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Chapter 13

PSY100- Chapter 13.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Dan Dolderman

Personality [Chapter 13] Personality: the characteristic thoughts, emotional responses, and behaviours that are relatively stable in an individual over time and across circumstances Personality Trait: a characteristic, a dispositional tendency to act in a certain way over time and across circumstances How Have Psychologists Studied Personality?  Some emphasize biological/genetic factors; others emphasize culture, patterns of reinforcement, or mental and unconscious processes o To understand people well is to understand everything about them  Therefore, personality psychologists approach the study of personality on all levels  “the dynamic organization within the individual of those psychophysical systems that determine his characteristic” o Organization indicates that personality is just not a list of traits but a coherent whole o Dynamic in that it is goal seeking, sensitive to context and adaptive to environment o Psychophysical systems shows the importance of both biological processes and the psychological nature of personality Psychodynamic Theories Emphasize Unconscious and Dynamic Processes  Psychodynamic Theory: Freudian theory that unconscious forces, such as wishes and motives influence behaviour o Referred to these psychic forces as instincts (mental representations arising out of biological or physical need)  Life instinct can be viewed as the desire to satisfy libidinal urges for pleasure; when multiple forces are in conflict it leads to mental illness o The energy that drives the pleasure principle is the libido A Topographic Model of Mind FIG 13.2  At the conscious level people are aware of their thoughts  Preconscious level consist of content that is not currently in awareness but that could be brought to awareness  Unconscious level contains material that the mind can’t easily retrieve, contains wishes, desires, motives and they are associated with conflict, anxiety or pain to protect the person from distress o Freudian Slip when this motives accidently slip into consciousness Development of Sexual Instincts  Freud believed that kids go through developmental stages corresponding to their pursuit of satisfaction of libidinal urges  Psychosexual stage: according to Freud the developmental stages that correspond to the pursuit of satisfaction of libidinal urges, libido is focused on one of the erogenous zone (mouth , anus or genitals) o oral stage (birth-18 months), pleasure is thought through the mouth (sucking) o anal phase (2-3 years old), learn to control their bowels o phallic stage (3-5) discover pleasure of rubbing their genitals  children desire an exclusive relationship with the opposite-sex parent, grow hostile towards the same-sex parent (seen as rival)  Oedipus Complex in boys, unconsciously want to kill their fathers to claim their mothers, resolve this conflict through taking many of the father’s beliefs and values o Latency stage; libidinal urges are channelled to schoolwork and making friends o Genital Stage; (adolescents/adults) urges are centred on the capacity to reproduce and contribute to society  Progression through these stages has huge effect on personality o Fixated at stage if they receive excessive parental restriction or indulgence  Exp. fixated at oral stage leads to oral personalities (continue to seek pleasure through the mouth which leads to smoking) Structural Model of Personality  Id: the component of personality that is completely submerged in the unconsciousness and operates according to the pleasure principle, acts on impulses and desires  Superego: the internalization of societal and parental standards of conduct, acts as a break on the id, rigid structure of morality/conscience  Ego: the component of personality that tries to satisfy the wishes of the id while being responsive to the dictates of the superego, reacts according to the reality principle(which involves rational thought and problem solving)  Defence Mechanisms: unconscious mental strategies the mind uses to protect itself from conflict and distress; when conflicts arise between the id and superego o People rationalize their actions be blaming factors over which they have little control o Reaction formation when a person wards off an uncomfortable thought about the self by embracing the opposite thought o study shows more arousal in men who had most negative views of homosexuality (homophobia may result from repression of homosexual impulses Psychodynamic Theory since Freud (neo-Freudians)  modification on Freud’s original theory  rejected his emphasis on sexual forces and instead focused on social interactions, especially kid’s emotional attachment to their parents o object relations theory, in which the object of attachment is another person  psychological scientists have abandoned psychodynamic theories because Freud’s central premises can’t be examined through scientific methods Humanistic Approaches Emphasize Integrated Personal Experience  Skinner argued that patterns of reinforcement determine response tendencies, which are the basis of personality  Humanistic Approaches: approaches to studying personality that emphasizes personal experience and belief systems, they propose that people seek personal growth to fulfill their human potential (self-actualization), focuses on human experience (phenomenology) and that each person is inherently good  Person centred approach; highlighted the importance of how parents show affection for their children and how parental treatment affects personality development o Conditional love; when the parent only showed love for the child when their behaviour was good and did not show love when their behaviour was bad, this leads to children changing their true desires and dreams in order to feel loved o Unconditional positive regard: show love to child whether it is being bad or good, express disapproval for bad behaviour but make sure child steel feels love, this is much more affective and leads to a fully functioning person  Emphasizes subjective personal experience  Subjective well-being; a general