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Chapter 12


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Mindi Foster

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The Nature of Personality Defining personality: Consistency and Distinctiveness  Distinctiveness: each individual has his or her own distinctive set of personality traits  Concept of personality is used to explain: 1. the stability in a person’s behavior over time and across situations(consistency) 2. the behavioral differences among people reacting to the same situation(distinctiveness)  Personality: an individual’s unique constellation of consistent behavioral traits Personality Traits: Dispositions and Dimensions  Personality traits: a durable disposition to behave in a particular way in a variety of situations  Adjectives such as: honest, dependable, moody, impulsive, suspicious, anxious, excitable, domineering, and friendly  Some traits are more basic than others o i.e. excitable: impulsive, restless, irritable, boisterous, and impatient  factor analysis: correlations among many variables are analyzed to identify closely related clusters of variables o identify hidden factors → very basic, higher-order traits  An individual’s personality can be described completely by measuring just 16 traits The 5-factor model of personality traits 1. extraversion a. outgoing, sociable, upbeat, friendly, assertive, and gregarious b. happier than others , more positive outlook on life c. are motivated to pursue social contact, intimacy, and interdependence 2. neuroticism a. anxious, hostile, self-conscious, insecure, and vulnerable b. overreact more in response to stress c. exhibit more impulsiveness and emotional instability 3. openness to experience a. curiosity, flexibility, vivid fantasy, imaginativeness, artistic sensitivity, and unconventional attitudes b. tolerant of ambiguity and have less need for closure on issues c. (been underestimated)openness fosters liberalism, this trait is the key determinant of people’s political attitudes and ideology 4. agreeableness a. sympathetic, trusting, cooperative, modest, and straightforward b. opposite: suspicious, antagonistic, aggressive c. constructive approaches to conflict resolution, making agreeable people less quarrelsome d. empathy, helping behavior 5. conscientiousness a. diligent, disciplined, well-organized, punctual, and dependable b. constraint, strong self-discipline, the ability to regulate oneself effectively c. conscientiousness fosters diligence and dependability in the workplace, impression management  Big 5 traits are predictive of specific aspects of behavior o extraversion: positively with popularity and with dating a greater variety of people o openness to experience: playing a musical instrument o agreeableness: honesty o conscientiousness: greater honesty, higher job performance ratings, and relatively low alcohol consumption  Big 5 traits and quite a variety of important life outcomes, including interpersonal relationships and even academic performance o extraversion and conscientiousness: positive predictor of occupational attainment o neuroticism: negative predictor, elevates the probability of divorce o agreeableness and conscientiousness: reduces the likelihood of divorce  Big 5 traits and feelings of subjective well-being o 2 of the big 5 traits are related to health and mortality over the course of life span  Neuroticism – elevated prevalence of virtually all major mental disorders, physical illnesses  Conscientiousness – experience of less illness and with reduced mortality o big 5 and socioeconomic status  social class ↑, conscientious ↑, openness and extraversion ↑, socioeconomic level ↑  agreeableness and neuroticism are less prevalent in the upper classes  Criticism of big 5: o more than 5 traits are necessary o should have a 6 ~ honesty-humility o some important traits(manipulative, frugal, conservative, humorous, and egotistical) do not fit into the big 5 o some argue for an even simpler 3-factor theory  Diverse personality theories into 4 broad group: o psychodynamic perspectives o behavioral perspectives o humanistic perspectives o biological perspectives 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 Psychoanalysis - required lengthy verbal interactions with patients (departed from critical scientific tenets such as objectivity and testability) 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. Most of Freud’s contemporaries were uncomfortable with his theory for at least 3 reasons: 1. in arguing that people’s behavior is governed by unconscious factors of which they are unaware, Freud: individuals are not masters of their own minds 2. in claiming that adult personalities are shaped by childhood experiences and other factors beyond one’s control, Freud: people are not masters of their own destinies 3. by emphasizing the great importance of how people cope with their sexual urges, Freud: those who held the conservative, Victorian values of his time  Structure of personality o 3 components: id, ego, superego o id: the primitive, instinctive component of personality that operates according to the pleasure principle  houses raw biological urges that energize human behavior  Pleasure principle: demands immediate gratification of its urges  primary-process thinking: primitive, illogical, irrational, and fantasy-oriented o ego: the decision-making component of personality that operates according to the reality principle  Reality principle: seeks to delay gratification of the id’s urges until appropriate outlets and situations can be found  mediates id and desires, decide how to behave, tame the unbridled desires of the id  secondary-process thinking: relatively rational, realistic, and oriented toward problem solving → avoid negative consequences, achieve long-range goals that require putting off gratification o superego: the moral component of personality that incorporates social standards about what represents right and wrong  emerge out of the ego at around 3 to 5 years of age  the superego can become irrationally demanding in its striving for moral perfection(who are plagued by excessive feelings of guilt)  Levels of Awareness 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 easily be retrieved (i.e. your middle name, what you ha for supper last night) o Unconscious: contains thoughts, memories, and desires that are well below the surface of conscious awareness but that nonetheless exert great influence on behavior (i.e. a forgotten trauma from childhood, hidden feelings of hostility toward a parent, and repressed sexual desires)  Conflict and the Tyranny of Sex and Aggression o Freud: behavior is the outcome of an ongoing series of internal conflicts(id wants to gratify its urges immediately, but the norms civilized society frequently dictate otherwise) o SEX and AGGRESSION:  .. are object to more complex and ambiguous social controls  .. are more regularly  Anxiety and Defence Mechanisms o Anxiety can be attributed to your ego worrying about ① the id getting out of control and doing something terrible that leads to severe negative consequences ② the superego getting out of control and making you feel guilty about a real or imagined transgression o Defense mechanisms are largely unconscious reactions that protect a person from unpleasant emotions such as anxiety and guilt ~(self-deception)  Rationalization, which is creating false but plausible excuses to justify unacceptable behavior (i.e. you make a mistake but you reduce your guilt by rationalizing that “everyone does it”)  Repression is keeping distressing thoughts and feelings buries in the unconscious (i.e.forgot someone’s name you don’t like)(most basic)  Projection is attributing one’s own thoughts, feelings, or motives to another(lust for coworker makes you feel guilty, than you attribute any latent sexual tension between the two of you to the other person’s desire to seduce you)  Displacement is diverting emotional feelings(i.e. anger) from their original source to a substitute target. (i.e. displacing your anger onto irrelevant targets) o Other defence mechanisms:  Reaction formation: behaves in a way that’s exactly the opposite of one’s true feelings (leads by sexual desires)  Regression is a reversion to immature patterns of behavior(i.e. childish boast)  Identification is bolstering self-esteem by forming an imaginary or real alliance with some person or group(i.e. youngsters identifies with rock stars; adults join exclusive country clubs as a means of identification) o defence of sublimation : which occurs when unconscious, unacceptable impulses are channeled into socially acceptable, perhaps even admirable, behaviors. (i.e. aggressive impulse-boxing/football)  Development: Psychosexual Stages 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 on stage to another as expected(can be caused by excessive gratification of needs/excessive frustration of those needs) o Oral stage st  1 year of life, main source of erotic stimulation is the mouth(in biting, sucking, chewing, and so on), wean from breast to bottle, form the basis for obsessive eating or smoking later in life o Anal Stage nd  2 year, get source from bowel movements, toilet training→①excessive punishment produce a latent feeling of hostility toward the trainer②heavy reliance on punitive measures could lead to an association between genital concerns and the anxiety that the punishment arouses o Phallic Stage th  4 year, genitals become the focus for the child’s erotic energy  in the Oedipal complex, chi
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