Theories of Personality


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Personality traits, facets, theories and analysis

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Theories of Personality

  2. 2. Who said these words? Charles Schwab US steel magnate who died penniless in the Great Depression of 1929-33 A M I T Y L A W S C H O O L
  3. 3. What does „personality‟ mean?  Originates from the Latin persona, which means mask  In the theatre of the ancient Latin-speaking world, the mask was not used as a plot device to disguise the identity of a character, but rather was a convention employed to represent or typify that character.  Defined as a dynamic and organized set of characteristics possessed by a person that uniquely influences his or her cognitions, motivations, and behaviors in various situations Also refers to the pattern of thoughts, feelings, social adjustments, and behaviors consistently exhibited over time that strongly influences one's expectations, self- perceptions, values, and attitudes. It also predicts human reactions to other people, problems, and stress  No universal consensus on the definition of "personality" in psychology. A M I T Y L A W S C H O O L
  4. 4. How has academia defined „personality‟? DC Funder "…..individuals' characteristic patterns of thought, emotion, and behavior, together with the psychological mechanisms -- hidden or not -- behind those patterns.”  This definition means that among their colleagues in other subfields of psychology, those psychologists who study personality have a unique mandate: to explain whole persons. Feist and Feist: “Although no single definition is acceptable to all personality theorists, we can say that personality is a pattern of relatively permanent traits and unique characteristics that give both consistency and individuality to a person's behavior." The multiple dimensions of personality led the US steel magnate, Charles M Schwab to aptly remark that "Personality is to a man what perfume is to a flower.”  Study of personality is not a purely empirical discipline, as it brings in elements of art, science, and philosophy to draw general conclusions. A M I T Y L A W S C H O O L
  5. 5. - I  Freedom versus determinism: Whether humans have control over their own behavior and understand the motives behind it or if their behavior is causally determined by forces beyond their control.  Behavior is categorized as being unconscious, environmental, or biological by various theories.  Heredity versus environment: Personality is thought to be determined largely either by genetics and biology, or by environment and experiences.  Contemporary research suggests that most personality traits are based on the joint influence of genetics and environment. One of the forerunners in this arena is C. Robert Cloninger, who pioneered the Temperament and Character model.  Uniqueness versus universality: Discusses the extent of each human's individuality (uniqueness) or similarity in nature (universality). Gordon Allport, Abraham Maslow, and Carl Rogers were all advocates of the uniqueness of individuals.  Behaviorists and cognitive theorists, in contrast, emphasize the importance of universal principles, such as reinforcement and self-efficacy. A M I T Y L A W S C H O O L
  6. 6. personality-II  Active versus reactive: Explores whether humans primarily act through individual initiative (active) or through outside stimuli. Behavioral theorists typically believe that humans are passively shaped by their environments, whereas humanistic and cognitive theorists believe that humans are more active in their role.  Most modern theorists agree that both are important, with aggregate behavior being primarily determined by traits in their interaction with short-term behavior, whereas situational factors in interaction with aggregate behavior are direct predictors of behavior on the short term.  Optimistic versus pessimistic: Whether humans are integral in the changing of their own personalities.  Theories that place a great deal of emphasis on learning are often more optimistic than those that do not. A M I T Y L A W S C H O O L
  7. 7. academia-I?  Personality theory developed over the last century  The most common models of traits incorporate three to five broad dimensions or factors.  All trait theories incorporate at least two dimensions, extraversion and neuroticism  Personality type refers to the psychological classification of different types of people.  Personality types are distinguished from personality traits, which come in different levels or degrees. For example, according to type theories, there are two types of people, introverts and extroverts.  According to trait theories, introversion and extroversion are part of a continuous dimension, with many people in the middle.  Psychoanalytic theories explain human behavior in terms of the interaction of various components of personality. Sigmund Freud was the founder of this school of thought. A M I T Y L A W S C H O O L
  8. 8. academia-II?  In cognitive theory, behavior is explained as guided by cognitions (e.g. expectations) about the world, especially those about other people.  Cognitive theories are theories of personality that emphasize cognitive processes, such as thinking and judging.  One of the major tenets of this concentration of personality psychology is a strong emphasis on scientific thinking and experimentation  Humanistic psychology emphasizes that people have free will and that this plays an active role in determining how they behave. Accordingly, humanistic psychology focuses on subjective experiences of persons as opposed to forced, definitive factors that determine behavior. A M I T Y L A W S C H O O L
