Theories of Personality and How They Affect Human Behavior

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psychology, theories of personality abound. Two of the most significant theories of personality include psychodynamic and humanistic/existential theories. Although these two theories share some features in common, they are based on widely different assumptions about human nature and human behavior. Each describes the way personality impacts human behavior under certain situations. However, psychodynamic theory presumes that human personality is static and less likely to change. Humanistic and existential theories are built on the assumption that human personality is dynamic. The differences between psychodynamic and humanistic theories of personality also have an impact on their approaches to treatment interventions and therapy.

Psychodynamic theories of personality are based on the theories of Sigmund Freud, who believed that human personality is determined by subconscious factors and the person's psycho-sexual nature. The personality is divided into three main and immutable components according to the psychodynamic worldview. Those three components include the id, ego, and superego. The id is the part of the personality that is childlike, needy, and interested in instant gratification. The ego is the part of the personality that is constructed in the social world, and in which the individual becomes heavily invested. The superego operates like a general conscience of moral behavior and internalized social norms. In many ways, the superego attempts to mediate between the desires of the ego and id. Psychodynamic theory does not place any emphasis on the achievement of balance or happiness, but rather on simply understanding the subconscious forces that comprise the personality. Mainly the personality is believed to be driven by impulses including sexual urges and the "death wish," (McLeod, 2007).

Humanistic theories of personality including existential theories are not deterministic like psychodynamic theories. However, some humanistic theories also offer a tripartite division of the human personality just like psychodynamic theory. Humanist Carl Rogers, for instance, divided the human personality into three distinct forces interacting with one another: the real self, ideal self, and perceived self. In some ways, these three aspects of the personality correspond with the id, ego, and superego. Yet Rogers and other humanistic psychologists believe that human personality can change. Humanists and existentialists are also more optimistic about human nature and personality in general, presenting theories that show how human beings can attain self-fulfillment and happiness.

Both psychodynamic and humanistic theories suggest that human personality eventually impacts situational behavior. A person's personality characteristics will determine how they react to…

Sources Used in Document:


"A Comparison of Psychodynamic and Humanistic Therapy," (2015). Retrieved online:

"Humanistic Theories of Personality," (n.d.). Retrieved online:

McLeod, S. (2007). Psychodynamic approach. Simply Psychology. Retrieved online:

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