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Chapter 14

PSYCH 1000 Chapter 14 Personality.doc

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Psychology 1000
Mark Cole

Chapter 14 - Personality What is Personality? • Moving from childhood personality to adult personality, there is only modest stability, but personality grows more consistent into adulthood (though there is still capacity for change). • Personality can be defined as "the distinctive and relatively enduring ways of thinking, feeling and acting that characterize a person's responses to life situations." • Personality has 3 characteristics: o Components of identity distinguish that person from other people. o Perceived internal cause, i.e. caused by internal rather than environmental factors. o Perceived organization and structure, wherein the person's behaviours seem to "fit together" in a meaningful fashion. The Psychodynamic Perspective Freud's Psychoanalytic Theory PSYCHIC ENERGY AND MENTAL EVENT • Instinctual drive generates psychic energy, which powers the mind and constantly presses for either direct or indirect release. o For example, a buildup of energy from sexual drives might be discharged directly in sexual activity or indirectly sexual fantasies, farming, or painting. • Mental events may be conscious, preconscious or unconscious: o The conscious mind refers to mental events that we are presently aware of. o The preconscious consists of memories, thoughts and feelings that we are unaware of at the moment, but can still be called into conscious awareness. o The unconscious mind contains wishes, feelings and impulses beyond our awareness FREUD’S STRUCTURE OF PERSONALITY • Personality is divided into three separate but interacting structures. • The id exists entirely within the subconscious, and is the source of all psychic energy. o No reality or logic, only gratification: pleasure principle o It is also the only structure present at birth. • Ego: functions primarily at a conscious level and operates according to the reality principle. o The ego tests reality to decide when and under what conditions the id can safely discharge its impulses. • Superego: repository for the ideals and values of society o strives to control the instincts of the id, but not temporarily/for safety— persmanently/for moral reasons o Develops last, at 4 or 5 Conflict, Anxiety, and Defence • When the ego confronts out-of-control impulses or danger, anxiety results • When realistic strategies prove ineffective, the ego may resort to defence mechanisms • Some defence mechanisms permit the release of impulses from the id in disguised forms that do not conflict with the limits imposed by either reality or the superego. • Major defence mechanisms: o Repression - Anxiety-arousing stuff is actively made unconscious o Denial - Refusal to acknowledge anxiety-arousing aspects of the environment. o Displacement - An unacceptable impulse is directed at a safer substitute target. o Intellectualization - the situation is dealt with as an intellectually interesting event. o Projection - An unacceptable impulse is attributed to other people. o Rationalization - A person constructs a false but plausible expalantion for an anxiety-arousing behaviour or event that has already occurred. o Reaction Formation - An anxiety-arousing impulse is repressed, and its psychic energy finds release in an exaggerated expression of the opposite behaviour. o Sublimation - A repressed impulse is released in the form of a socially acceptable or even admired behaviour. • Freud argued that excessive reliance on defence mechanisms was a primary cause of maladaptive or dysfunctional behaviour. PSYCHOSEXUAL DEVELOPMENT • Children pass through a series of psychosexual stages during which the id's pleasure-seeking tendencies are focused on specific pleasure-sensitive areas of the body (erogenous zones). • Deprivation or overindulgence can potentially arise during any of these stages, resulting in fixation (a state of arrested development wherein instincts are focused on a particular psychic theme). If any stage doesn’t develop properly, the result is called “fixation.” • Oral fixation: dependent, self-indulgent • Anal fixation: reckless, careless, defiant, disorganized, aroused by poop (lolol) • Anal retentive: obsessively organized • Phallic: Oedipus complex in boys (Freud) • Phallic: Electra complex in girls (Carl Jung) • Latency: Sexual unfulfillment • Genital: Frigidity, impotence, unfulfilling relationships Research on Psychoanalytic Theory • Freud preferred to test ideas through case studies and clinical observations, and opposed experimental research on the grounds that the complex phenomena he had identified could not be studied under controlled conditions. • Most theorists agree this was pretty stupid, and that clinical observations do not a theory make. • Because many of the concepts in the theory are ambiguous and difficult to operationally define and measure, research is rather limited. Evaluating Psychoanalytic Theory • Admittedly, Freud was right about the strong influence of nonconscious mental and emotional phenomena. It just so happens that research shows he was completely wrong in his assertions of what the unconscious is or how it works. Neoanalytic and Object Relations Approaches • Neoanalysts were psychoanalysts who disagreed with aspects of Freud's thinking and developed their own theories (Freud ignored social factors) • Alfred Adler insisted that humans are driven by social interest, the desire to advance the welfare of others. He also postulated the motive of striving for superiority, which drives people to compensate for real or imagined defects (inferiority complex). • Carl Jung developed the theory of analytic psychology. o Jung believed that humans possess not only a personal unconscious, based on their life experiences, but also a collective unconscious that consists of memories accumulated throughout the history of the human race. o Such memories are represented by archetypes, inherited