Discussion of Innate Good

This assignment requires that at least four additional scholarly research sources related
to this topic within the past 3 years’ time period.
Psychologists and theologians alike have disputed the concept of innate good. It remains
a central question in the study of personality. In this assignment, you will discuss the
concept of innate good in relation to several personality theories.
support or debate the concept of innate good through the following lenses of personality

  1. Trait theories
  2. Biological theories
  3. Humanistic theories
  4. Behavioral theories

Discussion of Innate Good

The concept of innate good indicates that people are born with a pre-determined
predisposition to be good. People are good to others depending on their in-built personality or
the depending on the prevailing situation. The common question that lingers in the mind is
why are people who consider themselves good not good to others all the time. The
environment and the personality are areas of focus that personality theorist delve in to
determine the concept of innate good. Different personality psychological theories and
theological perspectives such as humanist, behaviorists, biological theorists and trait theorists
debate the notion that people have the pre-set tendency for being good to others (Ali, 2012).
Biological theories
The biological perspective indicates that people have genetic make-up linked to good
behavior. Hans Eysenck who is one of the most avid supporters of the biological perspective
for personality indicates that genetic makeup as it relates extroverts and introverts is
influenced by differing levels of cortical arousal (Ellingson & McFarland, 2011). Concerning
the innate good concept Hippocrates a biological theorist for personality indicates that one’s
level of body fluids determines their temperament and a biological predisposition for good or
evil. For instance, one with a high level of yellow bile compared to has a choleric personality
associated with an irritable personality and evil by extension. Those with more black bile are

Discussion of Innate Good 2
constantly depressed and have a melancholic temperament and are less likely to do good.
Those with more phlegm are calm and those with more blood are considered cheerful and
thus both are phlegmatic and sanguine respectively and likely to be innately good.
Essentially the biological theory supports that temperaments are inherited and play a
significant role in determining one’s behavior (Ewen, 2010). It thus backs the idea that some
people act on their biologically attained predisposition when they are good to others
particularly children who are yet to engage in cognitive processing and social learning
(Ferguson, 2010). However, it is clear that not all people are innately good based on their
genetic makeup as in those that are genetically irritable.
Behavioral theorists reject the innate good concept on the basis that interaction with
environmental factors shape behavior (Weiner, Suls, & Tennen, 2013). They discredit the
influence of internal factors in determining behavior. Concerning the innate good concept,
various behavioral theory explanations indicate that the environment or different situations
shape behavior. For instance the operant conditioning explanation indicates that different
settings such as home, school or work may influence one to display goodness while in others
one may be very unkind (Wu, Cutright, & Fitzsimons, 2011). The social cognitive
explanation indicates that people choose to behave in a good way based on their cognitive
assessment of the interaction of environmental factors and their self-efficacy (Hiriyappa,
2012). This thus indicates that people involve in a thought process before eliciting goodness
in behavior. Behavior is not an automated rather an outcome of the assessment of
environmental conditions and self-efficacy through cognition in sustaining the preferred
Humanist theories

Discussion of Innate Good 3
Humanist theorists acknowledge the importance of personal innate motivation in
influencing behavior. They indicate that a people engage in a growth process of self-
actualization to determine and inform their preferred personality tendencies (Gieser &
Hermans, 2011). In order to achieve self-actualization, people form their self-concept and
require unconditional positive regard to attain a real and ideal self-concept. In this view the
result of self-actualization determines whether they elicit goodness or not. The way a person
treats others is thus dependent on whether they consider themselves naturally good or bad.
This perception arises from their internal self-examination to determine how they ought to
behave in conformity to their self-concept (Lester, 2010). The humanist theory thus indicates
that people are not innately good rather the outcome of their self-actualization process
determines how well they treat others.
Trait theory
Trait theorists emphasize the importance of particular stable traits or tendencies which
propel a person towards a certain behavior (Ashcraft, 2011). They indicate that people have
different categories of tendencies namely cardinal, central and secondary. Cardinal tendencies
are rare and are firmly ingrained in a person’s behavior and often remain unchanged
throughout a lifetime for example altruism exhibited through mother Teresa’s lifetime
commitment to charity. Central tendencies or characteristics are influential but may be shared
across the population. For instance, some people are considered to have a prominent
humorous characteristic. Central traits are not dominant unlike cardinal traits. Secondary
traits are variedly displayed dependent on situations. For instance, people may be caring most
of the times but become very self-serving in some situations.
The different traits are inherent features within a person’s personality that influence
their behavior. This indicates that in as much as people may have a dominant innate
predisposition for doing good, there are they also possess secondary traits for being uncaring

Discussion of Innate Good 4
and self-serving. Based on the trait theory, the concept that people are innately good fails to
hold water.
Indeed personality differences determines whether one exhibits the element of innate
good. Different characteristics as espoused through the trait theory indicate that people have a
combination of cardinal, central and secondary characteristics that determine their capacity
for good in different circumstances. The humanistic theory indicates that self-actualization
has significant role in determining whether people display their innate good or bad. It is
dependent on how they perceive their ideal self under the influence of unconditional positive
regard. The behavioral theory places substantial weight on one’s cognitive assessment of
environmental factors to inform behavior. It indicates that the concept of innate good fails to
hold water because behavior results from the cognitive assessment of the outcomes of a
preferred behavioral conduct. Biological theories also indicate that people bear different
temperaments based on their genetic makeup and thus the concept that all people are innately
good is largely controversial and debatable.

Discussion of Innate Good 5


Ali, I. (2012). Personality Psychology & Theory. Delhi: English Press.
Ashcraft, D. (2011). Personality Theories Workbook. New York: Cengage Learning.
Ellingson, J. E., & McFarland, L. (2011). Understanding Faking behavior Through the Lens
of Motivation; an Application of VIE Theory. Human Performance, 322-337.
Ewen, R. B. (2010). An Introduction to Theories of Personality. Philadelphia: Psychology
Ferguson, C. (2010). Genetic Contributions to Antisocial Personality and Behavior: A Meta-
Analytical Review From an Evolutionary Perspective. Journal of Social Psychology,
Gieser, T., & Hermans, H. (2011). Handbook of Dialogical Self Theory. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
Hiriyappa, B. (2012). Development of Personality and Its Theories. Bloomington, Indiana: