13.1 How Have Psychologists Studied Personality? Describe the major approaches to the study of personality. Identify theorists associated with the major approaches to the study of personality. Define key terms associated with the major approaches to the study of personality.
How Have Psychologists Studied Personality? Personality: the characteristic thoughts, emotional responses, and behaviors that are relatively stable in an individual over time and across circumstances Personality psychologists explore the influence of culture, learning, biology, and cognition on the development of personality traits Personality trait: a characteristic; a dispositional tendency to act in a certain way over time and across circumstances Contemporary psychologists are primarily interested in trait approaches and the biological basis of personality traits
Psychodynamic Theories Emphasize Unconscious and Dynamic Processes Freud developed many ideas about personality by observing his patients He believed their problems were psychogenic: caused by psychological rather than physical factors Psychodynamic theory: Unconscious forces— wishes, desires, hidden memories—determine behavior
Unconscious Conflicts Freud believed that our conscious awareness was only a small fraction of our mental activity and that most mental processes are unconscious Levels of awareness: – Conscious: thoughts that we are aware of – Preconscious: content that is not currently in awareness but that could be brought to awareness – Unconscious: contains material that the mind cannot easily retrieve Hidden memories, wishes, desires, and motives are often in conflict, which produces anxiety/psychological discomfort To protect us from this distress, these forces and their conflicts are not accessible; sometimes, however, this information leaks into consciousness
A Structural Model of Personality Personality consists of three interacting structures that vary in their access to consciousness: – Id: completely submerged in the unconscious; operates according to the pleasure principle, which is powered by libido – Superego: internalized societal and parental standards of conduct – Ego: tries to satisfy the wishes of the id while being responsive to the dictates of the superego; operates according to the reality principle Conflicts between the id and the superego lead to anxiety The ego then copes through various defense mechanisms
Psychosexual Development Early childhood experiences have a major impact on the development of personality Children go through developmental stages that correspond to the different libidinal urges: – Oral: birth to 18 months. Infants seek pleasure through the mouth – Anal: 2-3 years. Learning to control the bowels leads to a focus on the anus – Phallic stage: 3-5 years. Focus is on the genitals; Oedipus complex – Latency stage: Children suppress libidinal urges – Genital stage: adolescence/adulthood. Libidinal urges focused on the capacities to reproduce and to contribute to society Some people become fixated at a stage
Psychodynamic Theory Since Freud A number of influential scholars modified Freud’s ideas in their own psychodynamic theories Neo-Freudians: Carl Jung, Alfred Adler, Karen Horney Contemporary neo-Freudians focus on social interactions, especially children’s emotional attachments to their parents or primary caregivers (object relations)
Humanistic Approaches Emphasize Integrated Personal Experience Humanistic approaches: emphasize personal experience, belief systems, the uniqueness of the human condition, and the inherent goodness of each person Self-actualization: People seek to fulfill their potential for personal growth through greater self-understanding Carl Rogers’ person-centered approach emphasized the importance of people’s subjective understandings of their lives Encouraged parents to raise their children with unconditional positive regard so that they might become fully-functioning people
Personality Reflects Learning and Cognition George Kelly’s (1955) personal constructs: People have personal theories of how the world works Julian Rotter’s (1954) expectancy-value approach: Internal/external locus of control Cognitive-social theories of personality: emphasize how personal beliefs, expectancies, and interpretations of social situations shape behavior and personality Mischel’s cognitive-affective personality system (CAPS) – Defensive pessimism: people expect to fail – Self-regulatory capacities: ability to set personal goals, evaluate, progress, and adjust behavior accordingly
Trait Approaches Describe Behavioral Dispositions Personality types: discrete categories of people based on personality characteristics – Implicit personality theories: We assume that certain personality characteristics go together; we make predictions about people based on minimal evidence Trait approach: focuses on how individuals differ in personality dispositions, such as sociability, cheerfulness, and aggressiveness Cattell’s (1965) factor analysis identified 16 basic dimensions of personality
“Enjoying Aggression” Is aggressive behavior something that sometimes happens just because we like it? As this ScienCentral News report explains, research done on mice suggests we enjoy aggression the same way we enjoy other addictive activities.
