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Theories of Personality  What is personality?  Origin of the concept  Western conceptualizations of personality  Trait/Type  Psychodynamic  Behavioral.

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Presentation on theme: "Theories of Personality  What is personality?  Origin of the concept  Western conceptualizations of personality  Trait/Type  Psychodynamic  Behavioral."— Presentation transcript:

1 Theories of Personality  What is personality?  Origin of the concept  Western conceptualizations of personality  Trait/Type  Psychodynamic  Behavioral  Constructivist  Indigenous conceptualizations of personality

2 What is Personality?  Gk. “Persona”  Personality is that which characterizes an individual and determines his/her unique adaptation to the environment

3 What is the Purpose of Personality Theories?  Each theory is a model for understanding the way people are  Makes it possible to “know” why people do what they do  Explain past behaviors  Predict future behaviors

4 Personality  Like identity, personality is culturally constructed  Every society reproduces its culture—its norms, its underlying assumptions, its mode of organizing experience—in the individual, in the form of personality. Lasch, 1980, p.34

5 In every society  Some personality characteristics are elevated  Other personality characteristics are devalued

6 Western European societies value individuality  Personal independence, autonomy, self- determination, separation, individuation, clear interpersonal boundaries, self-expression, personal ambition, personal property, self- sufficiency, assertiveness, competition, clear and direct verbal communication  Devalue collectivism  as primitive and pathological enmeshment

7 Most every other society  Values Collectivism  Personal embeddedness in a web of relationships, loyalty, interdependence, interpersonal harmony, co-operation, subtle non-verbal, indirect communication  Devalues  Self-centeredness as the cause of suffering  direct, assertive communication as a primitive way of relating

8 Colonization (colonialism)  The maintenance of political, social, economic, and cultural domination over people for an extended period

9 Colonizers  Privilege their own culture  Devalue some aspects of local cultures  E.g., Europeans interpreted Indigenous Peoples’ unfamiliar beliefs, physical appearances, and practices as signs of biological, intellectual, cultural and moral inferiority  Devaluation justifies exploitation, appropriation of land and resources, genocide

10 “Race” as an Instrument of Colonization  Linnaeus (~1750)  Invented the 4 “races” connecting geographical region, skin color, and “temperament”  Americanus  Europaeus  Asiaticus  Afer

11 Cultural Determinsim  Divides the colonizer from the colonized  Makes subordination appear “natural”  Vernon (1969, p. 29)  “…it seems reasonable to regard the Puritan ethic of the western middle class as producing the greatest development of intelligence, in contrast, both to the western lower class and to the “less civilized” cultures.”

12 Western Personality Strategies  The hundreds of personality theories all fit into 4 broad strategies  Trait/Type  Psychodynamic  Behavioral  Constructivist

13 Each Strategy has its Own  Underlying assumptions  Methods of Assessment  Methods of intervention  Strengths and limitations

14 Trait/Type Strategy  Describes people in terms of traits, types, predispositions  Oldest strategy  Comes most naturally  Cultural determinism is dispositional

15 Trait/Type Strategy  Underlying Assumptions  Behavior is consistent  Across situations  Over time  Methods of Assessment  Self report inventories  Observation




19 Trait/Type Strategy  Methods of intervention: there aren’t any  Applications  MMPI for personnel selection based on predicted job performance  Prediction of health outcomes based on Type  Strengths  Provides a way of organizing observations  Limitations  Deterministic  No hope for change

20 Psychodynamic Strategy  Underlying assumptions  Our narratives are essential to who we are  The present personality is shaped by the past  Unconscious conflicts from early childhood problems motivate behavior  Personality can be expressed either directly or indirectly  ao ao

21 Methods of Assessment  Requirements:  worldview that values  Individualism  self-focus  willingness and ability  to be introspective,  identify one’s own thoughts and feelings, and  talk about them to a professional helper

22 Sources of Information  The assessment involves gathering information about the person  from the person’s story, history, and  from observation during the assessment interview(s)  Indirect sources  Dreams, ambiguous stimuli (e.g., ink blots)  Children: play

23 Focus  Presenting problem  Life situation  History  Quality of Relationships  Rapport  Motivation  Insight

24 Psychodynamic Intervention  Interpretation brings insight  Insight brings change  May involve  Re-experiencing the traumatic situation  Realization that these conditions no longer exist

