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PSYCHOLOGY:. What does it mean to have “personality”? Researchers have developed many ways of assessing personality, but even if we do gain an understanding.

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Presentation on theme: "PSYCHOLOGY:. What does it mean to have “personality”? Researchers have developed many ways of assessing personality, but even if we do gain an understanding."— Presentation transcript:


2 What does it mean to have “personality”? Researchers have developed many ways of assessing personality, but even if we do gain an understanding of how we are, the question of why we are that way remains.

3 Personality Traits Personality is the collection of characteristic thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that are associated with a person Personality traits are characteristic behaviors and feelings that are consistent and long lasting Personality States are temporary patterns of behavior and feelings that may arise in a specific situation

4 The Big Five Traits Current belief; all personality traits derive from five basic personality traits


6 Criticisms of Big Five Some believe that more than five basic traits are needed to account for the wide personality differences among people Some believe that five traits is too much. Openness correlates with extraversion and can be combined. Regardless of how many traits you believe exist, traits are always fairly consistent throughout life and states are just temporary patterns of behavior

7 Psychodynamic Theories Many exist; they all emphasize unconscious motives and desires, as well as the importance of childhood experiences in shaping personality. Sigmund Freud’s Theory of Psychoanalysis Freud based his theory off of observing patients.

8 Theory is based on impulses and needs of the unconscious and the conflict with societal demands to restrain those impulses. The Conscious, The Preconscious, and the Unconscious Conscious contains all the information that a person is paying attention to at any given time. Preconscious contains all information outside of a person’s attention but readily available if needed. Unconscious contains thoughts, feelings, desires, and memories of which people have no awareness but can influence their day-to-day lives.


10 Freud believed that information in the unconscious emerges in slips of the tongue, jokes, dreams, illness symptoms, etc. These are called Freudian Slips.

11 The Id, Ego, and Superego (3 components of personality) Id Responsible for survival Unconscious and operates according to the pleasure principle, the drive to achieve pleasure and avoid pain. Seeks immediate gratification of impulses (what feels good)

12 Superego Responsible for society’s rules of behavior (moral standards) Operates on all three levels of awareness, and is based on morality principle, must follow moral standards and rules and breaking them causes guilt.

13 Ego Manages the conflict between the id and superego. Balances our desires with the demands of reality. Operates on all three levels of awareness, and is based on the reality principle, the awareness that gratification of impulses has to be delayed in order to accommodate the demands of the real world.


15 Defense Mechanisms Conflict – Freud believed Id, Ego, Superego are in constant conflict Anxiety – arises when ego cannot balance id & superego Rather than face conflict and anxiety, people deceive themselves into believing nothing is wrong by using defense mechanisms, behaviors that protect people from anxiety

16 Types of defense mechanisms Repression – keeping unpleasant thoughts, memories, and feelings shut up in the unconscious Reaction Formation - replacing an unacceptable feeling or urge with its opposite Projection – attributing one’s own unacceptable thoughts or feelings to someone else

17 Displacement – transferring feelings about a person or event onto someone or something else. Denial – refusing to acknowledge something that is obvious to others Regression – reverting to a more immature state of psychological development

18 Freud’s Psychosexual stages of development Freud believed that personality was fixed by about age 5. Freud believed adult’s psychological problems have their roots in early childhood and can be traced to unresolved conflicts then. When a conflict is not adequately resolved, an individual becomes fixated at that stage of development.

19 Oedipus complex – a male child’s sexual desire for his mother and hostility toward his father, whom he considers to be a rival for his mother’s love. A male child who sees a naked female for the first time believes that her penis has been cut off. The child fears that his father will do the same to him for desiring his mother – a fear called castration anxiety. Because of this fear, the child represses his desires for his mother and begins to identify with his father. This illustrates the emergence of the superego.

20 Freud drew criticism for his focus on children’s sexuality. Some his followers broke away. These theorists are called neo-Freudians. Carl Jung’s Analytical Psychology Jung was a neo-Freudian. Believed unconscious has two layers. The personal conscious, which resembled Freud’s idea (pleasure principle), and the collective unconscious, which contains universal inherited (handed down from generation to generation) memories.

21 Jung called these universal (common) memories archetypes. Archetypes are images or thoughts that have the same meaning for all human beings. Jung believed these archetypes controlled our behavior rather than a pleasure seeking unconscious (Freud’s idea). In trying to fit to these archetypes we develop a persona, or a mask that we wear to hide our true feelings and try to fit what it is we believe we are to be.

22 Alfred Adler’s Theory on Personality All people, especially children, have feelings of inferiority. Children are driven by these inner feelings of inferiority to adapt and develop skills. However, some people suffer from an exaggerated sense of inferiority, or an inferiority complex. These people may try to make themselves look better and dominate and control others to avoid their own feelings of inferiority. Ex. school bully

23 Criticisms of Psychodynamic Theories There is no proof that there is an unconscious that controls us against our will (it is a construct) Jung’s theory isn’t discussed much in psychology anymore, but we do know that animals do inherit certain broad rules of behavior

24 Behaviorist Theories Behaviorists study only observable behavior. Their explanations of personality focus on learning.

25 B.F. Skinner’s Ideas Personality arises from Operant conditioning You make decisions based on reinforcement and punishment. Behaviors that have positive consequences increase, while behaviors with negatives consequences decrease Environment determines behavior

26 Albert Bandura’s Ideas Social learning/Observational learning – people learn behaviors (and therefore personality) by watching others Criticisms of Behavioral Approaches Theories shortchange humans ability to think Early theories in this area focused on our acts of behaviors as if we were robots Bandura criticized Skinner for not acknowledging people’s ability to think

27 Humanistic Theories Focus on human’s ability to think consciously and rationally, to control impulses, and to achieve full potential People are responsible for actions and have free will to change them Optimistic perspective of human nature

28 Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs All of us have inherited something unique, and if the environment will allow it, we have the opportunity to become great. To be great it to realize your full potential (self-actualization). We satisfy basic needs moving up the hierarchy to reach the top (self-actualization)

29 Carl Roger’s Person-Centered Theory Believed that the biggest problem that a person faced was living up to the ideal self (as close to perfection as we will come). Believed this shapes a persons personality When we have united what we should be with what we are, we have become a fully functioning individual

30 Criticisms of Humanistic Theories Too naively optimistic and fail to provide insight into the evil side of human nature Too simple and vague to account very well for the great variety of human personality

31 Measuring Personality Doctors, researchers, and employers use personality assessments for a variety of reasons Clinical psychologists use assessments for diagnosing psychological disorders Mental health providers use tests to decide how best to counsel people about normal problems of daily living

32 Some organizations use tests to select personnel to hire (not so much anymore) Researchers use them to study personality traits

33 3 ways of assessing personality – Objective tests, projective tests, assessment centers Objective Tests paper-and-pen tests that require people to answer questions about their typical behaviors MMPI-2 – Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) – 567 questions divided into groups. People answer true, false, cannot say. Originally developed to help clinical psychologists diagnose psychological disorders

34 Projective Tests Require subjects to respond to pictures and phrases that can be interpreted in many different ways. Rorschach Test – series of ten inkblots that subjects look at and determine what they see

35 (TAT) Thematic Apperception Test – series of pictures containing a variety of characters and scenes. Subjects make up stories about each picture.

36 Assessment Centers Allow psychologists to assess personality in specific situations.

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