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Chapter 14

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Western University
Psychology 1000

Personality 1 Psychology Chapter 14: Personality WHAT IS PERSONALITY?  Arises from the spectrum of human individuality—we observe people differ meaningfully in the ways they customarily think, feel, and act  Some theorists say we are like all other people, like some other people or like no other person  Rests on the observation that people seem to behave somewhat consistently over time and across different situations—gives notion to personality traits Personality—the distinctive and relatively enduring ways of thinking, feeling, and acting that characterize a person’s responses to life situations The thoughts, feelings, and actions that are seen as reflecting an individual’s personality typically have 3 characteristics: 1. They are seen as components of identity that distinguish that person from other people 2. The behaviours are viewed as being caused primarily by internal rather than environmental factors 3. The person’s behaviours seem to “fit together” in a meaningful fashion, suggesting an inner personality that guides and directs behaviour The study of personality has been guided by psychodynamic, humanistic, biological, behavioural, cognitive, and sociocultural perspectives THE PSYCHODYNAMIC PERSPECTIVE Look for the causes of behaviour in a dynamic interplay of inner forces that often conflict with one another. They also focus on unconscious determinant of behaviour Freud’s psychoanalytic theory Was awarded a fellowship with Jean Charcot treating patients with conversion hysteria—was convinced their symptoms were related to painful memories being repressed—this convinced him a part of the unconscious mind exerts great influence on behaviour and started experimenting with hypnosis, free association, and dream analysis Psychic energy and mental events  Freud considered personality to be an energy system, like the steam engines of his day  Instinctual drives generate psychic energy, which powers the mind and constantly presses for either direct or indirect release  Mental events may be conscious, preconscious, or unconscious Personality 2  Conscious mind—mental events that we are presently aware of  Preconscious mind—contains memories, thoughts, feelings, and images that we are unaware of at the moment but that can be called into conscious awareness  Unconscious mind—dynamic realm of wishes, feelings, and impulses that lies beyond our awareness. Only when impulses from the unconscious are discharged some way, such as in dreams, slips of the tongue, or some disguised behaviour, does the unconscious reveal itself  Freud believed the unconscious was the largest and most important area of the mind The structure of personality  Freud divided it into 3 separate but interacting structures: id, ego, and superego  Id—exists totally within the unconscious mind. It is the innermost core of the personality, the only structure present at birth, and the source of all psychic energy. The id has no direct contact with reality and functions in a totally irrational manner. Operating according to the pleasure principle, it seeks immediate gratification or release, regardless of rational considerations and environmental realities (want? Take!)  Id cannot directly satisfy itself because it has no contact with outer world. Therefore, a new structures forms that has direct contact with reality—ego  Ego—functions primarily at a conscious level, and it operates according to the reality principle. It tests reality to decide when and under what conditions the id can safely discharge its impulses and satisfy its needs. Tries to delay gratification until conditions are safe and appropriate  Superego—last to develop. The moral arm of the personality. Developed by the age of 4 or 5, and was the repository for the values and ideals of society. These ideals are internalized by what parents teach is right and wrong. Like the ego, strives to control the instincts of the id, particularly the sexual and aggressive impulses. The superego, in its quest for perfection, tries to block gratification permanently  With the development of the superego, the ego is squarely in the eye of the psychic storm. It must achieve compromise between the demands of the id, the constraints of the superego, and the demands of reality—this earns the ego the title “executive of the personality” Conflict, anxiety, and defense  There is a never-ending struggle between the id trying to discharge its instinctive energies and the opposing forces generated by the ego and superego  When the ego confronts impulses that threaten to get out of control or is faced with dangers from the environment, anxiety results  Anxiety serves as a danger signal and motivates the ego to deal with the problem at hand  When realistic strategies are ineffective in reducing anxiety, the ego may result to defense mechanisms that deny or distort reality  Repression—the primary means by which the ego “keeps the lid on the id”. The ego uses some of its energy to prevent anxiety-arousing memories, feelings, and Personality 3 impulses from entering consciousness. Repressed thoughts and wishes remain in the unconscious, striving for release, but they may be expressed indirectly, as in slips of the tongue or in dreams  Sublimation—a repressed impulse is released in the form of a socially acceptable or admired behaviour (a man with strong hostile impulses becomes a lawyer) See table 14.1: psychoanalytic ego defence mechanisms Psychosexual development  Freud proposed that children pass through psychosexual stages during which the id’s pleasure-seeking tendencies are focused on specific pleasure-sensitive areas of the body called erogenous zones  Deprivations of overindulgences can arouse during any of these stages, resulting in fixation, a state of arrested psychosexual development in which instincts are focused on a particular psychic theme Research on psychoanalytic theory  Freud opposed experimental research, believing that the complex phenomena he had identified could not be studied under controlled conditions  Predictions of dream content based on psychodynamic theory have been tested—Wegner examined whether wishes suppressed during the day appear in dreams by having students think about 2 things, suppressing one. Students dreamed more often of the suppressed targets than the nonsuppressed targets, consistent with psychodynamic theory  Major shortcoming—hard to define and measure  Cognitive psychologists developed methods to identify and measure nonconscious processing of info  Cognitive neuroscience has provided methods of tapping into mental processes as they occur by measuring brain activity Evaluating psychoanalytic theory Why is it criticized?  