Application of Personality Theories

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Many theories explain people’s behaviors and habits in different situations. Although distinct, these theories overlap in some areas but contradict many others. Although they pose their limitations, most of these practical theories can be used in clinical sessions. Understanding the theories and their groups and when to place a client in a certain group can help psychologists and other experts perform their work better. When applied correctly in a clinical session, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Eysenck, and the Five-Factor Model of Personality theories can benefit the victims.

Application in Clinical Session

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

When Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is studied and its different stages analyzed, clinical experts can use it in a therapy setting. For example, Lonn and Dantzler (2017) demonstrate how this famous personality theory can be applied to people with refugee status. Both refugees are likely to be in a stage where they only need to have their needs met, and executives in a company, a group trying to achieve self-actualization, can suffer from psychiatric illnesses. When dealing with a patient of either category, it would be imperative for the caregiver to carefully evaluate and guess the victim’s stage of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The updated hierarchy, which contains seven stages of needs, including; physiological, safety, belonging, self-esteem, cognitive, aesthetic, self-actualization, and self-transcendence, should be used. However, clinicians need to be careful about overlapping needs and the satisfaction of a lower need by achieving a higher need common in practical situations.

Eysenck’s Personality Theory

Understanding Eysenck’s model of personality and accurately categorizing a patient into a correct group of this theory can hugely help the expert understand and help the patient. The Eysenck personality questionnaire classifies individuals into the following traits; psychoticism, extraversion, and neuroticism. An expert in a clinical session should carefully consider the group an individual falls into and measure it with associated traits and disorders. Aluja et al. (2019) have observed that people with neuroticism traits are pathological alcohol consumers while those with psychoticism and, to a lesser degree, extraversion are positive non-addicted alcohol consumers. The theory is based on physiology and genetics, which can help psychotherapists easily gauge the temperament of a particular individual and thus take the best mitigation measures. The theory is applicable in experimental and personal psychology and is thus vast in its application.

Five-Factor Model of Personality

Another personality theory that can be widely used in practical psychological fields is the five-factor model of personality. The model is useful for patient description and diagnosis, especially for personality disorders. The factors used to place people in different groups are thought, feeling, and behavior. Extraversion, neuroticism, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness are the five groups of this model. These classes are associated with different brain compositions; for example, neuroticism was associated with the thinker cortex and smaller areas and folding in prefrontal-temporal regions (Riccelli et al., 2017). A knowledge of neuroticism, just like the other groups of the five-factor model, could help psychologists deal better with clients.

Dealing with a substance use disorder Client

Personality Theories Effective In Dealing with Clients Who Have A Personality Disorder

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Eysenck’s Personality Theory, and the Five-Factor Model of Personality provide extensive knowledge on how a person with substance use disorder should be dealt with. Personality variables are part of the risk factors for substance use disorders and can be attributed to certain traits (Aluja et al., 2019). Dargis et al. (2021) conducted experiments on 200 US marine veterans enrolled for substance use disorder treatment and confirmed that using psychopathic traits contributes to relatively favorable outcomes. Köck and Walter (2018) found that half of the personality disorders patients also experience substance abuse. Therefore, when dealing with a person with substance use disorders understanding their personality traits and mitigating personality disorders could largely help control substance abuse.

Theories That Stood out in Terms of their Practical Application

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs was one of the more practical theories, and it gave a clear illustration of why individuals prioritize certain decisions over others. This theory informs the decision-makers on the determinants of certain decisions made by their clients. The hierarchy was easy to understand, and thus caregivers did not have to gain extensive knowledge of the theory to use it in their practice. Eysenck’s Personality Theory, on the other hand, stood out in terms of its practical application because it is a quantifiable theory. The theory is backed up by the Eysenck personality questionnaire that helps the clinicians get prior knowledge of the group the client belongs to and the challenges they are facing (McLarnon & Romero, 2020). The five-factor model of personality was effective because it was capable of countering counterproductive behavior


When applied correctly and with extensive knowledge, key personality theories boost the quality of care given to certain victims, especially those with personality disorders and substance abuse disorders. All the theories under review are significantly useful and can fuel significant improvements for care recipients. The theories are constantly evolving, becoming better in both practicability and theory. Since most have limitations, the experts should integrate the knowledge learned from all for accurate decision-making.

Theory Key Factors/Points Strengths of Theory Limitations of Theory How relevant is this theory today?
Attachment Theory
  • It claims that young children must form attachments with at least one major caregiver for optimal social and emotional development.
  • John Bowlby, a psychiatrist, and psychoanalyst developed the theory
  • The theory was expanded to adult attachments in the 1980s.
  • It is used in clinical practice.
  • It can be used to create a bond between the child and the practitioner
  • It can be used to demonstrate the importance of hierarchy in other attachments
  • It has justified many therapeutic practices and perspectives
  • It is not testable because it lacks scientific rigor.
  • It assumes attachment is only influenced by one’s environment
  • It fails to factor in the child’s and the parents’ temperament
  • The theory shows how secure attachments can help a child’s brain development
Freud’s Psychosexual Stages of Development
  • States that a child’s personality development occurs in five psychosexual stages.
  • The five stages are oral, anal, phallic, latency, and genital
  • Sexual energy is expressed differently in each stage
  • Anal and oral stages of personality are strongly supported
  • It helps people understand how personalities are shaped
  • Provides an account for certain mental issues
  • Practitioners have not used it for decades
  • In the latency stage, no psychosexual development takes place
  • It overly depends on vague information
  • Today the theory helps explain how a person’s personality is shaped.
Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development
  • Jean Piaget developed


