Personality: Lecture 1
- Why are people different from each other
- We can understand ourselves as products of the evolutionary process
- We are learners; we acquire through learning different behaviours and personalities
Level 1: Personality traits/ Dispositions “Sketching the Outline”
- What is it that we know when we know a person
- There are three different answers or levels with respect to this question
Level 2: Characteristic adaptations “Filling in the Detail”
- Adaptations to social roles
Level 3: Life Stories
-integrating past, present, and future of life
- A theory is a set of interrelated statement
- We theorize to make sense of observations
- The building block of theory is a CONSTRUCT. A construct is any explanatory variable. Any idea
we use to categorize an observation in the world.
- The problem with psychological construct is that there are usually not observable.
- Constructs are connected to each other by correspondence rules.
- Correspondence rules describe how one construct is related to another construct; the expected
relationship between to constructs.
- Correspondence rules are used to derive a hypothesis or prediction.
- Nonscientific theories have the disadvantage of being nontestable and nonfalsifiable.
- Every person makes theories about their lives. The difference between the theories that people
make and the theories made by psychologist is that psychologist actually test their theories by
gathering data, testing their hypotheses, and formalizing them.
Formalizing an Informal Theory
- By looking at the simple inferences that the person makes about themselves, we can formulate
an informal construct about them.
- The corresponding rule is seeing the two different sets of information and relating them to each
- We theorize then revise accordingly
Desiderata for Scientific Theory of Personality - McAdams makes this list and proff organized them in order of the most important to least
important concepts of theory of personality
- It is absolutely essential that a theory be coherent.
- A theory must be testable. A theory must state what conditions must be met in order for the
theory to be falsifiable.
- Theory must be in accord with what we know about the world. It must be empirically valid.
- These three characteristics are the most essential for any theory.
- The next characteristics are not essential but differentiate between the strength and validity of a
- Theories that are more comprehensive look to explain more things. All things being equal, we
look to theories that explain more over those that explain less.
- Some theories are very complex. Others are simpler and more elegant. Parsimony describes the
simplicity of a theory. All things being equal, we prefer a simpler theory over the more
- However, these two often come in a trade off. To make a more comprehensive argument
usually involves a more complicated theory.
- The last two criteria are usefulness and generative.
- It is nice when a theory suggests solutions for different problems in the world.
- We like a theory to be generative; being exciting, creating discussion and interest, bring on new
The Legacy of Sigmund Freud
- Sigmund Freud changed the way we see ourselves.
- He started out as a neurologist, and as he just graduated medical school, he began to see cases
of seemingly medical cases with no medical explanation (e.g. hysteria).
- His means to solve these cases was to talk to his patients.
- He is the only person who ever mapped the entire human mind. (Even though some parts of it
Basic Instincts: Sex and Aggression
- Freud imagined the psyche, the human mind, as a kind of system.
- He was deeply influences by the contemporary physicists of his age who at that time were
thinking about hydraulic models.
- He used this as a metaphor of how he thought of the human mind.
- What is the energy that performs in the hydraulic system of the human body? It is the energy
which he called Libido.
- Libido, for Freud, was a fundamental psychic energy of the mind which allows all the operations
of the human mind to function.
- He believed, following Darwin, that we have instincts of self preservation and reproduction.
Freud thought that these instincts gave rise to the libido. - He believes that there were two types of instincts: one for self preservation and one for
reproduction, but he didn’t like that so much so he brought the two instincts together to create
one force called the libido.
- LIBIDO: any life sustaining, need satisfying, or pleasure oriented urge (energy or force).
- He then began questioning himself when he thought about the libido of people who self
inflicted pain or had aggressive behaviour which would not follow the instinct of self
- He then relabelled libido to Eros and added the concept of Thanatos, which describes the idea of
aggression in humans.
- Eros: same as libido – life instinct
- Thanatos: any urge to destroy or harm or aggress towards others or themselves – death instinct.
- Freud believed that at various time of life, the libido finds itself concentrated in one area or
function of the body – meaning of Libidinal Organization.
- We refer to those areas as erogenous zones- areas where the libido is concentrated.
- Erogenous Zones: a bodily source of pleasure around which the libido is organized.
- The libido does not stay in one spot. It moves around.
- Freud thought that humans all went though the same set of stages following the movement of
the libido throughout life.
- The Oral Stage:
- From birth to a year and a half.
- The baby first begins to feel pleasure through feeding (e.g. thumb sucking).
- Then, when teething begins, the toddler begins to take an active role in obtaining n