Introduction: What Is Personality? Personality is an individual’s unique and relatively consistent patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving. A personality trait is a durable disposition to behave in a particular way…excitable, moody, dependable, friendly People are fairly consistent and stable with their personalities…although, the bulk of personality changes appear between the ages of 20 and 40 and the certain personality traits may continue to experience changes well into old age Distinctiveness is also central to the theme of personality… not adhering to the status quo…thinking outside the box A factor analysis correlates many variables and then analyzes them to identify closely related clusters or variables
A personality theory is a theory that attempts to describe and explain similarities and differences in people’s patterns of thinking, feeling, and behavior. Personality theories can be roughly grouped under four basic perspectives: 1. The psychoanalytic perspective emphasizes the importance of unconscious processes and the influence of early childhood experience. 2. The humanistic perspective represents an optimistic look at human nature, emphasizing the self and the fulfillment of a person’s unique potential. 3. The social cognitive perspective emphasizes learning and conscious cognitive processes, including the importance of beliefs about the self, goal setting, and self- regulation. 4. The trait perspective emphasizes the description and measurement of specific personality differences among individuals.
The Five-Factor Model Many trait researchers believe that the essential building blocks of personality can be described in terms of five basic personality dimensions, sometimes called “the Big Five.” According to the five-factor model of personality, these five dimensions (extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness to experience) represent the structural organization of personality traits or O C E A N 1. The five-factor structure of personality has been found in a variety of cultures and may be universal. 2. Research has shown that traits are remarkably stable over time. 3. Traits are also generally consistent across different situations, but situational influences may affect their expression. Human behavior is the result of a complex interaction between traits and situations.
There are correlations between the Big 5 personality traits and ↑GPA (higher conscientiousness…conscientious students work harder)…↑ neuroticism ↑ divorce…↑ neuroticism and ↑ mental disorders…↑ conscientiousness ↓ illness and mortality B. Two Representative Trait Theories: Raymond Cattell and Hans Eysenck 1. Pioneer trait theorist Raymond Cattell used a statistical technique called factor analysis to identify traits that were most closely related to one another, eventually reducing his list to 16 key personality factors. Cattell developed the widely used personality test, the Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire, or 16PF.
2. British psychologist Hans Eysenck developed a trait theory of personality that includes three basic dimensions. a. Introversion–extraversion is the degree to which a person directs his energies outward toward the environment and other people versus inward toward his inner and self-focused experiences. (1) High on introversion—quiet, solitary, reserved; avoiding new experiences (2) High on extraversion—outgoing and sociable; enjoying new experiences and stimulating environments b. Neuroticism–emotional stability refers to a person’s emotional predisposition. (1) Neuroticism refers to a person’s predisposition to become emotionally upset. (2) Stability reflects a person’s predisposition to be emotionally even.
c. Psychoticism, the third major personality dimension, was identified by Eysenck in later research. (1) A person high on this trait is antisocial, cold, hostile, and unconcerned about others. (2) A person who is low on psychoticism is warm and caring toward others. d. Eysenck believed that individual differences in personality are due to biological differences among people. Specific personality traits can produce individual differences in the brain’s reaction to emotional stimuli. Gordon Allport reduced the traits into 4,500 trait like words he organized onto three levels according to importance… Cardinal traits-most important Central traits-the basic and most useful traits Secondary traits-the less obvious and less consistent traits
Leadership, a personality trait? One trait that has been studied in thousands of studies is leadership, the ability to direct or inspire others to achieve goals. Trait theories of leadership are theories based on the idea that some people are simply “natural leaders” because they possess personality characteristics that make them effective. Research has found that being intelligent is an important characteristic of leaders, as long as the leader communicates to others in a way that is easily understood by his or her followers. Other research has found that people with good social skills, such as the ability to accurately perceive the needs and goals of the group members and to communicate with others, also tend to make good leaders.
Situational Influences on Personality Walter Mischel found that there was a low correlation between traits that a person expressed in one situation and those expressed in other situations… child honesty test We have to be mindful not to assume that traits remain stable under all circumstances (remember Kohlberg’s moral dilemma) Traits tend to be more in the head of the person who is judging…we tend to use human traits to also judge animals
The Barnum Effect The Barnum effect refers to the observation that people tend to believe in descriptions of their personality that supposedly are descriptive of them but could in fact describe almost anyone…astronomy, horoscopes, fortunetelling, palm reading, tarot card, personality tests People are likely to accept description of their personality if they think that they have been written for them…reliance on traits; people can express their traits in different ways
The Trait Perspective on Personality A trait theory of personality is one that focuses on identifying, describing, and measuring individual differences in behavioral predispositions. 1. Trait theorists view the person as a unique combination of personality characteristics or attributes, called traits. A trait is a relatively stable, enduring predisposition to behave in a certain way. 2. A trait is typically described in terms of a range from one extreme to its opposite. 1. Surface traits are personality characteristics or attributes that can be easily inferred from observable behavior. 2. Source traits are the most fundamental dimensions of personality; they are the broad basic traits that are hypothesized to be universal and relatively few in number. A source trait can give rise to many surface traits. 1. Behavioral genetics studies the effects of genes and heredity on behavior.
