Barbara Engler, author of Personality Theories, describes the study of personality as coming from two approaches, academic psychology and clinical practice. Engler explains that studying personality through academia involves uncovering correlations and general principles of personality through research and experiments. On the other hand, clinical practice involves studying personality through research of individuals and their case histories, often in an office setting.
According to author and psychology expert Kendra Cherry in an article for psychologyabout.com, there are four primary schools of personality theory:
The humanistic perspective: “Focuses on psychological growth, free will and personal awareness.”
The social cognitive perspective: “Emphasizes the importance of observational learning, self-efficacy, situational influences and cognitive processes.”
The trait perspective: Focuses on “identifying, describing and measuring the specific traits that make up human personality.”
The psychoanalytic perspective: Emphasizes the importance of early childhood experiences and the unconscious mind."
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