  9. 9. academia-II?  Evolutionary theory states that through natural selection, organisms change over time through adaptation and selection. Traits are developed and certain genes come into expression based on an organism's environment and how these traits aid in an organism's survival and reproduction. Study of the biological level in personality psychology focuses primarily on identifying the role of genetic determinants and how they mold individual personalities.  Human Genome Project allowed for a much more in depth understanding of genetics.  This theory examines how individual personality differences are based on natural selection. A M I T Y L A W S C H O O L
  10. 10. Academia Study of personality is based on the essential insight that all people are similar in some ways, yet different in others. There have been many different definitions and theories of personality proposed but most now converge on the Big Five, in sum and substance that, lead back, in many ways, to trait, behavioral and other theories of personality with some variable(s) in combination. Accordingly, the Big Five personality traits are five broad domains or dimensions of personality that are used to describe human personality. Big Five factors are openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism  Often referred by collective acronyms OCEAN, NEOAC, or CANOE. A M I T Y L A W S C H O O L
  11. 11. Traits?  None of the five traits is in themselves positive or negative  They are simply characteristics that individuals exhibit to a greater or lesser extent  Each of these 5 personality traits describes, relative to other people, the frequency or intensity of a person's feelings, thoughts, or behaviors  Everyone possesses all 5 of these traits to a greater or lesser degree. For example, two individuals could be described as ‘agreeable’ (agreeable people value getting along with others). However, there could be significant variation in the degree to which they are both agreeable.  Thus all five personality traits exist on a continuum rather than as attributes that a person does or does not have as the following diagram shows and the framework that I have adopted in my companion research paper: A M I T Y L A W S C H O O L
  12. 12. Five?  Each of the big five personality traits is made up of six facets  These can be assessed independently of the trait that they belong to as shown in the following diagram: A M I T Y L A W S C H O O L
  13. 13. Outline I. What is personality? II. Academic debate and differences over philosophical assumptions in theories of personality III. Emerging convergence and consensus over multiple dimensions of personality in the Big Five IV. Analysis of the Big Five traits with real-life examples V. Analysis of Big Five facets with real-life examples VI. Recent research and new vistas VII. Conclusion – Schwab and the multiple dimensions of personality A M I T Y L A W S C H O O L
  14. 14. Introvert Extrovert Introvert  Openness to experience (inventive/curious vs. consistent/cautious) reflects degree of intellectual curiosity, creativity and a preference for novelty and variety a person has Extraverts enjoy being with people, are full of energy, and often experience positive emotions. They tend to be enthusiastic, action-oriented, individuals who are likely to say "Yes!" or "Let's go!" to opportunities for excitement like an army covert operations group leader In groups they like to talk, assert themselves, and draw attention to themselves like politicians and many godmen like Sri Sri Ravi  Introverts lack exuberance, energy, and activity levels of extraverts  Tend to be quiet, low-key, deliberate, and disengaged from the social world like Sri Aurobindo  Their lack of social involvement should not be interpreted as shyness or depression; the introvert simply needs less stimulation than an extravert and prefers to be alone.  The independence and reserve of the introvert is sometimes mistaken as unfriendliness or arrogance.  In reality, an introvert who scores high on the agreeableness dimension will not seek others out A M I T Y L A W S C H O O L
  15. 15. - I Extrovert Introvert  Open personalities have an appreciation for art, emotion, adventure, unusual ideas, curiosity, and variety of experience, what many psychologists call intellect like philosophers  More likely to hold unconventional beliefs, e.g. politically dissenting artists like Marlon Brando, entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates and non-conformist painters like Late MF Hussain.  Depending on the individual's specific intellectual abilities, this symbolic cognition may take the form of mathematical, logical, or geometric thinking, artistic and metaphorical use of language, music composition or performance, or one of the many visual or performing arts  People with low scores on openness to experience tend to have narrow, common interests such as auditors and accountants  Prefer the plain, straightforward, and obvious over the complex, ambiguous, and subtle May regard the arts and sciences with suspicion, regarding these endeavors as abstruse or of no practical use  Prefer familiarity over novelty; they are conservative and resistant to change such as members of the Ku Klux Klan and religious groups. A M I T Y L A W S C H O O L
