Stages of Development

The proprium develops gradually through a lifetime. According to Allport (1937b), "The newborn infant lacks personality, for he has not yet encountered the world in which he must live, and has not developed the distinctive modes of adjustment and mastery that will later comprise his personality. He is almost altogether a creature of heredity" (p. 107). The most important hereditary bases of personality, observable in infancy, are activity level (motility) and emotionality (temperament) (p. 129). Upon this inherited basis, personality develops through interaction with the environment.

Allport (1937b) suggested a list of stages of development, but he warned that any stages identified by a theory are somewhat arbitrary. "For the single person there is only one consecutive, uninterrupted course of life" (p. 131). Allport did not conduct developmental research to test whether his hypothesized stages really exist and whether they represent the order in which personality develops. The theoretical significance of this model is its emphasis on the self.

1. Bodily Sense. The proprium begins developing in infancy with the sense of the bodily self. An infant discovers, for example, that putting his or her own hand in the mouth feels quite different from mouthing a toy. This experience contributes to the development of a sense of "the bodily me."

2. Self-Identity. The second achievement of propriate development begins in the second year of life, from age 1 to 2. The child develops a sense of self-identity, a sense of his or her existence as a separate person. Children begin to recognize themselves by name, signifying recognition of continuing individuality.

3- Ego-Enhancement. From age 2 to 3, the child begins working on self-esteem. The capacity for pride through achievement starts to develop, as well as the capacity for humiliation and selfishness.

4. Ego-Extension. Next, perhaps beginning as early as age 3 to 4, the child begins to identify with his or her ego-extensions, such as personal possessions: "That is my toy." Of course, this process continues into adulthood, especially in a consumer-oriented culture such as ours. Besides possessions, the maturing individual identifies with "loved objects, and later . . . [with] ideal causes and loyalties" (Allport, 1955, p. 45).

5. Self-image. The self-image includes both evaluation of our present "abilities, status, and roles" and our aspirations for the future (Allport, 1955, p. 47). Children between the ages 4 and 6, Allport suggested, begin to become capable of formulating future goals and are aware of being good and bad.

6. Rational Agent. During the middle childhood years (age 6 to 12) the child may be thought of as a rational coper. The child is busy solving problems and planning ways of doing things, skills that are practiced at school. In his description of these ego skills, Allport contrasted his attention to the adaptive functions of the ego with Freud's emphasis on ego defenses.

7. Propriate Striving. The seventh stage of development is labeled propriate striving, derived from Allport's term proprium. Propriate striving, which begins in adolescence, is "ego-involved" motivation that has "directedness or intentionality," to use Allport's phrasing. At this time, some defining object becomes the "cement" holding a life together, as the person becomes capable of genuine ideology and career planning.

8. The Knower. Allport described the development in adulthood of the self as knower. The adult cognitively integrates the previous seven aspects of the self into a unified whole, a view that emphasizes Allport's conviction that unity is characteristic of mature personalities. Many other theorists have also referred to a self that integrates personality. Raymond Cattell, whose theory is presented in the next chapter, refers to the self as a "master-sentiment." The self as a unifying and highly developed part of personality has also been described by many humanistic psychologists, including Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow and others not presented in this book (e.g., Frick, 1993; Tloczynski, 1993).

Though Allport sketched out a description of personality development, he believed that psychology was very far from being able to predict outcomes. Children growing up in the same family, for example, may turn out quite differently from one another and from their parents. We know too little about the way heredity, learning, and social factors work to predict an individual's adult personality accurately.

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  • Murron
    What are the stages of alports proprium development?
    1 year ago
  • Riley
    What is theory of self by allport?
    9 months ago

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