Ch 12- Personality: Theory, Research, and Assessment
The famous five : Nellie McClung, Irene Parlby, Emily Murphy, Henrietta Muir Edwards,
and Louise Crummy McKinney
The Nature of Personality
Defining Personality : Consistency and Distinctiveness
The concept of personality is used to explain (1) the stability in a person`s behaviour over
time across situations (consistency) and (2) the behavioural differences among people
reacting to the same situation (distinctiveness).
Personality - refers to an individual`s unique constellation of consistent behavioural traits.
Personality Traits: Dispositions and Dimensions
is a durable disposition to behave in a particular way in a variety of
Personality trait -
situations (For example, some dispositions that represent personality traits are : honest,
dependable, moody, impulsive, suspicious, anxious, excitable, domineering, and friendly).
Raymond Cattell used statistical procedure of factor analysis to reduce a huge list of
personality traits complied by Gordon Allport to just 16 basic dimensions of personality.
Factor analysis - correlations among many variables are analyzed to identify closely related
clusters of variables.
If the measurements of number of variables correlate highly with one another, the
assumption is that a single factor is influencing all of them. Factor analysis is used to find
these hidden factors; which are viewed as very basic, higher-order traits that determine less
basic, more specific traits.
The Five- Factor Model of Personality Traits
Robert McCrae and Paul Costa have used factor analysis to arrive at an even simpler, five-
factor model of personality; they maintain that most personality traits are derived from just
five higher- order traits that have come to be known as the ``Big Five``:
Extraversion : (sometimes referred to positive emotionality) outgoing, sociable,
upbeat, friendly, assertive, and gregarious.
Neuroticism: (sometimes referred to negative emotionality) anxious, hostile, self-
conscious, insecure, and vulnerable; they also overreact more in response to stress then
Openness to Experience : curiosity, flexibility, vivid fantasy, imaginativeness,
artistic sensitivity, and unconventional attitudes; it fosters liberalism and McCrae
argues that this trait is the key determinant of people`s attitudes and ideology.
Agreeableness : sympathetic, trusting, cooperative, modest, and straightforward.
People at the oppostie end of this personality dimension are suspicious, antagonistic,
and aggressive; agreeableness is associated with constructive approaches to conflict
resolution (less quarrelsome then others).
Conscientiousness : (sometimes referred to as constraint) diligent, disciplined,
well-organized, punctual, and dependable; highly diligent in the workplace. All of the above personality traits are related to several aspects of life: academic
performance, marriage/ divorce, occupational attainment, health, ect.
Critics argue that: 1) the higher- order traits that emerge in factor analysis depend to some
extent on the exact mix of the much larger set of low- order that are measured in the first
place and 2) more than five traits are necessary to account for most of the variation seen in
Psychodynamic theories - include all of the diverse theories descended from the work of
Sigmund Freud, which focus on unconscious mental forces.
Freud's Psychoanalytic Theory
Freud started off as a neurologist, not a psychologist
On the basis of things he saw, he began to develop his theory of personality ( the sexual
repression of the Victorian era and the effects of World War I influenced Freud's theories
Psychoanalytic theory attempts to explain personality, motivation, and psychological
disorders by focusing on the influence of early childhood experiences, on unconscious
motives and conflicts, and on the methods people use to cope with their sexual and
First - he argued that people's behaviour is governed by conscious factors of which they are
unaware, Freud said that individuals are not masters of their own mind.
Second- in claiming that adult personalities are shaped by childhood experiences and other
factors beyond one's control, he suggested that people are not masters of their own destines.
Third - by emphasizing the great importance of how people cope with their sexual urges.
At first, a lot of his ideas were not very well received, but some were eventually accepted (
psychodynamic implies an offshoot of Freud's original theory)
A lot of his claims are really hard to substantiate, however, most psychologists agree with
aspects of his theories.
His approach: we are governed by unconscious conflicts
All individuals have two types of instincts: life instincts (libido = sexual energy) and death
instincts (aggression/ self- destruction).
Freud believed that an individual is born with these two instincts are must keep them under
control throughout his/her life.
Structures of Personality
Id : is the primitive, instinctive component of personality that operates according to the
Pleasure principle: demands immediate gratification of its urges. (the id engages in
primary-process thinking, which is primitive, illogical, irrational and fantasy-
The reservoir of psychic energy; houses the raw biological urges (to eat sleep,
defecate, copulate, and so on) that energizes human behaviour.
Structure that contains the instincts, the "only" present at birth. Unconscious and has no contact with reality
It seeks indulgence
Based on the pleasure principal.
Id can reduce tension in two ways: 1) reflex activity - tension can be reduced, comes
naturally and 2) primary process thinking.
Ego: is the decision making component of personality that operates according to the reality
Reality principle: which seeks to delay gratification of the id's urges until appropriate
outlets and situations can be found. (to stay out of trouble, the ego often works to tame
the unbridled desires of the id).
The ego mediates between the id, with its forceful desires for immediate satisfaction,
and the external social world, with its expectations and norms regarding suitable
It also considers social realities in deciding how to behave.
Helps the id obtain real satisfaction
Is in contact with reality
Helps the id get satisfaction in socially acceptable ways
Strives for delay of gratification
Uses secondary process thinking (which is relatively rational, realistic, and oriented toward