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Theories of Personality.docx

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Lawrence Murphy

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Theories of Personality (Ch. 14) Personality  A distinctive and relatively stable pattern of behaviour, thoughts, motives, and emotions that characterizes an individual  Pattern may consist of many distinctive traits  Trait: a characteristic of an individual, describing a habitual way of behaving, thinking or feeling Psychoanalysis  A theory of personality and a method of psychotherapy that emphasizes unconscious motives and conflicts  Originally formulated by Sigmund Freud  Classified as psychodynamic as explains personality in terms of unconscious energy dynamis within the individual The Structure of Personality  Id: part of personality that contains inherited psychic energy, particularly sexual (libido) & aggressive impulses  Ego: part of personality that represents reason, good sense, and rational self-control  Superego: the part of personality that represents conscience, morality, and social standards Defence Mechanisms  When the id and superego are in conflict, the ego deals with this tension through the use of defence mechanisms o Methods used by the ego to prevent unconscious anxiety or threatening thoughts from entering consciousness o Many mechanisms proposed but some are more common than others Types of Defence Mechanisms 1. Repression: the selective, involuntary pushing the threatening or upsetting info into the unconscious 2. Projection: a person’s unacceptable or threatening feelings being repressed and then attributed to someone else 3. Displacement: when people direct their emotions (especially anger) toward things, animals, or other people that are not the real object of their feelings  Called sublimation when serves a higher cultural or social purpose 4. Reaction formation: when a feeling that produces unconscious anxiety is transformed into its opposite in consciousness 5. Regression: when a person reverts to a previous phase of psychological development 6. Denial: when people refuse to admit something unpleasant is happening, that they have a problem, or that they are feeling a forbidden emotion  Protects self-image and preserves illusion of invulnerability Development of Personality Freud’s psychosexual stages  A series of different forms of sexual energy into which personality develops as the child matures  Stages: oral, anal, phallic, latency, genital  Conflict & anxiety at each stage that must be resolved or will become fixated at that level o Oedipus complex: conflict in the phallic stage where a child desires the parent of the other sex and views the same-sex parent as a rival Other Psychodynamic Approaches  Jungian theory & collective unconscious o The universal memories and experiences of humankind, represented in symbols, stories, and images (archetypes) that occur across all cultures o Archetypes: symbolic images that appear in myths, art, stories, and dreams  Shadow: bestial, evil side of nature  Anima/ Animus: feminine & masculine (respectively) o Introversion/ extraversion as dimensions of personality  Object-relations school o Infant attachment to mother and mental representation of mother (ie. Type of person she is) o Representations of adults affect personality through life, influencing how a person relates to others Evaluating Psychodynamic Theories  Psychodynamic theories guilty of three scientific failings 1. Violating the principle of falsifiability 2. Drawing universal principles from the experiences of a few atypical patients 3. Basing theories of personality development on retrospective accounts of adults How to Avoid the “Barnum Effect”  When a person finds meaning in statements that could apply to many people o Beware of all-purpose descriptions that could apply to anyone o Beware of your own selective perceptions o Resist flattery and emotional reasoning Modern Study of Personality  Objective inventories o Standardized questionnaires requiring written responses o Typically include scales on which people are asked to rate themselves  Eg. Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) Core Personality Trait  Allport evaluated personality traits based on their influence on a person’s life o Central traits: aspects of personality that reflect a characteristic way of behaving, dealing with others, and reacting to new situations o Secondary traits: changeable aspects of personality  The Big 5 o Most researchers agree on the centrality of 5 core traits in personality 1. Extroversion vs. introversion 2. Neuroticism (negative emotionality) vs. emotional stability 3. Agreeableness vs. antagonism 4. Conscientiousness vs. impulsiveness 5. Openness to experience vs. resistance to new experience  Ie. Liberals = open, conservative = resistant o Culture and Age  People become more stable and conscientiousness over time Genetic Influences on Personality  Temper
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