  • It is concerned with how children acquire information and natural intelligence.
  • Its stages are; sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational, and formal operational.
  • It helps demonstrate how adults are different from children
  • Its stages are backed up with valid explanations
  • It is backed up with concrete terms
  • Child-rearing is not considered in the theory
  • The learning abilities of different children are ignored
  • The quality of education received by different children is ignored
  • Today the theory helps us understand the intellectual growth of both children and adults
Erikson’s 8 Stages of Development
  • Erick Erikson developed it in 1958
  • It states that individuals must pass through eight stages
  • from childhood to adulthood.
  • Freud’s Psychosexual Stages hugely influence the theory
  • Forms a basis of discussion on emotional and social issues
  • It expounds on Freud’s Psychosexual theory further
  • It is very effective in building self-awareness
  • Promotes a skewed vision of human growth
  • Erikson neglects the growth that happens in adulthood
  • The stages are not chronological as the theory states
  • It can be applied to teachers in school to ensure the proper development of children
Roger’s Self-Concept Personality Theory
  • States that a person’s behavior is influenced by their motivation to achieve the highest level of achievement that a person can
  • It was developed by carl Rodgers (1902-1987)
  • The theory supports Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
  • It gives an analysis of how people should view themselves
  • It can be used in decision making
  • Provides a deep understanding of social behavior
  • The theory is not practicable
  • Critics say his conception of self-actualization is false
  • The theory is too vague
  • It is used by people who want to maximize their potential and well being
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
  • Abraham Maslow proposed it in 1943
  • It is one of the most common academic models
  • States that humans have a hierarchy of fulfilling their needs, from the most basic needs to self-actualization
  • The theory is easy to understand
  • It is insightful to the nature of humans
  • It provides a useful summary in understanding human life
  • It Does not account for cultural differences
  • It does not account for social differences
  • The model has been said to be overly simplistic
  • Marketers use it by selling people what they need at a particular hierarchy stage.
Eysenck’s Personality Theory
  • States that every person has three states inside them; psychoticism, extraversion, and neuroticism
  • Psychologist Hans Eysenck developed it
  • It is a personality-based theory
  • Psychologists consider it a true paradigm
  • It is a solid theory of psychology
  • It is quantifiable, thus making it authentic
  • The idea that any bad behavior can be explained by personality has hugely been criticized.
  • It requires personal observations susceptible to bias
  • It requires introspection, which is hard
  • It is used to explain an individual’s behavior using their personality
Cattell’s 16PF
  • It was developed by Raymond B Cattell, Maurice Tatsouka, and Herbert Eber
  • It provides information that is useful to clinical psychology
  • It has many decades of empirical research under its belt since the 1940s
  • It is a reliable test
  • Manual testing procedures make it cost-effective
  • It uses quantitative measurements
  • It is not replicable
  • Its reports lack validation
  • It lacks published data
  • It is used by psychologists and other mental professionals
Allport Trait Theory
  • It states that central traits work together to establish a personality
  • It was developed in 1937
  • Emphasizes the uniqueness of individuals and internal cognitive processes
  • Adheres strictly to statistical data
  • It has no bias
  • It describes every trait
  • Does not predict the future well
  • Does not explain how traits change
  • Does not address the development of traits
  • It is used to develop assessment devices
Five-Factor Model of Personality
  • It was developed in the 1980s
  • It suggests the grouping of human traits
  • Its traits are extraversion, neuroticism, openness to experience, conscientiousness, and agreeableness.
  • It is effective in controlling bad behavior
  • Supported by a vast body of evidence
  • It captures the most basic personality differences
  • It is too theoretical
  • It is too vivid
  • Does not account for personality development
  • It is used to prevent counterproductive behavior
Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory
  • It was developed in the 1960s by Albert Bandura
  • It focuses on social influences
  • Its goal is to analyze how people control their behavior
  • It is a unique theory
  • It considers the maintenance of behavior
  • It is an evolving theory
  • It assumes that personality changes will be influenced by environmental changes, which is false
  • It is not easy to operationalize
  • Does not focus on emotion and motivation
  • It provides psychologist with an alternative route


Aluja, A., Lucas, I., Blanch, A., & Blanco, E. (2019). Personality and disinhibitory psychopathology in alcohol consumption: A study from the biological-factorial personality models of Eysenck, Gray, and Zuckerman. Personality and Individual Differences, 142, 159–165. Web.

Dargis, M., Patrick, C. J., & Blonigen, D. M. (2021). Relate psychopathic traits to therapeutic processes and outcomes for veterans with substance use disorders. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment. Web.

Köck, P., & Walter, M. (2018). Personality disorder and substance use disorder – An update. Mental Health & Prevention, 12, 82–89. Web.

Lonn, M. R., & Dantzler, J. Z. (2017). A practical approach to counseling refugees: Applying Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Journal of Counselor Practice, 8(2), 61-82.

McLarnon, M. J. W., & Romero, E. F. (2020). Cross-cultural equivalence of shortened versions of the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire: An application of the alignment method. Personality and Individual Differences, 163, 110074. Web.

Riccelli, R., Toschi, N., Nigro, S., Terracciano, A., & Passamonti, L. (2017). Surface-based morphometry reveals the neuroanatomical basis of the five-factor model of personality. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, nsw175. Web.

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PsychologyWriting. "Application of Personality Theories." March 16, 2023.