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Chapter 12

PSYA02 - Chapter 12.docx

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Steve Joordens

Chapter 12 – Personality - PERSONALITY => is an individual’s characteristic style of behaving, thinking and feeling - 4 main approaches to understanding personality: - trait – biological - Psychodynamic - humanistic-existential - social cognitive Personality: What It Is and How It Is Measured Defining and Explaining Personality - most personality psychologists focus on specific, psychologically meaningful individual differences – characteristics such as honesty or moodiness - personality is often in the eye of the beholder - studies that ask acquaintances to describe each other find a high degree of similarity among any one individual’s descriptions of many different people - in contrast, resemblance is quite low when people describe one person - explanations of personality differences are concerned w/ => PRIOR EVENTS that can shape an individual’s personality => ANTICIPATED EVENTS that might motivate the person to reveal particular personality characteristics - researchers interested in events that happen prior to our behavior delve into our subconscious and into our circumstances and interpersonal surroundings as well as studying our biology and brains - the consideration of ANTICIPATED EVENTS emphasizes the person’s own perspective and often seems intimate and personal in its reflection of the person’s inner life – hopes, fears and aspirations - personality psychologists study questions of how our personalities are determined by the forces in our minds and in our personal history of heredity and environment and by the choices we make and the goals we seek Measuring Personality Personality Inventories - SELF – REPORT => a series of answers to a questionnaire that asks people to indicate the extent to which sets of statements and adjectives accurately describe their own behavior or mental state - the researcher then combines the answers to get a general sense of the individual’s personality w/ respect to a particular domain - the usual strategy to create a self – report is to collect sets of self – descriptive statements that indicate different degrees of a personality characteristic - this kind of personality scale uses multiple answers to a variety of items that are related in content to gauge the underlying personality characteristic - good self – report scales can also be constructed w/o much attention to the specific content of the items - if people in some identifiable group answer ANY self – report item differently than do other people, then the answers on that item can be used to predict membership in that group - this ACTUARIAL METHOD can be used to gauge personality even when the self – report items are not clearly related in content to the characteristics being measured - the actuarial method is MINNESOTA MULTIPHASIC PERSONALITY INVENTORY (MMPI-2) => a well researched, clinical questionnaire used to assess personality and psychological problems - its 10 main subscales were generated by studying how specific groups of people as compared to the general population completed the items and then creating the scales from the items that these groups answered differently - this measures tendencies toward clinical problems such as depression, anxiety, paranoia, etc. - it also includes VALIDITY SCALES that assess a person’s attitudes toward test taking and any tendency to try to distort the results by faking answers Projective Techniques - PROJECTIVE TECHNIQUES => a standard series of ambiguous stimuli designed to elicit unique responses that reveal inner aspects of an individual’s personality - developers of projective tests assumed that people will project personality factors that are out of awareness such as wishes, impulses onto ambiguous stimuli and will not censor these response - RORSCHACH INKBLOT TEST => a projective personality tests in which individual interpretations of the meaning of a set of unstructured inkblots are analyzed to identify a respondent’s inner feelings and interpret his or her personality structure - THEMATIC APPERCEPTION TEST (TAT) => a projective personality test in which respondent reveal underlying motives, concerns, and the way they see the social world through the stories they make up about ambiguous pictures of people - different people tell very different stories about the image that is given to them - the test taker is thought to identify w/ the main characters and to project his or her view of others and the world onto the other details in the drawing - these TAT drawings tend to elicit a consistent set of themes, such as successes and failures, competition and jealousy, conflict w/ parents and siblings, etc. - critics argue that projective tests are open to subjective interpretation and theoretic biases of the examiner - when measured by rigorous scientific criteria, the TAT like the Rorschach and other tests has NOT been found reliable or valid in predicting behavior - new personality measurement methods are wireless communication, real – time computer analysis and automated behavior identification The Trait Approach: Identifying Patterns of Behavior - the trait approach to personality uses trait terms to characterize differences among individuals - in