term to the degree of happiness and satisfaction people feel (richer countries have highest level of satisfaction)  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 Type and Trait Approaches Describe Behavioural Dispositions  Focus more on description than explanation o You wouldn’t use unconscious conflicts in describing a friend you’d say her/she is an introvert or extrovert  Personality Types: discrete categories based on global personality characteristics, we have tendency to assume that certain ones go together o Implicit personality theory; when we make predictions about people based on minimal evidence (exp. introverts like books and dislikes parties)  Trait Approach: an approach to studying personality that focuses on the extent to which individuals differ in personality dispositions (sociability, cheerfulness), traits exist on continuum—most people fall in the middle and less people are extreme intro/extroverts  18,000 traits and 16 basic dimensions of personality (were found through personality questionnaires and through process called factor analysis—grouped items based on their similarities) o Related to intelligence, sensitivity, dominance etc. terms are no longer used Eysenck’s Hierarchical Model FIG 13.6  Specific Response Level: consists of observed behaviours  Habitual Response Level: repeat behaviours on different occasions (buy item because it’s on sale, can’ t pass up on sale items whether they need it or not)  Trait: behaviours that are the on many different occasions  Subordinate traits: o Introversion/extroversion; refers to the extent to which people are shy vs. bold o Emotional stability; extent to which people’s moods and emotions change, neurotic people(often feel anxious and moody and have very low opinions of themselves) experience frequent mood swings compared to stable people o Psychoticism; mix of aggression, impulsive control and more self-centred, more recent conception of this trait is called constraint The Big Five FIG 13.7  Five factor theory: the idea that personality can be described using five factors, openness to experience, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism  Each factor is a higher-order trait compromising interrelated lower-order traits o Emerge across cultures, among children and adults and appear whether people rate themselves or rated by others o “scores” on The Big Five traits have been able to determine different behaviours o Some cultural difference; interpersonal relatedness (harmony) is important in China but not in Western cultures (because they are more densely populated?)  However researches have said that reducing all of human personality to 5 dimensions ignores individual subtleties but it is valuable as an organizational structure  Factors uniquely predict certain outcomes (openness to experiences predicts scores on standardized tests but not grades), factors exist more than at a descriptive level Personality Reflects Learning and Cognition  Skinner viewed personality mainly as learned responses to patterns of reinforcement  Personal Constructs: importance of people’s understandings of their circumstances (personal theories of how the world works, constantly revising it with what they see)  Behaviour is a function of peoples expectancies for reinforcement as well as the values they ascribe to particular reinforcers (positive reinforcement of doing well on a test can keep you from going to a party)  Internal locus of control: people believe they bring about their own rewards  External locus of control: believe rewards (and their personal fates) result from forces beyond their control  Incorporation of cognition into learning theories led to the development of cognitive social-theories of personality, emphasize how personal beliefs, expectancies and interpretations of social situations shape behaviour and personality  Self-efficacy, which is the extent to which people believe they can achieve specific outcomes is an important determinant of behaviours, people develops expectancies through observational learning (notice if others are rewarded/punished)  Mischel proposed that personality traits often fail to predict behaviour across different circumstances; his cognitive-affective personality system stated that people’s responses are influenced by how they perceive a given situation, their emotional response to the situation, skills in dealing with challenges and their anticipation of outcomes o Someone who usually is awkward at parties will act differently from someone who usually has made a good impression in past parties  Defensive pessimists expect to fail but perform similar to those who are optimists o Reflect different motivational strategies (pessimist expect the worst so that they can be relieved when they succeed, while optimists focus on positive outcomes)  Self-regulatory capacities, In which people set personal goals; motives for power and achievement are an essential aspect of personality  Personality represent behaviour that emerges from people interpretations of their social worlds and from their beliefs about how they will affect and be affected by their social situations How is Personality assessed and what does it Predict? Personality encompasses thoughts, feelings and behaviours all of which need to be considered Personality Refers to Both Unique and Common Characteristics  Idiographic Approaches: person-centred approaches to studying personality that focus on individual lives and how various characteristics are integrated into unique persons, use different metric for each person, often use interviews or biographical info o Research on Hitler’s child experiences to account for his behaviour o This type of study emphasizes that personality unfolds over the life course as people react to particular circumstances o Narrative philologists pay attention to the stories people tell about their lives o Life story is a reconstructive /imaginative process in which the person links motives to events and people which creates personal myths that bind together past events and future possibilities  Nomothetic Approaches: approaches to studying personality that focus on how people vary across common traits, uses