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Chapter 2

Chapter 2 Theories of Personality

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Psychology 2035A/B
Doug Hazlewood

Chapter 2 Theories of Personality Core concept of personality • stability in behaviour over time and across situations • behavioural difference among people reacting to the same situation Personality refers to an individuals's unique constellation of consistent behavioural traits. Apersonality trait is a durable disposition to behave in a particular way in a variety of situations. Most trait theories assume some traits are more basic than others • a small number of fundamental traits determine other, more superficial traits • eg.Allport's list of 171 personality traits ◦ Cattell reduced the list to 16 basic dimensions of personality through factor analysis ▪ factor analysis: correlations among many variables are analyzed to identify closely related clusters of variables Five Factor Model of Personality (“Big Five”) • Openness to experience ◦ curiosity, flexibility, vivid fantasy, artistic sensitivity, unconventional attitudes ◦ tend to be tolerant of ambiguity, less need for closure ◦ key determinant of political attitudes and ideologies; openness fosters liberalism; express less prejudice against minorities • Conscientiousness ◦ tend to be diligent, disciplined, well organized, dependable ◦ referred to as constraint ◦ associated with strong self-discipline; ability to regulate oneself effectively ◦ fosters dependability in the workplace • Extraversion ◦ outgoing, sociable, assertive, gregarious ◦ termed positive emotionality ◦ more happier, more optimistic ◦ tend to pursue social relationships • Agreeableness ◦ sympathetic, trusting, cooperative, modest, straightforward ◦ associated with constructive approaches to conflict resolution, empathy and helping behaviour • Neuroticism ◦ anxious, hostile, insecure, vulnerable ◦ termed negative emotionality ◦ tend to over-react with stress, impulsive and emotional instability • The Big Five traits are predictive of specific aspects of behaviour ◦ eg. extroversion correlates positively with popularity and dating numerous people • Correlations have been found between the Big Five and important life outcomes ◦ eg. higher grades associated with conscientious students Psychodynamic Perspectives • Freud's Psychodynamic Theory ◦ People were uncomfortable with it for 3 reasons: ▪ unconscious forces govern human behaviour ▪ childhood experiences strongly determine adult personality ▪ individuals personality are shaped by how they cope with their sexual urges ◦ Structure of Personality ▪ ID • primitive, instinctive, houses psychic energy • operates according to the pleasure principle • engages in primary thinking ◦ illogical, irrational, fantasy oriented ▪ EGO • decision-making • operates according to the reality principle • secondary process thinking ◦ rational, realistic, problem solving ▪ SUPEREGO • moral component ◦ emerges from ego at 3 to 5 years old • incorporates social standards about right and wrong ◦ internalized social norms • operates according to the moral principle ▪ Conscious consists of whichever structure one is aware of at a particular point in time ◦ whatever your train of thought is on at the moment ▪ Pre-conscious contains material just beneath the surface of awareness that can be easily retrieved • eg. you're middle name ▪ Unconscious contains thoughts, memories and desires that are well below the surface of one's conscious awareness but still exert great influence on one's behaviour • eg. forgotten childhood trauma • Conflict and Defense Mechanism ◦ Freud believed sexual and aggressive conflicts have more far-reaching consequences ▪ because sex and aggression are more subject to complex and ambiguous social controls • norms governing both are subtle and it's easy to get mixed messages about what is appropriate • thus these two drives are the source of much confusion ▪ because sex and aggression drives are thwarted more regularly than other biological drives ◦ Defense mechanisms are unconscious reactions to protect from painful emotions like anxiety or guilt ▪ mental manuveurs through self-deveption ▪ Rationalization • creating a false by plausible excuse to justify unacceptable behaviour ▪ Repression • keeping distressing thought and feelings buried in the unconscious ▪ Projections • attributing one's own thoughts, feelings or motives to another ▪ Displacement • diverting emotional feelings, usually anger, from their original source to a substitute target ▪ Reaction Formation • behaving in a way that is exactly the opposite of one's true feelings ▪ Regression • reversion to immature patterns of behaviour • eg. adults