1) The nature of personality
a. Defining personality: consistency and distinctiveness
i. Although no one is entirely consistent in behavior, this quality of
consistency across situations lies at the core of the concept of
ii. Distinctiveness is central to the concept of personality.
iii. Personality refers to an individual’s unique constellation of
consistent behavioral traits.
iv. The concept of personality is used to explain
1. The stability in a person’s behavior over time and across
2. The behavioral differences among people reacting to the
same situation (distinctiveness)
b. Personality traits: dispositions and dimensions
i. Personality trait is a durable disposition to behave in a particular
way in a variety of situations. Adjectives such as honest and so on
describe dispositions that represent personality traits.
ii. Factor analyses, correlations among many variables are analyzed
to identify closely related clusters of variables. Factor analysis is
used to identify these hidden factors. In factor analyses of
personality traits, theses hidden factors are viewed as very basic,
higher-order traits that determine less basic, more specific traits.
iii. Raymond Cattell used the statistical procedure of factor analysis to
reduce a huge list of personality traits compiled by Gordon Allport
to just 16 basic dimensions of personality.
c. The five-factor model of personality traits
i. Robert McCrae and Paul Costa have used factor analysis to arrive
at even simpler, five-factor model of personality.
ii. The “big five”: extraversion, neuroticism, openness to experience,
agreeableness, and conscientiousness.
1. Extraversion: people who score high in extraversion are
characterized as outgoing, sociable, upbeat, friendly,
assertive, and gregarious. Refer as positive emotionality in
2. Neuroticism: tend to be anxious, hostile, self-conscious,
insecure, and vulnerable. People tend to overreact more in
response to stress than others.
3. Openness to experience: curiosity, flexibility, vivid fantasy,
imaginativeness, artistic sensitivity, and unconventional
attitudes. It is the key determinant of people’s political
attitudes and ideology.
4. Agreeableness: tend to be sympathetic, trusting,
cooperative, modest, and straightforward. Opposite of this
are suspicious, antagonistic, and aggressive. Agreeableness
is associated with constructive approaches to conflict
resolution, making agreeable people less quarrelsome than
others. 5. Conscientiousness: tend to be diligent, disciplined, well
organized, punctual, and dependable. Referred to as
constraint in some trait models, conscientiousness is
associated with being highly diligent in the workplace.
iii. Extraversion correlates positively with popularity and with dating
a greater variety of people. Conscientiousness correlates with
greater honesty, higher job performance ratings, and relatively low
alcohol consumption, openness to experience is associated with
playing a musical instrument, whereas agreeableness correlates
iv. Higher GPA is associated with higher conscientiousness.
v. Extraversion and conscientiousness are positive predictors of
occupational attainment, whereas neuroticism is a negative
predictor. Neuroticism elevates the probability of divorce, whereas
agreeableness and conscientiousness reduce it.
vi. Neuroticism is associated with an elevated prevalence of physical
and mental disorders, whereas conscientiousness is correlated wit
the experience of less illness and with reduced mortality.
vii. Five-factor model has become the dominant conception of
personality structure in contemporary psychology.
viii. Critical: five-factor model is more arbitrary than widely
appreciated. Also more than five traits are necessary to account for
most of the variation seen in human personality.
2) Psychodynamic perspectives psychodynamic theories: include all of the
diverse theories descended from the work of Sigmund Freud, which focus on
unconscious mental forces.
a. Freud’s psychoanalytic theory
i. Psychoanalysis: required lengthy verbal interactions with patients
during which Freud probed deeply into their lives.
ii. 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
iii. Most of Freud’s contemporaries were uncomfortable with his
theory for at least three reasons:
1. In arguing that people’s behaviour is governed by
unconscious factors of which they are unaware, Freud made
the disconcerting suggestion that individual are no masters
of their own minds.
2. In claiming that adult personalities are shaped by childhood
experiences and other factors beyond one’s control, he
suggested that people are not master of their own destinies.
3. By emphasizing the great importance of how people cope
with their sexual urges, he offended those ho held the
conservative, Victorian values of his time.
iv. Structure of personality: three
1. The id is the primitive instinctive component of personality
that operates according to the pleasure principle. Freud referred to the id as the as the reservoir of psychic energy.
By this he meant that the id houses the raw biological urges
that energize human behavior. The id operates according to
the pleasure principle, which demands immediate
gratification of its urges. The id engages in primary-process
thinking, which is primitive, illogical, irrational, and
2. The ego is the decision-making component of personality
that operates according to the reality principle. The ego
mediates between the id, with its forceful desires for
immediate satisfaction, and the external social world, with
its expectations and norms regarding suitable behavior. The
ego considers social realities—society’s norms, etiquette,
rules, and customs—in deciding how to behave. The ego is
guided by the reality principle, which seeks to delay
gratification of the id’s urges until appropriate outlets and
situations can be found. In short, to stay out of trouble the
ego often works to tame the unbridled desires of the id. In
the long run, the ego wants to maximize gratification, just as
the id does. However, the ego engages in secondary-process
thinking, which is relatively rational, realistic, and oriented
toward problem solving. Thus, the ego strives to avoid
negative consequences from society and its representatives.
