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Biological and Humanistic Approaches to Personality


Personal reflection is a day-to-day analysis that caters for assessment of personalities especially among closely related people. The daily rumination of peoples’ behaviours has a close focus upon individuals, but the development in the psychology studies indicates that the focus is general. Various theories are in use in the aim of explaining the developments involving the development of specific personal traits.

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What is Personality?

According to Laurent (2008), personality is “the characteristic patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviours that make a person unique.” Personality traits emerge from the inner persona of an individual and are consistent throughout life.

Key personality features that define a person

Consistency of the traits is one of the fundamental features of personality. An analysis of an individual behavioural pattern can easily indicate existence of a recognizable standard guideline, thus the existence of a regular behaviour, which assists in defining a certain individual. Behavioural patterns indicate that people can act similarly in a variety of situations, but there exists a distinct trait, that consistently defines each person.

Secondly, personality is a product of psychological and physiological features within an individual. Formation of the features arguably occurs because of influences from the biological aspects of life. Personality has a huge impact on the behaviour and actions. The influences fall upon the individual’s response to the environmental factors and therefore cause people to act differently. Lastly are the multiple expressions of personality. Every person has extra expressions beside behaviour that defines him/her. For instance, personal expressions can be recognizable in feelings, reactions, thoughts, and other social aspects of life such as relationships (Laurent, 2008).

The Maslow’s hierarchical representation of needs indicates that there is a motivation for people to fulfil the basic needs such as food, rest, shelter or clothing before the other secondary needs. The Maslow pyramid structure presents needs with the lowest level representing the most basic and essential personal needs. These physical needs form the foundation for all the other complex needs such as those meant for security and safety. The hierarchical structure progresses up the pyramid and indicates advancement from the physical to more psychological and social needs such as love or friendship. Further up the hierarchical order represents the personal value and emotion or urge for accomplishment. The representation thus offers a high priority over formation of personality through self-actualization.

The highest level of Maslow’s hierarchical representation of needs indicates that people are aware and concern of the need for personal growth and as a result focuses little attention to other opinions in the aim of fulfilling their potentials. Maslow indicates the influences of formation of personality from the self-actualization level. “What a man can be, he must be” (Friedman and Schustack, 2006). The personality is the tendency or desire to acquire full potential level of performance. Self-actualization is achievable through the needs for growth, thus the formation of character traits.

Self-actualization requires people who are realistic and ready to accept others or the reality in their surrounding. The needs for formation of genuine traits require people who are problems centred or have the ability to solve problems outside their personal needs. They are willing to assist others in finding solutions to a problem. They are therefore “often motivated by sense of personal responsibility over other’s needs” (Friedman and Schustack, 2006).

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Their openness and eccentric nature makes them to be impulsive over the commitment of thought to the external actions. The growth of the needs consequently influences the aspects of ethics and personal responsibility. The personal need for formation of self-actualization causes the formation of independent traits. People with such traits have the need or time to engage personal reflection over potentials. Appreciation is a foundation for pleasure and inspiration for others and as a result, it is associable to personality growth. At this point of settling the needs, an individual is at peak to feel an inspiration, renewal, strength and transformation of personal traits.

Biological factors influencing the formation of personality

Biological factors have a natural influence over formation of personal traits due to the internal characteristic of an individual with the genetic formation as the main manipulate. The psychodynamic presumption of traits formation has an emphasis on the unconscious inner being. The behavioural concept of building personality indicates that, personality occurs as an indication of an existing interaction between the environmental factors and individual character traits. The construct is a dismissal for the judgements based on feelings, conscious being or thoughts, because it takes into account measurable behavioural traits. Lastly, the humanitarian concept brings forth the importance of freewill and experience in the development of personality.

Are personality features consistent or dynamic?

In line with John et al (2008), “Personality traits have intrinsic differences that remain stable throughout life. They are the constant aspects of individuality,” however personal traits may digress slightly in accordance to the criticality of a situation, but remain easily identifiable. Personality features are distinctive and common in a variety of situations. The behaviours of most people are persistent and stable overtime and therefore they are easily to determine. The features of personality have a basis on the synergy, consciousness, emotional stability, intellect and agreeableness of a situation.

Relationship between biological factors and Maslow’s theory of personality

From a biological point of view, maturity of an individual is the basis for development of personality. The study indicates that there are no significant environmental influences over formation of personal traits. Individual differences therefore have a biologically foundation on the temperament differences. “Temperament is a combination of traits that people are born with; character is our civilized temperament and personality in the face people show to others” (John et al, 2008). Temperaments are traits that one acquires genetically but from parents or grandparents but are unpredictable meaning there exists some external factors that influence temperaments. The biological characteristics may influence the personality to fit into the environment, hence environmental factors indirectly shapes personality.

Basic aspects of humanistic theory of personality

Humanistic theory of personality acquires its unique perspective from the beliefs of existence of human integrity and humanitarian existence or responsibility. According to humanistic theory, the present is the most important aspect in support of life. The focus thus never engages a foundation on the experiences or prediction of the future but the present. The theory conflicts with the biological explanation of existence of personality but has a close relation to Maslow’s hierarchical representation of personal traits.

The basis of the theory is on the realism and for that reason, people have the responsibility to take control of personal actions whether positive or negative. There is an inherent worth of a person and actions do not negate the personal value or the personality. The value of living is to gain on the personal understanding as well as growth. The growth is only achievable through acquisition of self-knowledge and improvement of character traits.


People behave in a consistent manner in most cases but in special circumstances, they will behave in a special manner. The strange behaviours are unexplainable, but ‘like chalk and cheese’ people have varied personalities that cause them to behave differently especially in diverse situations. The distinct nature of personality is the main determinant of behaviours. According to assessment of personality distinctiveness, individuals have divergent personalities, and it is thus very difficult to find similar personalities or closely related characteristics.

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Friedman, H. S., & Schustack, M. W. (2006) Personality: classic theories and Modern research, Massachusetts, MA: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon.

John, O. P., Robins, R. W., & Pervin, L. A. (2008) Handbook of personality: theory And research. New York, NY: Guilford Publishers.

Laurent, H. (2008). Personality: How to Build It. Maryland, MD: Wildside Press LLC.

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