Theoretical Eclecticism


The term personality is usually used to refer to the qualities and traits in a person that make them different from the other people. This way when people seek to know a person’s personality they are usually looking to unveil the uniqueness in them. Personality theorists however, seek to come up with explanations as to how the commonalities in different people come into being. Personality theories therefore are set of statements that seek to explain human behavior by studying the way of thinking, actions and feelings in human beings, and more importantly what causes humans to show such behavior. Several theories exist that seek to explain personality. These include:  behavioral theories, psychodynamic theories, humanist theories and social learning theories

            Over the years more theories have been developed that attempt to explain personality but it has proven hard to state that there is any one theory that can solely and perfectly explain personality behaviour. The question of whether the personality theories differ therefore arises. While each theory seeking to explain personality can be proven true on its own, the difference between the theories lie in the aspect of behaviour they attempt to explain. For this reason, attempts to take a keen look at the individual theories reveals that certain theories will fit certain individuals or certain experiences, some theories back some aspects more than others and some theories fit certain circumstances in an individual’s life. In essence, Nye (1981) noted that although the theories explain different aspects of human behavior they cant be categorized as differing owing to the fact that they all explain the same human behaviour and in some cases they support the same ideas and in the ideal sense several theories can be used to explain one person’s behaviour.

As a result of the interlocking of several theories in their quest o explains personality, there are possibilities that in the future all the concepts will combine to give birth to the concept of science of personalities instead of dealing with theories. The possibility however is being down played by the fact that personality is dynamic. Engler, (2006) established that personality is bound to change from time to time depending on factors such as place, climate or mood, and state of affairs in a person’s life. Several experiences are also said to shape the way a person behaves at a given time. Examples are medication that results in change of behavior, gaining knowledge on a certain issue which probes the person to react differently and reactions from taking certain food or lack of such food. The problem with the theoretical concept of explaining personality lies in the tendency of the theories to focus on stable human behaviour which in the real sense has not been the case since human behaviour has been seen to change depending on the circumstances. Merging the theories of personalities therefore will require further research on the understanding of the changes in human behaviour as triggered by different situations (Allport, 1937).

Theoretical eclecticism as a concept refers to the tendency of proponents of a theory to make assumption and settle for what fits best after failing to account for certain aspects. When it comes to looking at the personality theories, this view is clearly evident especially owing to the fact that there exists no one theory that wholly explains personality. Each theory has been proven to explain certain behavioral inclination without explain other aspects of behavior. These include free will, uniqueness, and nature versus nurture among others. Another reason that clearly brings out theoretical eclecticism is in the way the theories fail to account for changing human behaviour and instead explain a stable situation in human experiences. These assumptions can be said to be contributing to non-existent of a solid concept that fully describes human behavior (Hjelle, 1992).

 In conclusion, personality theories will continue to invite criticism owing to the amount of assumptions made as well as the loads of unexplained concepts. This however does not completely prove them inapplicable. Personality theories are often used to explain human behaviour but the full understanding requires a look into the factors surrounding the behavior.


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