PSY100 Chapter 13.docx

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15 Apr 2012
Chapter 13 Personality
Personality consists of the characteristic thoughts, emotional responses, and behaviours that
are relatively stable in an individual over time and across circumstances
o The dynamic organization within the individual of those psychophysical systems that
determine his characteristic behaviour and thought
o Dynamic in that it is goal seeking, sensitive to context, and adaptive to environment
Psychodynamic theory of personality is that unconscious forces influence behaviour, such as
wishes and motives
o Referred to these psychic forces as instincts, defining them as mental representations
arising out of biological or physical need
o Example: people satisfy the life instinct by following the pleasure principle, which directs
people to seek pleasure and to avoid pain
Freud believed that most of the conflict between psychological forces occur below the level of
conscious awareness
o Topographical model, he proposed that the structure of the mind, or its topography, is
divided into three zones of mental awareness
At the conscious level, people are aware of their thoughts
The preconscious level consists of content that is not currently in awareness but
that could be brought to awareness; it is roughly analogous to long-term
The unconscious level contains material that the mind cannot easily retrieve
o Unconscious level contains wishes, desires, and motives, and they are associated with
conflict, anxiety, or pain; to protect the person from distress, they are not accessible
Sometimes this information leaks into consciousness, such as occurs during a
Freudian slip, in which a person accidentally reveals a hidden motive
Early childhood experiences have a major impact on the development of personality
o At each psychosexual stage, libido is focused on one of the erogenous zones: the
mouth, the anus, or the genitals
The oral stage lasts from birth to 18 months, during which time pleasure is
sought through the mouth; hungry infants experience relief when they
breastfeed and thus associate pleasure with sucking
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Anal phase, toilet training leads them to focus on the anus; learning to control
the bowels is the focus
Phallic stage and direct their libidinal energies toward the genitals
o Oedipus complex, the same-sex parent is considered a rival, children develop hostility
toward the parent in order to claim the other parent and resolve this conflict through
identification with the same-sex parent taking on many of that parent’s values and
o Children enter a brief latency stage, in which libidinal urges are suppressed or
channeled into doing schoolwork or building friendships
o Genital stage, adolescents and adults attain mature attitudes about sexuality and
adulthood, centred on the capacity to reproduce and contribute to society
Freud proposed an integrated model of how the mind is organized, consisting of three
theoretical structures that vary in degree of consciousness
o At the most basic level and completely submerged in the unconscious is the id, which
operates according to the pleasure principle, acting on impulses and desires
The innate forces driving the id are sex and aggression
o Acting as a brake on the id is the superego, the internalization of parental and societal
standards of conduct
Developed during the phallic phase, the superego is a rigid structure of morality,
or conscience
o Mediating between the superego and id is the ego, which tries to satisfy the wishes of
the id while being responsive to the dictates of the superego
Ego operates according to the reality principle, which involves rational thought
and problem solving
o Conflict between the id and superego lead to anxiety, which the ego copes with through
various defence mechanisms, unconscious mental strategies that the mind uses to
protect itself from distress
People often rationalize their behaviour by blaming situational factors over
which they have little control
Reaction formation occurs when a person wards off an uncomfortable thought
about the self by embracing the opposite thought
Many neo-Freudians rejected Freud’s emphasis on sexual forces and instead focused on social
interactions, especially children’s emotional attachments to their parents
o This focus is embodied in object relations theory, in which the object of attachment is
another person, such as parent or spouse
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Humanistic approaches emphasize personal experience and belief systems and propose that
humans seek to fulfill their potential for personal growth through greater self-understanding;
this process is referred to as self-actualization
o Humanism focuses on subjective human experience, or phenomenology, and views each
person as inherently good
o Person-centred approach to personality emphasizes people’s personal understandings,
or phenomenology; people lose touch with their true selves in their pursuit of positive
regard from others
o To counteract this effect, Rogers encouraged parents to raise their children with
unconditioned positive regard, in which the children are accepted, loved, and prized no
matter how they behave
A child raised with unconditional positive regard will develop a healthy sense of
self-esteem and will become a fully functioning person
o Broaden-and-build theory, positive emotions prompt people to consider novel solutions
to their problems, and thus resilient people tend to draw on their positive emotions in
dealing with setbacks or negative life experiences
Psychodynamic and humanistic approaches seek to explain the mental processes that shape
o Personality types are discrete categories of people; we fill in gaps in our knowledge
about individuals with our beliefs about the behaviours and dispositions associated with
these types
Our tendency to assume that certain personality characteristics go together,
and therefore to make predictions about people based on minimal evidence, is
called implicit personality theory
Traits are behavioural dispositions that endure over time and across situations
Trait approach to personality provides a method for assessing the extent to
which individuals differ in personality dispositions, such as sociability,
cheerfulness, and aggressiveness
The basic structure of this model begins at the specific response level, which consists of
observed behaviours
o Example: a person might buy an item because it is on sale and then repeat the
behaviour on different occasions; these behaviours are at the habitual response level (if
a person is observed to behave the same way on many occasions, the person is
characterized as possessing a trait
Traits such as impulsiveness and sociability can be viewed as components of
superordinate traits, of which Eysenck proposed three:
introversion/extroversion, emotional stability, and psychoticism
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