Eysenck’s Hierarchical Model Hans Eysenck proposed a hierarchical model of personality The basic structure of this model included: – Specific response level – Habitual response level Superordinate traits – Introversion/extraversion – Emotional stability – Psychoticism
The Big Five Five-factor theory: identifies five basic personality traits (McCrae & Costa, 1999) – The “Big Five”: openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism – For each factor, there is a continuum from low to high. Each factor is a higher-order trait that is made up of interrelated lower-order traits – People’s “scores” on the Big Five traits have been shown to predict a wide variety of different behaviors (e.g., conscientiousness predicts grades in college) The Big Five approach currently dominates how many psychologists study personality
13.2 How Is Personality Assessed, and What Does It Predict about People? Distinguish between idiographic and nomothetic approaches to the study of personality. Distinguish between projective and objective measures of personality. Discuss the accuracy of observers’ personality judgments. Define situationism and interactionism. Distinguish between strong situations and weak situations. Discuss cultural and sex differences in personality.
How Is Personality Assessed, and What Does It Predict about People? Personality researchers do not agree on the best method for assessing personality Psychologists measure personality by having people report on themselves, by asking people’s friends or relatives to describe them, or by watching how people behave Each method has strengths and limitations
Personality Refers to Both Unique and Common Characteristics Gordon Allport divided the study of personality into two approaches: Idiographic approaches: person-centered approaches to studying personality. Focus is on individual lives and how various characteristics are integrated into unique persons. – Henry Murray tried to account for Adolf Hitler’s behavior in Nazi Germany by studying Hitler’s early childhood experiences, his physical stature, and his personal motivations Nomothetic approaches: study of personality that focuses on how common characteristics vary from person to person – The five-factor theory looks at how all people vary on five basic personality traits
Researchers Use Projective and Objective Methods to Assess Personality Researchers use numerous methods to assess personality ranging from observer reports to self-reports to clinical interviews The way researchers choose to measure personality depends to a great extent on their own theoretical orientations (e.g., trait researchers vs. humanistic psychologists) Assessment procedures can be grouped into projective measures and objective measures
Projective Measures Projective measures: personality tests that examine unconscious processes by having people interpret ambiguous stimuli The general idea is that people will reveal hidden aspects of personality such as motives, wishes, and unconscious conflicts Rorschach inkblot test Thematic Apperception Test (TAT)
Objective Measures Objective measures: relatively direct assessments of personality, usually based on information gathered through self-report questionnaires or observer ratings A questionnaire might target a specific trait, such as how much excitement a person seeks out of life (e.g., sensation seeking) More often, an objective measure will include a large inventory of traits: – NEO Personality Inventory consists of 240 items, which are designed to assess the Big Five personality factors. – California Q-Sort: Participants are given 100 cards with statements printed on them. They then sort the cards into nine piles according to how accurately the statements describe them.
Observers Show Accuracy in Trait Judgments How well do observers’ personality judgments predict others’ behavior? Funder (1995) found a surprising degree of accuracy for trait judgments under certain circumstances (e.g., a person’s close acquaintances may predict the person’s behavior more accurately than the person does) Simine Vazire (2010) compared the accuracy of people’s self- judgments with the accuracy of how their friends describe them – The comparative accuracy depends on whether the traits are observable and whether the people being rated are motivated to view themselves positively on the traits
People Sometimes Are Inconsistent Situationism: the theory that behavior is determined more by situations than by personality traits (Mischel, 1968) Mischel’s critique of personality traits caused considerable rifts between social psychologists, who emphasize situational forces, and personality psychologists, who focus on individual dispositions The vigorous response to Mischel’s critique has come to be called the person/situation debate – Personality researchers argued that how much a trait predicts behavior depends on three factors: the centrality of the trait, the aggregation of behaviors over time, and the type of trait being evaluated
Behavior Is Influenced by the Interaction of Personality and Situation Most trait theorists are interactionists. They believe that behavior is determined jointly by situations and underlying dispositions. A reciprocal interaction occurs between the person and the social environment so that they simultaneously influence each other. Personality reflects a person’s underlying disposition, the activation of the person’s goals in a particular situation, and the activation of the person’s emotional responses in the pursuit of those goals.
There Are Cultural and Sex Differences in Personality Schmitt, Allik, McCrae, & Benet-Martinez, (2007) investigated personality differences across 56 nations They found that the Big Five personality traits are valid across all the countries, with modest differences across them Research findings have made clear that self-reports often do not match cultural stereotypes about the respondents Women and men are more similar than different, but the differences between them largely support the stereotypes Sex differences in personality are largest in North America and Europe and smallest in Asian and African communities
13.3 What Are the Biological Bases of Personality? Review research assessing personality traits among nonhuman animals. Summarize the results of twin studies and adoption studies as those results pertain to personality. Identify the genetic basis of novelty seeking, neuroticism, and agreeableness. Identify distinct temperaments. Discuss the neurobiological basis of extraversion/introversion. Summarize the results of research on personality stability across time.
