a calm, controlled and thoughtful person.

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A Melancholic is a moody, anxious and unsociable individual. Lastly, a Choleric is an aggressive, impulsive and optimistic individual. Cattell, on the other hand, had isolated 16 personalities, which were then tested and called 16PF. Some of these personalities include anxiety, friendliness, emotionality, etc. The Big 5 theory had proposed that personality ran around 5 core dimensions that are extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness to experience. The main differences between psychodynamic and trait theories are that Freud explained personality as concealed and unconscious motives.

While trait theorists attempt to describe personality in terms of behavior patterns (Unknown, 2012). Freud’s theory is based on the unconscious, conscious, and preconscious mind and the development of the id, ego and superego. Personality, according to Freud, results form the conflict of the three. On the other hand, trait theories maintained Freud’s idea of unconscious mind and the defense mechanisms, except where Freud had focused on dark sides of personality, these theorists applied them in a positive manner instead.

These theorists had also taken into consideration of an individuals influence to culture and society on personality and that personality develops throughout youth (”Theories of Human Personality,” 2012). In conclusion, Psychodynamic Theories focus on a person’s internal mechanism of personality, which can be inner conflicts or struggles while Trait theories attempted to study personality of people over time to understand human behavior. Freud had divided the mind into levels of consciousness, preconscious and unconsciousness.

He had also divided the mind into three conflicting tendencies: Id, ego, and superego and as a defense mechanism the ego protects the individual from anxiety by coming to a conclusion. Eysenck’s trait theory had introduced that there are two types of personalities: extroversion or introversion. Cattell, on the other hand, had isolated 16 personalities, which were then tested and called 16PF. The Big 5 theory had proposed that personality ran around 5 core dimensions. The main differences between psychodynamic and trait theories are that Freud explained personality as concealed and unconscious motives.

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