Chapter 12: Personality
Personality: An individual’s characteristic style of behaving, thinking and feeling.
Personality: What it is and How It is Measured:
Explanations of personality differences are concerned with:
o Prior events that can shape an individuals’ personality
o Anticipated events that might motivate the person to reveal particular personality
The anticipated events emphasize that person’s own perspective and are intimate and
personal in the reflection of the person’s inner life.
Personality psychologists study questions of how our personalities are determined by
the forces in our mind, in our hereditary and in our environment and by the goals we
Measuring Personality: Personality Inventories:
The most popular technique to obtain objective data on personality is by using a popular
technique called self-report: a series of answers to a questionnaire that ask people to
indicate the extent to which sets of statement or adjectives accurately describe their own
behaviour or mental state. (T/F)
The research combines these answers to gain a gene real sense of the individual’s
How is the report created?
o You collect sets of self-descriptive statements that indicate different degrees of
personality characteristics. Then you add up the number of statement that
endorses that trait subtracted by the endorse that doesn’t indicate.
Good self-report scales can be constructed without attention to the specific content of
This actuarial method is used to measure personality even when the self-report items
are not clearly related in content to the characteristic being measured
The “actuarial method” is on basis of Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory: a
well-researched, clinical questionnaire used to access personality and psychological
The MMPI-2 measures tendencies towards clinical problems and unconventional ideas
or bizarre thoughts and beliefs, along with general personality characteristics, as well as
degree of masculine and feminine gender role identification, sociability versus social
inhabitation and impulsivity
MMP1-2 is easy to administer (paper and pencil), limited biases.
Response style (don’t always agree or agree or always disagrees): how accurate
reading of personality will occur if people provide honest responses, that may be
The validity scale cannot make these problems go away, but they detect them well
enough to make these inventories effective.
another tool evaluation personality is projective techniques: a standard series of
ambiguous stimuli designed to elicit unique responses that reveal inner aspects of an
The developers assumed that the people will project personality factor out of awareness
onto ambiguous stimuli and will not censor these responses. The best technique is Rorschah Inkbot Test, a projective personality test in which
individual interpretation of the meaning of a set of instructed inkblots are analyzed to
identify a respondent’s inner feeling and interpret his or her personality structure
Someone who is unable to see the obvious item when they respond to a blot may be
having difficulty perceiving the world as other do.
Rorschah captures some of the more complex and private aspects of personality
Thematic Apperception: is a projective personality test in which respondents reveal
underlining motives, concerns, and the way they see the social world through the stories
they make about ambiguous pictures of people.
Many of the TAT drawings end to elicit a consistent set of themes. These test are open
to subjective interpretation and theoretic biases of the examiner.
These projective tests area way of getting to know someone personally and intuitively
but is not a reliable or valid in predicting behaviour.
New personality methods are moving beyond personality inventories and projective
tests- e.g. wireless communication, real-time computer analysis etc.
The Trait Approach: identifying Patterns of Behaviour:
The trait approach to personality uses trait terms to characterize differences among
Trait theorist face two challenges: narrowing down the most infinite set of adjectives and
answering the more basic questions of why people have particular traits
Traits as Behavioural Disposition and Motives:
Gordon allport: believed that people could be described in terms of traits
Traits: relatively stable disposition to behave in a particular and consistent way.
There are two basic ways in which a trait might serve as an explanation: the trait may be
pre-existing disposition of the person that causes the person`s behaviour , or it may be a
motivation that guides the person`s behaviour
Henry Murray: suggest that traits reflect motives
Researchers examining traits as causes have used personality inventories to measure
them, whereas those examining traits as motives have more often used projective test
What type of personality traits have been studies
o The right-wing authorities, the tendency towards political conservatism,
obedience to authority and conformity.
The Search for Core Traits:
Classification Using Language:
Psychologist propose that core traits could be discerned by finding the main themes in
all adjectives use to describe personality
“Factor analysis” sorts trait terms or self-descriptions into a small number of underlying
dimensions or factors, based on how people use the traits to rate themselves.
Hans Eysenck simplified things with a model of personality with only two major traits-
o One dimensions that distinguished people who are sociable and active from
those who are more introspective and quiet. His second dimensions ranges from
being neurotic or emotionally unstable to being emotionally stable. (extroverts vs.
The Big Five Dimensions of Personality: Big Five: the traits of the five-factor model, conscientiousness, agreeableness,
openness to experience and extraversion
The big five is preferred because of 5 reasons:
o The techniques confirm that this set of five factors strike the right balance
between accounting variation in personality without overlapping traits
o These traits are common among people that describe themselves and in
interviewer checklists and behavioural observations
o The basic five-factor shows up across a wide range of participants, including
children, adults and in other cultures.
