Article Review – The Development Of Personality Extremity From Childhood To Adolescence: Relations To Internalizing And Externalizing Problems

Article reviewed: The development of personality extremity from childhood to adolescence: relations to internalizing and externalizing problems. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 105 (6), 1038-1048.

The paper seeks to review and analyze the article “The Development of Personality Extremity from Childhood to Adolescence: Relations to Internalizing and Externalizing Problems” written collaboratively by Alithe L. Van den Akker,  Jessica J. Asscher, Amaranta D. De Haan, and Thomas Widiger. The research is on 598 children who grow from childhood to adolescence and are between the ages of 6 to 17 (Van den Akker et al. 2013). Personality extremity is a term that refers to the difference in a person’s characteristics in terms of behavior, thoughts, feeling and intellectual capabilities (American Psychology Association, 2016). The authors collaboratively explore the relationship between adjustment problems and personality extremity among children as they grow to adolescence. This review will therefore examine and re-evaluate the research skills, the critical thinking as well as the writing skills that were used to produce the data as well as the end results in the above article.

The article reaches to results after studying the adjustment, with the help of their fathers, mothers and teachers. The report from the three sources; fathers, mothers and teachers, are used to conclude the adjustment of the children’s internalizing and externalizing problems as they grow into the adolescence stage. The paper seeks to establish if the article is useful in identifying children that are facing difficulties in adjusting their personality (Van den Akker et al 2013). The study on development psychology, uses the Big Five approach to describe the children personality disorder as they grow into adolescence. It is evident that the article uses the Pythagorean Theorem to calculate a child’s vector and thus determining their personality extremity from either the short or the long vector. The theoretical framework used in this study is the Big Five Approach (Mervielde & Van, 2011) to describe child personality types and how they transform to their adolescence stage. This theory as per Van Den Akker has proven beneficial in determining what will become of children in terms of character and behavior.

The case study above is used to establish the outcome of a child in terms of behavior, feelings, emotions, and intellectual abilities as well as how the child will use their personality to tackle challenges. The study also identifies the internal and external problems that a child will come across when growing up (Van den Akker et al 2013). Dekovic further argues that the children who experience a normal personality characteristics have higher self-esteem and a low levels of depression compared to children with extreme personality traits. The study investigates and highlights how the current personality traits of a child could transfer to his or her adult life therefore explaining why he would experience difficulty in solving adjustment problems. The study revealed two other personalities among children. The over controllers and the under controllers. As per the Fleming study, the over controllers tend to experience extreme externalizing problem while the vice versa is viewed among the under controllers (De Haan & Van Der Sluis, 2012).

The samples used in the study are of children between the ages of six to seventeen. Both boys and girls have been used as sample, representing gender balance and therefore resulting in a balanced and well represented data that is applicable to both sex. A sample of 598 children with a mean age of 7 years 6 months were used to collect data, with boys having a percentage of 50.1% while girls 49.9%.  Almost equal number of boys and girls of the same age have been used to carry out the data collection. This is a perfect representation of children with the same personality extremity and can therefore be used to identify the personality extremity of any child with similar characteristics. The samples were obtained from the Flemish study on parenting, Personality and development (Dekovic & Prinzie, 2011). The fathers, mothers, and teachers who were participants were of Belgium population. The location therefore is in the field in Belgium (Van den Akker et al. 2013).  In critiquing the case study deeply, one can argue that due to demographic and environmental conditions that differ across the world, the results might not necessarily relate to children from different parts of the continents even if they share the same age and gender.

Unlike in other articles written by the same scholars in 2012 that was on ‘Development of personality types from childhood to adolescence associations with parenting and adjustments’, where warmness in discipline was used as a variance factor, education level of parents has been used to come up with findings with the help of questionnaires. The study was done in Belgium since the participants and the sample comprise of a population from Belgium (Van den Akker et al. 2013). Ethical considerations have been addressed in this study. To begin with, parental consent has been considered. Parents, who are participants in the study are aware that their children are involved in the study. It is ethical to seek permission from the parents when a minor is used as a sample. In addition to that, ethical considerations such as deception and protection of participants have been taken care of. No cases of physical or emotional harm have been reported by the participants. Some ethical concerns have not been addressed in the case study. For instance, it is not stated anywhere in the article that the participants underwent a debrief once the research was completed.

One of the weaknesses of the study is that due to the large sample, the method of data collection could be inaccurate. Questionnaires were used to gather data in this study. Reviewing all the data is time consuming therefore, crucial information could have been omitted. Other forms of data collection such as interviewing and observation should have been included in the study. In addition to that, it is difficult to fully capture the personality change of children since the study was carried out in different phases with a gap of 2 to 3 years. Furthermore, other important aspects such as a child’s religious, cultural as well as traditional background were not considered to influence their personal traits. Despite the weaknesses the study faces, it has some strengths. To begin with, the study has broadly investigated the area of study using five aspects; openness to experience, extraversion, conscientiousness, agreeableness and neuroticism to illustrate the different levels of extremity in children (Kruger and Widger 2011). Another positive characteristic of the study is that it is gender sensitive. The sample used has an equal number of girls and boys making the study relevant to all children and adolescence of between 6 to 17 years. Lastly, the study uses tables and graphs to illustrate figures and numbers. This is effective for clarity purposes. It makes it easier for anyone gathering information from the selected field to understand the findings.

The study according to Van den Akker et al (2013), is used to determine the results of a child. The personal traits of a child not only determines but also transfer into their adulthood. Detecting the traits of a child enables the child to seek help in dealing with the adjustment problems that emerges as he grows up (Dekovic & Prinzie, 2011). The study can also be useful in establishing children that are mentality disordered. Extremely high and low levels of extremity are a sign of mental disorder. Detecting them earlier can easen the recovery of a mentally disabled child. It used to determine normal personality as well as establishing problematic personality (Widger & Samuel, 2012).

In conclusion, the study has extensively investigated the extremity in children as they grow to the adolescence stage. The study that focuses on how externalizing and internalizing problems determine the child’s capability to deal with adjustment problems uses clearly outlined graphs and tables to defend its findings. The use of tables and charts effectively clarifies the findings of the case study. The results indicate a direct relation between the personality extremity of a child and its problem adjustment capabilities. The study is important in establishing ones personality traits because a lot of a child’s personality traits are usually transferred to his adulthood. This study, which is a section of the Fleming study make it possible to study the personality development across the human life span because the Big Five Framework applies to adults the same way it applies to adolescents and kids. Personality extremity therefore is important to consider because it determines who the children become in future.

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