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Chapter 12

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Carolyn Ensley

Chapter 12- Personality: Theory, Research and Assessment The Nature of Personality Defining personality: Consistency and distinctiveness  Quality of consistency across situations lies at the core of the concept of personality  Distinctiveness is also central to the concept of personality  Personality is used to explain why not everyone acts the same way in similar situations  The concept of personality is used to explain the stability in a person’s behaviour over time and across situations (consistency) and the behavioural differences among people reacting to the same situation (distinctiveness) Personality traits: Dispositions and Dimensions  A personality trait is a durable disposition to behave in a particular way in a variety of situations  Based on factor analytic work, Cattell concluded that an individual’s personality can be described by measuring just 16 traits The 5-Factor Model of Personality Traits 1. Extraversion- positive emotionality i.e. outgoing, sociable 2. Neuroticism- anxious, hostile, vulnerable 3. Openness to experience- key determinant of people’s political attitudes and ideology i.e. curiosity 4. Agreeableness- constructive approaches to conflict resolution i.e. sympathetic, trusting 5. Conscientiousness – highly diligent in the workplace i.e. diligent, discipline, well organized  Conscientious people live longer than others Psychodynamic Perspectives  Psychodynamic theories include all of the diverse theories descended from the work of Sigmund Freud, which focus on unconscious mental forces Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory  Attempts to explain personality motivation and psychological disorders by focusing on the influence of early childhood experiences, on unconscious motives and conflicts and on the methods people use to cope with their sexual and aggressive urges  Contemporaries were uncomfortable with his theory for 3 reasons: 1. he claimed individuals are not maters of their own minds 2. he claimed people are not masters of their own destines 3. offended conservative Victorian values Structure of personality  divided personality structure into 3 component: the id, the ego and the superego o the id is the primitive, instinctive component of personality that operates according to the pleasure principle – demands immediate gratification of its urges  raw biological urges that energize human behaviour o the ego is the decision-making component of personality that operates according to the reality principle  considers social realities  reality principle- seeks to delay gratification of the id’s urges until appropriate outlets and stimulus can be found o the superego is the moral component of personality that incorporates social standards about what represents right and wrong  moral imperatives Level of Awareness  the conscious consists of whatever one is aware of at a particular point in time  the preconscious contains material just beneath the surface of awareness that can be easily retrieved  the unconscious contains thoughts, memories and desires that are well below the surface of conscious awareness but that nonetheless exert great influence on behaviour  the unconscious is much larger than the conscious and preconscious Conflicts and the tyranny of sex and aggression  behaviour is the outcome of ongoing series of internal conflicts  people’s lives are dominated by conflict  conflicts centering on sexual and aggressive impulses are especially likely to have far-reaching consequences o sex and aggression are subject to more complex and ambiguous social controls than other basic motives o sexual and aggressive drives are thwarted more regularly than our basic biological urges Anxiety and Defence Mechanisms  anxiety is distressing so people try to rid themselves of this unpleasant emotion anyway they can  defense mechanisms are largely unconscious reactions that protect a person from unpleasant emotions such as anxiety and guilt o rationalization – creating false but plausible excuses to justify unacceptable behaviour o repression- keeping distressing thoughts and feeling buried in the unconscious o projection- attributing one’s own thoughts, feeling or motives to another o displacement- diverting emotional feelings from their original source to a substitute target o reaction formation – behaving in a way that’s exactly the opposite of one’s true feelings o regression- reversion to immature patterns of behaviour o identification- bolstering self-esteem by forming an imaginery or real alliance with some person or group Development: Psychosexual Stages  Freud believed the basic foundations of an individual’s personality has been laid down by the tender age of 5  Psychosexual stages are developmental periods with a characteristic sexual focus that leave their mark on adult personality  Fixation is a failure to move forward from one stage to another as expected o Fixations left over from childhood affect adult personality Oral Stage  First year of life  Main source of erotic stimulation is the mouth Anal Stage  Second year  Erotic pleasure from bowel movements Phallic Stage  Age 4  Genitals become the focus for the child’s erotic energy  In the oedipal complex, children manifest erotically tinged desires for their opposite-sex parent, accompanied by feelings of hostility toward their same-sex parent Latency and Genital Stages  From age 6 through puberty, the child’s sexuality is largely suppressed  With puberty the child progresses into the genital stage o Sexual urges reappear and focus on the genitals once again o Sexual energy is normally channeled toward peers of the other sex  Freud believed that unconscious sexual conflicts rooted in childhood experiences cause most personality disturbances Jung’s Analytical Psychology  Unconscious consists of 2 layers  Personal unconscious- houses material that is not within one’s conscious awareness because it has been repressed or forgotten  Collective unconscious is a storehouse of latent memory traces inherited from people’s ancestral past  Archetypes are emotionally charged images and thought forms that have universal meaning  Depended extensively on dream analysis in treatment of patients  Introverts tend to be preoccupied with the internal world of their own thoughts, feelings and experiences  Extraverts tend to be interested in the external world of people and things Adler’s Individual Psychology  The foremost source of human motivation is a striving for superiority o Universal drive to adapt, improve one self and master lifes challenges  Compensation involves efforts to overcome imagined or real inferiorities by developing one’s ability  Inferiority complex- exaggerated feelings of weakness and inadequacy  Some people engage in overcompensation to conceal, even from themselves, their feelings of inferiority  Stressed the social context of personality development  How birth order has an impact on personality Evaluating Psychodynamic Perspectives  Research has demonstrated that unconscious forces can influence behaviour, internal conflict often plays a role in generating psychological distress, early childhood experiences can have powerful influences on adult personality and people do use defence mechanisms to reduce their experience of unpleasant emotions  Psychodynamic formulations have been criticized because: 1. poor testability- ideas have been too vague and conjectural to permit a clear scientific test 2. inadequate evidence- depend too heavily on clinical case studies in which clinicians see what they want to see 3. sexism- sexist bias against women Behavioural Perspectives  behaviourism is a theoretical orientation based on the premise that scientific psychology should study only observable behaviour Skinner’s Ideas Applied to personality Personality structure: a view from the outside  focused on how the external environment moulds overt behaviour  people show some consistent patterns of behaviour because they have some stable r
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