What Are the Biological Bases of Personality? Genes, brain structures, and neurochemistry play an important role in determining personality Genetic makeup may predispose certain traits or characteristics, but whether these genes are expressed depends on the unique circumstances that people face during their development
“Generosity Hormone” Scientists have found that a hormone makes people more generous. As this ScienCentral News video explains, it’s a brain hormone, and it even makes people more generous to strangers.
Animals Have Personalities Animals, across circumstances, might display consistent individual differences in behaviors, and those individual differences might reflect underlying biological bases of personality (Gosling, 2001) Findings of 19 studies that assessed multiple personality traits in nonhuman animals (e.g., from household pets to chimps) found evidence of traits similar to extraversion, neuroticism, and agreeableness in most species; only chimpanzees showed any signs of conscientiousness (Gosling & John, 1999) Dogs’ personalities can be rated with impressive accuracy
“Monkeys Show Their Generous Side” The idea that “it’s better to give than receive” may not be limited to humans. Now, as this ScienCentral News video explains, researchers have found a group of monkeys that seem to get pleasure from giving.
“Dog Personality” Do canines have character? As this ScienCentral News video reports, according to one psychologist, personality testing is going to the dogs.
Personality Is Rooted in Genetics There is overwhelming evidence that nearly all personality traits have a genetic component (Plomin & Caspi, 1999) Across a wide variety of traits, identical twins are much more similar than fraternal twins Identical twins receive more-similar treatment than other siblings, and that treatment can explain some of the similarity in personality
Adoption Studies Children who are not biologically related and who are raised in the same household as adopted siblings tend to be no more alike in personality than any two strangers Personalities of adopted children bear no significant relationship to those of the adoptive parents Findings suggest that parenting style may have relatively little impact on personality Similarities in personality between biological siblings and between children and their biological parents seem to have some genetic component
Are There Specific Genes For Personality? Genes predispose us to have certain personality traits associated with behavioral tendencies In most cases, researchers note the influence of multiple genes that interact independently with the individual’s environment to produce general dispositions Evidence suggests that genes can be linked with some specificity to personality traits. – Example: A gene that regulates one particular dopamine receptor has been associated with novelty seeking (Cloninger, Adolfsson, & Svrakic, 1996; Ekelund, Lichtermann, Jaervelin, & Peltonen, 1999)
Temperaments Are Evident in Infancy Genes help produce biological differences in personality called temperaments Temperaments are general tendencies to feel or act in certain ways; they represent the innate biological structures of personality Three personality characteristics considered as temperaments: – Activity level: overall amount of energy and behavior a person exhibits – Emotionality: intensity of emotional reactions – Sociability: general tendency to affiliate with others
“Wild Young Brains” Are violence and aggression genetic or a response to upbringing? As this ScienCentral News video reports, psychologists say the answer is both—but parenting can shape the effects of children’s genes.