Many of its specific propositions have not held up under the scrutiny of research  It is hard to test—it often explains too much to allow clear-cut behavioural predictions Reaction formation—produces exaggerated behaviours that are the opposite of the impulse Freud’s legacy: nonanalytic and object relations approaches  Neoanalysts—psychoanalysts who disagreed with certain aspects of Freud’s thinking and developed their own theories  Alder, Horney, Erickson, and Jung believed that Freud did not give social and cultural factors a sufficiently important role in development and dynamics of personality and believed he stressed infantile sexuality too much Personality 4  Also criticized the emphasis he put on the events of childhood as determinants of adult personality  Erikson believed personality development continues throughout the lifespan  Alder insisted that humans are inherently social beings who are motivated by social interest, the desire to advance the welfare of others. Also postulated a general motive of striving for superiority, which drives people to compensate for real or imagined defects in themselves and to strive to be ever more competent in life  Jung developed the theory of analytic psychology—expanded Freud’s notion of the unconscious in unique directions. He 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 entire history of the human race. These memories are represented by archetypes, inherited tendencies to interprets experience in certain ways (find expression in symbols, myths, and beliefs that appear across many cultures)  Object relations—influential after Freud’s death (Klein, Kernberg, Mahler, Kohut). Focus on the images or mental representations that people form of themselves and other people as a result of early experience with caregivers  Bowlby’s attachment theory is an outgrowth of the object relations approach—relating early attachment experiences to later adult relationships  Hankin examined relationships between adult attachment dimensions and symptoms of emotional distress  Psychodynamic theorists rely more on object relations than classical psychoanalytic theories because it is easier to define and test THE HUMANISTIC PERSPECTIVE  Embrace a positive view that affirms the inherent dignity and goodness of the human spirit  Emphasize the central role of conscious experience, as well as the individual’s creative potential and inborn striving for self-actualization  Self-actualization—the total realization of ones human potential Carl Rogers’s self theory  Believed our behaviour is not a reaction to unconscious conflicts but a response to out immediate conscious experience of self and environment  Believed that the forces that direct behaviour are within us and that, when they are not distorted or blocked by our environment, they can be trusted to direct us toward SA The Self  Self—an organized, consistent set of perceptions of and beliefs about oneself. Once formed, the self plays a powerful role in guiding our perceptions and directing our behaviour  Children cannot distinguish between selves and environment—as they interact with their world they learn self concept of what ―is me‖ and what ―isn’t me‖ Personality 5  We have needs for self-consistency—an absence of conflict among self- perceptions and congruence—consistency between self-perceptions and experience  Experiences we have that are inconsistent with our self-concept cause anxiety and conflict. People who cannot cope and modify their self concepts have “problems with living”  A person who is overly confident but gets shut down may either change self perception to be a little less overly confident or deny they’re being shut down… Gaston  The more inflexible peoples self-concepts are, the less open they will be to their experience and the more maladjusted they will become  If there is a serious incongruence between self and experience, and experiences are forceful enough, defenses used to deny and distort may collapse resulting in anxiety The need for positive regard  Need for positive regard—rogers believed we are born with this innate need for acceptance, sympathy, and love from others and it is essential for healthy development  Unconditional positive regard—positive regard from parents is unconditional; independent from how a child behaves. This communicates that the child is inherently worthy of love (conditional is the opposite)  Need for positive self-regard—people need positive regard from themselves;; we all want to feel good about ourselves  Conditions of worth—internalized standards of self-worth fostered by conditional positive regard from others; dictate when we approve or disapprove of ourselves Fully functioning persons—Do not hide behind masks or adopt artificial roles. They feel a sense of inner freedom, self-determination, and choice in the direction of their growth. They have no fear of behaving spontaneously, freely and creatively Research on the self Self-esteem  Refers to how positively or negatively we feel about ourselves, and it is a very important aspect of personal well-being, happiness, and adjustment  High-self esteem: o Less susceptible to social pressure, few interpersonal problems, happier with their lives, achieve at higher levels, more capable of forming satisfying love relationships o Children develop it when parents communicate unconditional acceptance and love, establish clear guidelines for behaviour, reinforce compliance while giving child freedom  Low-self esteem: Personality 6 o Prone to psychological problems (anxiety and depression), to physical illness, and to poor social relationships and underachievement  Men and women do not differ  The higher the self-esteem, the greater the vulnerability to ego threats (can lead to aggression) Self-verification and self-enhancement motives  Self-verification—people are motivated to preserve their self-concept by maintaining self-consistency and congruence—experiment showed people remember adjectives about themselves that are more congruent with their self-images
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