Life Span Development and Personality
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Experiences shape a person’s mindset, thus, researchers often link various events in a person life with their worldview. Psychological theories focus on the all-round development during childhood since this period is characterized by the majority of social, biological, and cognitive processes. Though to estimate the development, it is necessary to concentrate on both normative and variation changes. For example, normative development lies in a continuous reprocess. However, the growth can deviate due to the significant events in life. Additionally, when explaining the development, it is important to consider the influence of both nature and nurture, where nature is a biological process characterized by genetic mutation and inheritance and nurture, on the other hand, is environmental processes that influence learning through experience (McLeod, 2007). Even though psychological development discloses in later life, the process begins during the formative years inflicted by social and biological factors. Present paper will discuss the influences caused by above-mentioned factors through the example of John Broaddus Watson, American psychologist.
Born on January 9, 1879 in Greenville, South Carolina, Watson is a renowned psychologist of the 20th century. He had mixed upbringing, which strongly influenced his development and achievement of personhood. His mother, Keziah Watson, raised John basing on Christian virtues. Despite the father’s drinking habits that got him in legal troubles, the mother expected John to restrain from drinking, dancing, and smoking. Unfortunately, the father’s behavior influenced John’s life significantly. For example, at 13 years John had emotional challenges after his father cheated on the wife resulting into a divorce. These family issues demotivated John’s passion for education. Additionally, he developed moral challenges caused by his father’s actions. He bullied children at school and even mocked teachers. As he grew, he faced legal matters and was arrested for violent behavior on two occasions (Weiland, 2002).
In search of a better life, John’s mother sold their farm and moved to Greenville, South Carolina. The shift from a rural, isolated environment was significant for John, since it enabled him to meet different eople which destined and cultivated his theory of psychology. At the age of sixteen, he regained the motivation for academics after receiving acceptance to Fuhrman University. Mentored by Gordon Moore, John graduated in 1900. However, he still considered himself a poor student. Course mates called him lazy and insubordinate; therefore, he had a challenging transition from the rural to urban life due to the poor social skills. As a result, he had few friends. To sustain college life, he worked on campus (Weiland, 2002).
John advanced his education and joined the University of Chicago where he developed an interest in comparative psychology and animal study. Thus, he was accepted into the university after petitioning the chancellor. The success was imperative to his passion in the field of psychology. Gordon Moore recommended John to Dewy, who supervised him through his studies in Philosophy. As a result of the two mentors’ attention and assistance, John developed descriptive and objective approaches to the study of behavior called “behaviorism” (Weiland, 2002).
The Freud’s and social-cognitive theory can shed light upon Watson’s individuality. Freud’s theory of personality outlines three factors namely, the conscious, preconscious and unconscious processes. It states that early experiences are significant to the development of personality. Firstly, the development depends on the interplay of the environmental factors and instincts during the first five years. As a result, parents’ behavior is significant for the development of personality and mental process in adulthood. The above information can explain John’s violent behavior exhibited at school resulting from his fathers’ action. Secondly, Freud proposes that the personality has three components, which are Id, ego and superego. Id is the instincts caused by biological urges such as impulses towards food and pleasure. Ego balances Id and outside reality. Finally, superego is the moral components of personality. These components influenced John’s personality, and it became unmistakably clear when he tried to reject certain things. At first he was aggressive to colleagues and teachers, consequently having few friends due to the lack of social skills (McLeod, 2014).
Social--cognitive theory best explains John’s behavior and achievements. It states that the personality depends on environmental factors, including both social and physical environment. The social environment comprises family, friends and colleagues. Additionally, the social-cognitive theory suggests that the situations also influence a person’s individuality (Social Cognitive Theory, 2014). The situation is the mental or cognitive representation of the environment that affects behavior. In John’s case, the rural upbringing during the formative years influenced his personality greatly and had an effect on his urban life. The new life developed emotional coping skills. For example, other students would mock John due to his poverty, thus, he decided to avoid them (Weiland, 2002).
Additionally, a person’s behavior can be formed as a result of taking role models. For instance, John was a bully at school and acted aggressive even to teachers. This behavior was formed as a result of watching his father’s aggressive acts towards his mother. However, after the shift to South Carolina he experienced various challenges due to the lack of social skills in the new environment. Nevertheless, assistance of the influential people, such as Gordon Moore and John Dewy, allowed him to acquire positive behavior. The reason lies in the positive reinforcement. For example, positive responses to a person increase with the help of rewards or incentives performed by role models (Social Cognitive Theory, n.d.).
In conclusion, researchers link various events in a person’s life with their worldview (McLeod, 2014). John Broaddus Watson exhibits the discussed theoretical framework through his experience and achievements in the field of psychology as explained by different psychological concepts, namely, Freud’s and social-cognitive theory. It was explored that the childhood of a person has great impact on their individuality, building specific behavioral reactions and character traits on the subconscious level. Social cognitive theory also is reflected in the person’s mindset through construction of role models and implementing them in their behavior. Thus, these theories are highly essential and significant for the psychology advancement, search of new methods and approaches with respect to the patients.
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