APA Sample on How psychodynamic and trait theories determine career choice

Running head: How psychodynamic and trait theories determine career choice 1
How psychodynamic and trait theories determine career choice
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How psychodynamic and trait theories determine career choice 2
How psychodynamic and trait theories determine career choice
Personality theories explain how different traits are developed in humans and how
behaviors are generated. The theories explain why different individuals react in a certain way
and how the factors that dictate a human destiny. The main emphasis of trait theories is the
identification of features possessed by individuals and the extent to which such individuals
possess them. Trait theorists discuss how the motivations and goals of individuals dictate the
development of different traits and the degree of their possession. Psychodynamic theorists,
on the other hand, try to explain human behaviors by arguing that human beings are
controlled by internal forces which are unconscious. Such forces include opinions, images, or
feelings that determine who the individuals are and their career and destiny in life (Fontana,
2000). The paper will relate psychodynamic theory with trait theory to highlight different
factors that determine the career choice of an individual. It will show how the two theories
can be used to describe, explain, predict and assess human behaviors in relation to their career
As seen above, theorists describe internal forces that push individuals in different
directions thereby dictating their career choice. The forces are biologically oriented and
dynamic. The unconscious nature alluded by psychodynamic theorists show that individuals
do not know the reasons that make them behave in a particular way which makes them strive
and learn the factors that dictate their behaviors. Sigmund Freud is the primary theorist that
tried to explain psychodynamic theories. He used psychoanalytical theory to explain the
physiological functioning of different individuals in society. Freud observed that human
How psychodynamic and trait theories determine career choice 3
behaviors are controlled by instinctive forces which exert its effects on individuals out of their
consciousness. The instinctive forces trigger the mind which has three components according
to Freud. The first component is the id which offers impulsive gratification on individuals’
instinctual desires and urges. It is the one responsible for career desires the choice generates
fulfillment and happiness in life. The second is the ego, and it is this component that
individuals are able to adapt to the real world. The third component is the superego, and it is
the one that generates irrational strategies for individuals to enable them to avoid punishments
that are caused by internalized moral structures. The three components ensure that individuals
stay alive and enjoy life in the real world. It also eliminates any guilt that may occur to an
individual. It is through the three components that individuals can choose their careers and
live by their choice without feeling any guilt (Smart et al., 1986).
The psychodynamic theory was also explained by Alfred Adler who deviated from
Sigmund explanation of the three components. He observed that human body function as a
whole to achieve set goals and objectives which determines the personality of an individual.
Such goals enable an individual to plan and chose the career one wants to undertake during
their development. Alfred argued that every individual is born with an inferiority complex.
Such sense of inferiority causes individuals to start their worldly life as helpless and weak.
Individuals later on adapt and strive to overcome their inferiority complex and other
deficiencies by working hard to become more superior to those individuals around them. It
makes individuals choose careers that make them better and superior to those people around
their environment. He observed that psychological phenomena and career objectives of
different individuals are dictated by their need to exert influence and feel superior to others
How psychodynamic and trait theories determine career choice 4
(Staggs et al., 2003). For some people, they have a feeling that they cannot be able to attain
superiority in their surrounding which leads to the inferiority complex in their lives.
Carl Jung analyzed psychodynamic theories based on analytical approach but
observed that subconscious forces in an individual entailed more than Sigmund’s explanation.
He observed that both adults and children exhibit some features that are similar across culture
and time. Some of those features include certain behaviors, fears, and thoughts which all
humans share regardless of age. He named his observation as collective unconscious since the
similarity was not by coincidence. He asserted that unconscious forces of an individual are
caused by both collective and personal unconscious. Different individuals exhibit different
personal unconscious which explains why individuals choose different careers in life. He also
observed that the personality of an individual does not act as a whole as self-engages in a
constant struggle with opposing part of an individual personality for unity (Saunder, 2002).
One chose the career path subconsciously since the whole system of the body dictates to an
individual the path one will follow in his life.
