Comparison and Contrast of Different Personality Trait Theories


Personalityis a unique set of complicated psychological traits that contributeto a person’s specific pattern of mannerisms in different scenariosover the length of time (Gerrig, 2012). For many years, differentpsychologists and theorists have tried to come up with modules thatexplain the development of personality traits. All these theoriesthat have been put forward have their principles and how they view anindividual’s personality traits. These theories are discussedbelow.


Itis based on Freud’s theory that tries to describe several aspectssuch as the source and progress of personality growth, the nature ofthe mind, the characteristics that depict an abnormal personality andsteps that can alter personality through therapy. It also postulatesthat the events taking place in a person’s mind are the center oftowards affecting behavior. The theory assumed that no accidentoccurs during behavior change rather it is predetermined by variousmotives. These motivations mainly occurred through several stages.


Thistheory is mainly based on the assumption that behavior change occurswhen the individual tries to adapt in a way that their actions wouldbe viewed in a positive manner by the society. Other theoristsbelieve that it can also be influenced by concern about a personalrealization on their true potential.

Learningand Cognitive Theories

Thelearning theory tends to view factors and circumstances in theenvironment that affect behavior. It states that behavior responsesare aped subconsciously from people surrounding the individual. Thecognitive theory, on the other hand, states that individuals havedifferent responses towards behavior change based on the way theyunderstand and process information that comes to them, theirexpectations and beliefs, the feelings and emotions they feel and thegoals and values that they have.


Thistheory was championed by A. William James and focused on how eachperson manages their sense of self. This was divided into three partsof self. These were the bodily self that includes objects around, theself that is viewed by those around them and lastly the spiritualself that is in charge of hidden thoughts. All these factorsinfluence behavior change regarding how the individuals viewthemselves and what they aim to be or achieve.

Comparisonand Contrasts of these Theories

Allthese personality traits have similar and dissimilar characteristics.They are based on different factors depending with what influenceseach theory. These factors are discussed below.

Heredityversus Environment

Thepersonality theories have different principles when it comes to this.The Freudian theory relies largely on factors of heredity as thecause for behavior change. Humanistic theories, self-theories, andsocial learning/cognitive theories view the environment as a vitalcomponent for deciding behavior. These theories state thatinteracting with the environment is what tends to specificpersonalities.

Processof learning versus Innate Laws of Mannerism

Herethere is also a split when it comes to the theories. Freudian theoryis based on the inner laws and views as a core factor for behaviorchange. The humanist theory states that behavior change occurs due toan individual’s experience. Social learning, cognitive andself-theories are only focused on what was learned from an experiencethus leading to behavior change.

Emphasison the past, present or future

Allthese theories mention what was experienced in the past. The Freudiantheory is deeply rooted in the past especially during childhood. Thesocial learning theory focuses on the measures that were enforced andthe results that transpired as a form of basis for behavior change.Humanistic theory insists on the occurrences of the present or thefuture goals that have been set. Cognitive and self-theories traversethe past, present and even the future depending with whether goalswere set or not.

Consciousnessversus Unconsciousness

Allthe personality theories do not vary that much when it comes to thisseparation. The Freudian theory focuses mainly on the unconsciousactivities. The humanistic, cognitive and social learning theoriesare very clear on the conscious activities compared to theunconscious ones. The self-theory fails to draw a satisfactorydistinction between the two.

InnerDeposition versus Outer Situation

Allthese theories mention the inner deposition. Social learning is onlyfocused on situational factors. The others allow for both innerdeposition and outer situation to define their principles.


Allthese theories are interconnected somehow to try and define how anindividual’s personality operates. The Freudian theory acts as theinner drive that pushes an individual. Humanistic theory is the onethat makes a person decide whether to act or not on the inner drive.Social learning theory provides the direction and choices that aremade along a person’s life. Cognitive theory shows how theindividual will keep focusing on the intended goal and adapts inaccordance to each specific goal that was set. Lastly, theself-theory is the one that determines how the individual feels theirimage is being seen by others around them (Buss &amp Plomin, 2014).These theories are therefore very useful in trying to explain thedevelopment of personality traits.


Buss,A. H., &amp Plomin, R. (2014). Temperament(PLE: Emotion): Early Developing Personality Traits.Psychology Press.

Gerrig,R.J. (2012). Psychologyand life (20th ed).Boston: Allyn and Bacon. ISBN-10: 0205859135, ISBN- 13: 9780205859139