Different personality theories have been proposed to explain differences in human personality. This paper evaluates Freud’s tripartite (structural) theory of personality. The first section begins with the illumination of the major principles of this theory, and this is followed by an assessment of how this theory addresses differences in gender and culture. In the third section, the theory’s comprehensiveness on how personality develops is explained. Fourthly, this paper assesses how this theory addresses changes in personality over the lifespan. It then concludes with the major points.
A brief summary of the major principles of the theory
In this theory, Feud divides the mind in three agencies: id, ego and superego (Rothbart, Ahadi & Evans, 2000). The id agency is dominantly unconscious and it dictate’s a person’s most primitive desires that seek to satisfy biological needs. It employs primary process in thinking (Rothbart, Ahadi & Evans, 2000). Likewise, the superego is also unconscious in nature, and it is characterized by socially induced conscience. It tends to counteract the id on the basis of moral and ethical prohibitions. On the other hand, the ego is largely conscious, and it acts a mediator between id and superego.
Id has been outlined not only as primitive, but also instinctive. It houses all the inherited biological traits of personality including those of sex and death (Caspi & Woods, 2001). This agency is impulsive in nature; it responds immediately to instincts. Everyone’s personality begins as Id (in early childhood) but later evolves making the three agencies. Id functions on the basis of pleasure. It calls for the satisfaction of very impulse no matter the consequence. On the other hand, ego often develops with the aim of mediating the two unconscious agencies. Ego is a vital component of personality because it dictates decision making. Unlike id, ego is based on logical reasoning; it is based on the reality principle. It uses realistic means to satisfy the ego needs, and this could involve postponement or compromise. In other words, realities, social norms and etiquette rules are taken into consideration. Ego boasts of the deployment of the realistic strategy unlike id that champions pleasure at the expense of reality. This is where the concept of right or wrong is based. It employs secondary process in thinking (Caspi & Woods, 2001).
Moreover, superego helps in the incorporation of moral values that are learned from others including parents. Feud opines that this agency develops at the age of between three and five years (Caspi & Woods, 2001). It plays a major role in controlling the impulses triggered by id. In addition, it imposes pressure on the ego to also champion moralistic goals on top of realistic ones. The aspect of guilt is guided by the superego agency. In other words, if the ego falls into the trap of id’s demands, the superego causes the ego to feel a sense of guilt (Caspi & Woods, 2001). Likewise, if the ideal self-behaves appropriately, it is rewarded by a sense of fulfillment or happiness. It helps in dictating one’s ideal self; how they ought to treat others, behave in the society or career aspirations. The ideal self tends to be molded in the early childhood with respect to how the kid was brought up and the associated environment.
How does the theory address differences in gender and culture?
Feud’s theory does not explain in detail how culture and gender play a role in shaping the differences in personality. However, it provides a theoretical basis upon which these explanations can be inferred. In terms of gender, the id agency could be used to explain personality differences. This agency as explained earlier champions pleasure. In accounts for personal traits that shape a person’s sexuality. On the other hand, Feud denotes that a personality is influenced by the environment in which the person is brought up. In this case, the culture of such an environment comes into play. Cultural norms in that environment are conditioned in the person’s mind. The person’s mind (ego and superego agencies) is influential in determining how a person conceptualizes moral values and socially acceptable norms.
Does the theory present a comprehensive explanation of how personality develops?
Feud’s tripartite theory of personality is amongst classical theories that opine that personality is shaped in early childhood and that it stabilizes in the adolescent stage (Donnellan & Robin, 2009). From Feud’s explanations, the upbringing of the child determines their future personality. Parents or guardians in this case play a fundamental role in the development of personality. Feud opines that everyone’s personality begins as id (in early childhood), but later evolves making the three agencies. Ego, on the other hand, is a vital component of personality because it dictates decision making. Unlike id, ego is based on logical reasoning; it is based on the reality principle.
In addition, superego helps in the incorporation of moral values that are learned from others including parents. From these explanations, Feud’s tripartite theory provides a comprehensive review of how personality develops. First, it emphasizes the point that the development of personality begins in early childhood. Secondly, it has provided three agencies that shape a person’s personality. Id, for instance, takes charge of the pleasurable aspects of personality, but the moral reasoning and behavior are accounted for by ego. Besides, superego helps in regulating the activities mediated by ego so that they are not only realistic, but also moral. On this note, it is important to point out that a person’s personality can be accounted for by this theory. The personality a person is determined by the behaviors and actions of that person. In other words, this theory helps in understanding why someone with a given personality behaves in a certain way. However, this theory does not detail the differences in personality.
