Chapter 12- Personality
Defining personality: consistency and distinctiveness
- optimistic personality includes someone that is cheerful, hopeful,
enthusiastic and looks on the bright side across a variety of situations.
- Personality describes why people act differently in the same situation.
Everyone has their own distinctive set of personality traits.
- Personality is ued 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- an individual’s unique constellation of consistent behavioural
Personality traits: dispositions and dimensions
- personality trait- a durable disposition to behave in a particular way in a
variety of situations. (ex. Honest, dependable, anxious, etc..)
- factor analysis- correlations among many variables are analyzed to identify
closely related clusters of variable. (if a number of variables correlate highly
with each other, there is a single factor that influences all of them. Ex.
Impulsive, restless, impatient all relate to being excitable).
- 16 personality traits are : outgoing/reserved, more intelligent/less
intelligent, emotionally stable/affected by feelings, dominant/submissive,
happy-go-lucky/serious, conscientious/expedient, venturesome/timid,
sensitive/tough-minded, suspicious/trusting, imaginative/practical,
shrewd/forthright, apprehensive/self-assured, experimenting/conservative,
self-sufficient/group-dependent, controlled/uncontrolled, tense/relaxed.
Five-Factor Model of Personality Traits
- McCrae and Costa believed that most personality traits are derived from the
“Big Five”: extraversion, neuroticism, openness to experience, agreeableness
- Extraversion: people who are outgoing, sociable, upbeat, friendly, assertive.
Positive emotionality. Popularity.
- Neuroticism: people are anxious, hostile, self-conscious, insecure and
vulnerable. They overact more in response to stress than others.
- Openness to experience: curiosity, flexibility, vivid fantasy, and
imaginativeness. People’s political attitudes and ideology.
- Agreeableness: sympathetic, trusting, cooperative, modest and
straightforward. People who score on the opposite end are suspicious,
antagonistic, and aggressive. Agreeableness is associated with constructive
approaches to conflict resolution.
- Conscientiousness: diligent, disciplined, well-organized, punctual and
dependable. Associated with being highly diligent in the workplace.
- Big 5 traits are associated with career success and health and mortality. Psychodynamic Perspectives
- psychodynamic theories include all of the diverse theories descended from
the work of Sigmund Freud, which focus on unconscious mental forces.
- Psychoanalytic theory attempts to explain personality, motivation and
psychological disorders by focusing on the influence of early childhood
Structure of Personality
- the id- primitive, instinctive component of personality that operates
according to the pleasure principle. The id operates on the pleasure principle,
which demands immediate gratification of its urges. It engages in primary-
process thinking which is primitive, illogical and fantasy-oriented.
- The ego- the decision making component of personality that operates
according to the reality principle. The ego mediates between the id and the
external social world (suitable behaviour). The ego considers social realities
when deciding how to behave. The reality principle seeks to delay
gratification of the id’s urges until appropriate outlets and situations can be
- The superego- moral component of personality that incorporates social
standards about what represents right and wrong.
Levels of Awareness
- The conscious- consists of whatever one is aware of at a particular point in
time. (ex. At this time, your conscious may include that train of thought in
this text and a dim awareness in the back of your mind that your eyes are
getting tired and you’re beginning to get hungry.
- The preconscious- contains material just beneath the surface of awareness
that can easily be retrieved. (ex . middle name, dinner last night).
- 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. Repressed sexual desires).
Conflict and the tyranny of sex and aggression
- the id tells you to beat up your annoying co-worker but society does not
approve of this action and therefore, your ego holds your urges in check.
- Feud thought that sex and aggression are subject to more complex and
ambiguous social controls than other basic motives. He also believed that
sexual and aggressive drives are thwarted more regularly than other basic
Anxiety and Defense Mechanisms
- anxiety can be attributed to your 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 out of control and making you feel
guilty about a real or imagined transgression. - Defense mechanisms are unconscious reactions that protect a person from
unpleasant emotions such as anxiety and guilt.
- Rationalization: creating false but plausible excuses to justify unacceptable
- Repression: keeping distressing thoughts and feelings buried in the
unconscious. Also called motivated forgetting.
