Personality is one of the most popular realms of study in Psychology. Personality is defined as the unique attitudes, behaviors and emotions that characterize a person. What shapes our personality? Genetics? Environment? Our unconscious? Several theories on Personality exist
Freud believed personality was set from a very early age Remember Freud’s discontinuous Psychosexual stage model. Oral Anal Phallic Latency Genital Unresolved issues in any stage lead to fixation
Remember the Oedipus/Electra complexes Freud believed once boys and girls start to notice their “parts,” girls develop Penis envy Boys also suffer from Castration anxiety in which they fear Castration, mainly from their fathers so they will be eliminated as a rival for the mother affection Freud believed boys use the defense mechanism of Identification-emulation and attachment to someone who threatens you. This is why boys become like their fathers
Freud believed we are greatly controlled by our unconscious. (Mainly sex/aggression) We are afraid of our unconscious thoughts so we have built in defense mechanisms Our personality consists of three parts: id, ego and superego
The id is essentially our unconscious and contains instincts and mental energy 2 types of instincts exist: Eros (life instincts) and Thanat0s (death instincts) A person’s Libido is the energy that guides the Eros. Eros generally is a desire for sex while Thanatos=aggression. The id is guided by the Pleasure principle. It wants immediate gratification.
The ego lives in the conscious AND unconscious mind. The ego follows the reality principle. It negotiates the desires of the id and the limitations of the environment The superego also operates in both the conscious and unconscious. The superego is a sort of conscience that is developed around age 5. The ego acts as an intermediary between the id and the superego
Think of the id as wanting to meet basic needs, the ego has to deal with reality and the superego adds morals into the mix A guys cuts you off on the freeway and makes a rude gesture. Your id wants to chase him down and punch him on the off-ramp as he exits. Your superego tells you to let it go, take a deep breath and wish him well. You ego makes the decision to pull up beside him and explain rationally why you felt that was unfair and rude of him to act that way
Part of the ego’s job is to protect the conscious mind from threatening or scary thoughts buried deep in the unconscious. Defense mechanisms are one way our mind helps protects itself from unpleasant feelings Many of the defense mechanisms are part of our common language and most of as are familiar with a few
To help us deal with struggles in our lives, Freud believed we use defense mechanisms as a way to cope Repression: blocking thoughts from our conscious awareness. Denial: Not accepting the ego-threatening truth Displacement: Redirecting feelings toward another person or object, generally on someone/something less threatening
Projection: Believing thoughts you have toward someone or something are actually held by that other person and directed toward you Reaction formation: Expressing the exact opposite of how you feel Regression: Returning to an earlier, comforting form of behavior
Rationalization: Coming up with a beneficial result of an undesirable outcome Intellectualization: Undertaking an academic, emotional study of a topic Sublimation: Channeling one’s frustration toward a different goal. (This is seen as a healthy defense mechanism)
One of the obvious and most common criticisms of Freud’s work was lack of empirical evidence Freudian theory has also been shown to have little predictive power Psychoanalytical theory was criticized for its overestimating the sexuality of children Feminists such as Nancy Horney scoffed at the Penis envy idea. She argued that men suffer from womb envy because men cannot reproduce.
Freud’s early followers took some of Freud’s concepts and expanded on them The theories of Freud’s followers were know as Psychodynamic or neo-Freudian Carl Jung and Alfred Adler were the most influential neo-Freudians
Jung proposed the idea of the unconscious consisting of two parts: Personal unconscious and the Collective unconscious Jung stated that in the personal unconscious we have complexes, which are painful of threatening memories we do not wish to confront The Collective unconscious contains archetypes, which are universal concepts we all, as humans, share He believed we all viewed shadows as a dark side of personality and we all have a fear of the dark.
