List what YOU consider to be some of your own positive and negative personality qualities. (5 minutes)
a . Introduce yourself to the other group members and tell them about your personality.
b. As a group, identify the four descriptive terms used most frequently on the exercise. Why do you think these specific terms were used to describe personality?
c. Identify any of the self-descriptive terms that do not really qualify as personality characteristics. What makes a personal quality part of your personality?
The unique and relatively stable ways in which people think, feel, and behave.
Character: value judgments of a person’s moral and ethical behavior.
Temperament: the enduring characteristics with which each person is born.
Distinctiveness or uniqueness of character
Involves enduring behavior patterns and thus consistency or predictability of character. (“Gee, John hasn’t changed at all!”)
Involves the organization of individuality. An internal coherence or unified organization of character that embraces the whole person.
Free will or determinism? Do we have a conscious awareness and control of ourselves? Are we free to choose, to be masters of our fate, or victims of biological factors, unconscious forces or external stimuli?
Nature or nurture? Is our personality determined primarily by the abilities, temperaments, or predispositions we inherit, or are we shaped more strongly by the environments in which we live?
Past present or future? Is personality development basically complete in early childhood? Or is personality independent of the past, capable to being influenced by events and experiences in the present and even by future aspirations and goals?
Uniqueness or universality? Is the personality of each individual unique or are there broad personality patterns that fit large numbers of persons?
Equilibrium or growth? Are we primarily tension reducing, pleasure-seeing animals or are we motivated primarily by the need to grow, to reach our full potential to reach for ever-higher levels of self-expression and development?
Optimism or pessimism? Are human beings basically good or evil? Are we kind and compassionate, or cruel and merciless?
Theories in personality will usually cover these areas to have a cohesive, unified system of what makes our personalities.
In his clinical practice, Freud encountered patients suffering from nervous disorders whose complaints could not be explained in terms of purely physical causes.
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) Culver Pictures
Freud’s clinical experience led him to develop the first comprehensive theory of personality which included, the unconscious mind , psychosexual stages and defense mechanisms.
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) Culver Pictures
A reservoir ( unconscious mind ) of mostly unacceptable thoughts, wishes, feelings and memories. Freud asked patients to say whatever came to their mind ( free association ) to tap the unconscious.
The process of free association (chain of thoughts) led to painful, embarrassing unconscious memories. Once these memories were retrieved and released ( treatment: psychoanalysis ) the patient felt better.
The mind is like an iceberg. Mostly hidden and below the surface lies the unconscious mind. The preconscious, stores temporary memories. What is conscious is only a fraction of what goes on in our mind.
Personality develops as a result of our efforts to resolve conflicts between our biological impulses (id) and social restraints (superego).
Id unconsciously strives to satisfy basic sexual and aggressive drives operating on the pleasure principle, demanding immediate gratification.
Largely conscious, ego functions as the “executive” and mediates the demands of id and superego. Superego provides standards for judgment (the conscience) and for future aspirations.
Freud believed that personality formed during life’s first few years divided into psychosexual stages . During these stages the id’s pleasure seeking energies focus on pleasure sensitive body areas called erogenous zones .
Freud divided development of personality through five psychosexual stages.
A boy’s sexual desires toward his mother and feelings of jealousy and hatred for the rival father. Also Electra complex for the girl’s desire for the father.
Children cope with threatening feelings by repressing them and by identifying with the rival parent. Through this process of identification their superego gains strength incorporating parents’ values.
From the K. Vandervelde private collection
Ego’s protective methods of reducing anxiety by unconsciously distorting reality.
1. Repression banishes anxiety-arousing thoughts, feelings, and memories from consciousness. 2. Regression leads an individual faced with anxiety to retreat to a more infantile psychosexual stage.
3. Reaction Formation causes the ego to unconsciously switch unacceptable impulses into their opposites. People may express feelings of purity when they may be suffering anxiety from unconscious feelings about sex. 4. Projection leads people to disguise their own threatening impulses by attributing them to others.
5. Rationalization offers self-justifying explanations in place of the real, more threatening, unconscious reasons for one’s actions. 6. Displacement shifts sexual or aggressive impulses toward a more acceptable or less threatening object or persons… redirecting anger toward a safer outlet.
Charles Potkay and Bem Allen describe Freud’s case study of Little Hans as the cornerstone of Freud’s ideas about the Oedipus Complex.
5-yr-old Hans was afraid to leave his house because of an irrational fear that a horse would bite him. Hans developed the fear after having seen a horse fall down in the street. Freud believed that the real target of Hans’ fear was something else; through displacement Hans’s unconscious anxiety had merely been redirected from its original source onto horses. Freud suggested that Hans was actually afraid of his erotic feelings toward his mother and aggressive wishes toward his father. He support his hypothesis with the following observations.
Hans has said he wanted sleep with his mother, “coax with” or caress her, be married to her, and have children “just like daddy.”