By behaving “properly”. It also attempts to achieve long-
range goals that sometimes require putting off gratification.
3. The superego is the moral component of personality that
incorporates social standards about what represents right
and wrong. Throughout their lives, but especially during
childhood, people receive training about what constitutes
good and bad behavior. Many social norms regarding
morality are eventually internalized. The superego emerges
out of the ego at around three to five years of age. In some
people, the superego can become irrationally demanding in
its striving for moral perfection. Such people are plagued by
excessive feelings of guilt.
v. Levels of awareness
1. Freud contrasted the unconscious with the conscious and
preconscious, creating three levels of awareness.
2. The conscious consists of whatever one is aware of at a
particular point in time.
3. The preconscious contains material just beneath the surface
of awareness that can easily be retrieved.
4. The unconscious contains thoughts, memories, and desires
that are well below the surface of conscious awareness but
that nonetheless exert great influence on behavior.
5. Freud believes that the unconscious is much larger than the
conscious or preconscious. He proposed that the ego and
superego operate at all three levels of awareness. In
contrast, the id is entirely unconscious, expressing its urges at a conscious level through the ego. The id’s desires for
immediate satisfaction often trigger internal conflicts with
the ego and superego.
vi. Conflict and the Tyranny of sex and aggression
1. Freud assumed that behavior is the outcome of an ongoing
series of internal conflicts.
2. The id wants to gratify its urges immediately, but the norms
of civilized society frequently dictate otherwise.
3. Freud believed that conflicts centering on sexual and
aggressive impulses are especially likely to have far-
4. Two reasons for emphasizing sex and aggression:
a. He thought that se and aggression are subject to
more complex and ambiguous social controls than
other basic motives. The norms governing sexual
and aggressive behavior are subtle, and people often
get inconsistent messages about what’s appropriate.
b. He noted that the sexual and aggressive drives are
thwarted more regularly than other basic biological
urges. Freud ascribed great importance to these
needs because social norms dictate that they be
vii. Anxiety and defense mechanisms
1. The anxiety can be attributed to your ego worrying about
a. The id getting out of control and doing something
terrible that leads to severe negative consequences
b. The superego getting out of control and making you
feel guilty about a real or imagined transgression.
c. Defense mechanisms are largely unconscious
reactions that protect a person from unpleasant
emotions such as anxiety and guilt. They’re mental
manoeuvres that work through self-deception.
d. Rationalization, which is creating false but plausible
excuses to justify unacceptable behaviour.
e. Repression is keeping distressing thoughts are
feelings buried in the unconscious. Repression is the
flagship in the psychoanalytic fleet of defense
mechanisms. Repression has been called “motivated
f. Self-deception can also be seen in projection and
i. Projection is attributing one’s own thoughts,
feelings, or motives to another.
ii. Displacement is diverting emotional feelings
(usually anger) from their original source to a
g. Other prominent defense mechanisms:
i. Reaction formation is behaving in a way
that’s exactly the opposite of one’s true feelings. Guilt about sexual desires often leads
to reaction formation. The telltale sign of
reaction formation is the exaggerated quality
of the opposite behavior.
ii. Regression is a reversion to immature
patterns of behavior. When anxious about
their self-worth, some adults respond with
childish boasting and bragging. Such bragging
is regressive when it’s marked by massive
exaggerations that virtually anyone can see
iii. Identification is bolstering self-esteem by
forming an imaginary or real alliance with
some person or group. Youngsters often
shore up precarious feelings of self-worth by
identifying with rock stars, movie stars, or
h. Repressive coping style and shown that “repressors”
have an impoverished memory for emotional events
and negative feedback and those they habitually
avoid unpleasant emotions by distracting
themselves with pleasant thoughts and memories.
i. People actively work to suppress thoughts about the
possibility that they might have an undesirable trait,
but this ongoing effort makes thoughts about the
unwanted trait highly accessible, so they chronically
use this trait concept to explain others’ behavior and
end up routinely attributing the trait to others.
j. Reaction formation underlies homophobia in males.
When homophobic men are shown erotic videotape
depicting homosexual activity, they exhibit sexual
arousal not seen in non-homophobic subjects.
viii. Development: psychosexual stages
1. Psychosexual stages are developmental periods with a
characteristic sexual focus that leave their mark on adult
2. Fixation is a failure to move forward from one stage to
another as expected. Fixation can be caused by excessive
gratification of needs at a particular stage or by excessive
frustration of those needs. Generally, fixation leads to an
overemphasis on the psychosexual needs prominent during
the fixated stage. Five psychosexual stages:
a. Oral stage: this stage encompasses the first year of
life. (0-1) During this period, the main source of
erotic stimulation is the mouth. The handling of the
child’s feeding experiences is crucial to subsequent
development. The child is weaned from the breast or
the bottle. According to Freud, fixation at the oral stage could form the basis for obsessive eating or
smoking later in life.
b. Anal stage: in their second year, (2-3) children get
their erotic pleasure from their bowel movements,
through either the expulsion or retention of feces.