Erikson was another theorist who weighed in psychodynamic theory. He introduced
the issue of ego psychology but agreed on Freud argument regarding the structural
components of human personality. He also agreed with human id, ego, and the superego. He,
however, emphasized the role of ego in dictating the personality of an individual. He observed
that ego was very important in determining the behaviors and personality of an individual
(Staggs et al., 2003). The ego drives an individual into taking a particular career path where
the needs and different cravings in life are achieved.
How psychodynamic and trait theories determine career choice 5
Psychodynamic theorists show that biological drives and forces are the main
determinants that influence development and choice of career for different individuals.
Development of interests in certain careers happens to an individual subconsciously which
makes it hard for an individual to understand and explain why he chose a particular career
instead of others. The interest towards certain interests and careers happen subconsciously
which according to these theorists shows that the choice towards a certain career happens in
subconscious minds of individuals (Saunder, 2002). Subconscious mind dictates the
personality, career path and interests of an individual in a particular field.
The trait theories main focus is explaining the personality of an individual as opposed
to drivers of physiological phenomena. These theories try to measure and predict the
psychological characteristics of a person. Cattell was one of the theorists who attempted to
explain trait theories on an individual. He described the personality of an individual in a
structural based system. He asserted that personality system of an individual generates in
relation to the environment. He described personality as the characteristics that explain how a
person will react and behave when subjected to a particular situation. He noted that the
behavioral response of an individual is triggered by the individual’s personality and the
situation such a person is confronted with (Staggs et al., 2003). The environment that an
individual is subjected to determines the career path such an individual will take in future.
The second person to weigh in on trait theories was Gordon Allport. He argued that
the personality of an individual is dictated by personal dispositions which are unique to every
person. He argued that personality is dictated by the interaction of physiological and
biological processes in humans. He also noted that personality is a whole thing with
How psychodynamic and trait theories determine career choice 6
interdependent cognitive, physical, and psychosocial aspects. He also noted that personality is
dynamic which means that it grows, develops, and changes as humans mature and learn new
things in life. The personality of an individual provides motivation and directs the behavior
and careers of individuals. According to him, the personality provides characteristics that are
unique to individuals’ behaviors, attributes, and thoughts which enable different people to
start different careers and adapt to different environments and situations (Saunder, 2002). It is
the same reason that the society consists of different individuals with different career choices
and interests.
Trait theories depict the behavior of individuals as enduring and able to adapt to
different situations in the environment. They depict how individuals learn and develop in their
careers to become better persons and generate fulfillment in life.
Different personality theories explain the behaviors and interests of individuals
extensively compared to others. There is no theory that can completely explain personality,
behaviors, and interests of different individuals. We cannot predict with utmost certainty the
career of an individual using any of the theories, but they can be used to give projections and
probabilities of career choice of an individual. Personality theories depend on the context and
situation by which they are applied to predict the personality of an individual and choice of
their careers. Trait theories are however different from psychodynamic theories in many
aspects. Trait theorists do not concern themselves with understanding or explaining how
personality develops in individuals. As opposed to psychodynamic theories, trait theories do
not attempt to predict the behavior of a person in a given situation. Trait theories main focus
How psychodynamic and trait theories determine career choice 7
is comparing different individuals based on degrees and aspects. Trait theorists, unlike
psychodynamic theorists, do not provide a medium through which individuals can understand
personality changes.
How psychodynamic and trait theories determine career choice 8
Fontana, D. (2000). Personality in the workplace. London: MacMillan Press Ltd.
Patton, W., & McMahon, M. (2014). Career development and systems theory: Connecting
theory and practice (Vol. 2). New York: Springer.
Saunder, W.B. (2002). Personality. US: Harcourt Health Science Publishers.
Smart, J.C., Elton, C.F. & McLaughlin, G.W. (1986). Person-environment congruence and
job satisfaction. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 24(1):216-225.
Staggs, G.D., Larson, L.M. & Borgen, F.H. (2003). Convergence of specific factors in
vocational interests and personality. Journal of Career Assessment, 11(3):243-261.

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