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The utility of seminal and modern individual differences


The present essay critically analyses the utility of seminal and contemporary individual variations theories in understanding life events. The theories of Freud and Rogers are discussed and contrasted. Moreover, modern-day individual researches that explain variations in cognitive ability, affect, and sociability are also tackled. They may have helped the writer gain insight on why individuals differ from others in terms of the cognitive ability, affect, and how they connect with others. A lot more than these, they have helped the writer introspect about my own personality, predisposition about life, and preferences. They are useful input in deciding when, where, and how the writer is most effective in relating with other folks. The insights culled from the essay are yet another step towards self-mastery. Only when an individual understands himself thoroughly will he have the ability to understand others, manage teams, and accomplish meaningful tasks. Overall, this will lend greater meaning to task performance and life generally.

Critically analyse how useful seminal and contemporary individual distinctions theories can be when coming up with sense of life events you have personally experienced.

Theories on individual differences both have theoretical and pragmatic value in interpreting my own experiences. This essay shall discuss how the seminal theories of Freud and Rogers may be used to clarify personal life events. Moreover, the utility of modern day individual differences theories and empirical researches shall subsequently be tackled. These cover individual distinctions in intellectual ability, affect, and sociability.

One of the seminal theories of personality which take into account individual differences is the psychodynamic theory of Sigmund Freud (Schultz & Schultz 1994); the latter helps me explain my behaviours during crises and other stressful times. For example, faced with the death of a loved one, my initial reaction was denial, in support of later on have I rationally accepted this stressful lifestyle event. The distinctions in people's reactions to such incidents are explained by their past encounters based on Freud's theory. I realise that since people have differing backgrounds, previous experiences, and upbringing, they correspondingly have other ways of coping mechanisms and means of channelling their energies (Schultz & Schultz 1994).

Yet another theory which might explain individual distinctions is Rogers' theory of self actualisation. He advocated the theory that people have varying degrees of motivation. Whereas many people seek physical needs, others are in an increased level and pursue self-actualisation. Physical needs all drive towards survival, while psychological needs have to do with optimising one's capacities; seeking novelty in life; equipping oneself with new competencies; and overall seek out meaning (in Gray 2002). This explains why I needed different motivations at various phases of my entire life. Initially, young people seek encounters that gives them monetary rewards. Moving on, however, higher level needs of recognition, self-esteem, belongingness, love, and fulfilment on the job, are sought.

These two seminal theories on personality and individual dissimilarities represent two opposing anchors on the continuum. Whereas Freud views humans as irrational and driven by the unconscious, Rogers' theory emphasizes the power of the individual to accomplish something beyond himself through the process of self-actualisation. Both theories, however, are capable of explaining why folks have varying motivations and correspondingly differ in the way they think, feel and behave. The succeeding paragraphs further delve into individual variations theories and across the dimensions of thinking, feeling, and sociability.

At the level of the average person, difference in intellectual capacity are thought to determine differences in job competence (Devine & Phillips, 2001; Kickul & Neuman, 2000). This is also true for work that involves high mental capacity and a retentive mind; those that are complicated and atypical. Moreover Le Pine (2003) suggested that higher intellectual ability is also significantly related to the capacity to make decisions and to adjust to change. This justifies why a lot of people are better able to adjust to their jobs; are able to take on complex tasks; and overall have the ability to progress quicker in their careers. Perhaps the same theory on differences in cognitive ability connect with university students as well. The professor, for instance, provides the same lecture to all students, the same exams, and the same reading material. You will find those who find themselves exceptional in how they absorb the information while there are others who are not as driven to learn. Apart from attitudes, variations in cognitive ability account for the pace and the effectiveness with which they respond to these intellectual stimuli.

Individual variations theories also suggest that higher intellectual capacity is also significantly correlated with the capacity to work with a team or even to spearhead a team effort (Devine & Philips 2001). Le Pine (2003) et al have further found that teams with members possessing higher intellectual capacity also have displayed greater flexibility and are definitely more agile in responding to novel situations. However, based on my personal experience, the effectiveness of a team does not solely rely on the intellectual capability of its members. The component of attitudes and motivations are equally important in deciding team capability. Often, I have seen 'intelligent' people fail because the main element values of collaboration, mutuality, and influence are not exercised of their teams. In place, Devine & Philips (2001) remember that while intellectual capacity can be an ingredient of effective team functioning, the ability of the team to synergise is also a consideration in team effectiveness.

Apart from intellectual or cognitive differences, people may also differ as a consequence of differences in the way they feel. For instance, Kling, Ryff, & Love (2003) have discovered that there are people who are more predisposed to exercising fortitude; struggling amidst hardship; being calm; having high self-regard; and being autonomous. Each one of these traits determine how individuals respond to crisis or pressure. Individuals who have a tendency to react ineffectively with stress are also less satisfied with life generally speaking and are more likely to express sadness with the situation (Kling et al 2003). Moreover, people who react negatively in terms of affect also have a tendency to be less content with their jobs, to experience more job-related stress, and become less flexible with change (Burger 1997). Individuals who are not capable of adjusting emotionally are also more sensitive to threat perceptions and have a tendency to be ineffective in team-based contexts (Kickul & Neuman 2000).