attempting to create manageable and meaningful sets of descriptors, trait theorists face 2 significant challenges: -> narrowing down the almost infinite set of adjectives -> answering the more basic question of why people have particular traits Traits as Behavioral Dispositions and Motives - Gordon Allport believed people could be described in terms of traits just as an object could be described in terms of its properties - TRAIT => a relatively stable disposition to behave in a particular and consistent way - there are 2 basic ways in which a trait might serve as an explanation -> the trait may be a preexisting disposition of the person that causes the person’s behavior -> it may be a motivation that guides the person’s behavior - other personality theorists such as Henry Murray suggested instead that traits reflect motives - as a rule, researchers examining traits as causes have used personality inventories to measure them, whereas those examining traits as motives have more often used projective tests - some of the personality traits that have been studied are authoritarianism, cognitive complexity, defensiveness, hypnotizability, sensation seeking and optimism The Search of Core Traits Classification Using Language - early psychologists proposed that core traits could be discerned by finding the main themes in all the adjectives used to describe personality - traits might be related in a hierarchical pattern with more general or abstract traits at higher levels than more specific or concrete traits - perhaps the more abstract traits represent the core of personality - to identify this core, researchers have used the computational procedure called factor analysis which sorts trait terms or self – descriptions into a small number of underlying dimensions or “factors” based on how people use the traits to rate themselves - in this type of study, people rate themselves on hundreds of adjectives indicating how accurately each one describes their personality - the researcher then calculates the patterns to determine similarities in the rater’s usage - factor analysis also reveals which adjectives are not related - Different factor analysis techniques have yielded different views to personality structure - Catell proposed a 16-factor theory of personality whereas others have proposed theories w/ far fewer basic dimensions - Hans Eysenck simplified things nicely w/ a model of personality w/ only 2 major traits - his two factor analysis identified one dimension that distinguished people who are sociable and active (extraverts) and those who are more introspective and quiet (introverts) - his analysis also identified a second dimension ranging from the tendency to be very neurotic or emotionally unstable to the tendency to be more emotionally stable The Big Five Dimensions Of Personality - BIG FIVE => are the traits of the five – factor model: conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism, openness to experience, and extraversion - this model is widely preferred for several reasons: 1. modern factor analysis techniques confirm that this set of 5 factors strikes the right balance b/w accounting for as much variation in personality as possible while avoiding overlapping traits 2. in a large number of studies using different kinds of data such as people’s descriptions of their personalities, interviewer checklists, etc the same five factors have emerged 3. the basic 5 factor structure seems to show up across a wide range of participants including children, adults in other cultures - self – reports on the Big Five are associated w/ predictable pattern of behavior and social outcomes Traits as Biological Building Blocks - trait theorists have argued that immutable brain and biological processes produce the remarkable stability of traits over the life span - brain damage can produce personality change Genes, Traits and Personality - evidence for the importance of biological factors in personality comes form the domain of behavioral genetics - personality psychologists have looked at correlations b/w the traits in monozygotic and dizygotic twins - researched revealed that identical twins proved markedly more similar to each other in personality than did fraternal twins - the more genes you have in common w/ someone, the more similar your personalities are likely to be - genetic factors do not account for everything – the remaining half of the variability in personality remains to be explained by differences in life experiences Do Animals Have Personalities? - when Sam Gosling did research by spotting hyenas – he found some personality dimensions of which some of them resembled the Big Five Traits - in similar studies of other animals, the Big Five Traits were observed - in each study, researchers identified particular behaviors that they felt reflected each trait based on their observation of the animals’ repertoire of activities - such findings of cross species commonality in behavioral styles help support the idea that there are biological mechanisms that underlie personality traits shared by many species - from an evolutionary perspective, differences in personality reflect alternative adaptions that species – human and non human – have evolved to deal w/ the challenges of survival and reproduction Traits in the Brain - Eysenck speculated that