WHAT IS PERSONALITY?
Personality: A distinctive and relatively enduring way of thinking, feeling and acting
that characterize a person’s responses to life situations
-Only modest stability is found from childhood to adulthood but consistency becomes
greater as we enter adulthood
The thoughts, feelings and actions that reflect personality have 3 characteristics:
1) Seen as components of identity that distinguish that person from other people
2) Their behaviors are viewed as being caused by internal rather than situational
3) The behaviors “fit together” in a meaningful fashion, suggesting an inner
personality that guides and directs behavior
Recall that a theory is scientifically useful to the extent that it:
1) Provides a framework for which known facts can be incorporated
2) Allows us to predict future events
3) Stimulates the discovery of new knowledge
PSYCHODYNAMIC PERSPECTIVE ON PERSONALITY
-Freud studied patients with hysteria (blindness, paralysis) and when they recalled their
repressed aggressive/sexual past experiences, they felt better – PSYCHOANALYSIS
(FREE ASSOCIATION = TALKING WITH NO RESTRICTIONS).
-Freud was a cocaine user
-Inspired by the hydraulic models of the 19 -century, Freud coined the term psychic
energy: what powers the mind and constantly presses for either direct or indirect release.
Instinctual drives are what generate psychic energy.
-Mental events can be:
1) Conscious (mental events we are presently aware of)
2) Preconscious (unaware of them but they can easily be recalled)
3) Unconscious (a dynamic realm of wishes, feelings, and impulses that lies beyond our
awareness – only when they are discharged in some way such as in dreams do they come
into our awareness)
Freud divided personality into 3 separate but interacting structures:
a. exists completely within the unconscious mind
b. core of the personality c. present at birth
d. source of ALL psychic energy
e. operates according to the pleasure principle: it seeks immediate
gratification or release, regardless of rational considerations
ID cannot satisfy itself because it has no contact with the outer world so the ego
a. Functions primarily at a conscious level
b. Operates according to the reality principle: it tests reality to decide when
and under what conditions the id can safely discharge its impulses and
satisfy its needs
c. DELAYS gratification
d. “Executive of the personality” because it must compromise between the
demands of the id, the constraints of the superego, and the demands of
The last personality structure to develop is the “moral arm”:
a. Develops by the age of 4 or 5
b. Contains the values and ideals of society
c. Strives to control the instincts of the id
d. BLOCKS (tries to block) id gratification permanently
e. E,g, a married women in a certain culture feeling guilty after sex because
her culture considers it “dirty”
When the ego confronts impulses that threaten to get out of control or is faced with
dangers from the environment, anxiety results.
When realistic strategies (e.g. engaging in rational discussion when you are angry at
someone) are ineffective, the ego may resort to defense mechanisms that deny or distort
reality. (SEE TABLE 12.1 P514)
*Relying too much on defense mechanisms causes dysfunctional/maladaptive
Repression: the ego uses some of its energy to prevent anxiety-arousing memories,
impulses etc. from entering consciousness.
Sublimination: the ego channels the id’s desires into socially acceptable things
Denial: Refusing to acknowledge the anxiety-arousing aspects (e.g. cancer)
Displacement: First repressed, then directed at a safer target Intellectualization: Repressed, and then the situation is dealt with as an intellectually
interesting event (e.g. getting dumped and then talking about the “interesting
unpredictability of love relationships”)
Projection: Repressed then attributed to (projected onto) other people
Rationalization: A lie to justify what you are doing A person constructs a false but
plausible explanation or excuse for an anxiety-arousing behavior or event that has already
occurred (e.g. “ya I cheated but the tests are so unfair plus everyone else was cheating)
Reaction Formation: Repressed and then the psychic energy is released in an
exaggerated expression of the opposite behavior (e.g. a mother who harbors feelings of
hatred for her child represses them and becomes overprotective of her child)
Freud: Children pass through a series of psychosexual stages during which the id’s
pleasure-seeking tendencies are focused on specific pleasure-sensitive areas of the body
called erogenous zones (mouth, anus, genitals, none, genitals).
