What Lies Beneath: Personality theories simplified


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A quick read on Personality theories and approaches to human mind and behavior, simplified for the time pressed HR professionals of today

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What Lies Beneath: Personality theories simplified

  1. 1. WHAT LIES Personality Theories in Psychology
  2. 2. WHAT IS PERSONALITY? “Characteristic pattern of thinking, feeling and acting”
  4. 4. To understand our motivations For self development To understand others better WHY DO WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND OUR PERSONALITY? To become Exceptional Leaders To understand group dynamics To help others grow
  5. 5. WHAT ARE THE VARIOUS THEORIES OF PERSONALITY? 1. Trait: specific dimensions of personality 2. Psychoanalytic: unconscious motivations 3. Humanistic: inner capacity for growth 4. Socio-Cognitive: influence of environment
  7. 7. TRAITS THEORY Traits are relatively stable and consistent personal characteristics. Trait personality theories suggest that a person can be described on the basis of some number of personality traits. o Allport identified some 4,500 traits o Cattell used factor analysis to identify 30-35 basic traits o Eysenck argued there are 3 distinct traits in personality: Extraversion/introversion, Neuroticism and Psychotism
  8. 8. What trait “dimensions” describe personality? Combination of 2 or 3 genetically determined dimensions Extraversion/Introversion Emotional Stability/Instability Expanded set of factors “The Big 5”, 16 PF Extraversion, Emotional Stability, Agreeableness, Openness, Conscientiousness etc
  9. 9. In 1936, psychologist Gordon Allport found that one Englishlanguage dictionary alone contained more than 4,000 words describing different personality traits. He categorized these traits into three levels: Traits that dominate an individual’s whole life, often to the point that the person becomes known specifically for these traits. Allport suggested that cardinal traits are rare and tend to develop later in life. These are the general characteristics that form the basic foundations of personality. Terms like intelligent, honest, shy anxious are considered central traits. These are the traits that are sometimes related to attitudes or preferences and often appear only in certain situations or under specific circumstances. Example impatient while waiting in traffic.
  10. 10. Trait theorist Raymond Cattell reduced the number of main personality traits from Allport’s initial list of over 4,000 down to 171, mostly by eliminating uncommon traits and combining common characteristics. Next, Cattell rated a large sample of individuals for these 171 different traits. Then, using a statistical technique known as factor analysis, he identified closely related terms and eventually reduced his list to just 16 key personality traits. According to Cattell, these 16 traits are the source of all human personality. He also developed one of the most widely used personality assessments known as the Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire (16PF).
  11. 11. Emotional Stability Extraversion • Calm/Anxious • Secure/Insecure • Sociable/Retiring • Fun Loving/Sober Openness • Imaginative/Practical • Independent/Conforming Agreeableness • Soft-Hearted/Ruthless • Trusting/Suspicious Conscientiousness • Organized/Disorganized • Careful/Careless
  12. 12. Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) is a self-report personality inventory consisting of 550 items that describe feelings or actions which the person is asked to agree with or disagree with; many scales estimating traits and qualities of personality have been developed using MMPI items such as anxiety, depression, masculinity–femininity, and paranoia.
  13. 13. While most agree that people can be described based upon their personality traits, theorists continue to debate the number of basic traits that make up human personality. While trait theory has objectivity that some personality theories lack (such as Freud’s psychoanalytic theory), it also has weaknesses. Some of the most common criticisms of trait theory center on the fact that traits are often poor predictors of behavior. While an individual may score high on assessments of a specific trait, he or she may not always behave that way in every situation. Another problem is that trait theories do not address how or why individual differences in personality develop or emerge.
  15. 15. PSYCHOANALYTIC THEORY The first comprehensive theory of personality was proposed by Sigmund Freud, known as the father of Psychoanalysis. A Medical Student from the University of Vienna, Freud specialized in Nervous disorders and found that some of his patients showed no physical cause for nervous problems Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)
  16. 16. PSYCHOANALYTIC THEORY The question boggled his mind Q: So, What caused neurological symptoms in patients with no neurological problems? This was his answer to the question: A: It had to do with the Human Mind. Not the one that e know of. Not the Conscious mind but the Unconscious. & Hypnosis = Free Association Psychoanalysis Understanding the Unconscious
  17. 17. Conscious Awareness small part above surface (Preconscious) Unconscious below the surface (thoughts, feelings, wishes, memories) Repression: banishing unacceptable thoughts and passions to unconscious Dreams & Slips
  18. 18. “Personality arises from conflict between aggressive, pleasure-seeking impulses and social restraints” Ego Super Ego Id
  19. 19. Ego Super Ego Super Ego: voice of conscience that focuses on how we ought to behave Ego - seeks to gratify the Id in realistic ways Reality Principle Id Id - energy constantly striving to satisfy basic drives Pleasure Principle
  20. 20. When the inner war between id, ego and superego gets out of hand, the result is Anxiety Ego protects itself from Anxiety via Defense Mechanisms Defense Mechanisms reduce or redirect anxiety by distorting reality Defense mechanisms refer to unconscious mental processes that protect the conscious person from developing anxiety
