Personality Development Of Barack Obama

Studies by most scientists over time indicate that change in personality trait is not as common as consistency in personality trait (Allen, 2005). This, therefore, implies that personality trait is not often dramatic whenever change occurs. Whenever a person improves his/her attitudes and behaviours in an organized manner that would make him/her distinctive; the whole process results into personality development (Allen, 2005). In regard to this, there must be a continuous interaction of personality, environment and character for effective personality development to happen. People are different because of their varying personalities, and this depends on their behaviors, moods and beliefs that differentiate them. It is significant for people to understand that personality development happens in a systematic manner, which in due course, helps a person to make relevant and flexible adjustments to various conditions in the environment (Allen, 2005). Therefore, personality development as a topic continues to take charge of idealistic survival, which paralleled various fortunes that encompass the study of personality psychology. This paper conducts an in-depth analysis of the personality development of Barack Obama; a global personality, and the president of the United States of America.

It is worth noting that, in general, different models of personality development do propose a strapping influence of initial experience on eventual personality (Rothbart, 2012). However, the level of influence depends on the nature or state of mind and development. A close examination of Barack Obama’s experience results into observations that comprise a complete chapter in his life. A Kenyan father and an American mother brought forth Barack Obama in 1961 (Shaffer, 2004). After the death of his father in 1982, Barack Obama decided to travel to Kenya in search of more knowledge about his father (Shaffer, 2004). This, also, assisted him to develop a clear perspective of himself as a heritage of mixed race. His background comprises multiple facets, which served as building blocks to enrich his experience in a significant manner. In a special way, therefore, all these helped in shaping his eventual personality, character and his perception of the world. Dweck (2000) contends that immediately after Barack Obama’s graduation from Columbia University, Business International Corporation hired him. He accepted the offer and worked for them for one year. Later on, he moved to work for the New York Public Interest Research Group for three years before moving to Chicago (Dweck, 2000). Barack worked as the director of Developing Communities Projects, which was a community organization under the Catholic Church. At the same time; however, Barack, also, worked for the Gamaliel foundation as a consultant and instructor. When he joined the Harvard school of law, the Harvard Law Review hired him as their editor through voting. Later on when he proceeded to his second year, he became its president, and this served as the first greatest milestone in the background of Barack Obama (Dweck, 2000).

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Application of Erikson’s stages of personality development reveals Barack Obama as a man who makes attempts to comprehend social extension of a multicultural president (Tharp, 2011). This happened to Barack Obama during his time in Hawaii and Indonesia. Tharp (2011) further expounds that there is a strong connection between the growth and upbringing of Barack in a multicultural and diverse state of Hawaii and his time in Indonesia where most of the population embrace secular Islam. Throughout his life as a child and young adult, he struggled to come to terms with the death of his father, and this shaped him into a populist champion. Much of Obama’s early socialization occurred in Jakarta, Indonesia. According to DePaul (2009), this is place where Obama’s multicultural perspective started becoming clear. In the same environment, he learned the significance of cultural relativism and compromise; essential traits, which would enrich him in his eventual duties as a community organizer, a senator and later as the president of the United States of America. In writing his book ‘Dreams from my father,’ DePaul (2009) claims that Obama tells the world that it is possible for people to arrive at a common ground irrespective of their dissimilar historical experiences. In his book, he narrates his life experience growing up in the United States as a biracial child in the generation that came after the civil rights. He capitalized on the experiences of racism as intermediary learning points. His personal story provided an opportunity for the world to understand the actual impact of interest convergence and colorblind beliefs on the daily life experiences of different people (Shaffer, 2008).

Through the application of the lens of organismic model (Piaget’s epistemological interest), Shaffer, 2008) provides a clear explanation of the manner in which intelligence of Barack Obama developed. Obama’s capacity for knowledge and his efficiency owes back to his reciprocal interaction with the environment and, also, the death of his father. This, on the other hand, assisted him to develop a charismatic personality. His combination of congeniality, assertiveness and confidence completes his profile as a charismatic leader. He knows the right time for everything he speaks, and this is because of his deep understanding of law. DePaul (2009) further asserts that Obama has an amazing combination of outgoing, dominant and ambitious traits, which provide the basis for political skills that a leader requires in promoting a personal vision, interacting with people, and motivating followers.

In applying psychoanalytic theories to Obama presidency, it is clear for one to note that Obama continuously portrays a cool bearing to stun most of his previous supporters (Tharp, 2011). To most people, Barack Obama appears to be oblivious, frightened, or disinterested in direct conflict because of his detachment. The collapse of the Super Committee, for instance, implied his passive observation, which influenced politicians and pundits from both political parties to accuse him of not being careful. As Rothbart (2012) asserts; however, the president’s disinclination to address such a critical issue in the government is a psychological issue rather than a cognitive one. This is because of his personality structure that did not allow him to prevent the Super Committee from failure. On a psychoanalytic basis, president Obama applies intellectual exertion to dissociate himself from fury, and, also, strains to keep issues in clear perspective (Calmes & Peters, 2013). In other words, he never contains his rage in his mind; rather, he dissociates it. This means that he separates feeling from thought to allow him uphold his operations in an unadulterated intellectual condition. This, therefore, protects him from any form of troublesome influences of extreme passions. Through recognition of president Obama’s patterns of behavior, it is possible for a psychotherapist to elucidate the unconscious processes of thought that might be causing influence on them (DePaul, 2009). He/she, therefore, requires applying a method known as ‘applied psychoanalysis’ to sketch the personality of the president from the already existing reference materials. One of them includes his autobiographic book; “Dreams from my Father” (DePaul, 2009). The advantage of applying psychoanalytic and neoanalytic theories are that they enable examiners to observe the bio-kinetics of the subject to develop a correlation between the body language and the mind-set. The main disadvantage of psychoanalysis and neoanalysis is that the procedure require too much time and, therefore, expensive (Tharp, 2011).

