PersonalityTheory: Application Paper

(Due THURSDAY 4/29/10—our last class period of the semester)



This assignment was constructed to further your understanding of the major concepts from several personality theories (e.g., Jung, Adler, Sullivan, & Erikson) and to facilitate applying these concepts to your own life and personality development. Throughout this application paper you must artfully balance two tasks—demonstration and application of major concepts from the personality theories that we have covered thus far. In each section of the paper, your task is to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of the personality theories that we have discussed by explaining and/or defining the major theoretical concepts mentioned below. In addition, each section of the paper requires that you apply the theoretical concepts to your own experience and/or personality development via a) drawing from your experience to illustrate examples of the theoretical concepts; b) analyzing how your personality development fits with the theoretical concepts; and, c) in some sections, completing specific tasks based on your life experience to demonstrate the theoretical concepts below. Overall, your task is to demonstrate that you have a sound knowledge of the personality theories and to explain or illustrate major theoretical concepts as they apply to your personality development with specific life examples.


I hope that this assignment will not only increase your understanding of the personality theories that we have discussed thus far, but also that it will provide you with a better understanding of your own personality and personality development! APA style is not required for this assignment and you do not need a title page or references. Please limit your responses to 6 to 10 pages and please proofread your final submission. Remember that this assignment will account for 20% of your final grade in the course. This intent of this assignment is to provide you with an opportunity for more in depth learning and introspection. Hopefully you will find this assignment useful. Keep reminding yourself that unlike so many of the assignments that you have done in the past, there are no right or wrong answers in your application of the theory—rather I will be evaluating your ability to illustrate the concepts through personal examples. You are not writing a research paper or thesis. Most of all, try to have fun with this assignment!


Part I: Jung’s concepts of the Persona and Shadow

Define and explain Jung’s concepts of the collective unconscious and his four archetypes of personality that he believed are necessary to acknowledge and understand on the path toward self-realization. Next, describe your persona. How do you currently attempt to portray yourself to others? What characteristics, traits, and experiences do you emphasize and why? In what ways and/or through what strategies do you present your persona? In contrast, to the best of your ability and consciousness, describe your shadow. What characteristics, traits, features, and/or experiences do you attempt to hide, conceal, or minimize from others and why? In what ways and/or through what strategies do you attempt to hide, minimize, or disguise your shadow?


Part II: Adler’s concepts of Social Interest, Style of Life, and the Final Goal

Explain Adler’s concepts of the final goal, style of life, and social interest. According to his theory, how does social interest develop and through what mechanisms can social interest be fostered and increased? In what ways do our families of origin impact the development of social interest and the fictional final goal that we set (for better or worse)? Further, in what ways do our families impact our personalities?


Using your life experience to illustrate, describe your style of life. To identify your style of life it may be useful to consider the strategies or ways in which you attempt to protect yourself from feelings of inferiority, failure, insecurity, or even anxiety and risk. Next, describe 3 or 4 of your earliest recollections or memories and discuss your interpretation of the themes or characteristics reflected in your early recollections and how your memories may be related to your current style of life? Adler held that a relatively reliable method of determining one’s style of life is to examine his or her earliest recollections or memories (ERs). He believed that ERs are templates on which people project their current style of life (i.e., Adler believed that key themes or elements of your style of life and personality are reflected in your earliest memories and recollections). Finally, describe your current level of social interest and how it was nurtured or fostered by your environment growing up. To what extent do you believe that your level of social interest is a key element of your personality?


Part III: Sullivan’s concepts of Personification and Social Influences on Personality

According to Sullivan personality is shaped almost entirely by our relationships with others. He believed that through our interactions with others during childhood we acquire certain images of self and others (i.e., personifications). Describe Sullivan’s concept of personification and discuss his ideas about how we acquire the 3 ‘me personifications’—the bad me, the good me, and the not me. Using your own childhood experiences to illustrate, describe your good me, bad me, and not me personifications. What traits, characteristics, emotions, and/or behaviors are contained in each of your me personifications? Provide examples of how your caregivers/family shaped your me personifications (e.g., what traits, characteristics, behaviors, and/or emotions were rewarded and praised (good me)?; punished, criticized, or disapproved of (bad me)?; anxiety provoking or associated with such a fear of punishment or disapproval that they were denied or dissociated from your self-image (not me)?).


Based on the importance that Sullivan believed that relationships have on our personalities he built a 7 stage theory of personality development. Describe and explain Sullivan’s stages of preadolescence, early adolescence, and late adolescence. Discuss what happens at each stage, the critical interpersonal challenges and relationships, and how he thought these relationships influence personality development. Discuss your own experience with and progress through these three stages. Provide examples of how your ‘chumship’, adolescent friendships, and romantic relationships have influenced your personality.


Part IV: Erikson’s Concept of Identity

One of Erikson’s major influences on personality theory and development was the emphasis that he placed on the psychosocial formation of identity during adolescence. Explain Erikson’s views on how adolescence form their personal identity’s and define his concepts of identity, identity confusion, fidelity, and role repudiation. Next, discuss your own process of determining your identity and values (i.e., fidelity). In what ways have you experimented with different roles or identities? To what extent did your environment influence the identity that you currently hold? Through what mechanisms did you attempt to discern your identity (e.g., relationships, groups, social institutions, etc.)?