Hans experienced castration anxiety. His parents warned that if he continued to play with his “widdler” (penis), it would be cut off. He noticed that his sister had no “widdler.”
Hans wanted his mother all to himself, was jealous of his father, and feared his mother would prefer his father’s bigger widdler, which was “like a horse.”
Hans was most afraid of horses with black muzzles, similar to his father’s black moustache. Hans had “accidentally” knocked a statue of a horse from its stand. When he saw a real horse fall down, he recognized his own aggressive impulse that his father fall down and die, an idea that frightened him and that he could not consciously acknowledge. Horses, then, were symbolic substitutes for Hans’ father , whom he both feared and hated.
Through psychoanalysis, the unconscious was made conscious. Hans’s fears were brought into the open and he achieved insight. Freud observed,
“ Hans was really a little Oedipus who wanted to have his father ‘out of the way,’ to get rid of him, so that he might be alone with his handsome mother and sleep with her.”
Potkay, C. R., & Allen, B. P. (1986). Personality: Theory, research and application. Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole.
Personality develops throughout life and is not fixed in childhood.
Freud underemphasized peer influence.
Gender identity may develop before 5-6 years of age.
There may be other reasons for dreams to arise than wish fulfillment.
Suppressed sexuality leads to psychological disorders. Sexual inhibition has decreased, but psychological disorders have not.
Many traumatic memories are not repressed as Freud believed.
Freud’s theory has no scientific validation, only observation and theorizing.
has mostly replaced psychoanalytic theory. It assumes:
1) much of our mental life is unconscious,
2) that we often struggle with inner conflicts among our wishes, fears, and values,
3) that childhood shapes our personalities and how we become attached to others.
Alfred Alder, Karen Horney, Carl Jung
Personality: a set of learned responses or habits.
Habits: in behaviorism, sets of well-learned responses that have become automatic.
Social-cognitive learning : a theory that emphasizes the importance of both the influences of other people’s behavior and of a person’s own expectancies of learning.
They hold that observational learning, modeling, and other cognitive learning techniques can lead to the formation of patterns of personality.
Bandura (1986, 2001, 2005) believes that personality is the result of an interaction that takes place between a person and his social context.
how the factors of environment , personal characteristics (beliefs, expectancy, and personal dispositions), and behavior can interact to determine future behavior.
Each will influence and reinforce the other.
Bandura called the process of interacting with our environment reciprocal determinism .
The three factors, behavior, personal/cognitive, and environment are interlocking determinants of each other. Stephen Wade/ Allsport/ Getty Images
Some specific ways how individuals and environments interact.
How we view and treat people influences how they treat us. Our personalities shape situations. Anxious people react to situations differently than calm people. Our personalities shape how we react to events. The school you attend, the music you listen to, are partly based on your dispositions. Different people choose different environments. (It then shapes them.)
an individual’s expectancy of how effective his or her efforts to accomplish a goal will be in any particular circumstance.
According to Bandura, people high in self-efficacy are more persistent and expect to succeed, whereas people low in self–efficacy expect to fail and tend to avoid challenges .
Locus of control —the tendency for people to assume that they either have control or do not have control over events and consequences in their lives.
Julian Rotter emphasizes our sense of personal control – whether we control the environment or the environment controls us.
External locus of control refers to the perception that chance or outside forces beyond our personal control determine our fate.
Internal locus of control refers to the perception that we can control our own fate.
a person’s subjective feeling that a particular behavior will lead to a reinforcing consequence.
Social-cognitive psychologists observe people in realistic and simulated situations because they have found that the best way to predict an individual’s behavior is from past behavior patterns in similar situations.
Critics say that social-cognitive psychologists pay a lot of attention to the situation and pay less attention to the individual, his unconscious mind, his emotions and his genetics.
Maslow proposed that we are motivated by a hierarchy of needs. Ultimately we are to seek self-actualization:
The ultimate psychological need that arises after basic physical and psychological needs are met and self-esteem is achieved; the motivation to fulfill one’s potential.
Self Actualized people:
Open & spontaneous,
Loving & caring
Not paralyzed by other’s opinions
Problem-centered rather than self-centered.
Focused on a life’s mission
A few deep relationships (not many shallow ones)
Often have spiritual or personal peak experience
S-A is at the top of the motivation hierarchy, which makes it the weakest of all needs and the most easily impeded.
The Jonah Complex: we fear and doubt our own abilities and potentialities. One must have enough courage to sacrifice some safety for personal growth. Too often, fear takes over.
Cultures may impose certain norms on its populations. Such as a definition of manliness preventing a male child from developing traits such as sympathy, kindness, and tenderness (traits of a S-A person.)
Childhood experiences may inhibit personal growth. Excessive control and coddling is harmful but so is excessive permissiveness. Children need “freedom within limits.” Children from warm, secure, friendly homes are more likely to choose experiences that lead to personal growth.
