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Theories of Personality Chapter 14

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1 Theories of Personality Chapter 14

2 Personality The totality of behavioral characteristics that set people apart from others. (feelings, motives, behaviors) Various theories we will discuss: Trait, Psychoanalytic, Learning, Humanistic, Sociocultural

3 The Trait Approach A trait is an aspect of personality that is considered to be reasonably stable – consistent behaviors Example: always shy or outgoing

4 Gordon Allport s He found 18,000 words in the dictionary that could describe personality. He assumed that traits could be inherited and are the building blocks of your personality.

5 Raymond Cattell Using statistics and patterns, he believed we can predict people’s behavior in various situations. Surface traits – obvious traits (friendly, loud) Source traits – traits in a group that occur together

6 He created a list of 16 source traits
A questionnaire would be given and based on responses, one could predict how they would react in various situations.

7 Cattell's 16 Personality Factors – Source traits
Abstractedness imaginative versus practical Apprehension insecure versus complacent Dominance aggressive versus passive Emotional Stability calm and stable versus high-strung and Liveliness enthusiastic versus serious Openness to Change liberal versus traditional Perfectionism compulsive and controlled versus indifferent Privateness pretentious versus unpretentious Reasoning abstract versus concrete Rule Consciousness moralistic versus free-thinking Self-Reliance leader versus follower Sensitivity sensitive versus tough-minded Social Boldness uninhibited versus timid Tension driven and tense versus relaxed and easy going Vigilance suspicious versus accepting Warmth open and warmhearted versus aloof and critical

8 A hypothetical personality profile using Cattell’s 16 personality factors

9 Hans Eysenck He focused on the relationships between two personality dimensions 1. Introvert – Extrovert = inward vs. active, self-expressive 2. Emotional stability – instability = reliable, unpredictable


11 The Big 5 = 1970’s Most human personality traits can be boiled down to five broad dimensions of personality. Thousands of people were asked hundreds of questions then analyzing the data with a statistical procedure known as factor analysis. The Big Five is now the most widely accepted and used model of personality



14 Endpoints

15 Evaluation of Trait Approach
It does not explain where traits come from. It describes traits but does not suggest how one can change It is useful in matching your personality with jobs, careers, educational fields, or possible marriage partners (ex. harmony or


17 Social-Cognitive Perspective
Bandura believes that personality is the result of an interaction that takes place between a person and his social context. Albert Bandura

18 14.2 Psychoanalytic Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)
- He believed that conscious ideas fill only a small part of the mind. - Many of people’s deepest thoughts, fears, and urges remain in the unconscious mind. -3 parts of the mind: Id Ego Superego


20 Defense Mechanisms Freud said D. M. were methods the “ego” uses to reduce anxiety by distorting our perceptions of reality. - Using defense mechanisms can be healthy as long as it does not become extreme.

21 Repression Removal of painful thoughts from consciousness.
Freud believed that repressing too much can explode at a later date. “Teakettle blowing it’s top”

22 Rationalization Use of self-deception to justify unacceptable behavior
Giving excuses! Ex. Cheating = “Everybody does it…”

23 Displacement Transfer of an idea or impulse from a threatening object to a less threatening object. Ex. Criticized by boss…yell at coworker Fight with bf/gf…yell at mom…punch the wall

24 Regression Response to a threatening situation in a way appropriate to a younger age Ex. Temper tantrum

25 Projection Unacceptable motives are transferred onto others
Like a projector shooting an image onto a screen Ex. Homophobes? Or aggressive people claiming others are aggressive.

26 Reaction Formation Acting opposite of true feelings in order to hide true feelings Ex. Being mean to someone you like or sickening sweet to someone you hate

27 Denial Refusing to accept reality Ex. Smoking won’t make me sick.
Charlie Sheen…

28 Sublimation You redirect feelings that could be damaging to you to a socially productive activity. Ex. Writing a poem about anger or aggressive…play football or boxing

29 Psychosexual Stages Freud divided development of personality through five psychosexual stages.

30 Neo-Freudians Jung believed in the collective unconscious which contained a common reservoir of images derived from our species’ past. That is why many cultures share certain myths and images such as the mother as a symbol of nurturance.

31 Neo-Freudians Like Freud, Alfred Adler believed in childhood tensions, however these tensions were social in nature and not sexual. A child struggles with the inferiority complex during growth and strives for superiority and power. **Birth order!

32 Neo-Freudians Like Adler, Horney believed in the social aspects of childhood growth and development. She countered Freud’s assumption that women have weak superegos and suffer “penis envy.”

33 Assessing Unconscious Processes
Evaluating personality from an unconscious mind perspective would require a psychological instrument (projective tests) that would reveal the hidden unconscious mind.

34 Describe what is happening in the picture.

35 Thematic Apperception Test (TAT)
Developed by Henry Murray, TAT is a projective test in which people express their inner feelings and interests through the stories they make up about ambiguous scenes.

36 Rorschach Inkblot Test
The most widely used projective test with a set of 10 inkblots was designed by Hermann Rorschach. It seeks to identify people’s inner feelings by analyzing their interpretations of the blots.

37 14.3 Learning Approach Peoples behaviors are learned responses 2 Branches: A. Behaviorism – John Watson & BF Skinner believed outside influences mold us (society, parents, etc.) rewards, punishments B. Social Learning Theory – (more contemporary view) focuses on the importance of learning by observation but people can act intentionally to influence the environment.

38 14.5 Sociocultural Approach
1. Ethnicity, gender, culture help form personality. individualism vs. collectivism 2. Sociocultural factors can affect sense of self. ex. People subjected to discrimination & poverty may have poorer self-concepts, low self esteem 3. Bicultural people have higher self esteem.

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