are defined as the relatively enduring patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that distinguish individuals from one another. The dominant view in the field of personality psychology today holds that personality emerges early and continues to change in meaningful ways throughout the lifespan Evidence from large-scale, long-term studies has supported this perspective.
Adult personality traits are believed to have a basis in infant temperament, meaning that individual differences in disposition and behavior appear early in life, possibly even before language or conscious self-representation develop. The Five Factor Model of personality has been found to map onto dimensions of childhood temperament, suggesting that individual differences in levels of the “big five” personality traits (neurotic-ism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness) are present from young ages.
An evolutionary perspective has been UNproposed to explain why humans have personality and individuality. This perspective traces personality and individuality back to when the early humans were learning how to function in complex social groups. Many specialists from different fields have a general agreement that early humans saw themselves as a part of the group to which they belonged, rather than seeing themselves as individuals with independent personalities. In terms of personality at this time, the whole group was identical. A member of the group associated themselves as one with the tribe and therefore the responsibility rested in the group and not the individual. Kropotkin explained the importance of this by stating that because the primitive man identified his existence with the existence of his tribe it has allowed for mankind to reach the remarkable level present today. A small step of differentiation that later led to personality and individuality was the division of labor.
This differentiation was necessary in order for the group to function in a much more efficient way. This differentiation became adaptive since it increased the groups functionality. These early humans then continued to develop personality and individuality, which stemmed from their group and the social interactions they encountered. Individual life, and thus individuality and personality essentially arose from collective life. In order to explain some of the variations in human personality and individuality it's possible to look at the evolutionary process of natural selection. Evolution introduced variations of the human mind, natural selection acted on these by choosing which were the most beneficial and which led to a greater fitness. Since humans are so complex, many opposing personality traits proved to be beneficial in different ways. An example of this is that in some situations a more aggressive personality could be beneficial, yet a more submissive personality could be beneficial in another situation. Another type of selection helps to take on the evolutionary aspect of human personality and individuality.
This type of selection is referred to as emotional selection. It considers emotions as the core emergence of humans in the world. The emotions of humans are what have led to the evolution of human personality and individuality. “The ability to adapt to all conditions of life is usually called, ‘intelligence,’ but is founded in the complexity and flexibility of the emotional system. The concept of emotional representation as a way of selectively modeling the environment is the key idea underlying our understanding of human individuality.” With these basic understandings introduced, hopefully it will help make more sense out of the development of personality.
Classic theories of personality, such as Freud’s tripartite theory, and post-Freudian theory, including developmental stage theories and type theories, have often held the perspective that most personality development occurs in childhood, and that personality is stable by the end of adolescence. As recently as the 1990s, modern personality theorists concurred with William James’ 1890 assertion that, by age 30, personality is “set like plaster”. Currently, lifespan perspectives that integrate theory and empirical findings dominate the research literature. The lifespan perspective of personality is based on the plasticity principle, that personality traits are open systems that can be influenced by the environment at any age. This interactional model of development emphasizes the relationships between an individual and her environment, and suggests that there is a dialectic between continuity and change throughout the lifespan. Large-scale longitudinal studies have demonstrated that the most active period of personality development appears to be between the ages of 20-40. Personality grows increasingly consistent with age and plateaus sometime around age 50, but never reaches a period of total stability. Although change is less likely later in life, individuals retain the potential for change from infancy to old age.
Personality traits demonstrate moderate levels of continuity, smaller but still significant normative or mean-level changes, and individual differences in change, often late into the life course. This pattern is influenced by genetic, environmental, transactional, and stochastic factors.