Personality theories try to unravel the nature of human beings. There is a myriad of theories that various scholars have formatted to understand human behavior and the motives behind the actions they display. This discussion focuses on the differences and similarities between psychoanalytic and behavioral theories of personality. It concludes by identifying the theory that most aligns with me.
The psychoanalytic theory states that human behavior results from experiences between three sections of the mind: the id, the ego, and the superego. Jessica (2018) posited that the fundamental idea of this theory is that human growth is controlled by inner drives, unmet needs, and unconscious motivations from childhood. On the contrary, the behavioral theory focuses on how students acquire knowledge or learn, and its key idea is that all habits or behaviors are learned through interaction with the environment. Those hereditary influences have little impact on these behaviors (Jessica, 2018).
According to the psychoanalytic theory, humans’ innate drives and impulses are majorly inborn, and that the unconscious mind comprises instinctual drives and impulses (Phelps, 2015). The theory states that survival is linked to drives and instinctual drives and impulses. On human behavioral control, the psychoanalytic theory maintains that the unconscious drive plays a critical role in controlling human behavior.
Zhang (2020) maintained that the psychoanalytic theory usually refutes the idea that human behavior is shaped by the environment or external factors. Regarding the concept of human nature, the psychoanalytic theory states that humans are born evil. On the other hand, the behavioral theory tends to hold that cultural and sub-cultural conditioning shape an individual’s behavior. Consequently, the personality of an individual is formed. It also holds that human lives are already pre-determined even before they are born.
The behavioral model adopts treatment centered on core learning concepts and different learning mechanisms and strategies, including reinforcing (Phelps, 2015). It is utterly concerned with the idea of free will. The behaviorists assume that acceptable conditioning, reinforcement, imitation, modeling result in normal behavior. Moreover, the behaviorists are conscious that other key processes within the brain, including perception, might be taking place. Still, such activity is not assessed simply because it cannot be evaluated. However, the psychoanalytic theory depends heavily on suppositions and speculation. Although psychoanalytic theory can explain behavior, it cannot relate observable behavior to the force that brings about that behavior. As such, it is more theoretical than scientific as compared to behavioral theory. Similarly, the behavioral theory holds that cultural conditioning influences behaviors and personality, while psychoanalytical theory argues the unconscious mind shapes the behavior or personality.
Both psychoanalytical and behavioral theories of personality refute the idea that the environment shapes human behavior. They are deterministic as they believe that there is a force that propels every action hat human engages in. Secondly, the two theories acknowledge the role that experiences play in shaping human behavior. Precisely, the behaviorists hold that the previous conditioning determines the present personalities of humans. The same idea is held by Jessica (2018), who appreciates the fact that reinforcement and punishment can help in behavior modification.
In conclusion, psychoanalytic and behavioral theories are the two most important theories that explain human personality. Despite the striking differences that appear in the two, the two theories are similar in a way. As such, I would select the psychoanalytic theory since it pays attention to the roles that a person’s unconscious and early childhood experience play. More importantly, the theory explains how personality is shaped by the structures of the human mind, including the id, ego, and superego.
Jessica, L. (2018). Implicit theories of personality across development: Impacts on coping, resilience, and mental health. The SAGE Handbook of Personality and Individual Differences: Volume I: The Science of Personality and Individual Differences, 152.
Phelps, B. J. (2015). Behavioral perspectives on personality and self. The Psychological Record, 65(3), 557-565.
Zhang, S. (2020). Psychoanalysis: The Influence of Freud’s Theory in Personality Psychology. In International Conference on Mental Health and Humanities Education (ICMHHE 2020) (pp. 229-232). Atlantis Press.