Chapter 12: Personality: Theory,Research, and Assessment
The Nature of Personality
1.Deﬁning Personality: Consistency and Distinctiveness:
• each person has traits that are seen in other people,but each individual has his or her own distinctive set of personality
• the concept of personality is used to explain (1) the stability in a person’s behaviour over time and across situations
(consistency) and (2) the behavioural diﬀerences among people reacting to the same situation (distinctiveness).
personality - refers to an individual’s unique constellation of consistent behavioural traits.
2. Personality Traits: Dispositions and Dimensions:
personality trait - a durable disposition to behave in a particular way in a variety of situations.
• ex. honest,dependable,moody,friendly,excitable describe dispositions that represent personality traits.
• most approaches to personality assume that some traits are more basic than others.
• a small number of fundamental traits determine other,more superﬁcial traits(ex. a person’s tendency to be impatient
might be derived from a more basic tendency to be excitable).
• when using factor analysis to measure personality traits,if the measurements of a number of variables correlate highly
with one another,the assumption is that a single factor is inﬂuencing all of them.
• Cattell used factor analysis and concluded that an individual’s personality can be described completely by measuring just
3.The Five-Factor Model of Personality Traits:
McCrae and Costa maintain that most personality traits are derived from just 5 higher-order traits that have come to be
known as the “Big Five:”
Extraversion - characterized as outgoing,sociable,upbeat,friendly,assertive,and gregarious
- referred to as positive emotionality
Neuroticism - characterized as anxious,hostile,self-conscious,insecure,and vulnerable
- tend to overreact in response to stress than others
Openness to Experience - openness is associated with curiosity,ﬂexibility,vivid fantasy,imaginativeness,artistic
sensitivity,and unconventional attitudes Agreeableness - characterized as sympathetic,trusting,cooperative,modest,and straightforward
- people who score at the opposite end of this personality dimension are characterized
as suspicious,antagonistic,and aggressive
Conscientiousness - characterized as diligent,disciplined,well-organized,punctual,and dependable
psychodynamic theories - include all of the diverse theories descended from the work of Sigmund Freud,which focus on
unconscious mental forces.
1.Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory:
• psychoanalytic theory attempts to explain personality,motivation,and psychological disorders by focusing on the
inﬂuence of early childhood experiences,on unconscious motives and conﬂicts,and on the methods people use to cope
with their sexual and aggressive urges.
a) Structure of Personality:
• Freud divided personality structure into 3 components: the id,the ego and the superego
• he saw a person’s behaviour as the outcome of interactions among these 3 components
1) The Id:
the id is the primitive,instinctive component of personality that operates according to the pleasure principle.
Freud refer to the id as the reservoir of psychic energy,meaning that the id houses the basic biological urges that
energize human behaviour.
pleasure principle - demands immediate gratiﬁcation of its urges.
• the id engages in primary-process thinking,which is primitive,illogical,irrational,and fantasy-oriented.
2) The Ego:
the ego is the decision-making component of personality that operates to the reality principle.
• the ego mediates b/w the id, with its forceful desires for immediate satisfaction,and the external social world,with its
expectations and norms regarding suitable behaviour.
• the ego considers social realities in deciding how to behave
reality principle - seeks to delay gratiﬁcation of the id’s urges until appropriate outlets and situations can be found.
• the ego engages in secondary-process thinking,which is relatively rational,realistic,and oriented toward problem solving
• the ego attempts to achieve long-range goals that sometimes require putting oﬀ gratiﬁcation.
3) The Superego: the superego is the moral component of personality that incorporates social standards about what represents right and
• the superego emerges out of the ego at around 3 to 5 years of age
• in some people the superego can become irrationally demanding in its striving for moral perfection,and those people
have excessive feelings of guilt.
b) Levels of Awareness:
• there are 3 levels of awareness:
the conscious consists of whatever one is aware of at a particular point of time.
the preconscious contains material just beneath the surface of awareness that can easily be retrieved(ex. argument you
the unconscious contains thoughts,memories,and desires that are well below the surface of conscious awareness but
that nonetheless exert great inﬂuence on behaviour(ex. trauma from childhood).
c) Conﬂict and the Tyranny of Sex and Aggression:
• Freud assumed that behaviour is the outcome of an ongoing series of internal conﬂicts.
• he saw internal battles b/w the id,ego, and superego because the id wants to gratify its urges immediately,but the norms
of civilized society frequently dictate otherwise.