  16. 16. - II Extrovert Introvert  Facets include friendliness, gregariousness, assertiveness, high activity levels, excitement-seeking and cheerfulness Form close, intimate relationships. Gregarious people find the company of others pleasantly stimulating and rewarding like Narendra Modi and other politicians Enjoy the excitement of crowds. Assertive ones like to speak out, take charge, and direct the activities of others Lead fast-paced, busy lives Love bright lights and hustle and bustle. They are likely to take risks and seek thrills.  Low scorers on friendliness are not necessarily cold and hostile, but they do not reach out to others and are perceived as distant and reserved  Low scorers tend to feel overwhelmed by, and therefore actively avoid, large crowds.  They do not necessarily dislike being with people sometimes, but their need for privacy and time to themselves is much greater than for individuals who score high on this scale.  Low scorers tend not to talk much and let others control the activities of groups.  People who score low on this scale follow a slower and more leisurely, relaxed pace  Low scorers are overwhelmed by noise and commotion and are adverse to thrill-seeking.  Low scorers are not as prone to such A M I T Y L A W S C H O O L
  17. 17. Openness (Extravert v. Introvert) in my Family Environment  I speak little but keep my eyes and ears open, am not too fond of visitors at home, seldom attend parties, am glued to the Internet and my notebook. Abstractions do not interest me but I am conscientious as far as my studies and personal appearance are concerned but quite careless about my physical environment at home. I also do not easily trust others and am always trying to best my friends and acquaintances. Yet I have large number of friends that understand me. While I do not discuss too many current affairs with my father and grandfather at home, yet I listen intently when they discuss with my mother. Only computer and automotive technology interest me but not others. On the contrary, my father, is outgoing, generally sociable with a fondness for parties, fond of writing columns on contemporary events in the print media, a voracious reader of the Internet and print media with fairly strong opinions about a subject. He is also quite assertive and often adopts ill-suited courses of action for which he repents later. My mother is more laid back – midway between the two extremes. As she welcomes visitors, she is not too enamored of parties other than within her friends’ circle, while she is a passionate information-gatherer from the media, yet she is generally circumspect about her opinions. A M I T Y L A W S C H O O L
  18. 18. Conscientiousness - I  Conscientious people (efficient/organized vs. easy- going/careless) have a tendency to show self-discipline, act dutifully, and aim for achievement  Show planned rather than spontaneous behavior, are organized, and dependable.  Tendency to show self-discipline, act dutifully, and aim for achievement against measures or outside expectations  Related to the way in which we control, regulate, and direct our impulses.  High scores on conscientiousness indicate a preference for planned rather than spontaneous behavior  Average level of conscientiousness rises among young adults and then declines among older adults. A M I T Y L A W S C H O O L
  19. 19. Conscientiousness - II Conscientious – High Conscientious – Low Facets include self-efficacy, orderliness, and dutifulness, striving for achievement, self-discipline and cautiousness. High scorers believe they have the intelligence (common sense), drive, orderliness and self-control necessary for achieving success. Dutifulness reflects the strength of a person's sense of duty and obligation Strong sense of moral obligation but often too single-minded and obsessed with their work Able to overcome reluctance to begin tasks and stay on track despite distractions. take their time when making decisions Low scorers do not feel effective, and may have a sense that they are not in control of their lives Low scorers tend to be disorganized and scattered. Low scorers find contracts, rules, and regulations overly confining likely to be seen as unreliable or even irresponsible Low scorers are content to get by with a minimal amount of work, and might be seen by others as lazy Procrastinate and show poor follow-through, often failing to complete tasks-even tasks they want very much to complete  Often say or do first thing that comes to mind without deliberating alternatives and the probable consequences of those alternatives. A M I T Y L A W S C H O O L
  20. 20. Family For instance, my father plans our itineraries down to the last Google directions map, restaurants, sights to see, public transportation, etc for all our vacations, even saves all his appointments to his mobile most dutifully. To the contrary, my mother and I go along with him since he is seldom wrong Yet my father is also spontaneous and is able to fit in with most audiences with his effervescence and sense of humor. However, he is a workaholic and seldom gets home before 8 pm after a day’s professional achievement. At home, he loves to decorate the house and clean up the mess that I leave behind, of course, not without chiding me, for not following his discipline. To the contrary, my mother is none too organized, particularly when it comes to keeping important documents in her custody and frequently misplaces them. In contrast, my paternal grandfather is even more disciplined as he even has his original order of appointment to his job from 1949 – that he keeps wrapped in a red cloth along with other important documents, many of which date back over 50 years. He also assiduously takes his morning and evening walks, come rain or shine. He too has a wonderful sense of humor and is supremely proficient in both English and Bengali, many steps ahead of my father and me. A M I T Y L A W S C H O O L
