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Understanding personality has been a key interest of psychologists and practitioners primarily because of the importance of understanding human behaviour in everyday life. Personality ties a human with various uses in practical life where it allows an individual to grow and develop. For this reason, understanding and examining personality types comes with great practical use. Psychologists have attempted to explore and examine personality as the product of several aspects such as behaviour, attitude, value, innate characteristics, heredity, social environment, etc. Jung was one of the psychologists interested in the development and constituents of personality (Carver & Scheier, 1996). He attempted to examine and portray personality in the light of introversion and extroversion with specific focus on the attitudes that a person frames and executes (Boercee, 2006). The paper discusses the major principles of the theory, how it depicts and addresses the differences in gender and culture in explaining personality types, how it presents a comprehensive explanation of personality development, how it explains the changes in the personality over the lifespan together with a personal reflection on the theory
Major Principles of the Theory
Carl Jung (1875-1961), in contrast with Freud’s explanation of the human personality in terms of sex aggression, approached personality with competing forces and structures existing within a human mind which an individual attempts to balance. Jung’s theory of personality is acclaimed as analytical psychology. Analytical psychology sees people as individuals who strive towards acquiring self-actualization. The theory based on the assumption that an individual possesses conflicting forces embedded within oneself which one tries to balance whilst attempting to fulfill the demands of the society. Jung has emphasized on the cognition and understanding of individuals that frames their personality (Carver & Scheier, 1996).
Jung defines personality types based on attitudes, where attitude is a predisposition that controls behaviour of an individual. An individual possesses two conflicting and opposing attitudes that influence or rather defines personality. These two attitudes are introversion and extroversion. Where these attitudes are seen to work in contrast with an individual, they often are found to complement each other as they challenge the individual towards balancing their resultant behaviour (Carver & Scheier, 1996).
Introversion is an attitude under which an individual is aware and is focused in his or her inner world predominantly. He or she is aware of the external world but is more serious and concerned towards the inner world surrounding his or her inner social circle. A more extended aspect of the introvert attitude reflects the involvement of the individual with fantasies and dreams. The individual possesses a subjective view of the world and seldom uses objectivity to assess the surroundings (Mischel, 1999).
On the other hand, an extrovert person with strong contrast to an introvert person is concerned with the external environment more dominantly than the inner environment where objective view governs his or her personality (Carver & Scheier, 1996). The inner cognition and understanding surrounds the external environment and the information obtained has a strong influence upon the inner personality and value and belief formation and application in everyday life (Pervin, 1996).
According to Jung, individuals possess often both attitudes, though; they produce a conflicting situation for the individual which demand a continuous balancing effort. Based on these two attitudes, Jung further defines four functions that a personality performs. These functions are: (1) feeling; (2) thinking; (3) sensation; and (4) intuition. Feeling is where the person underpins and values consciously. Thinking allows the person to understanding meaning of life, activities and things. The individual applies cognition, awareness, mental analysis, and logic to define meaning to life and relationships. Sensation and intuition are other two functions which are related (Carver & Scheier, 1996). They allow the person to understand why they exist and feel their existence in relation to others in their environment. Both require conscious thinking and understanding which makes use of knowledge and emotional intelligence (Carver & Scheier, 1996; Boercee, 2006).
Jung further developed eight personality types drawing from the understanding of the two basic personality types based on introvert and extrovert attitudes. These personality types are: (1) extroverted thinking; (2) introverted thinking; (3) extroverted feeling; (4) introverted feeling; (5) extroverted sensing; (6) introverted sensing; (7) extroverted intuition; and (8) introverted intuition.
Differences in Gender and Culture
Jung emphasized on the individual cognition and knowledge that one applies to head towards self-realization and self-actualization. Introversion and extroversion, therein, define the level of self-involvement and social involvement and influence in this attempt of an individual to behave during their lifespan. The theory permeates individual goals and objectives of living. Introversion and extroversion, in this respect, relate largely with the culture that an individual is in. Thought, the theory does not reflect connection with culture but implicitly reflects a direct I influence of the cultural orientation that an individual lives in (Pervin, 1996; Boercee, 2006).
