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PSYCH 2B03 (108)
Chapter 19

Chapter 19 Summary

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Richard B Day

Chapter 19 - Personality brings together into a complete account of what people think, how they feel and what they do o Leads to theories that are deep & complex, empirical methodologies that are sophisticated, complicated and difficult - Important to ask – “what do I do now know about people that I didn’t know before?” - Psychologists attempting to learn about personality have taken several approaches Different Approaches - Field of personality involves study of the whole person and everything that is important about an individual’s psychology o Problem: it is impossible o Cannot account for everything at once – must limit ourselves to a certain perspective and the questions and variables that seem most important - Focus of approaches o Trait approach  focuses on individual differences, the personality traits that make every individual psychologically unique o Biological approach  concentrates on the architecture and function of the nervous system and on the heritability and evolutionary history of behavioural patterns o Psychoanalytic approach  focuses on the unconscious mind and the complicated effects of motivations and conflicts of which we are not even aware o Humanistic approach  focuses on moment to moment conscious awareness, and the way experiencing life one moment at a time might give us free will and the ability to choose how we see reality  Leads to appreciation of the way cultural differences create diversity construals of reality o Learning and cognitive approach  focuses on how rewards and punishments in the environment shape behaviour and how behaviour is in many ways a function of its situation o Modern cognitive approach  emphasizes basic mental processes relevant to perception, memory, motivation, emotion and the cluster of memories and attitudes called “the self” Which one is right? - To say which approach is right – they would have to give different answers to the same question but they pose different questions - In the end – all theories are wrong - 1. Each approach lives or dies by accounting for a limited set of known facts - 2. for being useful in the real world - 3. clarifying important facets of human nature - Criterion for evaluating psychological approach: o Does it offer a way to seek an answer to a question you feel is worthwhile? - Approaches: o Trait  asks about individual differences o Psychoanalytic  asks about the unconscious o Biological  asks about physical mechanisms o Humanistic  asks about consciousness, free will, individual and cultural construals of reality o Learning and cognitive  asks about behavioural change, process of thinking and feeling that underlie behavioural coherence Order of Approaches 1) Begin with author’s least favourite approach and end with most favourite o Portraying one approach as right and the others as wrong misses the point of why different approaches continue to exist and are important to learn about 2) Arranged in historical order – “more or less” o Behaviourism is old – research is new (reverse said about psychoanalysis) o Problem: strict chronological ordering is not necessarily intellectually coherent o Problem: looks like psychology marches on – misleading 3) Arrange in order that is most teachable o Psychology is not cumulative in one way but it is another– its findings don’t really build on earlier work but it branches off from, react to and interact with each other in a way that suggests an order in which to present them - Order: o Trait approach – raises basic issue that logically precedes all others – does personality exist – and b/c its focus on how people differ can be presented without much reference to other approaches o Biological – direct outgrowths of trait – examine neurostructure, bio-chemicals, genes, evolutionary histories produce broad patterns of behaviour called personality traits o Psychoanalytic – working of unconscious; behaviour as driven by irrational and mysterious impulses is count o Humanist – people can (even must) consciously choose their construals of reality  Essence of psychological differences b/w cultures is a matter of members of different cultures construing reality differently o Learning and cognitive – classic behaviourism  social learning theories  modern cognitive approaches that grew out of social learning  Research on perception, motivation, emotion and the self No single approach accounts for everything - Psychology has no Einstein (theory of relativity) or Darwin (evolution) to unify it - Most comprehensive theory probably belongs to Freud o Does not address conscious experience, free will, learning from experience, does not have empirical support (though this has begun to change) - Good thing there is no single unifying perspective 1) Any approach that tried to account for all the key concerns of the current five basic approaches would almost inevitably be confusing, incoherent and incomplete o Limits of each approach are not faults – are the purpose of these approaches o Self limitation helps to avoid becoming confused o Allows each basic approach to focus on providing a thorough account of, and useful knowledge about, the phenomena the approach is designed to address 2) Having no single unifying perspective is good b/c existence of alternative viewpoints keeps us open-minded toward phenomena that any one view may fail to include o Intellectual competition  prevents dogmatism, closed minds Choosing a basic approach - Choice should be based on 3 criteria 1) What do you want to understand – free will, individual differences, unconscious mind or shaping of behaviour? 2) Which approach is the most interesting to you? 3) Which basic approach offers you the best potential to do interesting work that can add to our knowledge? Maintaining an awareness of alternative approaches - Five reasons 1) To avoid arrogance and to keep from thinking that you know it all 2) Understand proper basis for evaluating alternative approaches o Each basic approach to personality tends to look irrelevant and even foolish from the point of view of the other approaches 3) Have a way of dealing with those psychological phenomena you will run across from time to time that do not fit into your favourite approach 4) Give yourself the change to change your mind later 5) At some point, it might make sense to integrate some of the different paradigms of personality psychology o Dream of psychologists – OBT (one big theory)  trait and learning (cognitive + social learning) – address many of the same phenomena from different (and not incompatible) angles  cognitive and social learning approach has close ties to humanistic and behaviourist approach  biological approach influencing everyone with each passing year  evolutionary reasoning is used increasingly often to answer questions about why the mind works the way it does, and genetic, biochemical and neurological knowledge is contributing to theories of how mental processes function and where they originate Cross situational Consistency and Aggregation - people remain who they are regardless of situation – psychologists still argue about “behavioural consistency” though o i.e. dominate business meeting – dominate party  research in trait paradigm has demonstrated consistency of dominance o i.e. pessimistic
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