  21. 21. Agreeableness - I Agreeable Disagreeable  Show a tendency to be compassionate and cooperative rather than suspicious and antagonistic towards others.  They are therefore considerate, friendly, generous, helpful, and willing to compromise their interests with others  Have an optimistic view of human nature like Mother Teresa  Positively correlated with good team work skills, but negatively correlated with leadership skills. Those who voice their opinion in a team environment tend to move up the corporate rankings, whereas the ones that don't remain in the same position usually labeled as the followers of the team  Agreeableness not useful in situations that require tough or absolute objective decisions like a Prime Minister when a nation needs to declare war or emergency to protect its international borders.  Can make excellent scientists, critics, or soldiers like a dictatorial Adolf Hitler, an intolerant Meghnad Saha or overbearing US General Douglas MacArthur  Place self-interest above getting along with others  Sometimes their skepticism about others‟ motives causes them to be suspicious, unfriendly, and uncooperative A M I T Y L A W S C H O O L
  22. 22. Agreeableness - II Agreeable Disagreeable  Facets include trust, morality, altruism, cooperation, modesty and sympathy Are generally willing to assist those who are in need.  See no need for pretence or manipulation when dealing with others and are therefore candid, frank, and sincere. They generally find it more difficult to relate to the low-scorers on this scale  Willing to compromise or to deny their own needs in order to get along with others.  See others as selfish, devious, and potentially dangerous low scorers are not unprincipled or immoral they are simply more guarded and less willing to openly reveal the whole truth. do not particularly like helping those in need  Requests for help feel like an imposition rather than an opportunity for self-fulfillment.  Likely to intimidate others to get their way A M I T Y L A W S C H O O L
  23. 23. Environment I often ask my father to donate for a charitable cause but seldom pay out for the same purpose from my own pocket money and do not mind if my mother gives away my old clothes to the domestic help but do not take any initiative of my own. Yet I participate in all team activities in College and University and generally trust about a half of the people I meet. Often I am short-changed but I let that pass but remember it for future relationships. My father is as agreeable as he is disagreeable. He is prone to stifling dissent at his place of work and drives his officers and staff to great lengths, albeit toward professional achievement. He rewards those who succeed in keeping pace with him while the less fortunate often get punished. At the same time he maintains an open door policy at work and is available to all his officers and staff. Yet he also helps staff in their distress, particularly the low-paid ones. While my mother is a hard taskmaster, particularly for me and her domestic helps, she cares for the indigent when she gives away my old clothes and food/sweets to her domestic helps and their children and gifts them a token sum on every religious occasion, including on my birthday. However, she is relatively short on her temper and trust of others and is often not able to hold either, that sometimes costs her friends and acquaintances. My paternal grandfather, is deeply solicitous of the indigent and sometimes overdoes it. He is a great conversationist that endears him to a large number of friends, neighbors and well-wishers. Yet very precise and clear-headed when it comes to rendering an opinion or taking any decision that invariably is in the greatest interest of his family, including us. Like my father, he too is not very tolerant of dissent, yet selectively antagonistic to others. A M I T Y L A W S C H O O L
  24. 24. Analyzing the Big Five: Neuroticism-I  According to Eysenck’s (1967) theory of personality, neuroticism interlinked with low tolerance for stress or aversive stimuli.  Freud originally used the term neurosis to describe a condition marked by mental distress, emotional suffering, and an inability to cope effectively with the normal demands of life. He suggested that everyone shows some signs of neurosis, but that we differ in our degree of suffering and our specific symptoms of distress  Today neuroticism refers to the tendency to experience negative feelings. Those who score high on neuroticism may experience primarily one specific negative feeling such as anxiety, anger, or depression, but are likely to experience several of these emotions. People high in neuroticism are emotionally reactive like actor Sanjay Dutt  More likely to interpret ordinary situations as threatening, and minor frustrations as hopelessly difficult and impedes with personal relationships, and apparent anxiety linked with work – a trait common to most bosses at work. A M I T Y L A W S C H O O L
  25. 25. Analyzing the Big Five: Neuroticism-II  At the other end of the scale, individuals who score low in neuroticism are less easily upset and are less emotionally reactive. Tend to be calm, emotionally stable, and free from persistent negative feelings.  May display more sensitive reactivity than those who score low on neuroticism  Can diminish the ability of a person scoring high on neuroticism to think clearly, make decisions, and cope effectively with stress  Lacking contentment in one's life achievements can correlate to high Neuroticism scores and increase a person's likelihood of falling into clinical depression such as many movie stars, singers and models when they careers go down the hill  Freedom from negative feelings does not mean that low scorers experience a lot of positive feelings  Research suggests extraversion and neuroticism are negatively correlated. Neuroticism is similar but not identical to being neurotic in the Freudian sense  Some psychologists prefer to call neuroticism by the term emotional stability to differentiate it from the term neurotic in a career test A M I T Y L A W S C H O O L