Psychological Tests Psychological tests assess a person’s abilities, aptitudes, interests, or personality on the basis of a systematically obtained sample of behavior. Any psychological test is useful insofar as it achieves two basic goals: 1. It accurately and consistently reflects a person’s characteristics on some dimension. 2. It predicts a person’s future psychological functioning or behavior. A. Projective Tests: Like Seeing Things in the Clouds 1. Projective tests are personality tests that involves a person’s interpreting an ambiguous image; they are used to assess unconscious motives, conflicts, psychological defenses, and personality traits. a. The Rorschach Inkblot Test is a projective test using inkblots that was developed by Swiss psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach in b. The Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) is a projective personality test that involves creating stories about each of a series of ambiguous scenes.
II. The Psychoanalytic Perspective on Personality Sigmund Freud The founder of psychoanalysis, was one of the most influential figures of the twentieth century. Psychoanalysis is the theory of personality that emphasizes unconscious determinants of behavior, sexual and aggressive instinctual drives, and the enduring effects of early childhood experience on later personality development.
b. Freud later dropped Breuer’s method of using hypnosis and developed his own technique of free association to help patients uncover forgotten memories. Freud’s patients would spontaneously report their uncensored thoughts, mental images, and feelings as they came to mind.
Freud’s Dynamic Theory of Personality 1. Freud saw personality and behavior as resulting from a constant interplay between conflicting psychological forces that operate at three different levels of awareness. a. All the thoughts, feelings, and sensations that you are aware of at this particular moment represent the conscious level. b. The preconscious contains information of which you’re not currently aware but is easily capable of entering your consciousness, such as childhood memories or your Social Security number. c. The bulk of Freud’s psychological iceberg is made up of the unconscious, which lies submerged below the waterline of the preconscious and conscious. We are not directly aware of these submerged thoughts, feelings, wishes, and drives, but the unconscious exerts an enormous influence on our conscious thoughts and behavior. d. Freud believed that unconscious material often seeps through to the conscious level in distorted, disguised, or symbolic forms. Dream analysis was important to Freud. Beneath the surface images, or manifest content, of a dream lies its latent content, true, hidden, unconscious meaning of the dream symbols. e. The unconscious can also be revealed in unintentional actions, such as accidents, mistakes, instances of forgetting, and inadvertent slips of the tongue, which are often referred to as “Freudian slips.”
2. The structure of personality Psychological energy evolves to form the three basic structures of personality—the id, the ego, and the superego. These are distinct psychological processes. a. The id, the most primitive part of the personality, is entirely unconscious and present at birth. It is completely immune to logic, values, morality, danger, and the demands of the external world.
(2) The id is ruled by the pleasure principle—the relentless drive toward immediate satisfaction of the instinctual urges, especially sexual urges. Freud saw the pleasure principle as the most fundamental human motive. b. A new dimension of personality develops from part of the id’s psychological energy—the ego. (1) Partly conscious, the ego represents the organized, rational, and planning dimensions of personality. The mediator between the id’s instinctual demands and the restrictions of the outer world, the ego operates on the reality principle. The reality principle is the capacity to postpone gratification until the appropriate time or circumstances exist in the external world.
(2) The ego is the pragmatic part of the personality that learns various compromises to reduce the tension of the id’s instinctual urges. If the ego cannot identify an acceptable compromise to satisfy an instinctual urge, it can repress the impulse or remove it from conscious awareness. c. Gradually, social values move from being externally imposed demands to being internalized rules and values. By about age five or six, young children develop an internal, parental voice that is partly conscious—the superego. As the internal representation of parental and societal values, the superego evaluates the acceptability of behavior and thoughts, then praises or admonishes.
Ego Defense Mechanism 3. The ego defense mechanisms: Unconscious self-deceptions a. When the demands of the id or superego threaten to overwhelm the ego, anxiety results. b. If a realistic solution or compromise is not possible, the ego may temporarily reduce anxiety by distorting thoughts or perceptions of reality through processes Freud called ego defense mechanisms. By resorting to these largely unconscious self-deceptions, the ego can maintain an integrated sense of self while searching for a more acceptable and realistic solution to a conflict between the id and superego.