tendencies to interpret experience in certain ways, finding expression in symbols, myths and beliefs that appear across many cultures. • After Freud's death, a new psychodynamic emphasis known as object relations became influential. o Object relations theorists focus on the mental representations that people form of themselves as a result of early experience with caregivers. o These internal representations of important adults become lenses or "working models" through which later social interactions are viewed, exerting an unconscious influence on a person's relationships throughout life. o People who have difficulty forming and maintaining intimate relationships tend to mentally represent themselves and others in negative ways. • Attachment theory (from Chapter 12) is an outgrowth of the object relations approach, and both concepts appear to be supported to some extent by research. • A large proportion of modern psychodynamic theorists claim to rely more heavily on object relations concepts than classical psychoanalysis (the concepts in object relations also benefit from being easier to define and measure for the sake of research). The Humanistic Perspective Carl Rogers's Self Theory • Carl Rogers believed behaviour is a response to our immediate conscious experience of self and environment. • Rogers believed that the forces that direct behaviour are within us, and in the absence of distortion or blocking by our environment, they can lead us to self-actualization. o Self actualization is the total realization of one's human potential, and is considered by some to be the ultimate human need and highest expression of human nature. THE SELF • The self is the central concept of Rogers's theory, an organized, consistent set of perceptions of and beliefs about oneself. • At the beginning of their lives, children cannot distinguish between themselves and their environment • Once self-concept is established, there is a tendency to maintain it—creates need for: o Self-consistency is an absence of conflict among self-perceptions. o Congruency is consistency between self-perceptions and experience. • Experiences that are inconsistent with self-concept can evoke threat and anxiety. • Well-adjusted individuals can resolve this conflict by modifying the self- concept to make it and the experience congruent, others may deny or distort their experiences to remove the incongruence. • To preserve their self-images, people behave in ways that will lead others to respond to them in a self-confirming fashion. • The degree of congruence between self-concept and experience helps define one's level of adjustment. The more inflexible people's self-concepts are, the less open they will be to experiences and the more maladjusted they will become. The Need for Positive Regard • We are born with an innate need for positive regard. • Ideally, children should receive unconditional positive regard from their parents • Conditions of love dictate when we approve or disapprove of ourselves— when we perceive others will approve of us. • Conditions of worth can tyrannize people and cause major incongruence between self and experience. • Fully functioning persons do not hide behind masks or adopt artificial roles, and have a sense of inner freedom and self-determination. • Because they are relatively free of conditions of worth, they can accept experiences without modifying or distorting them to suit their self-concept. Research on the Self Self-Esteem • Self esteem refers to how positively or negatively we see ourselves, and is an important part aspect of personal well-being and happiness. • In adulthood, there are only small differences in overall self-esteem between men and women, though male adolescents tend to have higher self-esteem then females. • Levels of self-esteem tend to be stable across development. • High self-esteem is linked to lower susceptibility to social pressure, fewer interpersonal problems, higher levels of achievement, greater happiness and higher capability to form satisfying loving relationships. Basically everything. • Low self esteem results in higher susceptibility to psychological problems such as depression and anxiety, as well as poor social relationships and underachievement. • Children develop higher self-esteem when their parents communicate unconditional acceptance and love, establish clear guidelines for behaviour, and reinforce compliance while still allowing the child freedom to make decisions within those guidelines. • Unstable or unrealistically high self-esteem can potentially be more dangerous than low self esteem, as individuals may respond with aggression or violence to protect their self-esteem against threats. • The higher one's self esteem, the greater the vulnerability to ego threats. • Pursuing self-esteem can also cause problems. When attempting a task solely for the purpose of raising one's self esteem, achieving one's goal will provide only temporary emotional benefits, and the emotional damage of failing is much greater than when undertaking a task for the sake of mastering it. • Pursuing a goal to enhance self-esteem can cause people to feel particularly challenged to succeed, and react to threats in a destructive or self- destructive manner. Self-Verification and Self-Enhancement Motives • Self-verification: Maintaining self-concept through self-consistency and self- congruence (Rogers) • There is significant research support for this concept. • Self-verification needs are also expressed in people's tendency to seek out self-confirming relationships. • Rogers also suggested that people have a need to regard themselves positively, and research confirms a strong and pervasive tendency to gain and preserve a positive self-image, processes known as self-enhancement. • Several self-enhancement strategies have been identified: o People tend to attribute success to their own abilities and efforts, but failure to environmental factors. o Most people rate themselves as better than average on virtually any socially desirable