Personality: is an individual’s characteristic style of behaving, thinking, and feeling
prior events that can shape an individual’s personality
anticipated events that might motivate the person to reveal particular personality characteristics
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
Self-report—a series of answers to a questionnaire that asks people to indicate the extent to which sets of
statements or adjectives accurately describe their own behavior or mental state.
Actuarial method can be used to gauge personality even when the self-report items are not clearly
related in content to the characteristic being measured
Actuarial method is the basis of the Minnesota Multiphase Personality Inventory (MMPI-2), a well-
researched, clinical questionnaire used to assess personality and psychological problems
includes validity scales that assess a person’s attitudes toward test taking and any tendency to try
to distort the results by faking answer they don’t always agree or always
Disagree—a phenomenon known as response style
Projective techniques: a standard series of ambiguous stimuli designed to elicit unique responses that
reveal inner aspects of an individual’s personality
Rorschach Inkblot Test: a projective personality test 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
Captures some of the more complex and private aspects of personality, the test is open to the
subjective interpretation and theoretic biases of the examiner
Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) is a projective personality test in which respondents reveal
underlying motives, concerns, and the way they see the social world through the stories they make up
about ambiguous pictures of people
In psychology, personality refers to a person’s characteristic style of behaving, thinking, and
Personality psychologists attempt to find the best ways to describe personality, to explain how
personalities come about, and to measure personality.
Two general classes of personality tests are
o Rorschach Inkblot Test
Trait A relatively stable disposition to behave in a particular and consistent way.
Preexisting dispositions: causes of behavior that reliably trigger the behavior
Big Five: The traits of the five-factor model:
openness to experience
2 reasons why:
modern factor analysis techniques strikes the right balance between variation in personality
people’s descriptions of their own personalities, other people’s descriptions of their
o Genetics seems to influence most personality traits o current estimates place the average genetic component of personality in the range of .40
Anthropomorphizes: attribute human characteristics to nonhuman animals
Active (extraverts) quiet (introverts)
Extraverts pursue stimulation because their reticular formation is not easily stimulated
Introverts may prefer reading or quiet activities because their cortex is very easily stimulated to a
point higher than optimal
Behavioral activation system (BAS): essentially a “go” system activates approach behavior in response to
the anticipation of reward.
Behavioral inhibition system (BIS): a “stop” system, inhibits behavior in response to stimuli signaling
The trait approach tries to identify personality dimensions that can be used to characterize an
individual’s behavior. Researchers have attempted to boil down the potentially huge array of
things people do, think, and feel into some core personality dimensions.
Many personality psychologists currently focus on the Big Five personality factors:
conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism, openness to experience, and extraversion.
To address the question of why traits arise, trait theorists often adopt a biological perspective,
seeing personality largely as the result of genetic influences on brain mechanisms.
Psychodynamic approach: An approach that regards personality as formed by needs, strivings, and
desires largely operating outside of awareness—motives that can also produce emotional disorders.
Ego: the component of personality, developed through contact with the external world, that enables us to
deal with life’s practical demands
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
Superego: the mental system that reflects the internalization of cultural rules, mainly learned as parents
exercise their authority
The id force of personal needs, the superego force of social pressures to quell those needs, and the ego
force of reality’s demands together create constant controversy
Anxiety: an unpleasant feeling that arises when unwanted thoughts or feelings occurring
Repression is sometimes referred to as “motivated forgetting”; decreased activation of the hippocampus
Defense mechanisms: Unconscious coping mechanisms that reduce anxiety generated by threats from
unacceptable impulses; help us overcome anxiety
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
Reaction formation: A defense mechanism that involves unconsciously replacing threatening inner
wishes and fantasies with an exaggerated version of their opposite
Projection: A defense mechanism that involves attributing one’s own threatening feelings, motives, or
impulses to another person or group.
Regression: A defense mechanism in which the ego deals with internal conflic