People are basically good and are endowed with self-actualizing tendencies. He believed that a growth-promoting climate required three conditions:
Genuineness : being open with feelings, dropping masks, being transparent, and self-disclosing.
Acceptance : Unconditional Positive Regard—an attitude of total acceptance toward another person.
Empathy : Growth is nurtured when people share and mirror our feelings and reflect our meanings. We feel understood.
A central feature of personality is one’s self concept —all the thoughts and feelings we have in response to the question “who am I?”
Real self: one’s perception of
actual self (characteristics, traits,
Ideal self: one’s perception
of whom one should be or
would like to be.
If real self is close to your ideal, you will feel positive.
If real self falls short of the ideal, you’ll feel dissatisfied and unhappy.
A worthwhile goal: to help others know, accept, and be true to themselves.
For Rogers, a person who is in the process of self-actualizing, actively exploring potentials and abilities, and experiencing a match between the real self and ideal self, is a fully functioning person .
Humanistic principles have influenced many areas, including counseling, education, childrearing, and management.
It’s emphasis on the individual self reflects and reinforces Western cultural values.
Critics say concepts are too vague and subjective.
Critics say such individualism can lead to self-indulgence, selfishness, and an erosion of moral restraints.
Critics also say that humanism fails to acknowledge the reality of man’s capacity for evil.
Traits: a characteristic pattern of behavior or a disposition to feel and act, as assessed by self-report inventories and peer reports.
Trait theories endeavor to describe the characteristics that make up human personality in an effort to predict future behavior.
Trait Theory – seeks to describe personality, not explain it.
An individual’s unique constellation of durable dispositions and consistent ways of behaving (traits) constitutes his personality.
Allport & Odbert (1936), identified 18,000 words representing traits. Examples of Traits Honest Dependable Moody Impulsive
Allport first developed a list of about 200 traits and believed that these traits were part of the nervous system.
Cattell reduced the number of traits to between 16 and 23 with a computer method called factor analysis.
Factor analysis is a statistical approach used to describe and relate personality traits.
Cattell used this approach to develop the 16 Personality Factor (16PF) inventory.
Raymond Cattell (1905-1998)
Surface traits - aspects of personality that can easily be seen by other people in the outward actions of a person.
Example: shy, quiet
Source traits - the more basic traits that underlie the surface traits, forming the core of personality.
Example : Introversion - dimension of personality in which people tend to withdraw from excessive stimulation.
Cattell found that large groups of traits could be reduced down to 16 core personality traits based on statistical correlations. Impulsive Excitement Impatient Irritable Boisterous Basic trait Superficial traits
Hans and Sybil Eysenck suggested that personality could be reduced down to two polar dimensions, extraversion-introversion and emotional stability-instability .
Personality inventories are questionnaires (often with true-false or agree-disagree items) designed to gauge a wide range of feelings and behaviors assessing several traits at once.
Today’s trait researchers believe that Eysencks’ personality dimensions are too narrow and Cattell’s 16PF too large. So a middle range (five factors) of traits does a better job of assessment.
A model of personality traits that describes five basic trait dimensions.
Openness - one of the five factors; willingness to try new things and be open to new experiences.
Conscientiousness - the care a person gives to organization and thoughtfulness of others; dependability.
Extraversion - dimension of personality referring to one’s need to be with other people.
Extraverts - people who are outgoing and sociable.
Introverts - people who prefer solitude and dislike being the center of attention.
Agreeableness - the emotional style of a person that may range from easygoing, friendly, and likeable to grumpy, crabby, and unpleasant.
Neuroticism - degree of emotional instability or stability.
Yes. Conscientious people are morning types, and extraverted evening types. 4. Predict other personal attributes? These traits are common across cultures. 3. How about other cultures? Fifty percent or so for each trait. 2. How heritable are they? Quite stable in adulthood. Though change over development. 1. How stable are these traits?
The Person-Situation Controversy
Walter Mischel (1968, 1984, 2004) pointed out that traits may be enduring but the resulting behavior in different situations is different. Thus traits are not good predictors of behaviors.
Trait theorists argue that behaviors may be different from situation to situation, but average behavior remains the same, thus traits matter.
Trait–situation interaction - the assumption that the particular circumstances of any given situation will influence the way in which a trait is expressed.
Cross-cultural research has found support for the five-factor model of personality traits in a number of different cultures.
Future research will explore the degree to which child-rearing practices and heredity may influence the five personality factors.
Behavior genetics - a field of study of the relationship between heredity and personality.
Twin and adoption studies have found support for a genetic influence on many personality traits.
James Arthur Springer and James Edward Lewis, otherwise known as the “ Jim” twins. Although separated shortly after birth and reunited at age 39, they exhibited many similarities in personality and personal habits.
Four basic dimensions of personality along which cultures may vary:
Behavior emerges from an interplay of external and internal influences.