Using Psychology to Make Good Decisions

3 Personality and Human Development / Page 3.20 Conclusion


What did you learn about psychology and development this week, and how can it contribute to your self and social awareness and problem solving skills?

Using Psychology to Make Good Decisions

You can use what you’ve learned about personality and development to make decisions and solve problems. Consider how you might respond to an older co-worker when she repeatedly asks for help with a seemingly simple computer task. You can use Piaget’s concepts to understand that your co-worker is struggling to accommodate, or adjust, her existing schemas to the new technology. You can use the Big Five traits to recognize that she is conscientious but also easily frustrated; because she wants to do the task perfectly, you will have to be patient.

This is where your self and social awareness can support your ability to solve problems. You can also use your knowledge about memory and brain plasticity to be confident that although your co-worker may take longer to complete the task, her brain is more than capable of learning new information and adapting her schemas. In this sense, understanding the personalities and tendencies of others can help you make the best decisions, which is a key part of your problem solving skill.

Quick Chapter Review

In this chapter, you learned about personality traits as well as physical, cognitive, and social development over the life span. You also connected these ideas to the two skills in this course: self and social awareness and problem solving. This chapter built on the foundations established in Chapter 2, further discussing how biological changes influence psychological development. Let’s take a few minutes to review the key concepts from this week:

Developmental psychology focuses on three major issues or debates about how change occurs: nature and nurture, continuity and stages, and stability and change. Jean Piaget identified stages of cognitive development that described how children use increasingly sophisticated schemas, or mental categories and strategies, to understand their world. When we encounter new information, Piaget said we
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either assimilate the new information into our existing schemas, or we accommodate our schemas to account for the new information. The areas of the brain responsible for rational decision making are still developing in adolescence. This ongoing development explains some of the characteristically impulsive behavior of teenagers. As adults age, they continue to develop, form relationships, and adjust to physical changes and challenges. As complex as personality seems, psychologists have narrowed personality down to five basic traits: openness to new experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Social-cognitive theory describes how people’s behavior and decisions result from a complex reciprocal interaction between their biological factors (such as traits or brain development) and social context (such as the environment). Behavior, biology, and context each influence and are influenced by one another.

In sum, understanding development and personality traits—both your own and those of others—will almost always help you expand your self and social awareness.

Coming Up: Memory

As you have seen, your development and personality clearly influence your ability to solve problems and make wise decisions. But your memory and related mental processes also play a role. Next week, you’ll examine how your minds process and store different types of memories, how you forget things, and how you can develop strategies to improve your memory.

You’ve reached the end of Chapter 3. Before moving on, take a break and reflect on what you’ve learned here. When you’re ready, use the Table of Contents menu in the upper left corner of this screen to select the chapter you want to view next. close

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