Psychology 2035A/B Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: Gordon Allport, Personal Unconscious, Trait Theory

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Chapter 2: Theories of Personality*
Consistency across situations lies at the core of the concept of personality
Distinctiveness is also central to the concept of personality; each has his or her own distinctive set of personality traits
Personality: An individuals unique constellation of consistent behavioral traits
Personality Trait: is a durable disposition to behave in a particular way in a variety of situations
o A small number of fundamental traits determine other, more superficial traits
Raymond Cattel
o Statistical procedure of factor analysis to reduce a list of 171 personality traits by Gordon Allport to 16 Basic
dimensions of personality
o Factor analysis: correlations among many variables are analyzed to identify closely related clusters of variables
Robert McCrae, Paul Costa
o Vast majority of personality traits derive from just five higher-order traits that have come to be known as the Big
Five
o Supported by other researchers and has become the dominant conception of personality structure in
contemporary psychology
o These traits have been characterized as the latitude and longitude along which personality should be mapped
Extraversion,
High: outgoing, sociable, upbeat, friendly assertive and gregarious
Extraverts tend to be happier than others
More positive outlook on life and are motivated to pursue social contact, intimacy and
interdependence
Correlates positively with popularity and dating a greater variety of people
Positive predictors of occupational attainment
Neuroticism,
High: anxious hostile, self-conscious, insecure and vulnerable
Sometimes called negative emotionality
Tend to overreact more in response to stress than others
Exhibit more impulsiveness and emotional instability than others
Negative predictor of occupational attainment
Associated with an elevated prevalence of virtually all of the major mental disorders not to
mention a number of physical illnesses
Openness to experience,
Curiosity, flexibility, vivid fantasy, imaginativeness, artistic sensitivity, and unconventional
attitudes
Tolerant of ambiguity and have less need for closure on issues than others
Importance of this trait has been underestimated
o Determinant of people’s political attitudes and ideology
o Less prejudice against minorities than others
Associated with playing a musical instrument
Agreeableness,
High: sympathetic, trusting, cooperative, modest, and straightforward
Low: suspicious, antagonistic, aggressive
Associated with constructive approaches to conflict resolution and with empathy and helping
behavior
Correlates with honesty
Conscientiousness
Diligent, disciplined, well organized, punctual and dependable
Sometimes called constraint
Strong self-discipline and the ability to regulate oneself effectively
Fosters dependability in the workplace
Greater honesty, higher job performance ratings and relatively low alcohol consumption
Higher gpa in highschool and college because conscientious students work harder
Positive predictors of occupational attainment
Correlated with the experience of less illness and with reduced mortality
o Because conscientiousness is negatively related to just about every health impairing
behavior: drinking, excessive eating, smoking, drug use, lack of exercise, and various
risky practices
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Chapter 2: Theories of Personality*
o Promotes adherence to medical advice
Live longer than others
Psychodynamic Perspective
Psychoanalytic Theory:
o Psychoanalysis: required lengthy verbal interactions in which Freud probed deeply into patients’ lives
o Argued that unconscious forces govern human behavior
People didn’t like it cause it suggested that people are not masters of their own minds
o Childhood experiences strongly determine adult personality
Suggested that people are not masters of their own destinies
o Individuals’ personalities are shaped by how they cope with their sexual urges
Victorian times didn’t like this
o Id: primitive, instinctive component of personality that operates according to the pleasure principle
Houses the raw biological urges (to eat, sleep, defecate, copulate and so on) that energizes human
behavior
Acts according to the pleasure principle, which demands immediate gratification of its urges
Primary process thinking, primitive illogical, irrational, and fantasy oriented
o Ego: decision-making component of personality that operates according to the reality principle
Mediates the id and the external social world, with its expectations and norms regarding suitable behavior
Reality principle: delay gratification of the id’s urges until appropriate outlets and situations can be found
Like a man on horseback, who has to hold in check the superior strength of the horse
Wants to maximize gratification, just like the id but engages in secondary process thinking which is
relatively rational, realistic, and oriented toward problem solving
o Superego: moral component of personality that incorporates social standards about what represents right and
wrong
Accept certain moral principles, then they put pressure on themselves to live up to these standards
3 to 5 years of age
in some people, the superego can become irrationally demanding in its striving for moral perfection;
plagued by excessive guilt
o Conscious: consists of whatever one is aware of at a particular point in time
o Preconscious: contains material just beneath the surface of awareness that can be easily retrieved (middle name,
what you had for supper last night etc.)