  26. 26. III Facets include anxiety, anger, depression, self-consciousness, immoderation and vulnerability. May be afraid of specific situations or be just generally fearful.  Persons low in anxiety generally calm and fearless Persons who score high in anger feel enraged when things do not go their way. Whether or not the person expresses annoyance and hostility depends on the individual's level on agreeableness. Low scorers do not get angry often or easily. Depression measures the tendency to feel sad, dejected, and discouraged. High scorers lack energy and have difficult initiating activities. Feel shy and uncomfortable abound others and easily embarrassed that make these fears a self-fulfilling prophecy. Low scorers, in contrast, do not feel nervous in social situations. Immoderate individuals feel strong cravings and urges that they have difficulty resisting. Tend to be oriented toward short-term pleasures and rewards rather than long-term consequences. Low scorers do not experience strong, irresistible cravings and consequently do not find themselves tempted to overindulge High scorers on vulnerability experience panic, confusion, and helplessness when under pressure or stress. Low scorers feel more poised, confident, and clear-thinking when stressed A M I T Y L A W S C H O O L
  27. 27. Environment  Like my mother, I too have a short fuse and tend to lose my cool even over insignificant things and tend to carry long-term prejudices against my family members too even when they may not be entirely responsible for it. I am not overtly social but I not unsocial either. I am easily dejected and disheartened by falling grades in University and hyper-nervous on the days of my exams, even panic. Yet I was extremely happy when my first published book was released, during family vacations, shopping and dining out and remain thankful to my hosts for indulging me.  My mother has characteristics similar to mine  In contrast, my father gets extremely angry at times, even flushed, but, after cooling down, is generally in a forgiving mood. However, it is often difficult to judge who he forgives and those he does not, oblivious of the closeness of their relationship with him. Yet he does not care much for what people think of him and not easily fazed by failure. In fact, his agreeable facet more than compensates for his failings on the neuroticism front.  My paternal grandfather shows occasional outbursts of temper but is forever contemplating future possible courses of action to remedy wrong or taking appropriate decisions for the family. He is certainly dejected on some counts, viz. that his friends (he is 91 years old now) are passing away, he is no longer as nimble and physically strong as he was and suffers major ailments. Yet these do not faze him as he remains a voracious reader, television addict, an addictive conversationist that attracts new friends by the day and is a regular invitee at many senior citizens’ meets, et al. A M I T Y L A W S C H O O L
  28. 28. How is Personality Shaped-I*?  Personality is shaped not only by external factors but by internalized ones as well  Also shaped by handed down customs and conventions, physiological changes, maturation, physical environment, availability of resources, etc.  Twin studies suggest that heritability and environmental factors equally influence all five factors to the same degree  Among four recent twin studies, the mean percentage for heritability was calculated for each personality and it was concluded that heritability influenced the five factors broadly. The self-report measures were as follows: openness to experience was estimated to have a 57% genetic influence, extraversion 54%, conscientiousness 49%, neuroticism 48%, and agreeableness 42%  Many studies of longitudinal data, which correlate people's test scores over time, and cross-sectional data, which compare personality levels across different age groups, show a high degree of stability in personality traits during adulthood. It is shown that the personality stabilizes for working-age individuals within about four years after starting working * Refer companion research paper for references A M I T Y L A W S C H O O L
  29. 29. Was Charles Schwab Right?  Personality combines the Big Five variables with six control variables each, all eleven of which have billions of permutations and combinations that determine the personality of human beings on the terra firma of planet Earth  Akin to perfumes that blend fragrances from millions of flowers, oils and other extracts to create mind-boggling combinations jostling for space on store shelves  Again, like all perfumes, no two humans are identical in their respective personalities, not even identical twins  Such diversity within families (such as mine by illustration) and individuals within and outside them are the essence of humankind.  Equally, it would violate the laws of Nature to have a unified nature of humankind that would militate and be incapable of sustaining such population.  As the French aviator and novelist, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry aptly remarked “He who is different from me does not impoverish me - he enriches me. Our unity is constituted in something higher than ourselves - in Man... For no man seeks to hear his own echo, or to find his reflection in the glass.” Charles Schwab – Q.E.D. A M I T Y L A W S C H O O L
  30. 30. A M I T Y L A W S C H O O L