These individual distinctions theories all suggest the importance of being emotionally well-adjusted to keep healthy work and personal relationships. For example, based on my own experience, I am able to lead and influence others even easily may well not be the most intelligent. I realise that effectiveness in leadership and dealing with teams will not entail intellectual capacity alone, but also being in charge of one's emotions. Before, I did have some difficulties in working with negative emotions. When faced with challenges, I tend to clam up rather than welcoming the task that lies ahead. However, with coaching from my parents and friends, I've begun to develop confidence and composure. My stints at community work have also helped me adapt well to folks of various backgrounds. In total, these experience have likewise taught me that leadership and effective emotional functioning may be learned. Like intellectual skills, soft skills which have regarding feeling also require practise. These theories also help explain why some people are less in a position to adapt themselves in times of crisis; partly, these may be attribute with their differences in degrees of neuroticism or the capability for emotional flexibility.

There are also theories which describe just why there are variations in people's sociability. One particular theory is the personality theory of Myers and Briggs (in Gray 2002), which explains the realms in an individual which can influence how he pertains to other people. For just one, this theory shows that individuals differ over the continuum of extraversion-introversion. This justifies where people derive their energy from. Whereas extraverted people are energetic, sociable, assertive, and talkative, introverted individuals tend to be reserved, quiet and averse of social gatherings. This first dimension explains why I've experienced initial difficulty in dealing with teams and in leading. I am an introvert when I first entered college; however, I really believe this has changed as I began to build up new friendships; have exposed myself in leadership work; and also have begun to enjoy others' company; forming meaningful relationships in the process. I've realised that some people are naturally matched to jobs that require entertaining people, being the life of the party, and being in constant conversation with them. However, there's also individuals who are better off being alone in a corner, introspecting, and getting energy from within. If these individuals are matched to jobs that aren't 'suited' with their natural predisposition, they may tend to feel stressed and even underpeform as a consequence. Kickul & Neuman (2000) have further noted that extraverts also tend to lead project teams; be collaborative in their approach; also to work well in that context.

In relation to this, the study of Kovach, Surrette, & Whitcomb (1988) discovered that the best predictor of student attendance to general psychology courses was a compulsive, rule-oriented personality. On the other hand, Judge, Martocchio, and Thorensen (1997) found who had high conscientiousness and had lower extroversion were also less inclined to miss work. If more empirical research points out this association between these personality traits and absenteeism, then there could be a systematic way of profiling prospective employees who are inclined to being absent. These empirical studies again point out to the worthiness of individual differences in explaining the motivations of people; and the influence of personality in such motivations. I am an especially conscientious person and don't feel comfortable with failing to accomplish tasks on time so that promised. This is why I have tried my best to continue to keep my word all the time. I also have a tendency to behave with techniques that please significant others. These personality traits translate to preferences in the manner I think, feel and behave.

Individual dissimilarities theories also explain that some people are generally more predisposed to being satisfied with their jobs and with life in general, in comparison to others. For example, Weaver (1978) notes that there are certain people who are generally more satisfied and motivated, whatever the task they are doing or the job they have. This finding appears to be very sensible. Many a time, I see people who have the 'natural knack' for accomplishing things well, and everything appears to run smoothly when they are around. You can find, however, people who constantly complain and are incredibly pessimistic no matter how smoothly things 're going. This finding has been empirically supported by researches that suggest the stability of job satisfaction across time and circumstances (Judge & Watanabe 1993; Staw & Ross 1985). In relation to this, I have gained insight into why I am naturally predisposed to being enthusiastic and positive about everything happening in my life. There have been critical incidents in my own life that seemed very negative at first glance, such as being separated from a substantial other, the death of a loved one, or failing woefully to reach a goal. Even amidst these, my instinct is to seek support from others and make an effort to grab whatever positive learning I could yield from the experience. A lot of my friends have commented on my resilience as a person, and I think I could safely say that this is a trait inherent in me.

The present essay has illustrated the utility of seminal and modern day theories and studies that tackle individual differences. They may have helped me gain insight on why individuals change from others in conditions of these cognitive ability, affect, and how they relate with others. A lot more than these, they have got helped me introspect about my own personality, predisposition about life, and preferences. They are useful input in deciding when, where, and how I am most effective in relating with other people. The insights culled from the essay are just one more step towards self-mastery. Only once a person understands himself thoroughly will he be able to understand others, manage teams, and accomplish meaningful tasks. Overall, this will lend greater meaning to task performance also to life in general.

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