Chapter 8 Personality

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18 Apr 2012
- Branches: ego psychology, theory of defense mechanisms, and adult attachment theory
EGO PSYCHOLOGY – equivalent to the conscious mind: performing the integration, analysis and
synthesis of thought (p. 168)
- Serves the desires of the id (Freud)
- Main concern in development: learn how aging influences the ego’s ability to adapt to the
conditions and restraints of the outside world while managing to achieve the individual’s personal
needs, desires, and wishes (p. 168)
Erikson’s Psychosocial Theory
- Rochester Adult Longitudinal Study (RALS)
oFindings showed that continued personality development is not only possible but
- Five Pathways Through Adulthood (Whitbourne, p. 169)
Pathway Description
Authentic Road Achieves solid identity commitments through exploration and
Identity balance
Triumphant Trail Over comes challenges
Is resilient
Straight and
Narrow Way
Maintains consistent life pattern
Is defensive about change
Identity assimilation
Meandering Way Fails to settle on a course in life
Constantly searches for identity
Identity accomodation
Downward Slope Shows self-defeating behavior
Makes poor decisions
Loevinger’s Ego Development Theory (p. 170)
- View of ego incorporates how people think as well as the structure of personality
- Defined ego as the structure within personality that attempts to synthesize, master and interpret
- Ego involved in ability to regulate impulses, relate to others, achieve self-understanding and think
about experiences
Stages Description
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Conformist Stage Individuals have only a very basic understanding of themselves, other
people, and the reason for following society’s rules
Have simple views of right and wrong
Hard for them to understand why others think and feel the way they do
Conformist Stage
Most adults fall under this stage
Stage when people have an internalized sense of right and wrong
Are able to be aware off their own motives as well as those of other people
When one develops a true conscience – one that is an internalized
understanding of society’s rules and the reasons for those rules
Able to have insight into their own emotions as well as the emotional
needs of others
An appreciation and respect for individuality emerges
Autonomous Stage Better able to live with uncertainty
Integrated Stage Individual has a clear sense of self
Able to recognize inner conflicts
Highly values individuality
Able to achieve the expression of the true “inner self”
- Loevinger’s Theory combines ego psychology with moral development
- A psychodynamic theory that emphasizes the development of defense mechanisms over the
course of adulthood
- Defense mechanisms – strategies that people use almost automatically as protection against
morally unacceptable urges and desires
Category Examples
Psychotic Delusional Projection – attributing one’s own bizarre ideas and feelings to others
Denial – disclaiming the existence of a feeling, action or event
Distortion – significantly exaggerating and altering reality of feelings and events
Immature Projection – attributing unacceptable ideas and feelings to others
Hypochondriasis – psychological conflict manifests as physical complaints
Acting Out – engaging in destructive behavior that expresses inner conflicts
Neurotic Displacement – transferring unacceptable feelings from the true to a safer object
Repression – forgetting about a troubling feeling or event
Reaction Formulation – expressing the opposite of one’s true feelings
Mature Altruism – turning unacceptable feelings into behavior that is helpful to others
Sublimation -- expressing unacceptable feelings in productive activity
Humor – being able to laugh at an unpleasant or disturbing feeling or situation
- Correlation between maturity of defenses and various outcome measures (p.172)
oExample: men who used immature defenses were more likely to experience alcohol
problems, unstable marriage, and antisocial behavior
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