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Chapter 12

Chapter 12- Personality-1.docx

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Don Morgenson

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Chapter 12 Personality
Personality refers to an individual’s unique constellation of consistent behavioural traits
(enduring thoughts, feelings and behaviour).
Roughly 50% of our personality traits are genetic, 50% are environmental
Personality is used to explain:
Consistency: The stability in a person’s behaviour over time and across situations
Distinctiveness: The behavioural differences among people reacting to the same
The “Big Five” Personality traits as stated by Robert McCrae & Paul Costa
1. Extraversion
High score: outgoing, sociable, upbeat, friendly, assertive
Positive emotionality
Tend to be happier; more positive outlook on life
2. Neuroticism
High score: anxious, hostile, self-conscious, insecure and vulnerable
Overreact in response to stress
Impulsive and emotionally insecure
3. Openness
High score: tolerant of ambiguity, curious, flexible, imaginative, artistic
Fosters Liberalism
4. Agreeableness
High score: sympathetic, trusting, cooperative, modest and straightforward
Empathy and helping behaviour
5. Conscientiousness
High score: diligent, disciplined, well-organized, punctual and dependable
Personality theories can be divided into four categories:
oPsychodynamic perspectives
oBehavioural perspectives
oHumanistic perspectives
oBiological perspectives
Psychodynamic Perspectives
oPsychodynamic theories derive from the work of Sigmund Freud, which focus on
unconscious mental forces
Sigmund Freud
Originally interested in medicine
Obsessed with being famous
Gifted writer
Theory: Psychoanalytic theory attempts to explain personality, motivation, and
psychological disorders by focusing on the influence of early childhood
experiences, unconscious motives and conflicts, and the methods people use to
cope with sexual urges
His ideas offended others because they suggested that:
oPeople were not in control of their own behaviour
oThe adult personality was shaped by childhood experiences and other
factors beyond one’s control
oSexual urges drive behaviour, which offended those who held the
conservative / Victorian values of the time
Iceberg theory: our consciousness is only the tip of the iceberg (below is the
Freud divided personality into three components
oThe Id: the instinctive component of personality that operates according to
the pleasure principal
Pleasure Principal: demands immediate gratification of its urges
The id houses the raw biological urges (to eat, sleep, defecate, etc.)
Primary process thinking
oThe Ego: the decision-making component of personality that operates
according to the reality principal
Reality Principal: seeks to delay gratification of the id until
appropriate outlets and situations can be found
The ego mediates between the ego and the external social world
Considers social realities in deciding how to behave
Secondary process thinking
oThe Superego: the moral component of personality that incorporates social
standards about what represents right and wrong
Conscious: contact with the outside world
Preconscious: material just beneath the surface
Unconscious: difficult to retrieve material; well below the surface of awareness
How do we get to the unconscious?
1. Free association
2. Slips of the tongue
3. Dream analysis
Psychosexual Development
Stage Location Description Examples
0- 1 Years
Oral Libido within the mouth Biting, chewing,
2- 3 Years
Anal Libido from defecating Toilet training
4- 5 Years
Phallic Conflict resulting from the sexual
desire towards the parent of
opposite gender
Young daughter
wanting father. Young
son wanting mother.
5- Puberty Latency Libido temporarily disappears No sexual desire,
which allows for
opposite gender
Adult Genital Libido from intimate relationships Sexual urges drive
Ego Defense Mechanisms
Definition Example
Keeping distressing thoughts
and feelings buried in the
A traumatized soldier has no
recollection of a near-death
Attributing one’s own thoughts
or feelings onto another.
A woman that hates her boss
convinces herself that her boss
actually hates her.
Diverting emotional feelings
from the original source to a
substitute target (scapegoat).
After a parental scolding, a girl
takes her anger out on her
younger brother.
Behaving in a way that is
exactly the opposite of one’s
A parent who resents a child,
spoils the child with gifts.
When one is stressed, they
revert to a prior state when they
were secure.
An adult has a hissy-fit when he
doesn’t get his way.
Creating false but plausible
excuses to justify unacceptable
A student watches TV instead of
studying, saying that “additional
study wouldn’t do any good”.
Bolstering self-esteem by
forming an imaginary or real
alliance with some person or
An insecure young joins a
fraternity to boost his self-esteem.
Occurs when unconscious,
unacceptable impulses are
converted into socially
acceptable behaviour.
A young man’s longing for intimacy
is channeled into his creative
Introjection Values: if you can’t beat them, join them.
Identification Fixation: failure to move forward from one stage to another as
Create Fantasies
Compensation Compensating weaknesses by emphasizing strengths in another
Denial of Reality Arguing against something by stating it doesn’t exist.
Problems with Freud’s Theories
1. Cannot verify with empirical evidence
2. Violate the Law of Parsimony (the simplest explanation is the best)
3. Case load was biased  Phallocentric
4. Development theory (didn’t experiment with children)
5. Dependent on adult memories
6. Ignores the “Healthy Personality”