Adler took a much different approach. He downplayed the importance of unconscious and focused mainly on the conscious He believed people were motivated by the fear of failure (inferiority) and the desire to succeed (superiority) Adler was also known for his ideas on how the birth order of children shapes personality
Another facet of how to describe our personality is through the traits we exhibit (friendliness, punctuality, motivation) Some trait theorists believe everyone can be looked at in terms of where they fit in on specific scales (in regards to society as a whole) such as introversion- extroversion or emotional stability-instability. This is called the Nomothetic approach championed by Hans Eyesenck
A tandem of researchers, Paul Costa and Robert McCrae eventually came up with “The big five” personality traits. These were used to describe people’s personality. The big five were: Extraversion (how outgoing a person is) Agreeableness(how easy to get along with someone is) Openness to experience Emotional stability (neuroticism) Conscientiousness
Another way to assess a person’s personality is to group traits together in order to find a correlation. This is called factor analysis If people who are punctual happen to frequently be neat, clean and diligent, you could lump those into one bigger category, say Conscientiousness, to describe them Ideographic theorists believe that you cannot use the same set of terms to classify all people
Idiographic theorists, such as Gordon Allport thought people do have common traits, but you must look deeply at the individual Allport lumped personality traits into 3 categories Cardinal dispositions are personality traits that play an absolutely pivotal role in everything a person does Central dispositions and Secondary Dispositions play a less consuming role. Central dispositions outweigh Secondary dispositions in how much they affect a person’s personality
Biological personality theorists argue that traits that are passed down are hereditary. Babies have been shown to demonstrate different temperaments directly after birth suggesting that variances in temperament may be hereditary One ancient theory, developed by Hippocrates, was that our personality was develop by how much of a certain liquid we have in our body. He thought we have 4 main liquids in our body and how much Blood, yellow bile, black bile and phlegm would dictate who we are
One final trait theory was delivered by William Sheldon. He believed that our body types would dictate our personality. Thought there were 3 body types Endomorphs(fat) Mesomorphs(muscular) Ectomorphs(thin) He argued that Endomorphs were friendly and outgoing, Mesomorphs were confident and assertive and Ectomorphs were shy and secretive
The behaviorist school of thought believes that a person’s personality is shaped by their environment. They believe that if you change a person’s environment, you can change their behavior/personality The problem with radical behaviorists is they fail to recognize cognition in terms of personality Most psychologists today consider themselves to be Social-cognitive theorists
Albert Bandura(Remember the Bobo doll experiment) believed that person’s traits, the environment and a person’s behavior shape Personality This is known as Reciprocal Determinism-each factor constantly influence each other in a loop- like fashion Bandura also suggested that personality is affected by a person’s Self-efficacy, or their personal optimism about getting things accomplished.
Another way people understand the world is through the Personal-construct theory. This theory, created by George Kelly, argues we as people have our own system of constructs to understand our surroundings. We look at people, ideas and objects as ‘Happy or sad,’ Nice or mean,’ ‘Fair or unfair’ or ‘fun or dull’ Our behavior, Kelly thought, is determined by how we view the world Fundamental postulate-How a person acts is influenced by their cognitions and can be a predictor of future behavior
Similar to Self-efficacy, Julian Rotter developed the idea of Locus of Control. People who have an Internal Locus of Control feel as if they are responsible for what happens to them. They tend to work harder and be higher achievers Conversely, people with an External Locus of Control believe that outside forces control what happens to them. Tend to blame others for misfortunes
Generally, the theories that we have discussed so far have been very Deterministic. This is the idea that our personality is heavily dictated by what has happened to us in the past. Free will, the ability to choose your own destiny is at the heart of Humanistic psychology Humanists think of people as innately good and possess the ability to choose their own destiny
Humanists focus on the importance of Self-concept. This is a person’s overall feeling about themselves A person’s Self-concept is derived from interaction with others, generally parents. People with a more positive Self-concept usually have better self-esteem Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers were two of the most pivotal Humanists
Remember Maslow and his Hierarchy of needs. The goal is to reach the highest level on the Pyramid of Self-actualization. In order to Self-actualize, Maslow argued that people need an Unconditional Positive Regard, which is a blanket acceptance usually coming from parents Rogers also believed that people do need to feel accepted before they are able to Self-actualize.
There are a multitude of different ways to assess someone’s personality. Researchers try to create tests that produce Reliable and Valid tests. Reliable tests provide consistent results while Valid tests give accurate information. Researches use data from the tests to attempt to give a detailed report on one’s personality
The Rorschach Inkblot test is a very famous and recognizable test in which people are shown a series of inkblots and asked to interpret them The interviewer notes all of the responses and compiles them into a report The Inkblot test is a projective test which is meant for people to ‘project’ and bias or feelings they have in their answers
The Thematic Apperception Test, or TAT, shows a series of people in ambiguous situations and the person being tested is supposed to interpret the situation A person’s answers can represent their unconscious thoughts Complicated to score. Interpretations can be subjective
Self-Report inventories are much more common and simple to interpret. They are essentially questionnaires in which people provide information about themselves. Self report inventories are not affected by evaluator bias because answers produce a score and same scales are used to score everyone. However, these tests rely on people telling the truth which can be dicey because people might want to give socially acceptable answers.
Most widely used personality tests. Over 500 questions that ask a WIDE range of questions Questions about childhood, personal interests, relationships with family and friends and even questions about food are on the MMPI It is used to Diagnose patients, screen job applicants, used in crime cases and for therapeutic purposes