Evaluate Eysenck’s trait theory of personality on the following dimensions: refutability/irrefutability, active vs. passive human agency, and idiographic (individual) vs. nomothetic (group) approach to personality.
Both definitions emphasize the uniqueness of the individual and consequently adopt an idiographic view.
The idiographic view assumes that each person has a unique psychological structure and that some traits are possessed by only one person; and that there are times when it is impossible to compare one person with others. It tends to use case studies for information gathering.
The nomothetic view, on the other hand, emphasizes comparability among individuals. This viewpoint sees traits as having the same psychological meaning in everyone. This approach tends to use self-report personality questions, factor analysis, etc. People differ in their positions along a continuum in the same set of traits.
We must also consider the influence and interaction of nature (biology, genetics, etc.) and nurture (the environment, upbringing) with respect to personality development.
Trait theories of personality imply personality is biologically based, whereas state theories such as Bandura’s (1977) Social Learning Theory emphasize the role of nurture and environmental influence.
Sigmund Freud’s psychodynamic theory of personality assumes there is an interaction between nature (innate instincts) and nurture (parental influences).
Personality involves several factors:
Personality development depends on the interplay of instinct and environment during the first five years of life. Parental behavior is crucial to normal and abnormal development. Personality and mental health problems in adulthood can usually be traced back to the first five years.