Theories of Personality and Cognitive Development

Subject: Psychology
Pages: 3
Words: 637
Reading time:
3 min
Study level: Master


This paper explores and uses Erickson’s theory of personality development as a reference point in explaining experiences Tanya faces in her life. The paper integrates Piagets’ and Erickson’s theories in explaining how individual cognitive development influences human personality. In addition, the paper will use cognitive development theory and personality development theory as reference points in analyzing and answering part two of the essay questions.

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Theories of Personality and Cognitive Development

The study of personality provides basic theoretical aspects in psychology. Personality being a complex terminology, contemporary scholars, and psychologists collectively defined it as feelings and behaviors that distinguish people based on factors like time and circumstances.

Stages of Cognitive Development

As Lamb, Bornstein, and Teti (2002) state, interaction between the parents especially the mother enables Tanya to have clear understanding of the external world. Depending on the support from her parents, Tanya develops a sense of trust and understanding of the importance of education her life. The second stage enables Tanya explore and gain control of the external environment; the parent’s encouragements, and motivational venture fosters autonomy in her. At this stage, Tanya constantly involves in exploring the world. Due to her continued interest in exploration, Tanya develops interest and confidence in handling her dreams and problems (Oakley, 2004).

Thirdly, Tanya takes initiative in improving her planning and undertaking of various assignments. In addition, she learns basic principles behind the occurrence of events and develops sense of autonomy. As McCrae and Costa (2003) denote, with effective support of her parents, Tanya develops self initiative in handling different tasks aimed at achieving her desires. The fourth stage is latency stage, in which Tanya learns to be more responsible of her actions. She has developed special interest and talent in engineering because her parents have motivated her on the benefits of becoming an engineer.

Finally, the fifth stage is adolescence stage and Tanya falls into this category because currently she is eighteen years old. At this stage, she develops a sense of confusion as she transforms from childhood to adulthood, in that way, she has developed a clear sense of her sexual identity to be an engineer in future (Love & Guthrie, 2011).

Cognitive and Personality Development Theories

This question tries to explore the interaction between the cognitive and personality development theories of human development. This paper examines how the cognitive theory of development influences development of personality from the time of birth to adolescent stage.

Adaptation to the external environment: according to Gilbert (2002), the most important aspect of an individual’s ability to acquire knowledge is biology and environmental factors, which influence growth. As an individual grows through various stages of life, the biological factors provide suitable framework and strategies that enable an individual to interact with the outside world. Acquisition of knowledge fosters mental change, leading to a shift and change in beliefs and attitudes of an individual (Barrouillet & Gaillard, 2011). The cognitive theory explains how an individual adjusts to the external environment as explained by basic assumptions of Piaget’s ideologies. Piaget’s theory focuses on schemes that enable individuals to successfully adapt to the new environment. The cognitive development enables the child to exhibit negative and positive qualities necessary in adapting to the external environment. Due to the individual’s responses to the outside world under different situations, they develop personality that influences their decision-making process.

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Mental processing: enables an individual to develop standards of behavior that later defines personality in dealing with environmental influences. In addition, the cognitive theories of development centrally focus on accommodation and assimilation principles of adaptation. The two principles advocate for adaptation and learning as the only way of producing the desired change within an individual. With biological discoveries and advances, it is possible for the cognitive development to influence an individual’s personality in adjusting to the environmental and social factors.


Barrouillet, P., & Gaillard, V. (2011). Cognitive development and working memory: A dialogue between neo-piagetian theories and cognitive approaches. Hove: Psychology Press

Gilbert, R. L. (2002). How we change: Psychotherapy and the process of human development. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

Lamb, M. E., Bornstein, M. H., & Teti, D. M. (2002). Development in infancy: An introduction. Mahwah, N.J: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Love, P. G., & Guthrie, V. L. (2011). Understanding and Applying Cognitive Development Theory: New Directions for Student Services. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons.

McCrae, R. R., & Costa, P. T. (2003). Personality in adulthood: A five-factor theory perspective. New York: Guilford Press.

Oakley, L. (2004). Cognitive development. London: Routledge.

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