  21. 21. Sublimation: person channels energy from unacceptable impulses to create socially acceptable accomplishments Denial: person refuses to recognize reality Projection: person attributes their own unacceptable impulses to others Repression: anxiety-evoking thoughts are pushed into the unconscious Rationalization: Substituting socially acceptable reasons Intellectualization: Ignoring the emotional aspects of a painful experience by focusing on abstract thoughts, words, or ideas Reaction formation: Refusing to acknowledge unacceptable urges, thoughts or feelings by exaggerating the opposite state Regression: Responding to a threatening situation in a way appropriate to an earlier age or level of development Displacement: Substituting a less threatening object for the original object of impulse
  22. 22. How can we assess personality? (i.e., the unconscious) If you said Objective Tests, you are wrong. They tap the conscious mind only. Projective Tests tap the unconscious. I used two projective tests to understand my Patients. Thematic Appearance Test (TAT) Rorschach Inkblot Test
  23. 23.  Rorschach Inkblot Test is the most widely used projective test  Consists of 10 inkblots designed by Hermann Rorschach.  It was used to identify people’s inner feelings by analyzing their interpretations of the blots
  24. 24. People express their inner motives through the stories they make up about ambiguous scenes
  25. 25. Current research contradicts many of Freud’s specific ideas. However, Psychoanalysis is also becoming one of the most popular approaches to mental Health. Listed below are some of Freud’s theories that were proven false in recent studies. Development does not stop in childhood Dreams may not be Unconscious wishes Slips of the tongue are likely competing “nodes” in memory network
  27. 27. HUMANISTIC THEORY Humanistic theories view each person as basically good and that people are striving for self-fulfillment o Humanistic theory argues that people carry a perception of themselves and of the world o The goal for a humanist is to develop/promote a positive self-concept o Humanistic personality theories reject psychoanalytic notions FAMOUS HUMANISTIC PERSPECTIVES 1 Roger’s Person Centered Perspective 2 Maslow’s Self Actualizing Person
  28. 28. We all have a sense of “who we are”. I call this a “Self Concept”  We have needs for:  Self-consistency (absence of conflict between self-perceptions)  Congruence (consistency between self-perceptions and experience)  Inconsistency evokes anxiety and threat  People with low self-esteem generally have poor congruence between their self-concepts and life experiences.
  29. 29. Carl Rogers, American psychologist; believed that personality formed as a result of our strivings to reach our full human potential. Fully Functioning Person: Lives in harmony with his/her deepest feelings and impulses Self-Image: Total subjective perception of your body and personality Conditions of Worth: behaviors and attitudes for which other people, starting with our parents, will give us positive regard. Unconditional Positive Regard: Unshakable love and approval Positive Self-Regard: Thinking of oneself as a good, lovable, worthwhile person
  30. 30. o Many of the Humanists’ claims are un-testable. o Humanists may have an overly-positive, rosy view of humankind. They do not look at the “dark side.” o For the Humanists, the cause of all our problems lies not in ourselves, but in others. o Maslow’s characterization of self-actualized individuals is very biased toward a certain philosophical position. o Most of the people Maslow identified as selfactualized had rather serious psychological problems.
  31. 31. ▲ Abraham Maslow emphasized the basic goodness of human nature and a natural tendency toward self-actualization. ▲ Only when all the lower level needs are achieved, an Individual can be self-actualized
  32. 32. o Efficient perceptions of reality o Comfortable acceptance of self, others, and nature o Spontaneity o Task Centering o Autonomy o Continued freshness of appreciation o Fellowship with humanity o Profound interpersonal relationships o Comfort with solitude o Non-hostile sense of humor o Peak experiences
  34. 34. SOCIO-COGNITIVE THEORY Behavior is learned through conditioning & observation. Hence, What we think about our situation affects our behavior. Each person has a unique personality because unique personal histories and interpretations shape our personalities
  35. 35. Self-system: the set of cognitive processes by which a person observes, evaluates, and regulates his/her behavior. Bandura proposed that what we think of as personality is a product of this self-system. Children observe behavior of models (such as parents) in their social environment. Particularly if they are reinforced, children will imitate these behaviors, incorporating them into personality. He also proposed that people observe their own behavior and judge its effectiveness. Self-efficacy: a judgment of one’s effectiveness in dealing with particular situations.
  36. 36. Julian Rotter, an American psychologist, began as a Freudian! His personality theory combines learning principles, modeling, cognition, and the effects of social relationships External locus of control: perception that chance or external forces beyond personal control determine one’s fate Internal locus of control: perception that you control your own fate. Learned Helplessness: a sense of hopelessness in which a person thinks that he/she is unable to prevent aversive events
  37. 37. o Social-cognitive theories tend to be overly-mechanical. o Overemphasizes environmental influences; gives little or no consideration to the possibility of innate personality differences or the effects of genetics. o Does not recognize internal human qualities such as hope, aspiration, love, self-sacrifice
  38. 38. THANK YOU