*If there is either excessive or inadequate gratification at a particular stage (at an
erogenous zone), fixation at that stage occurs and adult personality is affected.
-Fixation = self-indulgence, dependency
-fixation = compulsive cleanliness, rigid rules
-fixation = homosexuality, authority problems
-period of dominant sexuality; developing social relationships
-Formation of mature social and sexual relationships
In Phallic Stage:
Oedipal crisis: Greek story of Oedipus who inadvertently killed dad and married mom Move from sexual attachment to opposite-sex parent to identify with same-sex
parent (*Milestone in gender identity).
Castration anxiety: all boys are afraid someone is going to cut off their penis
Penis envy: every girl wants a penis
RESEARCH OF PSYCHOANALYTIC THEORY
-Freud rejected experimental research, believing that the complex phenomena he
discovered could not be studied under controlled conditions.
-Only did clinical (today we believe this does not contain enough proof).
EVALUATING PSYCHOANALYTIC THEORY
-Hard to make clear-cut behavioral predictions, making the theory untestable (e.g. if you
predict someone will act aggressively but they act lovingly, does this disprove the theory
or is this some form of repression?).
FREUD’S LEGACY: NEOANALYTIC AND OBJECT RELATIONS APPROACHES
Neoanalysts = psychoanalysts who disagreed with certain aspects of Freud’s thinking
and developed their own theories.
2 major criticisms:
1) Stressed infantile sexuality too much and ignored cultural aspects
2) Laid too much emphasis on the events of childhood in the development of adult
Humans are inherently social beings who are motivated by:
1) Social interest (the desire to advance the welfare of others)
2) Striving for Superiority which drives people to compensate for real or imagined
defects in themselves (the inferiority complex) and to strive to be ever more
competent in life.
Developed his own theory of analytic psychology by expanding Freud’s notion of the
1) Personal unconscious (based on their life experiences)
2) Collective unconscious (consists of memories accumulated throughout the entire
history of the human race) *These memories are repressed by archetypes, inherited tendencies to interpret
experiences in certain ways (archetypes find expression in symbols, myths, and
beliefs that appear across many cultures such as the image of G-d).
e.g. the heart, throughout the world, is a symbol of love
Object Relations Theories focus on the images or mental representations that people
form of themselves and other people as a result of early experience with caregivers.
1) Whether realistic or distorted, these internal representations of important adults
(e.g. the mother as kind or malevolent) become lenses or “working models”
through which later social interactions are viewed and these relational themes
exert an unconscious influence on a person’s relationship throughout life.
2) People who have difficulty forming and maintaining intimate relationships tend to
mentally represent themselves and other in negative ways, expecting painful
interaction and attributing malevolence or rejection to others.
e.g. child-abusing parents often have mental representations of their own parents
as punitive, rejecting and abusive.
HUMANISTIC PERSPECTIVE ON PERSONALITY
Emphasize the consciousness role and how humans strive to be good and to attain self-
actualization – the total realization of one’s human potential.
Carl Roger’s Self-Theory:
Self conept= organized, consistent, set of perceptions of and beliefs about oneself.
*Once formed, the self plays a powerful role in guiding our perceptions and directing our
Infants: cannot distinguish between self and the environment.
Once the self is established:
We have needs for:
self-consistency – an absence of conflict among self-perceptions
self-congruency – consistency between self-perceptions and experience.
Any experience that we have that is inconsistent with our self-concept, including our
perceptions of our own behavior evokes threat and anxiety.
Well-adjusted individuals Those with “problems in living”
Respond to threat adaptively by modifying Deny or distort their experiences to remove
the self-concept so that the experiences are the incongruence.
congruent with the self.
e.g. A woman doesn’t like a man so he e.g. A woman doesn’t like a man so he
goes: “well I can’t be attractive to all denies her lack of interest: “she’s playing
women” hard to get”. Depressed people perpetuate their depression by maintaining negative images of
themselves: If a man believes he is unattractive and a women expresses interest, instead
of adaptively revising his self-image, he might find it necessary to give a congruent
explanation: “she is just being nice”.
