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What determines how our personalities develop?

What determines an individual’s personality? While psychologists have worked to understand this complex component of the human experience, there have been many controversies and contradicting information about how personalities develop.

But now, a new theory has been published by Carol Dweck, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at Stanford University and one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of motivation.

Dweck suggests that personality is based on basic needs and fulfillment. Her work combines motivation, personality, and development in one framework.

Published in the journal Psychological Review, the findings revolve around the idea that as people try and meet their needs and create goals and beliefs around their experiences, this is how personality is formed and developed.

According to Dweck, we all have basic psychological needs that must be met. These are the need to predict our world, the need to build competence to act on our world, and the need for acceptance from others.

As an example of these basic needs being met, infants are constantly on the lookout for need-relevant information and working to fulfill them. Learning as they go, their experiences begin to shape their beliefs about the world and their ability to act in that world. These beliefs are termed “BEATs.”

Dweck defines BEATs as all the experiences a person has while trying to meet their needs. BEATs are an important factor in personality, both with goal orientation and inner beliefs about need fulfillment.

A person’s BEATs help shape personality because they can determine how someone goes about meeting their needs and goals, in other words, motivations.

Dweck’s theory is noteworthy because it shows how personality is developed by motivations instead of the idea that personality is genetic and we’re born with certain personality traits.

Personality is shaped as our beliefs and experiences evolve.  The research also provides insight into growth and development and the personality processes that can help shape well-being

By Kay Vandette, Staff Writer

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