Textbook Notes (368,652)
Canada (162,033)
Psychology (9,696)
PSYB30H3 (485)
Chapter 1

Chapter 1 - Evaluating Personality Theories

7 Pages
Unlock Document

Marc A Fournier

Chapter 1-Introduciton: Evaluating Personality Theories  Personality is hard to define and is a reflection of the statement “Who am I?”  In common speech the term personality refers to someone’s public image  Personality comes from the Latin word Personae, which means the masks that Greek actors used in plays  There is little agreement among personality theorists about the use of the term personality o Allport believed that it led to characteristic behaviour and thought o Rogers believed it was the “Self” as a perception of the “I” o r “me” that lies at the heart of an individuals experiences o Skinner saw it as unnecessary o Freud saw it as unconscious and hidden What Is a Theory?  Theory comes from the Greek word thoeria which is the act of viewing, contemplating or thinking about something  A theory is a set of abstract concepts developed about a group of facts or events that explain them  Personality then is a system of beliefs that helps us understand human nature The Role of Personality Theory in Psychology  The question of what is personality was addressed in the early philosophies of Aristotle and Plato  Wilhelm Wundt established the first psychological laboratory and combined careful measurement with introspective observation (self examination) to understand the basic elements and structure of conscious mind  Wundt was successful in establishing a systematic method of study based on the experimental method  Watson (the father of behaviourism) criticized him, claiming it was almost impossible to observe mental processes, and that we should concentrate on overt behaviour  Because of Skinner’s influence, people became encouraged to emphasize extrospective observation—looking outward  Today however, psychologists are interested in mental processes shunned by Watson (cognitive psychology) however they retain the methodology of extrospective observation  Freud used introspection to examine past and present experiences and examined phenomena that could not be elicited in a laboratory  The study of personality has two approaches: o Academic psychology  Study of personality focused on uncovering general principles through research methods  Precursor: Wilhelm Wundt o Clinical practice  Study of personality through research on individuals by methods such as case histories  Precursor: Sigmund Freud  Macro theories of personality focus on the whole person and attempt to be global  Micro theories of personality focus on specific, limited aspects of human behaviour  Courses in personality theories focus on macro, and courses in personality research focus on micro  Academic psychology is micro, and clinical psychology is macro The Evaluation of Personality Theory  Personality theorists use three complimentary orientations: o Philosophy—explore assumptions about what it means to be a person o Science—hope to develop testable hypotheses that will help us understand human behaviour o Art—apply what is known about people and behaviour  Science is an offspring of philosophy Philosophical Assumptions  The very act of theorizing, entails making philosophical assumptions (thinking about the world)  The term philosophy comes form the term philein (to love) and sophia (wisdom) Basic Philosophical Assumptions  Many differences in personality theories are due to differences in philosophical assumptions o Freedom versus determinism  Some theorists believe that individuals have control over their behaviours others believe that human behaviour is determined by internal or external forces which we have no control o Heredity versus environment o Uniqueness versus universality  Some believe each individual is unique, others believe we are all basically the same o Proactivity versus reactivity  Proactive theories views humans as acting on their own initiative while reactive theories view human behaviours as just reacting to stimuli o Optimism versus pessimism  Do changes in personality and behaviour occur over a lifetime?  Can changes be effected? Distinguishing Philosophical Assumptions from Scientific Statements  Philosophical assumptions can be explicit or implicit  It posits what is, but not what should be or what really is  Philosophical knowledge is an epiphany or a perception of essential meaning  Philosophical knowledge is based on epiphanic evidence  Empirical statements are based on observation  Philosophical assumptions are not tentative hypotheses to be discarded when evidence contradicts them however scientific statements can be falsified Criteria for Evaluating Philosophical Assumptions  Coherence—are the philosophical assumptions logical, clear, and consistent?  Relevance—must have some bearing on our view on reality o The assumption must be compatible with empirical reality thus philosophical assumptions are often shaped by scientific findings  Comprehensiveness—does the assumption cover what it intends to cover? Is it deep enough? o An assumption is superficial if it leaves many questions unanswered or refuses to address them  Compellingness—does the assumption convince you? o All three of the prior criteria add up to meet the final criteria Scientific Statements  A paradigm is a model or concept of the world that is shared by members of a community that govern their activities  Can be seen as a shared philosophical assumption because they exist prior to scientific activity  Scientific statements are statements about the world that are based on empirical evidence (ordinary observation) arising from currently accepted paradigms Recognizing Scientific Statements  The keystone of science is empirical observation
More Less

Related notes for PSYB30H3

Log In


Join OneClass

Access over 10 million pages of study
documents for 1.3 million courses.

Sign up

Join to view


By registering, I agree to the Terms and Privacy Policies
Already have an account?
Just a few more details

So we can recommend you notes for your school.

Reset Password

Please enter below the email address you registered with and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Add your courses

Get notes from the top students in your class.