Personality Development Comparison Essay by Research Group

Personality Development
A comparison of the theories of B. F. Skinner and R. B. Cattell on personality development.
# 26907 | 1,378 words | 2 sources | MLA | 2002 | US
Published on Jul 16, 2003 in Psychology (Theory)

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This paper discusses how theories of personality development vary with different schools of psychological thinking. It compares the theories of B. F. Skinner, who believed behavioral factors determine personality and R. B. Cattell, who believed trait factors determine personality. It shows that while Skinner and Cattell adhere to different theories of personality development, their theories have at least some elements in common. Both agreed that personality development is partly determined by the life experiences of the individual. It looks at how Skinner believed that these experiences are stimuli which result in certain behavior patterns, while Cattell believed that, though the environment has some influence one early development, basic factor traits exist and that stimuli act differently on people with different traits. Cattell offers a way of predicting behavior patterns whereas Skinner offers a way of analyzing and changing them.

From the Paper:

"These two factors are important in the development of behavior patterns. They are also tools for teaching behavior, and for behavior modification. A stimulus can produce a positive or negative response, i.e. it can reinforce a certain behavior by resulting in a pleasant occurrence, a reward, a feeling of pleasure etc.: on the other hand, some behavior will produce a negative response, such as burning a hand when putting it in a flame, or inciting the wrath of a parent by disobeying an order. As negative reinforcement will deter the person from behaving in that way in the future, i.e. it is a PUNISHING STIMULUS. These are the basic tenets of Skinner's theory of personality development - that it is shaped by the experiences of the individual, and that aberrant behavior can be modified by inducing appropriate behaviors in a controlled setting. However, Skinner recognized that in one sense, all behavior is inherited , since the organism that behaves in a certain way is the product of natural selection (Skinner, 1974, p. 43). He believed OPERANT CONDITIONING is as much a part of genetic endowment as digestion or gestation. Skinner further believed that, while the conditions under which a person acquires behavior are accessible and can be manipulated, the conditions under which a species acquires behavior are out of reach."

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