Personality can be an individual measure of someone, but can just as easily be categorised together allowing for more general assumptions to be made. With help from both seminal and contemporary theories, the idea of personality and how it accounts for individual differences can be more readily understood, for both individuals and majorities. With this in mind, I have chosen two theories, one contemporary and one seminal to apply to two separate life events (see appendix). The contemporary theory I have selected is that of Bandura (1977) and his theory about self-efficacy. I have chosen to apply Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (1946) as a seminal theory. Both theories will then be applied to my life events and used to critically analyse how effective they are to explain them.
My interpretation of Maslow’s (1946) theory is that in order to reach self-actualisation, a series of innate needs must be met beforehand. This coincides with my first life event (see appendix) as, if applying Maslow’s theory (1946), I felt that my lower needs, like stability, would not be met in my new surroundings at university. However, moving to university was beneficial to me in a way that the innate needs were, surprisingly to me, met.
Specifically, my physiological needs were met because my basic survival was not a concern; I had food and water, which in turn allowed me concentrate on the next need, being safety. This need was met a few days into my arrival when I had got used to the surroundings and was able to feel more stable and secure. Money was not an issue at this point, so I was stable in that sense too. I was then able to focus on the next need, belongingness, which I feel, came later when the people around me became more familiar. It was only when I felt like I had made real friends that I feel this need became satisfied, and this occurred nearer the end of my first week arriving. I no longer felt the drive to meet new people; I felt a sense of belonging already. Therefore, Maslow’s (1946) theory fits with the event in the way that my needs were met in the order suggested. However, during the first week, there were times when physiological needs were not met, like not getting enough sleep. This meant that I became distracted from other higher needs because I was driven by catching up on sleep. Making friends, or the need for belongingness, was sidelined so that catching up on sleep could be focused on. This idea of reverting back into lower needs is not fully explored in Maslow’s theory (1946), but in a later theory which expands on it; Existence, Relatedness and Growth (ERG) by Alderfer (1969) that proposes a regression theory in addition to the various needs, explaining what happens if someone is to revert back to lower needs. I feel that this theory by Alderfer (1969) is more effective in explaining why my focus changed; I could not concentrate on the current stage I was at, the need for belongingness, so I reverted back to lower levels to satisfy needs there so as to continue to successfully progress in the hierarchy of needs.
Maslow’s theory (1946) goes as far as explaining the drive behind my behaviour when arriving at university, yet doesn’t explain why I was so cautious to begin university in the first place. I believe Bandura’s theory of self-efficacy (1977) is effective in explaining why I initially thought I would not fit in or do well at university. For me to already assume that I would not do well suggests that, according to Bandura (1977), I had low self-efficacy. When applying Bandura’s theory (1977), this could be down to my own judgement of my own self-efficacy. Using Bandura’s (1977) classifications as to how one’s self-efficacy can be judged it is clear why I may have thought this. Looking at previous success experiences would not apply to this situation as I had obviously not been to university before, yet I could compare this to others. My friends all went to university before I did and a few of my friends found it hard to settle down and fit in. According to Bandura (1977), seeing others fail can lower self-efficacy so perhaps by seeing my friends struggle made me anxious as to how I would fit in. Conversely, I did receive a lot of verbal persuasion prior to going to university, yet perhaps the other factors outweighed this positive, because the fourth factor is perhaps the most prominent. I don’t deal with situations very well and am prone to stress, and according to Bandura (1977), the more composed we feel, the higher our self-efficacy. However, university was a successful experience for me, and if applying Bandura’s (1977) theory, exposure to successful experiences can increase self-efficacy. I think this theory effectively explains my behavioural change when coming to university, and the fact that I feel my self-efficacy became higher, although Maslow’s theory (1946) explains a different aspect of my move to university well also.
In relation to my second life event (see appendix), I feel that Bandura’s (1977) theory of self-efficacy is an effective way of explaining it. According to Badura’s (1977) theory my self-efficacy was relatively high; due to previous success experiences and verbal persuasion. Keeping to Bandura’s (1977) theory, my high self-efficacy meant that I believed that I could deal effectively with the challenge that I had been set. However, my high level of self-efficacy decreased when work commenced. My classmate had lots of trouble with her work, which in turn led me to think that I too would have trouble and not succeed, which is one of the classifications for deciding your own self-efficacy, put forward by Bandura (1977). My colleagues were not very encouraging; meaning that there was lacking verbal persuasion resulting in me feeling like I could not achieve what I needed to. I also didn’t cope well with the stress of the work, it was difficult talking in a foreign language and this meant I felt I was unable to cope. In accordance to Bandura’s (1977) theory, it would be these factors that would lead me to develop a low self-efficacy. In addition to this, Rotter’s Locus of Control (1954) can also be helpful in explaining parts of this life event. I felt that external forces were the blame for my unsuccessful time during work experience, in particular, the people I worked with. People with an external locus of control experience high levels of anxiety, which could explain why I reacted so badly in the stressful situation.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (1946) would not be an obvious choice to pick in relation to my second life event; however, there is an interesting contrast between the first and second life events when referring to this theory. As mentioned before, my needs were met quickly and successfully and there was not any difficulty in achieving the needs. In contrast, in my second event, although the first most basic needs were met, physiological needs and safety needs, the need for belongingness was never met. I did not feel a part of the work force. Perhaps, this could be argued that this influenced my performance and can therefore also be highly useful in explaining my behaviour; I never felt part of their team, so as a result of my belongingness needs never being met, my performance suffered. Again, I feel that both of these seminal and contemporary theories can explain my behaviour in this event, perhaps leaning towards the work of Bandura (1977) for a deeper understanding.
With regards to the theories, I feel that the seminal theory, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (1946) is most effective in explaining my behaviour in my first life event. Despite that the contemporary theory, self-efficacy by Bandura (1977) also appears to explain why I behaved in the way that I did, Maslow’s (1946) theory appears more relevant and useful. I think that Bandura’s (1977) theory is more effective in explaining the reasoning behind my behaviour in the second life event; Maslow’s theory in that respect doesn’t seem to apply as successfully. The theories differ in the way that they apply to a greater sample; the individual or situation doesn’t seem to effect whether or not Bandura’s (1977) theory is relevant, yet Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (1946) seems quite rigid in its formation; there seems to be no variation into what people need, which in turn makes it rather closed. Not a lot of thought was included about other cultures or races. With that in mind, although it applies well to my life events, this may not be the case for everyone on a wide scale basis, as opposed to Bandura’s (1977) theory which seems broader, seemingly fitting for most types of people.