Personal Theory of Psychological Development

It may even be impossible to retroactively identify every influence on the development of personality. However, contemporary psychologists already understand the general patterns in which major areas of psychological influence exert themselves on the individual.

More often than not, more than one avenue of psychological inquiry is helpful. Personality development in the typical patient may have been primarily influenced by Freudian issues in infancy and subsequent specific experiences in middle childhood, and secondarily by a particular negative experience or period of conflict in the nuclear family. Therefore, in the practical sense, measuring personality development means retroactively identifying the conceptually recognized potential influences along the full spectrum of psychological approaches. By matching behavioral (and other outwardly observable) manifestations of personality formation to the identifiable potential influences, it is often possible to pinpoint the most likely route of origin for major observable elements of personality.

Toward a Cross-Culturally Appropriate Theory of Personality Development

The simultaneity of multiple psychological influences on personality development greatly complicates the prospect of drawing definitive conclusions about the exact origin of psychological outcomes expressed as elements of personality. Similarly, the influence of the human socialization process and social culture adds another tremendously complicated factor.

Classic experiments by Skinner (Gerrig & Zimbardo, 2008) documented how much more important external influences in relation to maternal messages and behavior can be, even in comparison to biological predisposition (such as to confidence or shyness as a personality trait of infants). The human socialization process and the susceptibility of the developing individual to cultural messages and values transmitted in this manner are tremendously powerful factors in shaping personality development. Notwithstanding differences between individuals not determined by the constant variable of external culture, major aspects of personality are shaped by the experiences of being socialized into every specific human culture (Pinker, 2002; Bradshaw, 2002; Branden, 2001).

It may be that the best approach to understanding the simultaneous influences of major psychological theories and those of social culture and the socialization process requires studying psychology and sociology together, particularly in relation to treating individuals within a specific human community. To a certain extent, the major principles of the formal study of human psychology could be conceptualized as a fundamental musical cords (or series of complex musical) cords and the influence of socialization as different tones (or series of tones) on that fundamental musical cord.

Just as the prospect of any one practicing psychologists being equally knowledgeable about all psychological approaches, it would be even more unrealistic to imagine that every psychologist could be an expert on the way that all known cultural values shape personality development in the individual. Ultimately, the most realistic approach is to recognize, in principal, the potential significance of social culture and to pursue that avenue of inquiry in conjunction with various psychological conceptual inquiries. Once the psychologist understands the importance of incorporating a sociological framework for understanding other elements of personal psychological development, the psychologist can perform research as necessary to understand the potential significance of specific cultural themes, values, and social practices in the context of the patients development.


Bradshaw J. (2002). Bradshaw on: The Family. Deerfield Beach, FL: HCI.

Branden N. (2001). The Psychology of Self-Esteem. New York: Basic Books.

Gerrig R. And Zimbardo P. (2008). Psychology and Life. Princeton, NJ: Pearson.

Lewis M. And Feiring C. “Infant, Mother, and Mother-Infant Interaction Behavior and Subsequent Attachment” Child Development, Vol. 60, No. 4, (1989): 831-837.

Pinker S. (2002). The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. New York:


Shapiro D. (1999). Neurotic Styles. New York: Basic Books.


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