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Personality Theory Essay

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Updated: Nov 22nd, 2019


Personality theories are conceptions that have been propagated by psychologists and academicians from time immemorial. The attempt at defining personality is guided by the intent of trying to understand and explain the psychological distinctiveness and similarities that people exhibit. This essay will critically analyze the cause of different personalities or character traits among individuals. The analysis will put into consideration the various theories that have been posited in effort to explain the same. This essay is largely informed by chapter 11 of the book “Psychology” by Hockenbury & Hockenbury. In the book “psychology”, fifth edition, Hockenbury & Hockenbury (458), observe that one has to understand the theory upon which the description of an individual’s personality is based in order to understand and make sense of the different characteristics of that personality type.

Hockenbury & Hockenbury (458) further argue that there are clear explanations for the different characteristic in different personality types. Some of the theories discussed by Hockenbury and Hockenbury include the psychoanalytic theory, the social cognitive and humanistic perspective, the behavioral genetics theory and the trait theory. An analysis of these theories shows that one’s personality is dynamic and is dependent of many factors. For instance, as per the behavioral genetics theory, the manner in which a person behaves is influenced by inherited traits. On the other hand, the trait theory posits that one’s personality is dependent on what he or she has learnt from experience. The biological dimension indicates that the personality of our parents and fore-parents rubs on us. Each person gains something, in terms of personality trait, over time in the course of his own natural growth and development. This means that a child will partly possess the character traits inherited from his family or parents and equally incorporate some characters he learns in his childhood into his or her persona.

The girl with a dragon tattoo”, is a movie that was produced in the ghettos of the US by Jermaine Dupree. This movie was geared towards highlighting the other face of the US. Unlike the much-publicized good life in America, which characterized by conspicuous consumption, fun and liberty, there are neighborhoods in the USA where crime and poverty among other ills abound. The movie rotates around one character, a girl by the name Lisbeth Salander.

Salander is born and brought up in the ghetto from which the movie is shot. Her mother, Megan Salander, bore her after she was heartlessly gang raped by a group of young men who were drug peddlers for having failed to pay a drug debt. Being a drug addict herself, she did not care about the consequences of that act, as she was already accustomed to bigger shocks and harsher treatments.

For the mother, Lisbeth was born after or because of a bad accident and therefore was not a fruit of love. This meant that from the onset the mother treated Lisbeth unlovingly. Actually, many of her mother’s friends marveled and believed that it was by a miracle that the poor girl survived an abortion.

Analysis of Lisbeth’s Traits Based on Personality Theories

The life of lisbeth confirms some of the personality theories discussed in Hockenbury & Hockenbury. For instance, after watching the movie, one cannot fail to relate the personality theory of behavioral genetics exemplified in the life of Lisbeth Salander. In the movie, the girl is portrayed as having a variety of character traits.

Interestingly, when one compares her with the mum one can clearly differentiate the characters she inherited from her mother and those she picked along the way. The semblance between the character traits of Lisbeth and her mother tend to confirm the theory that some character traits are genetic based.

Considering the psychoanalytic perspective on personality, lisbeth’s behavior can be understood as defense mechanisms she develops in order to survive in her environment. Sub-consciously, having had an unloving mother, she tends towards being defensive. Among her dominant traits highlighted in the movie is brutality.

This particular trait is observed from her very early life. Psychoanalytically, it could be argued that love needs from since when she was born drive her towards hate. The girl was practically vicious in everything she did. At a mere age of three, she had already caused enough damage to many children of her age. This meant that many parents in the neighborhood would rarely allow Lisbeth to get anywhere close to their children. Eventually, the child was left with few if any child to play with.

Matters deteriorated when she joined school. The very first day at school was met with untold hostility from her to the rest of the pupils. She actually managed to ruin another girl’s face using one of her toys. The girl in question had to undergo medical treatment, as she needed several stitches to bring her angelic face back to normal.

By the time Lisbeth was halfway through her school life, she had been transferred to uncountable schools. This restless behavior could be explained psychoanalytically, but it could also be explained in terms of an under compensated ego as per the socio-cognitive perspective. Lisbeth could be said to have had an undercompensated ego due to the unloving childhood.

Nobody in here social environment affirmed her. Consequently, desiring affirmation or due to reciprocal determination found in her social environment, she had literally appeared on the black book for record times in every school she attended. She was always referred as the ‘special one’, by not only her fellow pupils but her teachers as well.

In Lisbeth’s actions, one discerns desire to proof herself. One incident that prompted the authority to seek psychiatrist help for the girl was an instance of madness she got involved in with a boy in their class. Many knew the boy in question for his brutality, and practically he was certainly not just any other push over.

He was hugely built and this meant that many of his colleagues were no much to his strength. The only mistake the boy did was to undermine the capability of Lisbeth. Being a small and lean girl, the bullyboy was sure of beating hell out of her head. He managed and actually beat her into a pulp.

At least for a while, the rest of the school was in high spirits that some medicine had actually been discovered to heal Lisbeth extraordinary craziness. They were all mistaken. The next few days were hell to Lisbeth and she did not dare get out of their house as she had a black eye.

Upon resuming school, her mission was clear, at least to herself, she was a girl going after revenge. It did not take long for the Physical Exercise class to come, and they were all thrown out of class into the field. In total amazement to many pupils and teachers, she was very active that particular day on the hockey pitch.

The first swing she made with her stick left the boy who had bullied her without at least six teeth according to those who could count them. Her comment was simple, it must have been an accident and that she was sorry. That was her last day in school.

The behavioral genetics theory, arguably, also captures or explains Lisbeth’s character. The neighborhood, in which Lisbeth was brought up, was literally for the outcast in the society.

The only thing that was not done there was merely the one that did not exist. By this notion, every kid was somehow an expert in many evils and prostitution or sexual immorality was their favorite. As many would guess, Lisbeth was not an exception. At a tender age of fifteen, she had literally graduated from sleeping with boys, and not many grown up men could equally meet her urge.

Considering the trait theory, one discerns impulsiveness, disnihibition and elements of introversion in Lisbeth’s character. Lisbeth was widely known to be a loner, which is a trait of introverts. However, she approached issues with much impulsiveness, obsession and worrying novelty.

One thing that amazed many people, those that were fortunate to interact with her, because she was a loner, was her brilliance in using and manipulating a computer. According to her own explanation, having been raised by many trustees, one of them was a computer scientist and it was from his motivation that she actually developed interest in computers. The most fascinating thing was how even the most qualified computer scientist, could not be able to handle some of the tasks she used to perform with no basic formal training.


From the discussion on Lisbeth, as portrayed in the movie the girl with a dragon tattoo”, it is clear from the onset that individuals acquire character traits from their parents i.e. inheritance but also from environment i.e. learning behavior of a neighborhood. There is a lot of things or happenings in Lisbeth’s life that confirm that character traits are inherited while there is enough to confirm as well that character traits are learnt from the environment.

Lisbeth, one of the main characters from the movie ‘The girl with a dragon tattoo’ tends to resemble her mother in many ways. From being hostile, immoral but very brilliant, one can tell that she took after her mother. Lisbeth is strategic and does her things meticulously but with very selfish intentions and she is never remorseful about her dirty life. Such a disposition, it can arguable be asserted that she acquired it from living in her neighborhood.

Work Cited

Hockenbury, Don & Hockenbury, Sandra. Psychology, New York: Routledge Publishers, 1991. Print.

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IvyPanda. "Personality Theory." November 22, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/personality-theory-2/.


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