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I am introverted or extroverted, stable or unstable, sensitive or insensitive, intuitive or rational. All these categories reflect personality aspects that are widely used in psychology.

The personality we have will mark how we see the world and react to it. But the personal characteristics that are our own have not always been there in the same way, but we have been going through different stages of personality development to become as we are, from childhood to our current situation and even to our future death.

Definition of personality The personality is defined as a pattern of behavior, thought and emotion relatively stable over time and through the different situations, we live. This pattern explains how we perceive reality, the judgments we make of it or the way we interact with the environment, being partly inherited, partly acquired, and subsequently shaped by life experience.

Because it is born in a large part of the set of experiences that we live throughout our life, it is considered that the personality as such is not fully configured until adulthood, having a long process of development until it becomes stable (although it can suffer subsequent variations, are not frequent nor tend to be marked).

Evolution through the different life stages To establish a chronology of the stages of personality development, it is interesting to start with the classification of the main stages of life.

Starting with them as a reference, let’s see how the psychological structure of human beings develops.

1. The first moments The moment a baby is born, we cannot consider that it has a marked personality since the new individual has not had concrete experiences that make him be, think or act in a certain way. However, it is true that as the days go by we see how the boy or girl has a tendency to behave in a certain way: for example, we can see if he cries a lot or little, how he feeds or responds to touch with fear or curiosity.

These first characteristics are part of what is called temperament, which is part of the innate constitution of the person and can later be shaped by learning. The temperament has a biological basis and comes mainly from the genetic inheritance of our ancestors. Being a component linked mainly to affectivity, a primal component will act as a basis for the construction of personality.

2. Childhood As the subject grows, he gradually develops different cognitive and physical abilities that will allow him to grasp reality, begin to try to understand how the world works and how one’s own being can influence and participate in it. 

This stage is characterized by the acquisition of values, beliefs, and norms coming from abroad, in an initially imitative way and with few critical dyes. The personality begins to form according to the characteristics of the temperament are confronted to reality, acquiring patterns of behavior and ways of seeing the world and forming character.

In this stage, self-esteem tends to be initially high due to the high level of attention that is usually lavished on the child in the family environment. However, at the time of entry to the school world tends to decrease, because it leaves behind the family environment to enter an unknown in which converge numerous points of view.

3. Puberty and adolescence Adolescence, the point where we go from being children to being adults, is a key stage in the formation of personality. It is a complex life stage in which the body is in the process of change while increasing expectations regarding the behavior of the individual and this begins to experience different aspects and realities. 

It is a vital moment characterized by the need to differentiate, often being a break or separation with the adults in charge and continuous questioning of everything that has hitherto been inculcated.

4. Adulthood It is considered that it is from adolescence when we can speak of personality itself, having already forged a relatively stable pattern of behavior, emotion and thought.

This personality will still vary throughout life, but roughly, the structure will be similar unless there is some event very relevant to the subject that pushes him to make changes in his way of viewing the world.

In relation to other life stages, self-esteem tends to rise and in general, the adult’s self - concept tends to try to bring his real self-closer to the ideal, so that shyness decreases, if it has been raised before. Therefore, what others think of oneself is no longer as important, and activities that in earlier stages would be embarrassing may be carried out.

5. Ancianity Although in general the personality remains stable, the arrival to old age implies the progressive experience of situations such as the loss of skills, work activity and loved ones, which can greatly affect our way of relating to the world. There is a tendency to decrease extraversion and self-esteem.

Two old theories about personality development As written in an article on a British educational help platform called I need someone to do my assignment the elements written above reflect a general trend throughout the life stages. However, many authors have established theories about how personality develops. Two of the best known, although also outdated, are Freud’s theory of psychosexual development and Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development, each establishing different stages of personality development.

It must be borne in mind that these proposals for the development of the personality are based on a paradigm of meta-psychology that has been criticized for its speculative nature and impossible to put to the test, so today they are not considered scientifically valid, although historically they have had a great influence.

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Author: Delores Caven | Created at: 10.01.2019

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