Research has shown that the Big Five are associated with predicable patterns of
behaviour and social outcomes
The big five has shown that people’s personality tend to remain stable through their life
Traits as Biological Building Blocks:
immutable brain and biological process reduce the remarkable stability of traits over the
Allport viewed traits as a characteristic of the brain that influence the way the people
respond to the environment.
Presences of brain pathologies tend to have a severe change in personality-along with
change in brain chemistry.
Genes Traits and Personality:
The most important biological factors in personality come from the behavioural genes
More genes you have in common with someone, the more similar your personalities are
likely to be
Simply growing up in the same family does not make people very similar.
The biological factor may then shape the person’s believe about a range of social issues
Do Animals Have personalities?
Another source of evidence for the biological basis of human personality comes from the
study of nonhuman animals.
In all animals studies, researches identified particular behaviours that they felt reflected
each trait based on their observation of the animal’s normal repertoire activities
Since different observers seem to agree on where an animal falls on a dimension, the
findings do not simply reflect a particular observer’s imagination tendency to
anthroporomophize (to attribute human characteristics to non human animals)
Differences in personality reflect alternative adaptations that species have evolved to
deal with the challenges of survival and reproduction.
Through the process of natural selection, those characteristics have shown the success
of the evolutionary struggle for survival.
The Traits In the Brain:
Eysench said that extraversion and introversion arises from individual differences in
He argued that differences in level of cortical arousal underline differences between
extraverts and introverts.
Extraverts pursue stimulation because their reticular formation (reflates
arouse/alertness) is not easily stimulated, this they seek for attention
While the introverts have a cortex that is easily stimulated Jeffery Gray: he proposed that the dimension of extra/introversion and neuroticism
reflect 2 basic brain systems.
Behavioural activation system, essentially “a go system, activates the approach
behaviour in anticipation of a reward (Extrovert have high BAS)
The behavioural inhibition system, a “stop” system, inhibits in response to stimuli
signalling punishment (emotionally unstable person has high BIS)
The Psychodynamic Approach: Forces that lie beneath Awareness
Freud: looked for personality in the details-the meanings and insights revealed by
Psychoanalysis: refers to his theory of personality and method of treating patients
Psychodynamic approach: an approach that regards personality as formed y need,
striving and desires largely operating outside of awareness-motives that can also
produce emotional disorders.
Dynamic unconscious: an active system encompassing a lifetime of hidden memories,
the person’s deepest instincts and desires and the person’s inner struggle to control
The power of the unconscious comes from experiences that shaped the mind before a
person could put any thoughts and feelings into words
The Structure of the Mind:
Id: is the part of the mind containing the drives present at birth, it is the source of out
bodily needs, wants, desires and impulses, particularly our sexual and aggressive
Id operates on the pleasure principle: force that motivates the tendency to seek
immediate gratification of nay impulse
Ego: is the component of personality, developed through contact with the external world.
That enables us to deal with life’s piratical demands
Ego operates on the reality principle: regulating mechanism that enables the individual to
delay gratifying immediate needs and function effectively in the real world
Superego: the mental system that reflects the internalization of cultural rules, mainly
learns as parent exercise their authority
The superego consists of guidelines, internal standards, and other codes of conducts
that regulate and contrail behaviours, thoughts and fantasies.
The id forces personal needs. Superego forces of social pressure to quell those needs,
and the ego forces of reality demands together.
Dealing with inner conflict:
Id, ego, superego are governed by anxiety, unpleasant feeling that arise. This occurs
when the id seeks a gratification that the ego thinks will lead to real-world danger or the
superego sees as eliciting punishment.
The ego will receive an “alert signal” and will launch into “defensive position”. It will first
try “repression”-mental process that remove painful experiences and unacceptable
impulses from the conscious mind->motivated forgetting
When the material surfaces, the ego undergoes a defense mechanism: unconscious
coping mechanisms that reduce anxiety generated by threats and unacceptable
impulses. Such mechanisms include
o Rationalization: defense mechanism that involves supplying a reasonable-
sounding explanation for acceptance feelings and behaviour to conceal one’s
underlining motives or feelings o Reaction formation: is a defense mechanism that involves unconsciously
replacing threatening inner wishes and fantasies with an exaggerated version of
their opposites (e.g. homophobia)
o Projection: defense mechanism that involves attributing one’s own threatening
feelings, motives or impulses to another person or group.
o Protection: defense mechanism that involves attributing one’s own threatening
feelings, motives or impulses to another person or group
o Regression: defense mechanism in which the ego deals with internal conflict
and perceived threat by reverting t an immature behaviour or earlier stage of
o Displacement: defense mechanism that involves shifting unacceptable wishes
or drives to a neutral or less threatening alternative
o Identification: defense mechanism that helps deal with feelings of threat and
anxiety by enabling us unconsciously to take on the characteristic of another
person who seems more powerful or better able to cope
o sublimation: defense mechanism that involves channeling unacceptable sexual
or aggressive drives into socially acceptable and