• Freud believed that conﬂicts centering on sexual and aggressive impulses are especially likely to have far-reaching
• sex and aggression are subject to more complex and ambiguous social controls than other basic motives
• the sexual and aggressive drives are thwarted more regularly than other basic biological urges
d) Anxiety and Defence Mechanisms:
• sometimes a conﬂict will linger for days,months,or even years,creating internal tension
• more often than not,such prolonged and troublesome conﬂicts involve sexual and aggressive impulses that society
wants to tame.
• these conﬂicts are often played our by the unconscious leading to the production of anxiety that slips to the surface
of conscious awareness
• the anxiety can be attributed to you ego worrying about (1) the id getting out of control and doing something
terrible that leads to severe negative consequences or (2) the superego getting our of control and making you feel
guilty about a real or imagined transgression.
defence mechanisms - largely unconscious reactions that protect a person from unpleasant emotions such as anxiety and
Defence Deﬁnition Example
Repression Keeping distressing thoughts and A traumatized soldier has no recollection of the
feelings buried in the unconscious. details of a close brush with death. Defence Deﬁnition Example
Projection Attributing one’s own thoughts, A woman who dislikes her boss thinks she likes
feelings,or motives to another. her boss but feels that the boss doesn’t like her.
Displacement Diverting emotional feelings(usually After parental scolding,a young girls takes her
anger)from their original source to a anger out one her little brother.
Reaction Formation Behaving in a way that is exactly the A parent who unconsciously resents a child
opposite of one’s true feelings. spoils the child with outlandish gifts.
Regression A reversion to immature patterns of An adult has a temper tantrum when he doesn’t
behaviour. get his way.
Rationalization Creating false but plausible excuses to A student watches TV instead of studying,saying
justify unacceptable behaviour. that “additional study wouldn’t do any good
Identiﬁcation Bolstering self-esteem by forming an An insecure young man joins a fraternity to boost
imaginary or real alliance with some his self-esteem.
person or group.
e) Development: Psychosexual Stages:
psychosexual stages - developmental periods with a characteristic sexual focus that leave their mark on adult personality
• Freud theorized that each stage has its own,unique developmental challenges or tasks
ﬁxation - a failure to move forward from one stage to another as expected
Stage Approximate Erotic Focus Key Tasks and Experiences
Oral 0-1 Mouth(sucking,biting) Weaning(from breast to bottle)
Anal 2-3 Anus(expelling or retaining feces)Toilet training
Phallic 4-5 Genitals(masturbating) Identifying with adult role models;
copying with Oedipal crisis
Latency 6-12 None(sexually repressed) Expanding social contacts
Genital Puberty Genitals(being sexually intimate) Establishing intimate
onward relationships;contributing to
society through working
Oedipal complex - children manifest erotically tinged desires for their opposite-sex parent,accompanied by feelings of
hostility toward their same-sex parent.
2. Jung’s Analytical Psychology: • Jung called his approach analytical psychology
• like Freud,Jung emphasized the unconscious determinants of personality,BUT he proposed that the unconscious
consists of 2 layers:
the personal unconscious houses material that is not within one’s conscious awareness because it has been
repressed or forgotten.
the collective unconscious is a storehouse of latent memory traces inherited from people’s ancestral past.
• Jung called these ancestral memories archetypes.
archetypes - emotionally charged images and thought forms that have universal meaning.
• these archetypal images and ideas show up frequently in dreams and are often manifested in culture’s use of symbols
in art,literature,and religion.
• he thought that dreams contain important messages from the unconscious.
introverts - tend to be preoccupied with the internal world of their own thoughts,feelings,and experiences.
extraverts - tend to be interested in the external world of people and things.
3.Adler’s Individual Psychology:
• Adler’s new approach was called individual psychology
• according to him,the foremost source of human motivation is a striving for superiority.
striving for superiority - a universal drive to adapt,improve oneself,and master life’s challenges.
Adler asserted that everyone has to work to overcome some feelings of superiority - a process he called compensation
compensation - involves eﬀorts to overcome imagined or real inferiorities by developing one’s abilities.
• he believed that in some people inferiority feelings can become excessive,resulting in what is known today as inferiority
complex - exaggerated feelings of weakness and inadequacy.
• excessive inferiority feelings can pervert the normal process of striving for superiority
• he noted that ﬁrst-borns,second children,and later-born children enter varied home environments and are treated
diﬀerently by parents and that these experiences are likely to aﬀect their personality.
4. Evaluating Psychodynamic Perspectives:
• research has demonstrated that (1) unconscious forces can inﬂuence behaviour, (2) internal conﬂict often plays a key role
in generating psychological distress, (3) early childhood experiences can have powerful inﬂuences on adult personality,
and (4) peop