Psychosocial theories enable people to understand various changes that happen in self-understanding and social relationships. In applying these theories to president Obama, one may note that, just like everyone else, the president thinks and acts in reference to his thoughts. For instance, Obama’s administration does not support use of monuments and parks (Furnham, Eracleous & Premuzic, 2009). Besides, the recent shutdown of the US government comprises some of Obama’s beliefs that grew during his childhood in Indonesia (Wolffe, 2013). While in Indonesia, Obama schooled during the Suharto’s authoritarian rule while most of his colleagues who schooled in the US learned about equality, freedom, Bill of Rights and various other values, which the US advanced.  Depaul (2009) contends that Obama is a nice looking man, clean, bright, and articulate and, above all, the first conventional African-American president of the United States yet some people do not view him as a leader. They claim that his presidential approach of targeting adversaries, bullying, and abuse of power caused Richard Nixon to appear amateurish yet liberals, other lefties and progressives continue appreciating him (Furnham, Eracleous & Premuzic, 2009). One of the advantages of psychosocial theories is that they provide an extensive and integrative framework, which clarifies paths of healthy development. On the other hand, one of the disadvantages is that they do not elaborate how culture may impact development (Furnham, Eracleous & Premuzic, 2009).

Just like a Greek physician; Hippocrates, various other philosophers and scientists apply human heredity to determine or establish human personality (Shaffer, 2004). Some of them claim that relative amounts of four fluids or humors in an individual’s body determine his/her temperament. These four fluids include calmness and phlegm, irritability and yellow bile, depression and black bile, and cheerfulness and blood (Shaffer, 2004). Barack Obama as a person started expressing superior temperament at an early age prior to the presidency. While managing the Harvard Law Review at the Harvard Law School, he was always unflappable, calm and cool (DePaul, 2009). Currently, as the president, he continues to make powerful decisions just like George W. Bush used to do. He portrays both intellectual traits such as skill and expertise, and personality traits such as honesty, desire to lead, ambition and dedication. The advantages of trait, evolutionary, genetic/biological approaches are that they assist researchers to establish heredity in an effective manner. The main disadvantage is that they fail to focus on the actual way in which an individual conducts his duties, but rather focus on the way the leadership looks like (Shaffer, 2004).

There is a lot of application of cognitive, behavioral and social learning theory both in Obama administration and on himself as a person. From a behavioral perspective, Obama does a number of things to strengthen success in his leadership. For instance, he is persistent; he lost the US congress elections, but did not lose hope (DePaul, 2009). He maximizes on any opportunity that he obtains. He is, also, an excellent attention grabber (DePaul, 2009). From a social learning perspective, President Barack Obama possesses an excellent level of self-efficacy. Wolffe (2013) attributes this to Obama’s mother; an anthropologist and Saul Aliniski as the people who played a pivotal role in developing Obama’s self-efficacy. The main advantage of these theories is that they address the mental source of behavior in order to resolve detrimental behavior. The disadvantage of behavior theory is that application of behavior therapies for certain disorders cannot provide cure to a person; instead, they eliminate certain behaviors, which the disorder could be causing (Shaffer, 2004).

Humanistic theory offers people a comprehensible way to view the needs of men for war in order to restore peace (Shaffer, 2008). For instance, President Obama and President Vladimir Putin continue to have a tense and uncomfortable relationship because of their decisions regarding the on-going war in Syria. Obama, as a representative of his nation, wants his decision on war in Syria to be the best (Wolffe 2013). In regards to gay marriage in the United States, President Obama’s view is that gay members require receiving equal treatment under the law. The greatest advantage of humanistic theory is that it lays emphasis on people’s choices and their responsibilities. The disadvantage is that it encourages people to use excessive common sense instead of sufficient objectivity (Shaffer, 2008).

In order to measure president Obama’s personality, the following three approaches of personality assessment would be useful; projective techniques, paper and pencil tests and behavioral observations (Archer & smith, 2008). Behavioral observations are significant in helping people to develop impressions of other people. This can happen through interviews, which can either be structured or unstructured. This, however, requires psychologists to conduct interviews in a style that promotes self-reflection, forthrightness and honesty. Through a structured interview, an examiner can ask Obama standardized questions while through unstructured interview; an examiner engages the subject in a conversational interchange. During both interviews, the examiner would be able to develop an opinion regarding president Obama’s personality characteristics. In applying projective techniques, the examiner presents a vague stimulus, which requires President Obama to react by projecting his personality in his response. This can happen through the Thematic Perception Test (TAT), which comprises of a succession of indistinct pictures that the subject requires developing a description about (Archer & smith, 2008). This particular test would be useful in identifying the motives, problems and emotions of president Obama. Projective techniques can, also, happen through Rorschach inkblot test, which different people perceive in different ways.  Personality assessment can, also, happen through paper-and-pencil tests (Archer & smith, 2008). For these tests to be useful they should be reliable valid. Archer and smith (2008) assert that the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) has a wide application in identifying personality related problems. The examiners can, also, apply California Personality Inventory (CPI) on people who could be lacking personality problems (Archer & smith, 2008).

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