- Projection: attributing one’s own thoughts, feelings or motives to another.
- Displacement: diverting emotional feelings (anger) from their original source
to a substitute target.
- Reaction formation: behaving in a way that’s exactly the opposite of one’s
- Regression: reversion to immature patterns of behaviour. (boasting)
- Identification: bolstering self-esteem by forming an imaginary or real alliance
with some person or group.
Development: Psychosexual stages
- psychosexual stages are developmental periods with characteristic sexual
forces that leave their mark on adult personality.
- Fixiation is a failure to move forwards from one stage to another as expected.
- Oral stage (0-1): main source of erotic stimulation is the mouth (biting,
sucking, chewing). Freud believes that the child’s feeding experiences is
crucial to subsequent development. Key task is to wean child from breast or
bottle. Fixiation at this stage could form the basis for obsessive eating or
- Anal stage (2-3): get erotic pleasure from bowel movements through
expulsion or retention of feces. Crucial event is toilet training.
- Phallic stage (4-5): genitals become the focus for the child’s erotic energy.
The oedipal complex emerges as little boys develop an erotically tinged
preference for their mother. Feel hostility towards their father as they are
seen as competition. Key experience is identifying with adult role models and
coping with oedipal crisis.
- Latency stage(6-12): child’s sexuality is suppressed. Important events are
expanding social contacts beyond immediate family.
- Genital (puberty onwards): With puberty, child progresses into the genital
stage. Sexual urges reappear and focus on the genitals. Focus on being
sexually intimate. Key task is establishing intimate relationships;
contributing to society through working.
Jung’s Analytical Psychology
- personal unconscious- houses material that is not within one’s conscious
awareness because it has been repressed or forgotten.
- Collective unconscious- storehouse of latent memory traces inherited from
people’s ancestral past.
- Archetypes- emotionally charged images and thought forms that have
universal meaning. They show up in dreams and are symbols in art, literature and religion. Jung believed that understanding of archetypal symbols helped
him make sense of his patients’ dreams.
- Introverts tend to be preoccupied with the internal world of their own
thoughts, feelings and experiences. (contemplative)
- Extraverts tend to be interested in the external world of people and things.
Adler’s Individual Psychology
- Adler stated that the source of human motivation is a striving for superiority.
He viewed striving for superiority as a universal drive to adapt, improve
oneself and master life’s challenges. This is the main goal in life.
- Compensation: involves efforts to overcome imagined or real inferiorities by
developing one’s abilities.
- When inferiority becomes excessive, it is known as inferiority complex-
exaggerated feelings of weakness and inadequacy. (caused by parental
pampering or neglect).
- Overcompensation- conceal feelings of inferiority. People work to achieve
status and gain power over others.
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) people do use defense mechanisms to
reduce their experiences of unpleasant emotions.
- They have been criticized for their poor testability, inadequate base of
empirical evidence and male-centered views.
- behaviourism is a theoretical orientation based on the premise that scientific
psychology should study only observable behaviour.
- Skinner’s ideas: when at a party where you know few people. (1) you
circulate and speak to others only if spoken to first. (2) stick close to the
people you already know. (3) politely withdraw by getting wrapped up in
host’s book collection. (4) leave at the first opportunity.
Personality Structure: A view from the Outside
- Skinner focused on how external environment moulds overt behaviour.
Behaviour is determined by environmental stimuli.
- People have some same stable response tendencies that they acquired
through experience. New experiences will change response tendencies.
Personality Development as a Product of Conditioning
- when responses are followed by favourable consequences they are
strengthened. - Skinner believes that personality development is a continuous, lifelong
Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory
- humans are conscious, thinking and feeling beings.
- Bandura believes that personality is largely shaped through learning. He
contends that conditioning is not a mechanical process in which people are
- He says that people are self-organizing, proactive, self reflecting and self
regulating. The important role of forward directed planning help select and
create courses of action to produce desired outcomes.
- Reciprocal determinism- the idea that internal mental events, external
environmental events, and overt behavioural all influence one another.
- observational learning occurs when an organism’s responding is influenced
by the observation of others, who are called mod