Personality Theories


Theories of personality have always been formulated to explain personality and the development of personality traits. These theories tend to focus on conceptions of personality which applies to everyone.

Personality is characterized by patterns of behaviors, feelings as well as thoughts which make an individual unique. Among the theories that explain personality development in individuals are Carl Rogers’ theory of personality and Albert Bandura’s social learning theory of personality.

Carl Rogers’ Theory of Personality

The theory view that personality can always be modified as it is part of an individual’s personal growth. It is, therefore, possible to adjust one’s self-concept to bring about the essential transformations that one desires in his or her personality.

However, an individual who has a maladjusted personality is the reverse of a person with a mature personality. According to him individuals have a natural, underlying actualizing tendency.

This tendency increases and also maintains an individual’s capability to progress towards achieving autonomy. The individual, therefore, aspires to achieve the utmost potential out of his or her talent.

This tendency covers needs, drive reductions, pleasure-seeking needs, creativity as well as tensions and motives. He also noted that people tend to act out free will. The self helps people distinguish their values as well as an understanding of their intent reaction with other people.

In Carl Roger’s theory of personality, development of behavior is intrinsically motivated, and the individual has control over his or her personality development (Pescitelli, 2007).

Influence of the Theory on Situational Behavior

The natural tendency to persistently grow and develop positively influences an individual’s development of self-esteem and self-actualization. Self-esteem gives an individual the confidence to act in situations and to interact positively with other people.

It gives one the confidence to accept things as they are and to see the possibilities of developing one’s personality to meet the needs of those situations.

The need to achieve self-actualization enables an individual to develop perspectives to given circumstance and events and to be able to see the empirical truth about them. Self-esteem and self-actualization develop positive feelings and attitudes about situations.

An individual has the confidence to always consider positive expectations of his or her actions and therefore choose and unconsciously develop a behavioral pattern which acts in the way of his or her expectations.

According to Carl Rogers, an individual whose personality is fully developed is flexible and able to adopt different personalities to suit his or her needs.

The person can synthesize the perceived consistency of situations with his or her self structure and therefore adopt behaviors which are consistent with his self-structure and ignore those perceived to be inconsistent (Pescitelli, 2007).

Personality Characteristics

Carl Rogers describes two personalities; that is, the fully functioning personality and the maladjusted personality. He referred to a person with a mature personality as a fully functioning person.

Such a person has an increasing openness to experience while preventing any troubling stimulus from getting into his or her life.

The individual has a growing need for a more existential lifestyle and always live each moment abundantly to let his or her personality as well as self-concept to develop from such experiences. They are therefore adaptable, tolerant, daring, flexible and full of life.

They are creative and adapt to situations without feeling the need to conform to social norms. They are independent in their decisions and responsible for their actions. They are also constructive and aggressive and are therefore open to meet and balance all their needs (Pescitelli, 2007).

A maladjusted personality, on the other hand, is defensive and lives according to his or her preconceived plan; that is, he or she is not adaptable and flexible.

They thus maintain their lifestyles and are not open to the experience. They are also not creative and tend to conform to norms as they always feel manipulated (Pescitelli, 2007).

Interpersonal Relations Aspects

Carl Rogers’ theory explains that individuals with fully functioning personality values experiences as this enables them to develop their personality and self-concept. They are open to interactions and are willing to learn from their associations with others.

Individuals are flexible and willing to adapt to different situations that enable them to achieve their goal of self-actualization. Individuals are also willing to interact and socialize with other individuals whose behaviors are consistent with the aspects of their desired behavior (Patterson, 1977).

Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory of personality

Social Learning theory holds the view that human personality is developed through continuous reciprocal interaction of the cognitive, behavior as well as the environmental influences.

Bandura believed that behavior is developed by imitating the behavior of other people in the environment (Bandura, 1977). Individuals learn behavior by observing and modeling them to suit their personality structure.

The personality acquired through modeling would depend on the modeled events plus the observer’s characteristics. The observer’s characteristics, in this case, include the individual’s perceptual set, sensory capacity, past reinforcement as well as the arousal level.

These behaviors are enhanced by rehearsal and reinforcement.

Thus the acquisition of behavior would depend on one’s attention to events and situations in the environment; one’s ability to retain and reproduce the observed behavior; and finally, the level of motivation also influences one’s ability to acquire the behavior.

According to Bandura, an individual would most likely adopt the modeled behavior if its outcome creates value to him or her.

Besides, the individual would easily adopt the behavior he or she has modeled whenever he or she feels that it has a functional value to him or her; if it has some similarities with his or her behavior or when the individual has always had some admiration for the status of the behavior or those who hold the behavior.

In Bandura’s social learning theory of personality, development of behavior is motivated externally and is influenced by environmental factors and the individual’s psychological processes (Bandura, 1977).

Influence on Situational Observation

Just like in Carl Rogers’ theory of personality, individual’s observe and analyze the consequences of actions. According to Bandura individuals are very judgmental of their behaviors.

However, unlike Carl Rodgers’ theory of personality, an individual would observe the personality/behavior and compare it with the standard norms. An individual would also make a comparison with his or her standard behaviors and ability.

This would determine the self-response towards the situation. Thus an individual’s previous experiences influence his or her response to situations. If an individual consistently meets his or her standards and achieves self-rewards, he or she would have high self-esteem/self-concept.

Such an individual is confident when dealing with situations and sets realistic goals which he or she can meet. However, when the individual constantly fails to achieve his or her standards, he or she develops low self-esteem.

As such, the individual lacks the confidence to face situations and also develop a feeling of shame. He or she therefore has low expectations out of his actions (Dollard, & Miller, 1941).

Personality Characteristics

According to Bandura, such individuals are very judgmental of the behavior of individuals and situations in the environment. They are also judgmental of their actions and tend to compare them with the standard norms and their standards.

However, unlike in Carl’ Rogers’ theory of personality, creativity in individuals is limited by the individual’s standards and the society’s standard norms. They tend to judge before they experiment on situations.

Their involvement in activities is determined by the perceived outcomes of the situations. Thus individuals tend to experience self-criticism whenever their behaviors do not exhibit any moral justification. A mature personality according to Bandura is morally competent.

The individual also has self-efficacy which controls his or her behavior and determines his or her reaction to situations (Bandura, 1977).

Interpersonal Relations Aspects

According to Albert Bandura’s social learning theory of personality, an individual has to judge his or her association with other people. An individual’s interaction with other people is determined by his or her perceived outcome of the interactions.

According to Bandura, individuals exhibit self-regulation in their behavior and tend to observe and make judgments before engaging in relationships. Just like in Carl Rogers’ theory, interactions are also influenced by an individual’s self-esteem.

Self-efficacy also determines an individual’s social interactions. Self-efficacy reflects the individual’s perceived skills that he or she can offer in a group situation.

Involvement in the social group is dependent on the group’s dynamics and how the individual succeeds or fails in the dynamic interactions (Dollard, & Miller, 1941).


The theories discussed have different views on personality formation and development.

While Carl Rogers believed that personality develops naturally and is motivated by the need to achieve self-actualization, Albert Bandura believed that behavior is learned from other people and situations in the environment and is influenced by the level of reinforcement received.

Reference List

Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory. New York: General Learning Press

Dollard, J & Miller, N. (1941). Social learning and imitation. New Haven, New Jersey: Yale University Press

Patterson, C. H. (1977). Foundations for a theory of instruction and educational psychology. New York: Harper & Row.

Pescitelli, D. (2007). An analysis of Carl Rogers’ theory of personality. Web.

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