The name of Hans Eysenck is one of the most respected in the history of psychology. For many, he was one of those who gave a true scientific status to this discipline. In some areas he is even known as "the father of psychology".
Hans Eysenck was born in Berlin (Germany) in 1916. He joined the National Socialist Party because of the progressive rise of Hitler. This forced him to leave his homeland and move to England. There he integrated theUniversity Collegefrom Exeter, where he trained as a psychologist. Later,he started working atMill Hill Emergency Hospitalfrom London, where he offered psychiatric attention to military personnel.
"It is the more or less stable and lasting organization of a person's character, temperament, intellect and physique that determines their unique adaptation to the environment."
He later became a professor at the University of London. It was there that he began to shape his theses, inspired by classic behaviorist writers like Ivan Pavlov and John Watson.He has created his own theory, in which stand out physiological and genetic factors. He also showed great interest in measuring behavior.
The origins of Hans Eysenck's theory
Many believe that Hans Eysenck's theory is more associated with the study of temperament than of personality.Despite this, it has always been considered as a theory of personality. It was first based on the classification of temperaments performed by Galen in ancient Greece: blood temperament, choleric, phlegmatic and melancholy.
Hans Eysenck says that every human being has characteristics in his way of being. These characteristics maintain stability over time.The configuration of the nervous system of each is decisive. This one has a genetics and a proper physiology according to each individual and thus marks the individual differences.
Hans Eysenck also took into account the socio-cultural influences in the conformation of the personality. However, he has always given more importance to biological factors.One of the things that differentiated him from other psychologists was his desire to provide an empirical basis for his theses. That's why he undertook a series of experiments to support his theory. By doing this, he brought a lot of elements to psychometry.
The three primary dimensions
Hans Eysenck stated that there are three primary dimensions of personality.These are determined by heredity and manifest themselves physiologically. They can be measured according to how the autonomic nervous system responds. Finally, he comes to the definition of the three basic dimensions of personality, describing their structure and their features.
These three dimensions are:
- Extraversion-Introversion: features such as vitality, impulsiveness, sociability, dynamism, dominance, dogmatism and exploration.
- Neuroticism-Emotionalism. : it includes traits such as shyness, irrationality, emotionality, low self-esteem, anxiety, guilt and instability.
- Psychotism: it includes characteristics such as aggression, coldness, cruelty, self-centeredness and difficulty in generating empathy.
For Hans Eysenck, the development of all these traits depends on the processes of excitation and cortical inhibition.In other words, the basic definition of personality traits is determined by biological factors.
The transcendence ofHans Eysenck
Hans Eysenck has been a controversial author because of his radical behavioral stance. Nevertheless, nobody dares to question the validity of his theses.His experimental work was impeccable and everything he put forward was supported empirically. Thus, the personality measurement systems he has created are still valid. They are also recognized worldwide.
Eysenck harshly criticized the therapies that were in vogue in his day. In general, he considered psychodynamic and psychoanalytic views as ineffective. He has spent his life building a theory that translates into measurable and, in his opinion, highly effective therapeutic interventions.Its main success is to have given empirical bases to behavioral therapies.
Some of the most famous works of this psychologist and researcher are:The biological bases of the personality(1967), Sex and personality(1976) andIntelligence: the struggle of the spirit(nineteen eighty one). He has also created numerous questionnaires and tests to evaluate personality traits. The best known of them is theEysenck Personality Inventory.Eysenck died in London in 1997.