Long-Term Implications of Temperaments Early childhood temperaments significantly influence behavior and personality structure throughout a person’s development (Caspi, 2000) Researchers investigated the health, development, and personalities of more than 1,000 people born during a particular period; individuals were examined approximately every two years, with 97 percent remaining in the study through their 21st birthdays At 3 years of age, they were classified into temperamental types based on examiners’ ratings The classification at age 3 predicted personality structure and a variety of behaviors in early adulthood
Personality Is Linked to Specific Neurophysiological Mechanisms Temperaments affect how the child responds to and shapes her or his environment; in turn, the child’s environment and temperament interact to shape the child’s personality Differences between personalities may reflect differences in the relative activation of different biological systems (Canli, 2006) Most research on the neurobiological underpinnings of personality has explored the dimension of extraversion/introversion
Arousal and Extraversion/ Introversion Eysenck believed that differences in cortical arousal produce the behavioral differences between extraverts and introverts Cortical arousal, or alertness, is regulated by the ascending reticular activating system (ARAS) Eysenck proposed that the system of reticular activation differs between extraverts and introverts, with the resting levels of the ARAS higher for introverts than for extraverts – The visible biological difference between introverts and extraverts appears to be their level of arousability, or how much they react to stimuli – Introverts are more arousable
Behavioral Activation and Inhibition Systems Gray (1987) proposed that personality is rooted in two motivational functions: the behavioral approach system and the behavioral inhibition system: – Behavioral approach system (BAS): consists of the brain structures that lead organisms to approach stimuli in pursuit of rewards; this is the “go” system – Behavioral inhibition system (BIS): Because it is sensitive to punishment, the BIS inhibits behavior that might lead to danger or pain; this is the “stop” system – Extraverts have a stronger BAS than BIS, which means extraverts are more influenced by rewards than by punishments Imaging research shows that each of the Big Five personality traits is associated with different brain regions (DeYoung et al., 2010)
Personality Is Adaptive From an evolutionary standpoint, personality traits useful for survival and reproduction may have been favored: – Being competitive has enabled individuals to obtain great rewards or to enjoy increased value in their social groups – Traits provide important information about desirable and undesirable qualities in mates Another possible explanation for individual differences is related to the skills possessed by members of groups Groups whose members possess diverse skills (e.g., novelty seekers versus more cautious members) have a selective advantage over groups whose members have a limited number of skills (Caporael, 2001)
Personality Traits Are Stable over Time How much can/do people change over time? Continuity over time and across situations is inherent in the definition of trait, and most research finds personality traits to be remarkably stable over the adult life span (Heatherton & Weinberger, 1994) Research suggests that personality changes somewhat in childhood but becomes more stable by middle age
Age-Related Change With age, people become less neurotic, less extraverted, and less open to new experiences; they also tend to become more agreeable and more conscientious (Srivastava, John, Gosling, & Potter, 2003) Age-related changes in personality occur independently of environmental influences; therefore that personality change may be based in human physiology
Characteristic Adaptations Basic tendencies are dispositional traits determined largely by biological processes; they are very stable Characteristic adaptations are adjustments to situational demands; they tend to be somewhat consistent because they are based on skills, habits, roles, etc. Overall, personality appears to be relatively stable, especially among adults, with stability of situations likely contributing to the stability of personality
“Set in Your Ways” Contrary to popular belief, your personality may not be set in stone by the time you’re thirty. As this ScienCentral News video reports, a survey shows some traits that may keep changing in later years.
13.4 How Do We Know Our Own Personalities? Differentiate between self awareness, self-schema, the working self-concept, and self-esteem. Review theories of self-esteem. Discuss research findings regarding the association between self-esteem and life outcomes. Identify strategies people use to maintain positive self- views. Discuss cultural differences in the self-concept and the use of self-serving biases.
How Do We Know Our Own Personalities? Each of us has a notion of something we call the “self” The sense of self involves: – mental representations of personal experiences (memories and perceptions) – a sense of one’s physical body – a conscious awareness of being separate from others and unique This sense of self is a unitary experience, continuous over time and space
Our Self-Concepts Consist of Self-Knowledge Your self-concept is everything you know about yourself Many psychologists view the self-concept as a cognitive knowledge structure that guides a person’s attention to relevant information and helps them adjust to their environment Example: If you think of yourself as shy, you might avoid a raucous party. If you believe yourself to be optimistic, you might easily bounce back from a poor grade in organic chemistry.