(1) The most fundamental ego defense mechanism is repression, which is unconscious forgetting. Unbeknownst to the person, anxiety-producing thoughts, feelings, or impulses are pushed out of conscious awareness into the unconscious. (2) Displacement occurs when emotional impulses are redirected to a substitute object or person, usually one less threatening or dangerous than the original source of conflict. (3) Sublimation is a special form of displacement which involves displacing sexual urges toward productive, socially acceptable, nonsexual activities. Freud believed sublimation was largely responsible for the productive and creative contributions of people and even of whole societies. (4) Many psychologically healthy people temporarily use ego defense mechanisms to deal with stressful events; when they delay or interfere with our use of more constructive coping strategies, they can be counterproductive.
Personality Development: The Psychosexual Stages. According to Freud, people progress through five psychosexual stages of development. The foundations of adult personality are established during the first five years of life, as the child progresses through the oral, anal, and phallic stages. The latency stage occurs during later childhood, and the fifth and final stage, the genital stage, begins in adolescence. 2. The psychosexual stages are age-related developmental periods in which sexual impulses are focused on different bodily zones and are expressed through activities associated with those areas. a. Oral stage: During the first year of life, the infant derives pleasure through the oral activities of sucking, chewing, and biting. b. Anal stage: Over the next two years, pleasure is derived through elimination and acquiring control over elimination. c. Phallic stage: Pleasure seeking is focused on the genitals.
3. Fixation: Unresolved developmental conflicts a. At each psychosexual stage, according to Freud, the infant or young child is faced with a developmental conflict that must be successfully resolved in order to move on to the next stage. b. If frustrated, the child will be left with feelings of unmet needs characteristic of that stage; if overindulged, the child may be reluctant to move on to the next stage. In either case, the result of an unresolved developmental conflict is fixation at a particular stage. 4. The Oedipus complex: A psychosexual drama Freud believed that the most critical conflict occurs during the phallic stage. The Oedipus complex is a child’s unconscious sexual desire for the opposite-sex parent, usually accompanied by hostile feelings toward the same-sex parent. a. The little boy feels hostility and jealousy toward his father, but he realizes that his father is more physically powerful. The boy experiences castration anxiety. b. To resolve the Oedipus complex, the little boy ultimately joins forces with his former enemy by resorting to the defense mechanism of identification; that is, he imitates and internalizes his father’s values, attitudes, and mannerisms.
c. The little girl discovers that little boys have a penis and that she does not. She feels a sense of deprivation and loss that Freud termed penis envy. The little girl blames her mother and develops contempt for and resentment toward her; however, in her attempt to take her mother’s place with her father, she also identifies with her mother. 5. The latency and genital stages a. Freud believed that because of the intense anxiety associated with the Oedipus complex, the sexual urges of boys and girls become repressed during the latency stage in late childhood. b. Final resolution of the Oedipus complex occurs in adolescence, during the genital stage. As incestuous urges start to resurface, they are prohibited by the moral ideals of the superego as well as by societal restrictions.
2. Carl Jung: Archetypes and the collective unconscious Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung broke with Sigmund Freud to develop his own psychoanalytic theory of personality. Jung believed that people are motivated by a more general psychological energy that pushes them to achieve psychological growth, self-realization, and psychic wholeness and harmony. He also believed that personality continues to develop in significant ways throughout the lifespan. a. Jung believed that the deepest part of the individual psyche is the collective unconscious, which is shared by all people and reflects humanity’s collective evolutionary history. b. Contained in the collective unconscious are the archetypes, the mental images of universal human instincts, themes, and preoccupations. c. Jung described two important archetypes: the anima (feminine) and the animus (masculine). To achieve psychological harmony, Jung believed, men must recognize and accept their feminine aspects and women must recognize and accept their masculine aspects. d. Jung’s concepts of the collective unconscious and shared archetypes have been criticized as unscientific or mystical. e. Jung was the first to describe two basic personality types: introverts, who focus their attention inward, and extraverts, who turn their attention and energy toward the outside world.
Alfred Adler: Feelings of inferiority and striving for superiority Austrian physician Alfred Adler broke away from Freud to establish his own theory of personality. a. Adler believed that the most fundamental human motive is striving for superiority—the desire to improve oneself, master challenges, and move toward self-perfection and self-realization. (1) This striving arises from universal feelings of inferiority. (2) These feelings motivate people to compensate for their real or imagined weaknesses. b. When people are unable to compensate for specific weaknesses or when their feelings of inferiority are excessive, they can develop an inferiority complex—a sense of inadequacy, weakness, and helplessness. c. At the other extreme, people can overcompensate for their feelings of inferiority and develop a superiority complex.