Rogers: people are frequently pushed by self-consistency needs to behave in accord
with their self-concept:
So it ALSO influences BEHAVIOR (self-fulfilling prophecies).
The degree of consistency between self-concept and experience helps define one’s
level of adjustment.
If there is a significant degree of incongruence between self and experience, and the
experiences are forceful enough, the defenses used to deny and distort reality may
collapse, resulting in extreme anxiety and a temporary disorganization of the self-
THE NEED FOR POSITIVE REGARD
We are born with an innate need for positive regard – for acceptance, sympathy, and
love from others.
Unconditional positive regard communicates that the child is inherently worthy of love
(e.g. from parents).
Conditional positive regard is dependent on how the child behaves.
Need for positive self-regard – we also need positive regard from ourselves.
Lack of unconditional positive regard from parents or others can lead to:
Conditions of worth – what dictates when we approve or disapprove of ourselves.
e.g. If parents gave disapproval whenever the child became angry, they will start to
disapprove of themselves when they become angry, even if the anger is justified!
Rogers: Conditions of worth can tyrannize people and cause major incongruence between
self and experience.
FULLY FUNCTIONING PERSONS
Fully functioning persons have achieved self-actualization and do not hide behind
masks or adopt artificial roles.
Integrate experiences into the self with minimal distortion!
They do not modify the inner and outer experiences defensively in order to suit a
rigid self-concept or the expectations of others. RESEARCH ON THE SELF
Rogers stimulated 2 topics with his research on self-concept:
1) The development of self-esteem and its effects on behavior
2) The roles played by self-enhancement and self-consistency motives
Self-esteem = how positively or negatively we feel about ourselves
e.g. Positive feedback from coaches can foster higher self-esteem and can cause children
to revise their self-concepts in a positive direction
*Unstable or unrealistically high self-esteem may be even more dangerous to the
individual and to society than low self-esteem because when threatened, the individuals
may act aggressively and violently.
*A failure at an activity when the goal is to enhance self-esteem is more damaging than
when the goal is to master the task
Self-verification = the need to preserve your self-concept by maintaining self-
consistency and congruence. You want ppl to see you as you see yourself
e.g. participants received fake feedback in the form of adjectives that were inconsistent
with their self-concepts. Later, when asked to recall and identify the adjectives that had
been attributed to them, they showed greater recall for the consistent adjectives (people
selectively attend to and recall self-consistent information).
Also goes the other way:
People with negative self-views are more likely to drop out of relationships if the spouse
appraises them favorably.
Self-enhancement = the strong and pervasive tendency to gain and preserve a positive
(e.g. attribute successes to personal factors and failures to situational factors).
CULTURE, GENDER AND THE SELF
-The social embeddedness of the collectivist Japanese culture was reflected int heir self-
perceptions (“I am a sister”), as was cultural individualism in the Americans’ self-
concepts (“I am honest”).
-Gender-role socialization provides us with gender schemas – organized mental
structures that contain our understanding of the attributes and behaviors that are
appropriate and expected for males and females.
*Men’s self-concepts tend to be more individualistic and women’s self-concepts tend to
be more collectivistic (due to gender-role socialization). RESEARCH FRONTIERS: STRESSED BY SUCCESS
-Whether success makes a person feel good or anxious and whether or not someone
acts to improve a bad mood depends importantly on their self-esteem.
-Positive life events are associated with better physical health among those with high
self-esteem, but with more illness among those with low self-esteem.
-This is because those with low self-esteem do not savor the moment or have pride for
themselves, but they worry about the future and that they won’t be able to maintain their
EVALUATING HUMANISTIC THEORY
-Focuses too much on individual’s reports of their experiences
-Great at proving theory:
Rogers measured the discrepancy between clients’ ideal selves (how they would like to
be) and their perceived selves (their perceptions of what they are).
-This discrepancy shortened throughout the process of psychotherapy, suggesting that
therapy may help the client become more self-accepting and realistic.
SOCIAL COGNITIVE THEORIES
*Humans do not passively get influenced by the environment: instead, their me