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Chapter 12

PSYC 1002 Chapter 12: PSYC1002 Chapter 12 Notes

Course Code
PSYC 1002
Chris Motz

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The Nature of Personality
Defining Personality: Consistency and Distinctiveness
o Personality is used to explain
1. The stability in a person’s behaviour across time & across situations
2. The behavioural differences among people reacting to the same situation
o Personality: an individual’s unique constellation of consistent behavioural traits
Personality Traits: Dispositions and Dimensions
o Personality trait: a durable disposition to behave in a particular way in a variety of
o Cattell used the statistical procedure of factor analysis to reduce a huge list of
personality traits
Factor analysis: correlations among many variables are analyzed to
identify closely related clusters of variables
Used to identify hidden factors
Concluded that an individual’s personality can be described completely by
measuring just 16 traits
The Five-Factor Model of Personality Traits
o “Big Five” – the five higher-order traits
1. Extraversion (positive emotionality)
Outgoing, sociable, upbeat, friendly, assertive & gregarious
Tend to be happier than others
Have a more positive outlook on life
Motivated to pursue social contact, intimacy & interdependence
2. Neuroticism (negative emotionality)
Anxious, hostile, self-conscious, insecure & vulnerable
Tend to overreact more in response to stress than others
Tend to exhibit more impulsiveness & emotional instability
3. Openness to experience
Curiosity, flexibility, vivid fantasy, imaginativeness, artistic
sensitivity & unconventional attitudes
Tend to be tolerant of ambiguity
Have less need for closure on issues than others
McCrae maintains this trait = the key determinant of people’s
political attitudes & ideology
4. Agreeableness
Sympathetic, trusting, cooperative, modest & straightforward
Constructive approaches to conflict resolution less quarrelsome
than others
Correlated w empathy & helping behaviour
5. Conscientiousness
Diligent, disciplined, well-organized, punctual & dependable
Strong self-discipline & ability to regulate one-self effectively
o Predictive of important life incomes (ex. grades, career success & divorce)
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Psychodynamic Perspectives
Psychodynamic theories: all of the diverse theories descended from the work of Sigmund
Freud, which focus on unconscious mental forces
Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory
o Structure of Personality
Behaviour = the outcome of interactions among the id, ego & superego
Id: the primitive, instinctive component of personality that operates
according to the pleasure principle
Houses the raw biological urges (to eat, sleep, copulate, etc.) that
energize human behaviour
Operates according to the pleasure principle (demands immediate
gratification of its urges)
Engages in primary-process thinking primitive, illogical,
irrational & fantasy-oriented
Ego: the decision-making component of personality that operates according
to the reality principle
Mediates between the id & the external social world
o Has forceful desires for immediate satisfaction
o Has expectations & norms regarding suitable behaviour
Considers social realities society’s norms, etiquette, rules &
customs in deciding how to behave
Guided by the reality principle (seeks to delay gratification of the
id’s urges until appropriate outlets & situations can be found)
Engages in secondary-process thinking relatively rational,
realistic & oriented toward problem solving
Strives to avoid negative consequences from society & its
representatives by behaving “properly”
Superego: the moral component of personality that incorporates social
standards about what represents right & wrong
Emerges out of the ego around 3-5 years of age
Can become irrationally demanding in its striving for moral
perfection excessive feelings of guilt
o Level of Awareness
Conscious: whatever one is aware of at a particular point in time
Preconscious: material just beneath the surface of awareness that can easily
be retrieved
Unconscious: thoughts, memories & desires that are well below the surface
of conscious awareness but that nonetheless exert great influence on
Ex. childhood trauma & repressed sexual desires
Iceberg metaphor
Unconscious (mass below the surface) = larger than the others
Ego & superego operate at all three levels of awareness
Id = entirely unconscious
o Expresses its urges @ a conscious level through the ego
Id’s desires for immediate satisfaction often trigger internal conflicts
w the ego & superego
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o Conflict and the Tyranny of Sex and Aggression
Assumed that behaviour = the outcome of an ongoing series of internal
Saw internal battles between the id, ego & superego as routine
Believed that people’s lives = dominated by conflict
Asserted that individuals careen from one conflict to another
Believed conflicts centering on sexual & aggressive impulses = especially
likely to have far-reaching consequences
Thought sex & aggression = subject to more complex & ambiguous
social controls than other basic motives the source of much
Sexual & aggressive drives = thwarted more regularly than other
basic biological urges
o Anxiety and Defence Mechanisms
Conflicts in the unconscious can produce anxiety that slips to the surface of
conscious awareness
Can be attributed to the ego worrying about:
o The id getting out of control & doing something terrible that
leads to severe negative consequences
o The superego getting out of control & creating feelings of
guilt about a real or imagined transgression
Arousal of anxiety = crucial to Freud’s theory of personality
Efforts to ward off anxiety involves the use of defence mechanisms
Defence mechanisms: largely unconscious reactions that protect a person
from unpleasant emotions (mental maneuvers through self-deception)
Rationalization: creating false but plausible excuses to justify
unacceptable behaviour
o Ex. reducing guilt after cheating by rationalizing that
“everyone does it”
Repression: keeping distressing thoughts & feelings buried in the
o Most basic & widely used defence mechanism
o “Motivated forgetting”
o Ex. forgetting the name of someone you don’t like
Projection: attributing one’s own thoughts, feelings or motives to
o Ex. attributing sexual tension with another person as the
other person’s desire to seduce you
Displacement: diverting emotional feelings (usually anger) from
their original source to a substitute target
o Ex. coming home & yelling at family after bad day at work
Reaction formation: behaving in a way that’s exactly the opposite
of one’s true feelings
o Often caused by guilt about sexual desires
o Ex. spoiling a child bc. you hate it
Regression: a reversion to immature patterns of behaviour
o Ex. adult has a temper tantrum when he doesn’t get his way
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