25 Strengths  Strengths  All problems make sense in context  All problems were attempted solutions at one time  Our stories are important  Much of who we are is outside of our awareness  Corrective experience  Therapeutic use of self

26 Limitations  Ignores ecosystemic context of problems  Ignores impact of present circumstances  Situates the problem within the person  Deterministic  Cultural bias  Power differential between client and therapist

27 Behavioral Strategy Underlying assumptions  Personality is behavior  Overt behavior  observable  Covert behavior  Internal, private  Behavior is determined by present situational and environmental factors  Not history, traits, etc.

28 Underlying assumptions  Maintaining Conditions  Antecedents  Consequences  Behavior changes through  Learning and experience  Changing the situation  Future behavior is predicted by past behavior

29 Assessment  Behavior is assessed via  direct observation of a person in different contexts  E.g., home, school, etc.  Self-report inventories

30 Intervention  Identifying and prioritizing target behaviors  Identifying and modifying maintaining conditions  Antecedents  Consequences  Treating problems sequentially  Observe > Record > Change Conditions  Example: exposure therapy sDCs sDCs

31 Strengths and Limitations  Strengths  Short term  Measurable  Doesn’t depend on insight  Limitations  Reductionistic  Ignores history, insight, corrective relationship

32 Constructivist Strategy  Underlying Assumptions  We construct our realities  Constructivism  The reality of events lies solely in the way they are perceived.  People are active agents, constantly changing and evolving toward self-actualization  Self-actualization = becoming who you really are; all that you are capable of being

33 Constructivist Assessment  Less focused on particular events or behaviors than on the meaning people attach to them  Focus is on the present, here and now  Self-report = only means of assessing perception  Self-report taken at face value, not inferential

34 Intervention  Guiding the individual to discover him/her potentials and actualize them  Stresses self-determination  Requires accurate empathy  Carl Rogers  Basic human need for unconditional positive regard  o o

35 Cognitive Therapy  Cognitive therapy makes the assumption that  thoughts precede moods and that  false self-beliefs lead to negative emotions.

36 Cognitive Therapy  aims to help the patient  recognize and reassess his patterns of negative thoughts and  replace them with positive thoughts that more closely reflect reality.

37 Cognitive Distortions  Cognitive therapy recognizes 10 common patterns of faulty thinking, which are known as cognitive distortions.  All-or-Nothing Thinking: Failing to recognize that there may be some middle ground. Characterized by absolute terms like always, never, and forever.  Overgeneralization: Taking an isolated case and assuming that all others are the same.

38 Cognitive Distortions  Mental Filter: Mentally singling out the bad events in one's life and overlooking the positive.  Disqualifying the Positive: Treating positive events like they don't really count.  Jumping to Conclusions: Assuming the worst about a situation even though there is no evidence to back their conclusion.

39 Cognitive Distortions  Should Statements: Rigidly focusing on how you think things should be rather than finding strategies for dealing with how things are.  Labeling and Mislabeling: Applying false and harsh labels to oneself and others.  Personalization: Blaming yourself for things that are out of your control.

40 Cognitive Distortions  Magnification and Minimization: Downplaying positive events while paying an inordinate amount of attention to negative ones.  Emotional Reasoning: Allowing your emotions to govern what you think about a situation rather than objectively looking at the facts.  vXI&feature=fvw vXI&feature=fvw

41 Abraham Maslow  Characteristics of self-actualized persons  Clarity  Acceptance  Freshness of appreciation’  Spontaneity, simplicity, naturalness  Focus  Process oriented

42  Detachment  Independence from culture and situation  Resistance to assimilation/acculturation  Desire to help others  Pluralistic world view  Deep interpersonal relations  Philosophical sense of humor\  Creative  Peak experiences

43 Strengths and Limitations  Strengths  Recognizes our unlimited potential for growth  Recognizes the importance of perception in adaptation  Limitations  Individualistic  Ignores historical and behavioral information  Relies on self-report

44 Overview  Each personality strategy has its own  Underlying assumptions  Methods of assessment  Methods of intervention  Strengths  Limitations  Each personality theory is an attempt of find similarities between people but has the disadvantage of overlooking variability and diversity

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