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Personality Theory Assignment

Personality Theory Assignment

Theories of personality attempt to describe or explain the various patterns of individual behavior, social adjustments, feelings, thoughts, and reactions to mental conditions. These patterns are often persistently portrayed over a specified period and strongly impact a person’s attitudes, values, and self-expectations (Friedman & Schustack, 2016). Personality theories are used to explain the occurrence of these patterns and to forecast human reactions to stress, values, and issues of other individuals. A common example of mental conditions that personality theories can be used to examine includes paranoid schizophrenia – a condition associated with misconceptions and fabricated imaginations. People with this personality problem usually encounter attention deficits, mood swings, and lack the ability to concentrate fully when required. In recent years, several mainstream media (especially movies) have been used to portray different personality disorders and symptoms, educating the public about the symptoms of such conditions. This paper will specifically use Erikson’s approach, the biological/environmental approach, and self-efficacy to understand the mental condition of John Nash, one of the primary characters in the 2001 film “A Beautiful Mind.”

The Movie A Beautiful Mind and John Nash

A Beautiful Mind is a 2001 drama-based biographical movie that centers on the story of John Nash, particularly his fight with paranoid schizophrenia. John Nash Forbes Jr. was a famous American mathematician whose work significantly contributed to the fields of partial differential geometry, differential geometry, and game theory (Nash, 1994). Today, Nash’s theories are broadly applied in mathematics and economics. He was awarded the 1994 Nobel Prize as well as the Abel Prize in 2015. Several theories have indicated that Nash, throughout his career, batted with paranoid schizophrenia – a mental disorder characterized by hallucinations and delusions (Capps, 1994).

Written by Goldsman Akiva and directed by Howard Ron, A Beautiful Mind was inspired by Sylvia Nasar’s 1998 book A Beautiful Mind. In the film’s first scenes, in 1974, Nash is admitted to Princeton University as a mathematics student. Nash also begins to experience early symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia (diagnosed by Dr. Rosen) during the initial stages of the story, exhibiting delusions. Nash frantically watches the troubles his symptoms bring on Alicia (his wife and former student) and close friends. The film also analyses how Nash overcomes his hallucinations and paranoia by himself (Box Office Mojo, 2012). He refuses to take antipsychotic drugs prescribed by Dr. Rosen and starts to accept that Marcee, Parcher, and other imaginary figures are unreal and can no longer control his life. After ignoring his hallucinations, he returned to Princeton and was allowed to teach students again around 1970. Whereas Nash’s hallucinations were expressed as an option, evidence suggests that they were progressively more sound-related.

Erickson’s Approach

Erikson’s theory of the development of psychosocial conditions posits that personality disorders occur in a prearranged or predetermined order, particularly in a sequence of 8 steps, from the infancy stage all the way up to the adulthood stage. At every phase, the individual encounters a psychosocial crisis that can either negatively or positively affect personality growth. Erikson further maintained that these predicaments/crises are psychosocial in nature since they entail conflicts between the social (society needs) and psychological wishes or requirements of the individual. Erikson further argues that the successful conclusion of every stage, as a person moves from the first to the last phase, results in the attainment of basic values and virtues. These ‘basic virtues’ refer to the character traits and strengths that a person’s ego can apply to address or resolve resulting crises. According to McLeod (2018), the 8 stages include mistrust v. trust (basic virtue is hope; ages 0-1.5), shame v. autonomy (will; ages 1.5-3 years), guilt v. initiative (purpose; 3-5 years), inferiority v. industry (competency; 5-12 years), role confusion v. identity (fidelity; 12-18 years), isolation v. intimacy (love; 18-40 years), stagnation v. generativity (care; 40-65 years), despair v. ego integrity (wisdom; 65+  years).

In the Movie A Beautiful Mind, there are so many instances in which Nash attempts to successfully navigate through various stages of Erikson’s model. In particular, Nash fruitfully attempts to overcome stages six, seven, and eight by gaining the three critical basic virtues in each stage, including love, care, and wisdom. For example, when faced with isolation v. intimacy crises, Nash chose to love and marry Alicia rather than live a secluded life (Box Office Mojo, 2012). He also developed wisdom towards the latter stages of his career when he faced a dilemma between despair and ego integrity. He opted not to restart antipsychotics against Dr. Rosen’s recommendation, driven by the self-belief that he could take control of his hallucinations.

Self-Efficacy Approach

The first psychologist to coin the word ‘self-efficacy’ was Bandura Albert in 1977. According to Bandura, “Self-efficacy is a person’s particular set of beliefs that influence how well he/she can execute a plan of action in prospective situations” (Lopez, Garrido, 2020). Self-efficacy, therefore, is primarily concerned with an individual’s beliefs or confidence in their abilities to take charge of their own reasoning and functioning, as well as activities that impact their life. According to Bandura’s self-efficacy theory, these influential beliefs usually develop from four primary sources: emotional states, social persuasion, vicarious experiences, and mastery experiences. The predominant way that people acquire self-efficacy is through mastery experiences (or performance results). This occurs when a person takes on new tasks and challenges and triumphs in doing them. Vicarious experiences, on the other hand, occur when people observe their role models successfully complete tasks and start believing they can also execute similar tasks. Social persuasion occurs when people are encouraged by others through positive feedback (verbal) upon completing tasks. Finally, psychological and emotional states are power gained by learning how to manage mental conditions, such as hallucinations, anxiety, etc.

