Personality Psychology – Introduction
May 6, 2013
Common ways of thinking about personality
- ―Good personality‖
o Global quality (fun, nice person, sometimes: opposite of attractive)
o Often contrasted with attractiveness
Blind dates: lacks visual attractiveness (―They are NICE)
- Energy of liveliness
o Person has ―personality‖ or ―a lot of personality‖
(Fun to be around)
Take the Pig Personality Test
- Get out a piece of paper and draw a pig!
- There are no rules – just draw whatever you like
- Don’t look at the next slide until you’re finished drawing your pig
What does your drawing say about you?
- Toward the top of the paper, you are positive and optimistic
- Toward the middle, you are a realist
- Toward the bottom, you are pessimistic, and have a tendency to behave negatively
- Facing left, you believe in tradition, are friendly, and remember dates (birthdays, etc.)
- Facing right, you are innovative and active, but don’t have a strong sense of family, nor
do you remember dates
- Facing front (looking at you), you are direct, enjoy playing devil’s advocate and neither
fear nor avoid discussions
- With many details, you are analytical, cautious, and distrustful
- With few details, you are emotional and naïve, you care little for details and are a risk-
- With less than 4 legs showing, you are insecure or are living through a period of major
- With 4 legs showing, you are secure, stubborn, and stick to your ideals
- The size of the ears indicates how good of a listener you are
- The bigger the better
- The length of the tail indicates the quality of your romantic life
- The more the better
- An organized and relatively enduring set of psychological traits and mechanisms that
influences a person’s interactions with, and adaptations to, the environment
Allows them to work together in one unit
o Relatively enduring
Over time/situations, a person will exhibit these qualities
o Trait AND mechanisms The way the person interacts with the environment
How particular things impact the person to create an effect
o Interactions with, adaptations to environment
What we consider someone’s personality will only be evident when they
are interacting in their environment
Personality influence changes they make/pressure environment is
putting on them/influences how they adapt to environment
Main issues of interest
- What is the basic nature of people?
o The need to belong/how we adapt to pressure being put on us
o Need for affiliation
o Addressing things that are common to all people
How it varies from one person to another person
- Is human internally of externally determined?
o Are they determined by a person’s unconscious mind?
o What causes them to behave in a certain way? Internal or external
o Situation has a large impact on behavior
- How consistent is personality?
o Consistency over time/development (what are the traits likely to change or stay
- Can we control internal states and behavior?
o Whether or not we can control our internal states or behavior
o Is it affected by gender/age
- Is present and future behavior determined by past behavior?
o To what extent can past behavior affect present and future behavior?
- How adaptive (positive) are certain aspects of personality?
o How those personality traits help us adapt to certain situations
o Overcome difficulties
o Can they be fostered in people or encouraged?
o Are there any aspects that are innate?
o Can it be learned?
- How do our personalities help us to adjust to the environment?
o How does certain personality traits help us adapt to change?
Areas of interest and research
- Originally, psychologists sought to understand the whole of personality (see ―grand
theories of personality‖)
o Grand theories of personality: Explain everything about someone’s personality
o Sigmund Freud – theories of how people function/human development
Try to use one overarching system of human functioning
- Modern work within one of a number of subareas or domains
―Building blocks‖ of personality
- Self and identity
- Regulatory and motivational
- Social and cultural
- Adjustment Trait/Dispositional
- Ways in which individuals differ
- Casually talking about personality (i.e. nice, introverted, extroverted)
- Focus on # and nature of fundamental traits
o Essentially trying to look for the basic traits, best for describing people
- Goals of work in area:
o Identify and measure most important ways individuals differ
Psychometrics – designing tests to measure human nature/functioning
o Origin and development of individuals differences
How they develop over time, and where the traits came from (inmates?
Or if traits do not change over a persons lifetime