Cultural orientation affects the individualistic and collective nature embedded in the personality and to a great extent affects the level of introversion and extroversion in the personality. On the other hand, the mere definition of personality as persisted by Jung, reflects connotations with culture, wherein, the individual creates or develops personality to provide the society a public image of oneself. He or she is concerned with the public image to portray true reflection of oneself in the lieu of beliefs and values he or she holds within oneself (Carver & Scheier, 1996).
On the other hand, gender differences are well put together and embedded in Jung’s definition of personality and personality types under the analytical psychology theory, where, he asserts that a personality is embedded with cognition and understanding of the role that an individual has to play as a female or a male (Carver & Scheier, 1996).
The theory offers direct reflection of the personality development under the light of the behaviors and cognition understood and adopted by an individual as they pass on in life. As an individual grows older and passes the initial infancy stage, he or she learns to adapt the personality according to the role that the society expects of him or her related with the gender and culture. This is directly related with personality development that the theory underpins about the humans. Humans obtain collective and individual consciousness of the nature, life and surroundings and use that cognition and understanding to underpin the roles they have to play, the attitudes they have to portray and how they are to behave in an inner or outer social environments (Pervin, 1996; Boercee, 2006).They gain understanding of culture, gender, social structures, social institutions, knowledge and learning and use that information to develop beliefs and value that then govern and control the predispositions or attitudes they hold relating to the world and the surrounding environment which in turn govern their behaviour and thus, personality. According to Jung, the personality continues to develop given the constant acquisition of knowledge and learning of the inner and outer social environments.
If an individual is an introvert, his or her understanding is limited to self-interest and personal gains wherein he or she tries to fulfill personal dreams and objectives with minimum interest relating to how things are and what goes on in the external environment (Boercee, 2006). Introverts strive towards acquiring self-realization and self-actualization based on the beliefs and values they attain from the environment they are in with dominant focus on their inner self. Extroverts develop their aims and ambitions based on what the society expects of them and what is generally acceptable and then strive for self-realization and self-actualization based on this knowledge and understanding (Pervin, 1996). Their personalities develop with acquisition of knowledge and understanding that persists their goals and ambitions associated with them self.
Changes in Personality over the Lifespan
Jung’s theory also provides understanding of archetypes that society holds for individuals which allow individuals to transform their personalities based on the roles they want to fulfill and take on in life. This causes their personality to change with time. These archetypes are of a child, mother, father, hero maiden, old man and trickster (Boercee, 2006). These archetypes to a great extent at a conscious level influence changes in the personality as individual progresses in life. They acquire knowledge and understating of these archetypes growing up (Carver & Scheier, 1996; Boercee, 2006). Normally, the roles and personalities expected under these archetypes are embedded in the culture that an individual is exposed during a large portion of their life. The society has developed personality characteristics associated with each archetype. For example, a mother is expected to be a nourishing figure who takes care of the family. When a female marries and bears a child, she acquires characteristics of care and nourishment which are required by her by the society and thus, she changes her personality based on the archetype which she has grown up knowing. Similarly, when a man becomes a father, he becomes a leader of the family and takes on a decision making role and believes that now he is responsible, given the expectation that he perceives that the society holds of him. When a man becomes an old man, he is expected to be wise under the archetype and thus, he develops his personality similarly and sees himself as a person who is wise and his realization is based on the characteristics associated with the archetype.
Reflection on the Theory
I believe the theory is quite useful in underpinning understanding of personality with clear distinction drawn between extroverts and introvert. Emphasis is also given upon the conscious and unconscious understanding of humans. The theory is a step ahead from Freud’s understanding of humans tying human personality with sexual aggression (Carver & Scheier, 1996; Boercee, 2006).
Jung’s understanding and examination of the personality types comes with great practical use which allows an individual to see individuals as a combination of attitudes that are in conflict with each other given the several underlying expectations of the society (Boercee, 2006). Psychologists have attempted to explore and examine personality as the product of several aspects such as behaviour, attitude, value, innate characteristics, heredity, social environment, etc. Jung was one of the psychologists interested in the development and constituents of personality. He attempted to examine and portray personality in the light of introversion and extroversion with specific focus on the attitudes that a person frames and executes (Carver & Scheier, 1996).
Jung allowed the understanding that a human is a social animal and has the ability to change the personality with the progression of life. The personality, thus, is not innate, like presented by Freud. The personality is developed with time upon exposure to the culture and society that the individual lives in. However, the personality types are not restricted to the eight types defined by Jung and there are several branches that can be drawn from his work.