When it comes to changing our lives, understanding the way that our personalities develop is very important. It’s also why knowing what is personality development matters so much today. In the past it was easy to believe that the traits we had at birth were the same ones we go to the grave with, but we all know by now that this is not the case at all.
Instead, personality development can help us change things about ourselves. From the theories of personality development that we go through from adolescence to the personality development programs that other adults are using to help improve their situation and long-term progression, change their lives many options exist.
The default term for personality development, though, is “the development of organized patterns of behaviour which makes a person distinct.”
So, how do you go about understanding just what is personality development? Is it possible?
Personality Development History
The actual history of personality development is very long and detailed – indeed, we could go back as far as Ancient Greek times to find the true answer to what it is. Works from the likes of Hippocrates exists, showing far-flung and rather outrageous ideas for how the human mind might have worked. Hippocrates suggested that we had two pillars of temperament – Hot/Cold and Moist/Dry. He seen these as four specific kinds of school of thought and senses of humour which made up who we are.
Whilst this looked to pay attention to more medicinal side of things (ascribing cold and wet as phlegm, for example) it did take into account the importance of personality development in each person.
Both Plato and Aristotle took this further, adding their own unique dimensions to what is today known as personality development.
Aristotle and Plato
Plato believed that four major groupings existed – sensible, artistic, intuitive and reasonable – whilst Aristotle was a believer in four major factors contributed to each major persons’ role in the society. From our artistic quality to our intuition and logic, various factors would determine where someone would sit within the pillars of society.
Aristotle also was one of the first to make a clear distinction between the bodies physical nature, and how we behave. Indeed, it was in this era that Franz Gall, an 18th century neuroanatomist, found the correlation between the brain and body function. Whilst he also believed that skull measurements could tell us about the emotions of the person being studied, this eventually led to the development of some of the most pioneering forces of personality development today.
Indeed, he was one of the first to move away from the philosophical siding of deciding how personality worked, and instead moved into more anatomical thinking.
It took until the 19th century for major change in what is personality development to occur. Gage was involved in a brutal railroad accident in 1848, when a tamping iron was driven through his face. He somehow recovered despite the brutality of the incident, but the severe brain damage and stress that had occurred left clear marks on his personality.
He went from being a calm and patient man to being abusive and profane. Indeed, he is now used as a clear sign that physical trauma can be a major player in the development of personality development – and not always for the best.
Gage was followed by the likes of Sigmund Freud, who believed in the ID, the ego and the superego, as well as other names such as Carl Jung who was a student of Freud. Jung posited that people can be categorized based on how they think and feel.
Carl Jung and Beyond
From introverts and extroverts, Jung created a marking for society that remains prevalent today. From “Type Theory” which was developed by Katherine and Isabel Briggs to the thinking of Abraham Maslow, personality development has changed almost unrecognizably since inception.
Maslow believed that human motivation was driven by a desire to fulfil our need to be the best that we possibly can. Others, such as Carl Rogers, believed that we all act in accordance to our own personalities to become the best that we can.
Motivations influence our actions, which are influenced by our thoughts, which influences our personality.
The sheer variety of options and ideas for just what is personality development means that, centuries on from its inception, people are still unsure what it holds exactly. As we continue to untangle what the relationship is between personality and behaviour, more names shall join this list.