who boast childishly in anxious situations ◦ braggins is regressive when marked by massive exaggeration that anyone can see through ▪ Identification • bolstering self-esteem by forming an imaginary or real alliance with a person or group ◦ identifying with rock stars, movie stars ◦ joining exclusive country clubs ▪ Sublimation • occurs when unconscious, unacceptable impulses are channeled into socially acceptable, even admirable, behaviours • regarded as a relatively healthy defense mechanism • eg. painting, poetry, sculpture as an outlet for sexual urges • Development: Psychosexual Stages ◦ foundation of an individual's personality is laid down by age 5 ◦ sexual urges refer to urge for physical pleasure, not just to copulate ◦ psychosexual stages are development periods ▪ characteristic sexual focus in each stage that leaves a mark on adult personality ▪ Fixation: failure to move forward from one stage to another as expected • either caused by excessive gratification or excessive frustration of needs ◦ Oral stage ▪ erotic stimulation from the mouth • sucking, chewing, biting ▪ fixation could result in obsessive eating or smoking later in life ◦ Anal stage ▪ erotic pleasure from bowel movements • expulsion or retention ▪ punitive toilet training could create an association between genitals and anxiety • lead too anxiety about sexual activities later in life ◦ Phallic Stage ▪ around age 4, genitals becomes focus • largely through self-stimulation ▪ Oedipal complex emerges • little boys erotically favour their mother and are hostile to their father (competitor for mom) • little girls develop feelings for dad and resent mom for anatomical deficiency because they realize their genitals are different from boys and develop penis envy • must come to identify with same sex parent and resolve this complex ◦ Latency ▪ age 6 through puberty, child's sexually is supressed ◦ Genital Stage ▪ sexual urges focus on genital ▪ sexual energy is channeled towards other sex, rather than oneself • Jung'sAnalytical Psychology ◦ Emphasized unconscious determinants of personality – follower of Freud's ◦ Propose two layers of unconscious • Personal unconscious – same as Freud's version of unconscious ◦ houses material not within one's conscious awareness due to repression or forgetfulness • Collective unconscious – storehouse of latent memory traces inherited from people's ancestral past and is shared with entire human race ◦ deeper layer ◦ ancestral memories are archetypes ▪ emotionally charged images and thought forms that have universal meaning ▪ manifest in art, literature, religion ◦ depended extensively on dream analysis • Adler's Individual Psychology ◦ Argued the foremost human drive is striving for superiority, not sexuality ◦ Everyone has to work to overcome feelings of inferiority ▪ Compensation involves efforts to overcome imagined or real inferiorities by developing one's abilities ▪ Inferiority Complex is an exaggerate feeling of weakness and inadequacy ▪ Overcompensation is used to conceal feelings of inferiority • flaunt successes to cover up inferiority ◦ Focused on birth order as a factor governing personality ▪ his research did not support his theory Evaluating Psychodynamic Perspectives: Flaws • Poor Testibility ◦ psychodynamic ideas are too vague to allow a clear scientific test ◦ concepts like ego, superego and id are hard to measure • Inadequate Evidence ◦ empirical evidence is inadequate ◦ approach depends on case studies in which it is easy for clinicians to see what they want • Sexism ◦ harbor a bias against women ▪ female penis envy made them inferior to men ▪ dismissed female reports of sexual molestation as fantasies ◦ *sexism isn't unique to Freudian theories ◦ male-centered viewpoint Behavioural Perspectives • Theoretical orientation based on the premise that scientific psychology should study observable behaviour • View personality as ◦ a collection of response tendencies that are tied to various stimulus situations • Focus on personality development rather than structure ◦ classical conditioning, operant conditioning and observational learning • Pavlov's Classical Conditioning ◦ Type of learning in which a neutral stimulus acquires the capacity to evoke a response that was originally evoked by another stimulus ▪ Unconditioned stimulus (UCS) evokes an unconditioned response without previous conditioning • eg. dog food ▪ Conditioned stimulus (CS) is a previously neutral stimulus that has acquired the capacity to evoke a conditioned response through conditioning • eg. bell ▪ Conditioned response is a learned reaction to a conditioned stimulus that occurs because of previous conditioning • eg. sal
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