Evaluating Freud and the Psychoanalytic Perspective on Personality Although Freudian theory has had a profound impact on psychology and on society, there are several valid criticisms. 1. Inadequacy of evidence 2. Lack of testability 3. Sexism a. Freud claimed women are more vain, masochistic, and jealous than men. He also believed that women are more influenced by their emotions and have a lesser ethical and moral sense. b. Horney and other female psychoanalysts have pointed out that Freud’s theory uses male psychology as a prototype. Women are essentially viewed as a deviation from the norm of masculinity. Fromm believed that the primary human motivation was to escape the fear of death…our concerns about dying can influence our behavior…people have been known to react aggressively when reminded of the possibility of death
Behavioral Perspective Behaviorism is a theoretical orientation based on the premise that scientific psychology should study only observable behavior Skinner’s principle of operant conditioning was not meant to be a theory of personality, but his principles can be applied to personality development People show some consistent patterns of behaviors because they have some stable response tendencies that have been reinforced or punished over time A specific situation may be associated with a number of response tendencies that vary in strength, depending on past conditioning Response tendencies are constantly being strengthened or weakened by new responses…personality development is a continuous lifelong journey
1. Social cognitive theory emphasizes the social origins of thoughts and actions but also stresses active cognitive processes and the human capacity for self- regulation. 2. Bandura’s research has shown that we observe the consequences that follow people’s actions, the rules and standards that apply to behavior in specific situations, and the ways in which people regulate their own behavior. 3. Reciprocal determinism is a model proposed by Bandura that explains human functioning and personality as caused by the interaction of behavioral, cognitive, and environmental factors.
The most critical elements influencing the self-system are our beliefs of self-efficacy, the degree to which we are subjectively convinced of our own capabilities and effectiveness in meeting the demands of a particular situation. We acquire new behaviors and strengthen our beliefs of selfefficacy in particular situations through observational learning and mastery experiences. 4. Developing self-efficacy begins in childhood, but it continues as a lifelong process, with each stage of the lifespan presenting new challenges.
The Humanistic Perspective on Personality In opposition to both psychoanalysis and behaviorism was a “third force” in psychology, called humanistic psychology. This view of personality emphasizes human potential and such uniquely human characteristics as self-awareness and free will. It sees people as being innately good and focuses on the healthy personality. 1. Humanistic psychologists contended that the most important factor in personality is the individual’s conscious, subjective perception of his or her self. 2. Abraham Maslow, one of the two most important contributors to humanistic psychology developed the hierarchy of needs and the concept of self-actualization.
1. The cornerstone of Rogers’s personality theory is the idea of the selfconcept, which is the set of perceptions and beliefs that you have about yourself. As children develop a greater sense of self-awareness, there is an increasing need for positive regard—the sense of being loved and valued by other people. a. Rogers maintained that most parents provide their children with conditional positive regard—the sense that the child is valued and loved only when the child behaves in a way that is acceptable to others. Incongruence is a state in which a child’s self-concept conflicts with his or her actual experience. b. Unconditional positive regard refers to the child’s sense of being unconditionally loved and valued, even if she doesn’t conform to the standards and expectations of others. c. Rogers did not advocate permissive parenting. He maintained that parents can disapprove of a child’s specific behavior without completely rejecting the child herself. 2. Through consistent experiences of unconditional positive regard, one becomes a psychologically healthy, fully functioning person who has a flexible, constantly evolving self-concept.
Karen Horney Karen Horney came to stress the importance of cultural and social factors and social relationships (especially the parent–child relationship) in personality development. a. Horney believed that disturbances in human relationships, not sexual conflicts, were the cause of psychological problems. Such problems arise from the attempt to deal with basic anxiety. b. Horney described three patterns of behavior that individuals use to defend against basic anxiety. (1) Those who move toward other people have an excessive need for approval and affection. (2) Those who move against others have an excessive need for power. (3) Those who move away from other people have an excessive need for independence and self-sufficiency. c. Horney contended that people with a healthy personality are flexible in balancing these different needs. d. Horney sharply disagreed with Freud’s notion that women suffer from penis envy. She believed that what women envy in men is not their penis, but their superior status in society. She contended that men often suffer womb envy—envying women’s capacity to bear children. She argued that men compensated for their minor role in reproduction by constantly striving to make creative achievements in their work. e. Horney agreed with Jung that the drive to grow psychologically and achieve one’s potential is a basic human motive.