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Discuss one explanation of Personality Development and evaluate its conclusion.

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Discuss one explanation of personality development and evaluate its conclusion. For this assignment I am going to discuss Freud's perspective of personality development. Freud used psychoanalytic theories that are based around the emotional development of the personality, whereas Erikson's psychosocial theory focuses more on the role of social factors in development. Personality development can be broken down into three strands within Freud's theory: the personality structure, defence mechanisms and psychosexual development. Personality can be defined as ' the distinctive and characteristic patterns of thought, emotion, and behaviour that define an individual's personal style, and influence his or her interactions with the environment'. (Atkinson et al, 1992) Freud developed his theories by psychoanalysing adults, mostly middle-aged women and individuals with personality problems. He used various methods to study his patients, such as, dream analysis; which are interpretations of individual's dreams as they are a "window on the unconscious" (Davenport, 1988), free association; where the person is given a word or a phrase and encouraged to say the first thing that enters their head and 'slips of the tongue'; which is when a person says something in error but these can subconsciously reflect what they really mean. Freud suggests that adult personality is derived from the interaction between the desires for pleasure and how early desires were gratified. ...read more.


This helps push problems away and in a way pretending the problems don't exist, a form of denial, these are known as defence mechanisms. Another defence mechanism is repression; this is where the Id's impulses are blocked from reaching the conscious mind. There are a number of other defence mechanisms, including projection; where unacceptable desires or characteristics are projected on to someone else, and displacement; this refers to the transfer of repressed desires or impulses onto a substitute person or object. (Mike Cardwell, 2000) Freud's contributions with his theories on defence mechanisms are still being practiced today and are experienced as valid and useful. According to Freud we acquire our personalities in several stages, known as psychosexual development. Freud thought that different parts of our bodies become particularly sensitive as we grow through these different stages; he called these areas erogenous zones. (Davenport, 1988) As children grow up and are experiencing the stages of psychosexual development, different parts of their bodies become more sensitive, first the mouth, then the anus, then the phallus, and finally the genitals. The libido seeks pleasure through these erogenous zones. The five different stages of psychosexual development are labelled as: The Oral Stage - this is the first year of a baby's life where the baby gains pleasure from sucking and biting. ...read more.


Freud places great importance on the roles of regression and fixation in determining personality. Freud's theories have not been without criticism, they have mostly been criticised for being unscientific. His research support seems to be rather weak as the case studies he carried out mainly consisted of adults, mostly middle-aged women, from the same culture, so the results may be biased. The only child Freud studied was Little Hans, a five-year-old boy, who suffered from a phobia. Freud's 'evidence' for his explanation of how children's personalities grow does not come from experiments or any scientifically acceptable means of data collection. It doesn't even come from observing 'normal' children. It comes from the dreams and spoken memory of a relatively small number of people who mostly lived in Vienna, who had some personality 'problems'. (Davenport, 1988) Another method Freud used to analysis people was hypnosis. This was another widely criticised method, as even Freud admitted himself can be suggestive. However, despite many criticisms Freud remains known for having the most influential impact in modern psychology, especially in the areas of abnormal behaviour and psychotherapy. Today his ideas are used in everything from childcare, education, literary criticism, and psychiatry. He founded the psychoanalytic movement, which today many Neo-Freudians still actively use, although the emphasis of it is different. Word Count - 1331 ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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Response to the question

The response shown here is in receipt of a question asking candidates to discuss an explanation of personality development and evaluate the theories it proposes. The candidate has chosen to explain Freudian Psychosexual Development and how our younger years, spent ...

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Response to the question

The response shown here is in receipt of a question asking candidates to discuss an explanation of personality development and evaluate the theories it proposes. The candidate has chosen to explain Freudian Psychosexual Development and how our younger years, spent in a more unconscious state inform the rest of our lives. I would have liked to have seen a lot more of the latter definitive of Freudian Theory, though it can be said there is an excellent focus on the first part of the question, where by the candidate demonstrates a good level of understanding towards Freud's personality theories.

Level of analysis

The Level of Analysis shown is entirely indicative of someone operating at a high B/low A grade for GCSE. There is particularly good (though possibly unbalanced) emphasis on the explanation of Freudian theory, and quite little evaluation in comparison. Even so, the candidate has structured the answer well, commenting on a theory and then evaluating it as they progress through the answer, rather than listing all of Freud's beliefs about personality and then trying to evaluate in one large chunk towards the end.
To improve their answer though, I would advise that they aim for a more balanced evaluation, with perhaps an awareness of the fact that Psychodynamic Psychology is not an objective practice, and therefore is wildly unreliable due to experiment bias and interpretation. Despite being the oldest psychological perspective of modern Psychology, there is no scientific data to prove or refute Freud's theories, so this could have been emphasised more explicitly in the evaluation, as this is quite commonly considered the main rebuttal to Freud's theories, which themselves are quite hard to grasp sometimes.
I do however, like the use of specialist terminology and it's appropriate use throughout the essay. There is a good level of terminology used showing that the candidate is aware of the specialist vocabulary required of higher level candidates.

Quality of writing

The Quality of Written Communication (QWC) is fine. Despite the challenging terminology, there is a sound handling on spelling, punctuation and grammar consistent throughout the answer. Possibly, a wider range of punctuation points to increase the QWC mark as it shows a more confident and enthusiastic writer capable of using more complex form of punctuation to shape their answer.

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Reviewed by sydneyhopcroft 11/03/2012

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