characteristic that is subjective in nature. Culture, Gender, and the Self • Individualistic cultures (such as those in North America or Northern Europe) place an emphasis on independence and personal attainment. • Collectivistic cultures (such as those found in many parts of Asia, Africa and South America) emphasize connectedness between people and achieving group goals. • Gender-role socialization provides us with gender schemes, organized mental structures that contain our understanding of appropriate attributes and behaviours for males and females. • In Western cultures, men tend to prize attributes related to achievement, emotional strength, athleticism and self-sufficiency. • Women, on the other hand, prize interpersonal competencies, kindness, and helpfulness • In a sense, men in Western cultures tend to develop more individualistic self- concepts, and women tend towards more a more collectivistic self-concept Evaluating Humanistic Theories • Humanistic theorists focus on the individuals' subjective experiences. What matters most is how people view themselves and the world. • Some critics believe the humanistic view relies too heavily on individuals’ reports of their personal experiences (for example, psychoanalytic theorists maintain that accepting what a person says at face value does not take into account the effects of unconscious factors). • Other critics believe it impossible to define an individual's actualizing tendency except in terms of the behaviour that it supposedly produces. • Rogers dedicated himself to developing a theory whose concepts could be measured and whose laws could be tested. o One of his most notable contributions was a series of studies on the process of self-growth that can occur in psychotherapy, measuring the discrepancy between clients' ideal selves (how they wish to be) and perceived selves (how they see themselves) and found that the discrepancy decreased over the course of therapy. • Recent developments, such as research on the impact of non-conscious self- esteem, and the interactions between social threat, stress, and self esteem, have renewed scientific interest in humanistic concepts. Trait and Biological Perspectives • The goals of trait theorists are to describe the basic classes of behaviour that define personality, to devise ways of measuring individual differences in personality traits, and to use these measures to understand and predict a person's behaviour. • The starting point for the trait researcher is identifying the behaviours that define a particular trait. • Thankfully, trait theorist Gordon Allport, who clearly did not own a TV and had yet to discover masturbation, went through the English dictionary and recorded every fucking word that could be used to describe personal traits. He ended up with a list of 17,953 words. • Because describing people in terms of nearly 18,000 dimensions is somewhat impractical, the trait theorist's goal is to condense these descriptors into a manageable number of basic traits. • Two major approaches have been taken to define "the building blocks of personality." o Traits: dominance, friendliness, etc or a theory of personality. o A more systematic approach uses factor analysis to identify clusters of specific behaviours that are correlated with one another Cattell's Sixteen Personality Factors • Because factor analysis can be used and interpreted in different ways, there are disagreements among theorists about the number of basic personality traits. • Raymond Cattell asked thousands of people to rate themselves on numerous behavioural characteristics, as well as asking people who knew the participants well. • He then subjected the resultant data to factor analysis, producing 16 basic behaviour clusters, or factors. • Using that information, Cattell developed the widely used 16 Personality Factor Questionnaire (16PF) to measure differences on each of the dimensions and provide a comprehensive personality description. Eysenck's Extraversion-Stability Model • Hans Eynsenck proposed only a few basic personality traits (just two, in fact, though he later added a third). • Extraversion reflects the tendency to be sociable, active, and willing to take risks, while Introversion represents a tendency towards social inhibition, passivity and caution. • The Stability-Instability dimension moves from high emotional stability and poise on one end, to moodiness and anxiety at the Instable end. • The model shows the two basic dimensions intersecting at right angles, indicating that the two are independent. Thus, a person's position on the Introversion-Extraversion scale tells us nothing about their stability, and vice- versa. • The secondary traits around the periphery of the circle reflect various combinations of the two primary dimensions. (Stable extroversion=leadership, unstable extraversion=touchy, etc) • It is probably worth looking at the diagram on page 559, fig. 14.12b, since a textual description isn't quite sufficient. • Eynsenck later added a third dimension, Psychoticism-Self Control, to his theory (it should be noted that Psychoticism does not necessarily mean the person has any kind of psychosis, but instead refers to nonconformity and social deviance). The Five Factor Model • Other trait theorists argued that Cattell had identified too many basic traits, and Eynseck too few. • Their factor analytic studies suggest five "higher-order" factors are all that are needed to capture the basic structure of personality. • The textbook keeps referring to these factors as 'the Big Five,' which I personally find abhorrent but nevertheless is worth noting because they'll be referred to as that later in the notes. • These factors can be expressed by the acronym OCEAN, standing for Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism. Behaviours relating to each factor can be found on page 560, Table 14.5, if you wish to view them. Traits and Behaviour Prediction • Trait theorists try not to only d
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