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The psychoanalytic theoretical orientation, developed by Sigmund Freud and based on his early research into the unconscious mind, is largely focused on how events and experiences from childhood shape our personality. According to this view, our personalities are largely determined by the influence of internal psychological forces such as instinctual drives (e.g., sex drive), defense mechanisms (e.g., repression or denial) and unconscious conflicts. The primary focus of psychoanalytic theory is to uncover any unconscious mental processes that may be causing an individual’s current behavior patterns or emotional issues in order to then address them in therapy sessions.

In contrast, trait theory emphasizes the idea that human personality is composed of a set of distinct characteristics that people possess to varying degrees across their lifespan. Trait theorists look at personality as made up of a certain number of traits which are almost like building blocks for one’s overall character – these can include things such as extraversion/introversion, agreeableness/hostility, conscientiousness/impulsivity etc.. This theory postulates that these traits remain relatively stable throughout life and determine how individuals will behave in different situations. Unlike psychoanalytic theory which leans towards understanding individuals in terms of their past traumas and unresolved conflicts, trait theorists take a more data-driven approach to looking at human behavior – they rarely delve into the inner workings or hidden motivations behind why someone behaves a certain way but instead look simply at what kind of behavior they tend to exhibit most often over time when faced with similar situations.

One main difference between these theories is that while psychoanalytic theory looks more deeply into unconscious mental processes and seeks explanations for why people act in certain ways based on past experiences; trait theorist focus more solely on predicting future behaviours via assessing external rather than internal factors such as interests, values and beliefs etc.. Another key difference between these approaches lies in their emphasis on causality – while psychodynamic perspectives put great stress on understanding causes (i.e., identifying underlying complexes) within an individual; trait theorists take a much simpler approach – seeking only correlations among various behavioural tendencies without necessarily looking for deeper meaning behind those connections.

Despite these differences however there are some similarities between the two orientations – both have been successful in helping us understand aspects about ourselves better than we could before due to their ability to provide useful insight about why we think feel & behave the way we do through careful analysis & observation . Furthermore both schools share an interest in examining & exploring common themes within human experience such as interpersonal relationships & motivation .

Personally I feel I align with aspects from both theories depending on what kind of situation I am trying to understand but if forced too choose one it would be Psychoanalytical Theory because I believe it offers valuable insight into many areas including my own personal psychology – especially concerning topics related closely with identity formation , self-awareness & relationships with others . Understanding not just ‘what’ someone does but also ‘why’ they do it can help us make sense out so many complexities surrounding who we are & where our behaviors come from & ultimately gives us more control over making conscious changes if needed .


Nystul MS (2015). Introduction To Personality Psychology: A Guide For Students And Instructors [Online]. Available: https://www2ndhalfpagebookreviewsbydaniellepowellwordpresscom/2015/10/15/introduction-to-personality-psychologya-guide-for-studentsandinstructors/. [25 March 2021].

Shuter RL et al(2017). An Introduction To Theory And Research In Personality Psychology [Online]. Available: https://opentextbcca/introductiontotheoryandresearchinpersonalitypsychology/. [25 March 2021].

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