Nina Pitton is the owner and president of Mind Care Tutoring Services, Inc. In the following article, Nina Pitton discusses how theories of personality have long been a subject of interest among psychologists and researchers, as they provide a framework for examining the complexities of the human psyche, as well as exploring the various theories of personality and their contributions to our understanding of how we learn.
Understanding the psychology behind different personality traits can have a significant impact on education and learning, as it allows teachers and students to better comprehend how they perceive, process, and interact with information.
By gaining insights into these personality traits and behaviors, educators can tailor their teaching methods and create a more inclusive and effective learning environment for all students.
Nina Pitton on How We Learn
People learn new things every day, yet one of the most significant aspects of a person’s life is what’s going on in their very own mind. Everyone has their own unique personality, but where do these seemingly infinite personality types come from?
Nina Pitton says that the ability to understand behavior, personality and how we learn begins with some basic knowledge on how each theory explains the development of an individual’s personal characteristics.
The Four Theories of Personality
Nina Pitton says that it helps to provide a broad overview of how each trait defines personality. The four main theories of personality can be defined as such:
- Psychoanalytic Theory – Those who develop present behaviors from past childhood experiences.
- Social Cognitive Theory – People who model the behaviors and characteristics they observe on a daily basis.
- Trait Theory – Personality is composed of multiple broad traits of various unknown origins.
- Humanistic Theory – People use free will and self-awareness to develop their full potential.
These theories are not necessarily mutually exclusive. For instance, a person may choose to believe that many of their negative characteristics stem from childhood (psychoanalysis), yet that they can still use free will (humanism) to model healthier behaviors they observe around them (social cognition), especially in an academic setting.
Nina Pitton says that no two students are alike, and understanding personality theories is an important aspect in providing quality education to all students.
Not only is psychoanalysis one of the oldest psychological theories, but it’s one of the most well-known due to the names behind it. Developed by Sigmund Freud and studied extensively by Carl Jung, psychoanalytic theory credits an individual’s personality to the relationship between childhood experiences and unconscious thought.
Nina Pitton explains that a person’s past experiences can influence their present behaviors through a process called transference. The effects of transference are often negative, but not always. A person does not necessarily intend to let old occurrences impact their personality, but the subconscious identity often takes over.
In the classroom, this can manifest in various ways, commonly as test anxiety. Additionally, this theory highlights the importance of a positive teacher-student relationship. This is an especially important connection for those students that fall into this personality categorization.
By considering the influence of the unconscious mind and the role of past experiences, educators can better understand and address the emotional and psychological needs of their students, ultimately leading to a more effective and fulfilling learning experience.
Social Cognitive Theory
Nina Pitton reports that with social cognitive theory, people develop by observing those around them and modeling others’ behaviors. This can be a positive or negative situation, depending on the influences at play. Like psychoanalysis, past experiences may also play a role depending on the emotions associated with them.
Self-efficacy is the focus in this theory. Individuals are more likely to model certain behaviors when they believe they are capable of imitating them successfully. This can have a profound impact on learning outcomes, as students who trust in their ability to succeed regardless of challenges are more likely to persevere.
Additionally, the theory focuses on a person’s cognitive abilities, such as attention, memory, and motivation, in the learning process.
Teachers can apply visual models in their instruction, providing opportunities for students to mimic and receive feedback. This creates a supportive learning environment that promotes self-improvement.
Much like the name implies, trait theory defines an individual’s personality by the broad characteristics they exhibit. This is the theory that many personality tests typically operate under.
Nina Pitton explains that trait theory also has its criticisms. The two biggest are that trait theory does not actually do much to explain where various personality traits originate, although modern researchers do continue to express increased interest in this. Furthermore, not all critics remain convinced that certain traits can accurately predict behavior or learning processes.
According to this theory, individuals possess conscientiousness, openness, and neuroticism, that can impact their educational outcomes.
For example, students that are highly conscientiousness are more likely to be organized, detail-oriented, and goal-driven, which can lead to better study habits and academic performance. Similarly, individuals with openness may be more responsive to incorporating new ideas and experiences, leading to a more experimental and creative approach to learning.
Trait theory can also help educators identify potential areas of difficulty for students based on their personality, such as those who suffer from test anxiety or have difficulty managing stressors. By considering these traits, educators can modify their teaching strategies and create a more personalized learning experience for all students.
Nonetheless, enough people believe in trait theory that it’s actually become a somewhat popular talking point in concepts of leadership. The idea is that certain traits commonly exhibited by entrepreneurs and corporate leaders should be studied and even mimicked by those who wish to follow along on these innovative paths.
Nina Pitton reports that while the previous theories determine personality based on past or present, the humanistic theory assumes that people are who they need to be today to get where they’re going tomorrow. They use attributes such as free will and self-actualization to move themselves along a path toward their greatest potential.
This theory emphasis the importance of personal growth, self-awareness, and self-actualization as it related to an individual’s behavior.
Individuals who have a natural desire to learn and reach their full potential, can be achieved through positive reinforcement and empowering learning experiences.
Nina Pitton explains that humanism led to the creation of an entire field of therapy, known as positive psychology. Because humanism assumes people can achieve self-actualization, it credits individuals for successfully overcoming mental or emotional distress. Depression and anxiety are not inherent traits, but rather obstacles to be overcome.
By highlighting the value of personal growth, educators can help students achieve a sense of purpose and meaning in their education, especially by incorporating student’s ideas into lesson planning, providing opportunities to work together and provide peer-to-peer feedback leading to a more engaged and fulfilling academic experience.
The four theories of personality take a bit of study to fully understand and differentiate from each other, but they do lead to some very intriguing observations and methods of understanding the needs of students better. Each theory has its uses in not only understanding individuals are at a deeper level, but in pursuing self-improvement for a happier, more fulfilled life.