extraversion and introversion might arise from individual differences in alertness - he argued that differences in levels of cortical arousal underlie differences b/w extraverts and introverts - Extraverts pursue stimulation because their reticular formation – the part of the brain that regulates arousal or alertness is not easily stimulated - thus, extraverts are drawn to activities such as listening to loud music, etc - in contrast, introverts may prefer reading or quiet activities because their cortex is very easily stimulated to a point higher than optimal - in a refined version of Eysenck’s ideas about arousability, Jeffrey Gray proposed that the dimensions of extraversion/ introversion and neuroticism reflect 2 basic brain systems => Behavioral Activation System (BAS) – essentially a “go” system, activates approach behavior in response to the anticipation of reward - the extravert has a highly reactive BAS and will actively engage the environment, seeking social reinforcement and on the “go”. => Behavioral Inhibition System (BIS) – a “stop” system, inhibits behavior in response to stimuli signaling punishment - the emotionally unstable person, in turn, has a highly reactive BIS and will focus on negative outcomes and be on the lookout for “stop” signs - because these two systems operate independently, it is possible for someone to be both a “go” and a “stop” person, simultaneously activated and inhibited – and caught in a constant conflict b/w these 2 traits The Psychodynamic Approach: Forces That Lie Beneath Awareness - Freud looked for personality in the details – the meanings and insights revealed by careful analysis of the blemishes in a person’s thought and behavior - he used the term PSYCHOANALYSIS to refer to both his theory of personality and his method of treating patients - his basic idea is that personality is a mystery to the person who “owns” it because we can’t know our own deepest motives - is theories are referred to as the PSYCHODYNAMIC APPROACH => personality is formed by needs, strivings, and desires largely operating outside of awareness – motives that can produce emotional disorders - this construct is called DYNAMIC UNCONSCIOUS => an active system encompassing a lifetime of hidden memories, the person’s deepest instincts and desires, and the person’s inner struggle to control these forces The Structure of the Mind: Id, Ego, and Superego - the mind consists of 3 independent, interacting and often conflicting systems - ID => is the part of the mind containing the drives present at birth; it is the source of our bodily needs, wants, desires, and impulses, particularly our sexual and aggressive drives. - the id operates according to the pleasure principle => the psychic force that motivates the tendency to seek immediate gratification of any impulse - EG0 => is the component of personality, developed through contact w/ the external world, that enables us to deal w/ life’s practical demands - the ego operates according to the reality principle => the regulating mechanism that enables the individual to delay gratifying immediate needs and function effectively in the real world - SUPEREGO => the mental system that reflects the internalization of cultural rules, mainly learned as parents exercise their authority - it consists of a set of guidelines, internal standards, and other codes of conduct that regulate and control of our behaviors, thoughts and fantasies - acts as a kind of conscience, punishing us when we are doing something wrong and rewarding us when we live up to ideal standards - which system is usually dominant – determines an individual’s basic personality structure - id force of personal needs, the superego force of social pressures to suppress those needs and the ego force of reality’s demand together to create constant controversy Dealing with Inner Conflict - in an attempt to ward off anxiety, the ego tries repression => a mental processes that removes painful experiences and unacceptable impulses from the conscious mind - repression is not enough to keep unacceptable drives from entering consciousness - when such material begins to surface, the ego can employ other means of self – deception called DEFENSE MECHANISMS => which are unconscious coping mechanisms that reduce anxiety generated by threats from unacceptable impulses - Anna Freud identified these defense mechanisms: 1. RATIONALIZATION => a defense mechanism that involves supplying a reasonable – sounding explanation for unacceptable feelings and behavior to conceal (mostly from oneself) one’s underlying motives or feelings 2. REACTION FORMATION => a defense mechanism that involves unconsciously replacing threatening inner wishes and fantasies w/ an exaggerated version of their opposite - eg: being excessively nice to someone you dislike or being cold and indifferent toward someone to whom you are strongly attracted 3. PROJECTION => a defense mechanism that involves attributing one’s own threatening feelings, motives, or impulses to another person or group eg: people who think that they themselves are overly rigid or dishonest may have a tendency to judge other people as having the same qualities 4. REGRESSION => a defense mechanism in which the ego deals w/ internal conflict and perceived threat by revert
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