The evolution of a human being’s perception of self becomes more stable as the person in question moves from infancy to adulthood. There are different explanations for the causality of these developments. The traditional framework of child development was largely informed by Maslow’s theory of needs, which states that children grow and develop a sense of self following how well their needs are satisfied (Noltemeyer, Bush, Patton, & Bergen, 2012).
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According to van Scheppingen et al. (2016), the five-factor maturation theory claims that biological conditions (physical and mental development based on genetic inheritance) play the most crucial role in personal development and understanding of self. Skinner’s behaviorism theory, on the other hand, claims that several external and internal factors shape a child’s perception of ‘self,’ such as genetics, parental care, societal influence, and others (Lester, 2009). Thus, these theories conflict with the definition of self and the influence of various factors on it.
Killen and Smetana lend support to Skinner’s view of the concept of self by analyzing the societal and biological factors in the development of morality as an integral concept of self (2015). Phelps (2015) supports this by stating that the ability of the individual to act and perceive oneself as moral is reinforced by the ability of others to see and judge their actions. Other findings on the issue are summarized as follows:
- Biological structures and functions lead to trait levels (McCrae & Sutin, 2018).
- The concept of ‘self’ appears before the concept of ‘others’ (Eisenberg, Spinrad, & Knafo-Noam, 2015).
- Traits and perceptions of self are informed by reflexes and adaptations to the surrounding environment (Shchebetenko, 2016).
- Behavioural events that form the sense of self are subject to individual systems of analysis (Vargas, 2017).
- Physical activities and biological development are associated with a sense of self (Sutin et al., 2016).
Eisenberg, N., Spinrad, T. L., & Knafo-Noam, A. (2015). Prosocial development. In L. S. Liben, U. Muller, & R. M. Lerner (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology and developmental science (pp. 1-47). New York, NY
Killen, M., & Smetana, J. G. (2015). Origins and development of morality. In L. S. Liben, U. Muller, & R. M. Lerner (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology and developmental science (pp. 701-749). New York, NY.
Lester, D. (2009). Emotions in personal construct theory: A review. Personal Construct Theory & Practice, 6, 90-98.
McCrae, R. R., & Sutin, A. R. (2018). A five‐factor theory perspective on causal analysis. European journal of personality, 32(3), 151-166.
Noltemeyer, A., Bush, K., Patton, J., & Bergen, D. (2012). The relationship among deficiency needs and growth needs: An empirical investigation of Maslow’s theory. Children and Youth Services Review, 34(9), 1862-1867.
Phelps, B. J. (2009). Behavioral perspectives on personality and self. The Psychological Record, 65(3), 557-565.
Shchebetenko, S. (2016). Reflexive characteristic adaptations within the five-factor theory: Between basic tendencies and external outcomes. Personality and Individual Differences, 101, 35-41.
Sutin, A. R., Stephan, Y., Luchetti, M., Artese, A., Oshio, A., & Terracciano, A. (2016). The five-factor model of personality and physical inactivity: A meta-analysis of 16 samples. Journal of Research in Personality, 63, 22-28.
van Scheppingen, M. A., Jackson, J. J., Specht, J., Hutteman, R., Denissen, J. J., & Bleidorn, W. (2016). Personality trait development during the transition to parenthood: A test of social investment theory. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 7(5), 452-462.
Vargas, E. A. (2017). BF Skinner’s theory of behavior. European Journal of Behavior Analysis, 18(1), 2-38.