o Unconscious: contains thoughts, memories, and desires that are well below the surface of conscious awareness
but that nonetheless exert great influence on one’s behavior
Believed that behavior is the outcome of an on-going series of internal conflicts between the id, ego and superego
Why did he emphasize sex and aggression?
o Thought that sex and aggression are subject to more complex and ambiguous social controls than other basic
motives
o Norms about these behaviors are subtle, and people often get mixed messages about what is appropriate
o Society dictate that they be routinely frustrated: asking someone for sex vs getting a drink when you’re thirsty
Lingering conflicts rooted in childhood experiences cause most personality disturbances
o Creates anxiety because its what society wants to control; worry that ego cant control the id
o Anxiety is distressing, so people try to rid themselves of this unpleasant emotion anyway they can; use of defense
mechanisms
o Defense mechanisms: largely unconscious reactions that protect a person from painful emotions such as anxiety
and guilt
Rationalization: involves creating false but plausible excuses to justify unacceptable behavior
“Everyone does it”
Repression: keeping distressing thoughts and feelings buried in the unconscious; motivated forgetting,
forget a dentist appointment or name of someone you don’t like
Projection: involves attributing one’s own thoughts, feelings, or motives to another
Say that the other person likes you when in fact you’re the one that likes them but you feel guilty
about it
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
Guilt about sexual desires often leads to reaction formation
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Chapter 2: Theories of Personality*
Many males who ridicule homosexuals are defending against their own latent homosexual
impulses
Exaggerating opposite behavior (being extra nice to mask feelings of hostility)
Regression: a reversion to immature patterns of behavior
Respond with childish boasting and bragging when anxious about self-worth
Identification: bolstering self-esteem by forming an imaginary or real alliance with some person or group
Identifying with rock stars, movie stars or famous athletes
Join exclusive country clubs or civic organizations
Sublimation: occurs when unconscious, unacceptable impulses are channeled into socially acceptable,
perhaps even admirable, behaviors
Intense aggressive impulses might be rechanneled by taking up boxing or football
Believed that many creative endeavors, such as painting, poetry, and sculpture, were
sublimations of sexual urges
o DaVinci’s painting of Madonna figures was a sublimation of his longing for intimacy with
his mother
o Relatively healthy defense mechanism
Seeds of psychological disorders are sown when defenses lead to wholesale distortion of reality
Development: Psycho sexual Stages
o Psychosexual stages: developmental periods with a characteristic sexual focus that leave their mark on adult
personality
Each stage has its own unique developmental challenges or tasks; the way they are handled supposedly
shapes personality
o Fixation: failure to move forward from one stage to another as expected
Caused by excessive gratification of needs at a particular stage or by excessive frustration of those needs
o Oral Stage (0-1):
Main source of erotic stimulation is the mouth (biting, sucking, chewing, and so on)
Considerable importance to the manner in which the child is weaned from the brest or the bottle
Fixation at this stage could form the basis for obsessive eating or smoking later in life among other things
o Anal Stage (2-3):
Expulsion or retention of feces
Toilet training is the crucial event at this time; society’s first systematic effort to regulate the child’s
biological urges
Excessive punishment might produce a latent feeling of hostility toward the training, who usually is the
mother
Might generalize to women in general
Heavy reliance on punitive measures might lead to an association between genital concerns and the
anxiety that the punishment arouses
Evolve to anxiety about sexual activities later in life
o Phallic Stage (4-5):
Penis envy: according to freud, girls feel hostile toward their mother because they blame her for their
anatomical “deficiency”
Oedipal complex: children manifest erotically tinged desires for their other-sex parent, accompanied by
feelings of hostility toward their same-sex parent
Name was taken from the Greek Myth of Oedipus, who was separated from his parents at birth
o Not knowing the identity of his real parents, he inadvertently killed his father and
married his mother
The way parents and children deal with the sexual and aggressive conflicts inherent in the
Oedipal complex is of paramount importance
o Resolve the dilemma by giving up the sexual longings for the other sex parent and the
hostility toward the same sex parent
o If it doesn’t resolve, then they cant identify with their sex and many aspects of the
child’s development wont progress as they should
o Latency and Genital Stages (6-Puberty):
Child’s sexuality becomes suppressed and latent
Expanding social contacts beyond the family
At puberty they evolve to the genital stage
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