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Chapter 1


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Richard Eibach

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Chapter One: Orientation to Personality Personality Psychology Professor Andersen ! WHAT IS PERSONALITY PSYCHOLOGY? • “Personality” has many definitions with no single, universally accepted meaning. • Personality is associated with social skills and effectiveness in popular usage - i.e. someone has” a lot of personality”, or “a popular personality” • Personality is also associated with an individual’s most striking or dominant characteristic. - i.e. you have a “shy” personality • In Personality psychology, the concepts goes beyond these meanings, it has many aspects, which reflects the richness and complexity of the term. ! Stable, Coherent Individual Differences • Different people respond differently to similar events • One goal of Personality psychology is to find and describe those individual differences between people that are psychologically meaningful and stable. • Concept of personality deals with how we are different from each other and qualities of individuals that are relatively stable. • If a person’s behavior changes from time to time, then it may or may not be indicative of behavior, however, sometimes the change in a person’s behavior can be meaningful and tell you something about their personality • Situational factors contribute to the change in a person’s behavior, if the change is consistent with similar circumstances, this can tell you about personalities • Coherence in the pattern of change in an individual’s behavior may be another key component of personality. ** Jane and Charles + grades example ! Predicting and Understanding • “Personality” usually implies continuity or consistency in the individual. • Observed differences may be meaningful indicators of individual differences in the personality of individuals. • Goals of Personality Psychologists: 1) Identifying consistent, stable individual differences (map out characteristic ways of behaving) in order to describe people and to predict their future behavior (what to expect from them). 2) What underlies these differences? • Try to explain and understand observed psychological differences between people. ! Defining Personality • Definition begins with the assumptions that: 1) there are stable individual differences and 2) these differences reflect an underlying organization or structure. • One classic and still influential working definition: “…the dynamic organization within the individual of those psychophysical systems that determine his characteristic behavior and thought.” • Broadly accepted definition: “Personality is the complex organization of cognitions, affects, and behaviors that gives direction and pattern (coherence) to the person’s life. Like the body, personality consists of both structures and processes and reflects both nature (genes) and nurture (experience). In addition, personality includes the effects of the past, including memories of the past, as well as constructions of the present and future” – Pervin (1996) • Mission of personality psychology – “account for the individual’s characteristic pattern of thoughts, emotion, and behavior together with the psychological mechanisms – hidden or not – behind those patterns.” – David Funder (2001) • To capture richness of human behavior, personality construct has to encompass: 1) Personality shows continuity, stability, and coherence 2) Personality is expressed in many ways – from overt behavior through thoughts and feelings. 3) Personality is organized In fact, when it is fragmented or disarranged, it is a sign of disturbance. 4) Personality is a determinant that influences how the individual relates to the social world 5) Personality is a psychological concept, but it also is assumed to link with the physical, biological characteristics of a person. ! • THEORY AND LEVELS OF ANALYSIS IN PERSONALITY PSYCHOLOGY Early “Big Picture” Theory • Personality psychology existed since people started asking questions about human nature and attempted to classify and understand the varieties of individual differences in important attributes and their causes. • 400 B.C.: Hippocrates philosophized about basic human temperaments (e.g. choleric, depressive), associated traits - thought physical qualities (yellow bile or too much blood) = responsible for differences in temperament - began Trait and type psychology – draw from modern measurements method and today’s biology • Aristotle believed the brain is the “conscious and intellectual soul that is peculiar to man” – brain is the seat of rational mind. - led to the western view of human mind - dualistic view: humans consist of mind and body • Descartes: the mind is what gives us the capacities for thoughts and consciousness - the mind decides and the body carries out • 1900s: Sigmund Freud - a Vienna physician - characterized his time with a comprehensive and powerful theory of personality - his theory made reason secondary and made primary the unconscious and its often unacceptable, irrational motives and desires – changed view of human nature. - his tradition continue to influence modern personality psychology but in ways that changed from Freud’s original ideas. - work of his followers and scientific developments help reinterpret and revise his work ! • From Grand Theories to Levels of Analysis • First half of 20 century, personality psychology influenced by theories of personality developed by “big picture” inno
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