In the movie A Beautiful Mind, Nash predominantly used this last stage to build on his self-efficacy and confidence to overcome hallucinations and other paranoid-related symptoms. He ignores his antipsychotic medications prescribed by Dr. Rosen, believing he can resolve his hallucinations by himself. Nash also applies Bandura’s ‘Mastery Experience’ approach by learning to ignore his hallucinations upon returning to Princeton (Box Office Mojo, 2012).

Biological/Environmental Factors

Biological factors that influence personality are largely genetic factors passed down from parents to their offspring, from generation to generation. Some mental conditions and behavior are inherited from parents, meaning that there is very little that people can do to influence their outcomes. On the other hand, environmental factors relate to the surroundings or settings individuals are born into and live in. Environmental factors also include people surrounding an individual, including friends, spouses, parents, professionals, and so on (Hopwood et al., 2011).

From the movie, it is possible that some parts of his self-absorption and mental illness, including hallucinations, stem from genetic factors. According to Dr. Rosen, the MRI scans showed that Nash’s mental condition stemmed from slight operational, biochemical, and structural alterations in the brain – which might have been inherited or occurred from DNA mutations. However, the presence of a supportive wife (Alicia) played an important part in his recovery (Box Office Mojo, 2012).


A Beautiful Mind is a 2001 drama-based biographical movie that centers on the story of John Nash, particularly his fight with paranoid schizophrenia – a condition marked by hallucinations. There are several ways in which Erikson’s approach, the biological/environmental approach, and the self-efficacy theory help to understand Nash’s condition. In particular, Erikson’s 8-stage development approach plays a central role in helping the audience understand the progress of Nash’s condition and his adaptation to every crisis at each stage. On the other hand, the self-efficacy theory explains how Nash developed the self-belief and confidence to overcome hallucinations, especially through the ‘mastery of experiences’ technique, as well as understanding his emotions and psychological state. Finally, the biological/environmental model is a diagnostic approach that helps understand the root cause of Nash’s mental issues, whether genetically-instigated or stemming from the environment.


Box Office Mojo. (2012). A Beautiful Mind. IMDb. Retrieved from

Capps, D. (2003). John Nash’s predelusional phase: A case of acute identity confusion. Pastoral Psychology, 51(5), 361-386

Friedman, H., & Schustack, M. (2016). Personality: Classic theories and modern research. USA: Pearson.

Hopwood, C. J., et al. (2011). Genetic and environmental influences on personality trait stability and growth during the transition to adulthood: A three-wave longitudinal study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100(3), 545-556. doi: 10.1037/a0022409

McLeod, S. (2018). Erik Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development. Simple Psychology,,negative%20outcome%20for%20personality%20development.

Nash, J. F. (1994) – Autobiography. Retrieved November 18, 2012, from


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Personality Theory Assignment

For this week’s Assignment, you will write a 3-4 page expository essay by examining several foundational behavioral theories. Begin by choosing one of the following movies. After watching the selected movie, choose one character from the movie to provide examples for our Unit 6 Assignment. Use critical analysis to apply the various theories to the characters role in the movie you choose.

  • A Beautiful Mind (2001)
  • The Blind Side (2009)
  • Disney’s The Kid (Disney, 2000)
  • Forest Gump (1994)
  • Good Will Hunting (1997)
  • Legally Blonde (2001)
  • The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
  • Rain Man (1988)
  • Sliding Doors (1998)

    Personality Theory Assignment

    Personality Theory Assignment

  • If you would like to use a different movie, you MUST get permission from your instructor first.

Answer the following questions academically, and then choose one main character in the selected movie to use as an example in answering the application questions. For each theory, you must analyze the problem and select the best solution.


Explain Erikson’s approach to personality.  Then, choose one stage and fully explain how an individual might get “stuck” in that stage and what one might do to overcome the “stuckness”.

  • MOVIE APPLICATION: How might a character in the movie gotten “stuck?” Did he/she resolve his/her stuckness? If not, how might you help them?


Explain how the biological and environmental approaches might influence the development of personality.

  • MOVIE APPLICATION: Explain how your movie character was influenced by both biology and environment?


Personality Theory Assignment

Personality Theory Assignment

Explain the concept of self-efficacy.  How does self-efficacy relate to goal development and personality development.

  • MOVIE APPLICATION: Explain your character’s self-efficacy in moving toward goal achievement.

Word Document Instructions:

  • Follow Assignment directions (review grading rubric for best results).
  • Use correct APA formatting per the APA Publication Manual, current Edition.
    • Title Page
    • Use proper headings for each question
    • Citations
    • Figures
    • Reference Page
  • Demonstrate college-level communication through the composition of original materials in Standard English.
  • Be written in Standard English and be clear, specific, and error-free. If needed, be sure to use the University Writing Center for help.

Note: This is a Course Level Assessment Assignment.

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