Do you think a person’s personality is stable or is marked by change? Why do you think this?
The reason why most kinds of change, be they personal, global, natural, or unnatural, are more often than not welcomed aggressively, is because most humans are hardwired to perceive our surroundings as static and definite. Change is associated with danger and is met with suspicion; even if the change is positive. Many people see things as “being,” something that “is”, or at least “should be”, static and stable (Schwartz, 2009).
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This same opinion is often applied to a human being. Comprehending change in a person’s personality can be difficult, can throw the observer in denial, whether the reported changes are positive or negative.
However, a person’s experiences with the world are strongly affected by his or her perceptions of it, and I find it more likely that how static or stable that person’s personality depends on their views (Macann, 2007). This theory is supported by Carol Dweck (n.d). and her Self-Theories, which proposed two theories of intelligence. The first one is the Entity View. This view treats intelligence itself as fixed and stable.
People with this type of intelligence and ability aim to prove themselves and their intelligence to the world. These are the character types prone to viewing the world as something they cannot affect in a significant way, which means they are more likely to give up when faced with difficulties. They don’t attempt to change their surroundings and don’t try to improve themselves, which further reinforces their outlook.
The second type of intelligence is the Incremental View, and it regards intelligence as changeable and flexible, and as a result, views the world as just as fluid. These personalities focus on the “becoming” and understand that under the influence of outside events or their will they can change, and through effort develop new skills, habits, change ideals and values. This perception shapes their reality, and they are more likely to strive for change, both in themselves and around them.
Do you think people can change? What implications does this have for you in terms of your views on therapy? Experimental psychology?
My core belief is that people’s ability to change is defined by their mindset, and ultimately it concedes that a portion of people with the mindset for growth and development not only are capable of change but can control that change to their benefit. They can achieve this by focusing on what they want to accomplish or what they want to become, and strive for that goal (Hunt, 2007). l. As mentioned before, these mostly are the people of the Incremental View, who, rather than blame themselves for their failings and shortcomings, for example failing at a task due to not being strong enough, would look for ways to either improve themselves, become tougher, or find different approaches. For them a problem is not “unsolvable”, it is rather “not yet solved”.
The Entity View supporters see their lack of success or their weaknesses as a result of inherent parts of themselves or the world around them and will find it much harder to approach an issue if they have failed to resolve it several times. “It is not possible” or “I’m not skilled enough” arguments can deter them from making further attempts or changing strategies (Dweck, 2000).
Naturally, a therapist would find it much easier to work with patients with the Incremental View, as they would potentially be thrilled at the prospect of personal development and improvement. With Entity View representatives, on the other hand, would be much harder to work. To make them overcome an issue (“I am emotional, that’s what I am”) would require the therapist to persuade the patient that he is more capable than he believes himself to be. Ultimately, successful work with such a patient would challenge the therapist to make the former accept the Incremental mindset to some degree, to achieve the flexibility needed to overcome personal issues (Dweck, 2007). Since each person is individual, finding ways to accomplish that fall straight into the sphere of Experimental Psychology (Experimental Psychology Examines the Underpinnings of Human and Animal Behavior, n.d.).
Dweck, C (2007). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York: Ballantine Books.
Dweck, C. S. (n.d.). Self-Theories. Web.
Dweck, C. S. (2000). Self-theories: Their role in motivation, personality, and development (1st ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Psychology Press.
Hunt, M. M. (2007). The story of psychology (2nd ed.). New York: Anchor Books.
Macann, C. (2007). Being and Becoming. Philosophy Now, (64), 20-23.
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Schwartz, M. (2009). From Being to Becoming. Web.