How does the theory address changes in personality over the lifespan? 300
According to this theory, personality development commences in early childhood and stabilizes by the time a person is in their adolescence. Modern personality theorists hold the opinion that by the age of thirty, personality of often set like plaster (Roberts, Wood & Caspi, 2010). In other words, there is an emerging school of thought in personality studies that suggests that personality is anchored on the personality principle (Roberts, Wood & Caspi, 2010). This principle suggests that personality systems are flexible and are flexible to change. The environment can trigger changes in personality at any age. Several models that explain changes in personality exist. For instance, the interactional model of development that anchors those changes on the association between the individual and their environment. The majority of longitudinal studies have shown that personality development occurs mainly between the ages of twenty and forty years (Roberts, Wood & Caspi, 2010).
Feud’s tripartite (structural) theory of personality has provided an explanation of how personality could change over the lifespan by explaining the mediators of personality or behavior. However, this theory emphasizes on the notion that personality is shaped in early childhood, so, how people behave in adulthood was set in their childhood. It also suggests that the ego mediates the functions of the id and superego. In other words, when the ego allows the id to take the preference, there are consequences most of which are regrettable. In addition, if those actions are controlled within the moral and logical confines, they result into satisfaction or desirable behaviors. Therefore, irrespective of the age of the person, determinants of personality will always be mediated by the three agencies: id, ego and superego. In other words, the explanation given by Feud are time-independent.
Personality, according to Donnellan and Robin (2009), denotes the differences in behavior patterns of people. Questions emerge why do people differ in personality; what shapes personality? These differences have consequences. For instance, the manner in which a person manages heir emotions or cognitions are shaped by their personality, and this can have positive or negative consequences. Personality can be inherited (Donnellan & Robin, 2009). Most of the times people are said to behave just like their fathers, mothers, aunties, uncles, and grandparents among others. Thus, it means that the personality is hereditary to some extent. Feud’s tripartite theory has taken into consideration this aspect. Id takes charge of the inherited or biological aspects of personality.
On the other hand, a person’s actions are triggered by the mind. People tend to act in accordance to what the environment has taught them, and this has been conditioned on the mind. Therefore, the mind and the environment contribute to one’s personality. This theory has taken onto consideration these aspects. It opines that the personality is shaped by the environment in which a person is brought up. Secondly, it provides an explanation how mental agencies shape one’s actions. Collectively, these explanations help in explaining why people behave in a certain manner under a given circumstance. This theory will forever be valid; in fact, it was engineered several decades ago, and it is still being used to account for differences in personality. As noted earlier, this theory is time-independent.
In conclusion, this paper has evaluated Feud’s tripartite theory of personality. It has been shown that this theory divides the mind into three agencies: id, ego and superego. The id agency is dominantly unconscious and it dictate’s a person’s most primitive desires that seek to satisfy biological needs. Likewise, the superego is also unconscious in nature, and it is characterized by socially induced conscience. It tends to counteract the id on the basis of moral and ethical prohibitions. On the other hand, the ego is largely conscious, and it acts a mediator between id and superego. It employs primary process in thinking. This theory can be used to infer the role of gender and environment in shaping personality. In addition, Feud’s tripartite theory of personality is amongst classical theories that opine that personality is shaped in early childhood and that it stabilizes in the adolescent stage. Irrespective of the age of the person, determinants of personality will always be mediated by the three agencies: id, ego and superego. In other words, the explanations given by Feud are time-independent.
Caspi, A. & Roberts, B. W. (2001). Personality development across the life course: The argument for change and continuity. Psychological Inquiry 12(2): 49-66.
Donnellan, M. B. & Robins, R. W. (2009). The development of personality across the lifespan. In P. J. Corr & G. Matthews (Eds.), The Cambridge handbook of personality psychology (pp. 191-204). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Roberts, B. W., Wood, D., & Caspi, A. (2010). The development of personality traits in adulthood. In O. P. John, R. W. Robins, & L. A. Pervi (Eds.), Handbook of personality: Theory and research (3rd ed., pp. 375-398). New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Rothbart, M. K., Ahadi, S. A., & Evans, D. E. (2000). Temperament and personality: Origins and outcomes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78: 122-135.