Self-Awareness James and Mead differentiated between the self as the knower (“I”) and the self as the object that is known (“me”) Psychologists now call the self that is known the objectified self, which is the knowledge the subject holds about itself The sense of self as the object of attention is the psychological state known as self-awareness – Duval and Wicklund’s theory of objective self-awareness – Higgins’s self-discrepancy theory Self-awareness depends on normal development of the frontal lobes
Self-Schema Each person processes information about himself or herself deeply, thoroughly, and automatically Self-schema: The cognitive aspect of the self- concept; A network of interconnected knowledge about the self – Self-schema help us filter, perceive, organize, interpret, and use information about the self The brain: When people process information about themselves, there is activity in the middle of the frontal lobes; The greater the activation of this area during the self-referencing, the more likely the person is to remember the item later during a surprise memory task
Working Self-Concept Psychologists refer to the immediate experience of the self as the working self-concept Self-descriptions vary depending on which memories you retrieve, which situation you are in, which people you are with, and your role in that situation When people consider who they are or think about different features of their personalities, they often emphasize characteristics that make them distinct from others
Perceived Social Regard Influences Self-Esteem Self-esteem is the evaluative aspect of the self- concept – People can objectively believe positive things about themselves without liking themselves very much; people can have high self-esteem, even when objective indicators do not support such positive self- views Reflected appraisal: Self-esteem is based on how we believe others perceive us – People internalize the values and beliefs expressed by important people in their lives; they adopt those attitudes (and related behaviors) as their own
Sociometer Theory Leary and colleagues (1995) propose that self-esteem is a mechanism for monitoring the likelihood of social exclusion Humans have a fundamental, adaptive need to belong: Those who belong to social groups are more likely to survive and reproduce than those who are excluded and left to survive on their own Self-esteem is a sociometer, an internal monitor of social acceptance or rejection – When people behave in ways that increase the likelihood that they will be rejected, they experience a reduction in self-esteem – If probability of rejection remains low, the person will probably not worry about how he or she is perceived by others
Self-Esteem and Death Anxiety Terror management theory: Self-esteem gives meaning to people’s lives, protects them from the horror associated with knowing they eventually will die People counter their fears of mortality by creating a sense of symbolic immortality through contributing to their culture and upholding its values Research has demonstrated that reminding people of their mortality leads them to act in ways that enhance their self-esteem (Goldenberg, McCoy, Pyszczynski, Greenberg, & Solomon, 2000)
“Real Worries” We may have nothing to fear but fear itself. But, as this ScienCentral News video reports, even that can be deadly.
Self-Esteem and Life Outcomes Having high self-esteem seems to make people happier, but it does not necessarily lead to successful social relationships or life success Downsides to having very high self-esteem: – Violent criminals and bullies commonly have high self-esteem – When people with high self-esteem believe their abilities have been challenged, they may act in ways that cause other people to dislike them A personality trait associated with inflated self-esteem is narcissism Because narcissists’ greatest love is for the self, they tend to have poor relations with others (Campbell, Bush, Brunell, & Shelton, 2005)
We Use Mental Strategies to Maintain Our Views of Self Most people show favoritism to anything associated with themselves Example: A study showed people prefer the letters of their own names, especially their initials, to other letters (Koole, Dijksterhuis, & van Knippenberg, 2001) Sometimes these positive views of the self seem inflated: – When the College Entrance Examination Board surveyed more than 800,000 college-bound seniors, not a single senior rated herself or himself as below average, whereas a whopping 25 percent rated themselves in the top 1 percent (Gilovich, 1991) This phenomenon is known as the better-than-average effect
Self-Evaluative Maintenance Self-esteem can be affected by how people perform, how relevant their performances are to their self-concepts, and how their performances compare with those of significant people around them Theory of self-evaluative maintenance: People can feel threatened when someone close to them outperforms them on a task that is personally relevant Self-evaluative maintenance causes people to exaggerate or publicize their connections to winners and to minimize or hide their relations to losers
Social Comparisons Social comparison: when people evaluate their own actions, abilities, and beliefs by contrasting them with other people’s People with high self-esteem tend to make downward comparisons; people with low self- esteem tend to make upward comparisons People use a form of downward comparison when they recall their own pasts: They often view their current selves as better than their former selves (Wilson & Ross, 2001)
Self-Serving Biases People with high self-esteem tend to take credit for success but blame failure on outside factors Self-serving bias: the tendency for people to take personal credit for success but blame failure on external factors We are extremely well-equipped to protect our positive beliefs about ourselves, with some researchers arguing that self-serving biases reflect healthy psychological functioning
“Feeling Good and Grades” When it comes to education, which comes first, the chicken or the egg? As this ScienCentral News video reports, education researchers are questioning whether high self-esteem brings academic success or the other way around.
There Are Cultural Differences in the Self An important way in which people differ in self-concept is whether they view themselves as fundamentally separate from or connected to other people Collectivist cultures emphasize connections to family, to social groups, and to ethnic groups; conformity to societal norms; and group cohesiveness Individualist cultures emphasize rights and freedoms, self-expression, and diversity People in collectivist cultures have interdependent self- construals People in individualist cultures have independent self- construals
Culture and Self-Serving Bias There has been a lively debate among psychologists concerning the question of whether self-serving bias is universal Some suggest that self-enhancement may be as much a part of human nature as eating Heine and colleagues (1999) have argued, however, that the self-serving bias may be more common in Western cultures than in Eastern cultures Western cultures emphasize individuality. Believing that someone is an especially talented individual presupposes that some people are better than others, which is an attitude that is not acceptable in Eastern cultures