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The Importance Of Affect In Personality

3459 words - 14 pages

The Importance of Affect in Personality Personality can be described simply as characters that distinguish one person from another and are relatively stable across time and situations. It can be argued however that affect plays a large role in one's personality. Affect can be defined as emotions or feelings. Although personality traits are relatively stable across time, affect is an influence. The emotions and mood a person is feeling contributes to their personality and how they behave. The individual differences in emotion lead to different personality traits in humans, and consequently different personalities. There is a strong relationship between personality traits, affect and human behaviour. Affect in particular is important for numerous reasons, one being it improves our prediction of behaviour beyond what personality traits can affirm. The importance of affect will be illustrated by looking at several theoretical and experimental concepts.Affect has been studied perhaps longer than any other psychological principle. The Greeks were among the first to study human emotions. Famous biologist Charles Darwin was also interested in emotions, particularly those found in the facial expressions of animals (namely chimpanzees) and humans. William James was the first to emphasize emotions in the realm of psychology as it pertains to one's health. "Objects of rage, love, fear, etc., not only prompt a man to outward deeds, but provoke characteristic alterations in his attitude and visage, and affect his breathing, circulation, and other organic functions in specific ways" (James, 1890, p. 441).With the development of behaviourism, interest in affect dwindled in the 1920s. Only recently has affect and emotions become important again in the study of personality. Personality psychologists focus a great deal on individual differences in emotions and the effect of these differences in personality (Pervin, 1996).In studying affect in personality, it is important to look at the major theoretical approaches to the discipline and how affect plays a role. Psychoanalytic theory views affect as most important in relation to the other theories. Psychoanalytic theory was developed by Sigmund Freud. It attempts to explain personality, motivation, and mental disorders by focusing on unconscious determinants of behaviour. Psychoanalysis allows patients to participate in free association in which they bring repressed feelings into the conscious mind instead of remaining hidden within the unconscious. The psychoanalytic literature contains references to all affects including shame, guilt, jealousy, envy, and optimism. The most emphasis is placed on negative affect, which has been repressed by individuals. Psychoanalysts attempt to then bring these painful affects to the surface (Pervin, 1996).Carl Rogers' phenomenological theory came out of his work as a clinical psychologist. He believed in person-centered therapy that emphasized change in terms of experiencing the...

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