same metric to compare all people o Use questionnaires (give 100 traits and ask people to rate themselves 1-10 on each), people are unique because of their unique blend of common traits  Central traits are especially important for how individuals define themselves (traits that are particularly descriptive of themselves compared to other people)  Secondary traits are less personally descriptive or not applicable o Central traits are more predictive of behaviour Researchers use Objective and Projective Methods to Assess Personality Trait researchers use personality descriptions, while humanistic psychologists use more holistic approaches Projective Measures  Projective Measures: Personality tests that examine unconscious processes by having people interpret ambiguous stimuli  Idea is that people will project their mental contents onto the ambiguous items, revealing motives , wishes etc. o Rorschach ink blot test: look at meaningless blob of ink and ask people what they see but does poor job of diagnosing specific psychological disorders and finds normal people to be psychologically disturbed o Thematic Apperception Test useful in study of achievement motivation, a person is shown an ambiguous picture and told to tell a story about it which reflect the storyteller’s motives, has been useful for measuring motivational traits Objective Measures  Objective Measures: relatively direct assessments of personality, usually based on information gathered through self-report questionnaires or observer ratings, makes no pretense of uncovering hidden conflicts  Are often large personality inventories (NEO Personality Inventory)  Although called objective it asks people to make subjective judgements and can be affected by desires to avoid looking bad and by biases in self-perception  Hard to compare, different number on scale can mean different things to people (just because 2 people put 7 on shyness scale doesn’t really mean they are equally shy)  California q-sort assesses traits in which people sort 100 statement into 9 piles according to how accurately the statements describe them o Piles represent categories from “not at all descriptive” to “extremely descriptive” Observers Show Accuracy in Trait Judgements  A person’s close acquaintance may predict the person’s behaviour more accurately than the person does. May occur because our friends observe how we behave in situations while we may be preoccupied with evaluating other people and fail to notice how we actually behave or that our subjective perceptions may diverge from our objective behaviours (generally there is a disconnect between how people view themselves and how they behave)  We predict better someone who we are close to than an acquaintance People sometimes are Inconsistent  Situationism: theory that behaviour is determined more by situations than by personality traits o People lie in some situations while they tell the truth in others (evidence)  Argument in the Person/situation debate is that the extent to which s trait predicts behaviour depends on the centrality of the trait, the aggregation of behaviours over time and the type of trait being evaluated o People are more consistent in their central states, personality traits are more predictive of behaviour on average (shy people may not be shy all the time but are shy more often than those who aren’t), and shyness is reported many years later which shows that it is stable, some people are more consistent than others  Self-monitoring, people with high self-monitoring are less consistent because they change their behaviour to match the situation Behaviour is influenced by the Interaction of Personality and Situations  Being highly neurotic is the best personality indicator of marital dissatisfaction/divorce  Strong evidence that personality dispositions are meaningful constructs that predict behaviour over time and across circumstances but people are also highly sensitive to social context and most conform to situational norm, situation dictates behavior irrespective of personality o Your family may be more tolerant of your bad moods than your friends to so you feel freer to express your bad moods around you family  Strong situations(religious services, ELEVATORS) vs. weak situations (parks, bars) o Strong situations mask differences in personality because of the power of the social environment (can’t tell difference between outgoing person and shy person at a funeral)  Interactionists: theorists who believe that behaviours determined jointly by underlying dispositions and situations  Reciprocal interaction occurs between the person and the social environment (person chooses their environment—introvert tends to avoid parties)so that they simultaneously influence each other (extroverts encourage those around them to have fun)  Personality reflects both underlying dispositions and the activation of goals and of emotional responses to given situations There are Cultural and Gender Differences in Personality  Very hard to compare across cultures because of importance of language  People from Eastern cultures tend to think in terms of relation with other people while those from Western cultures think in terms of independence; people from various cultures may interpret personality questions differently (what It means for their family or for themselves), use of samples of convenience (university students) but in different countries different types of people may go to college/university  The Big Five personality traits where seen across cultures (supports that those traits are universal for humans) o However East Asians seemed to be most modest (rated themselves comparatively lower on extroversion) o People from Africa said they are more agreeable and less neurotic than did people from most other countries  Self-reports often do not match cultural stereotypes (Canadians were widely believed to be relatively low in neuroticism and high in agreeableness but self- reports in Canada did not support this pattern) o Some have argued that national representations are accurate and that self- reports might be biased by individual’s comparisons of themselves to
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