The crucial event at this time is toilet training, which
represents society’s first systematic effort to
regulate the child’s biological urges. Severely
punitive toilet training leads to a variety of possible
outcomes. Excessive punishment might produce a
latent feeling of hostility toward the “trainer,”
usually the mother. This hostility might generalize to
women as a class. Another possibility is that heavy
reliance on punitive measures could lead to an
association between genital concerns and the
anxiety that the punishment arouses.
c. Phallic stage: (4-5) at this stage, the genitals become
the focus for the child’s erotic energy, largely
through self-stimulation. During this pivotal stage,
the Oedipal complex emerges. They also feel hostility
toward their father, whom they view as a competitor
for Mom’s affection. Similarly, little girls develop a
special attachment to their father. Young girls feel
hostile toward their mother because they blame her
for their anatomical “deficiency”. The complex in
girls is sometimes referred to as the Electra complex
but Freud himself did not endorse this. The child has
to resolve the Oedipal dilemma by purging the
sexual longings for the opposite sex parent and by
crushing the hostility felt toward the same-sex
parent. In Freud’s view, healthy psychosexual
development hinges on the resolution of the Oedipal
conflict. Because continued hostility toward the
same-sex parent may prevent the child from
identifying adequately with that parent. Without
such identification, sex typing, conscience, and many
other aspects of the child’s development won’t
progress, as they should.
d. Latency stages: (6-12) from around age six through
puberty, the child’s sexuality is largely suppressed.
Important events during this latency stage center on
expanding social contacts beyond the immediate
e. Genital stages: (puberty) Sexual urges reappear and
focus on the genitals once again. At this point, sexual
energy is normally channeled toward peers of the
other se, rather than toward oneself, as in the phallic
b. Jung’s analytical psychology i. Jung and Freud’s relationship was ruptured irreparable in 1913 by
a variety of theoretical disagreements.
ii. Jung called his new approach analytical psychology.
iii. Like Freud, Jung emphasized the unconscious determinants of
personality. However, he proposed that the unconscious consists
of two layers:
1. Personal unconscious: houses material that is not within
one’s conscious awareness because it has been repressed or
forgotten. Essentially the same as Freud’s version of the
2. Collective unconscious: a storehouse of latent memory
traces inherited from people’s ancestral past. Each person
shares the collective unconscious with the entire human
race. It contains the “whole spiritual heritage of mankind’s
evolution, born anew in the brain structure of every
iv. Archetypes (ancestral memories) are emotionally charged images
and thought forms that have universal meaning.
v. Jung was the first to describe the introverted (inner-directed) and
extraverted (outer-directed) personality types.
1. Introverts tend to be preoccupied with the internal world of
their own thoughts, feelings, and experiences.
2. Extraverts tend to be interested in the external world of
people and things.
c. Adler’s individual psychology
i. Adler’s new approach to personality was christened individual
ii. According to Adler, the foremost source of human motivation is a
striving for superiority.
iii. Striving for superiority as a universal drive to adapt, improve
oneself, and master life’s challenges.
iv. Compensation involves efforts to overcome imagined or real
inferiorities by developing one’s abilities.
v. Inferiority complex: exaggerated feelings of weakness and
vi. Adler thought that either parental pampering or parental neglect
could cause an inferiority complex. Thus, he agreed with Freud on
the importance of early childhood experiences.
vii. Some people engage in overcompensation to conceal, even from
themselves, their feelings of inferiority.
viii. Instead of working to master life’s challenges, people with an
inferiority complex work to achieve status, gain power over others,
and acquire the trappings of success. They tend to flaunt their
success in an effort to cover up their underlying inferiority
complex. However, the problem is that such people engage in
unconscious self-deception, worrying more about appearances
ix. Adler who was the first focused attention on the possible
importance of birth order as a factor governing personality. He noted that first-borns, second children, and later-born children
enter varied home environments and are treated differently by
parents and that these experiences are likely to affect their
personality. The studies he made generally failed to support his
hypotheses and did not uncover any reliable correlations between
birth order and personality.
x. Frank Sulloway, however, has argued persuasively that birth order
does have an impact on personality.
1. To evaluate his hypotheses, Sulloway re-examined decades
of research on birth order
2. First born tend to be conventional and achievement
oriented, whereas later-borns tend to be liberal and
d. Evaluating psychodynamic perspectives
i. Unconscious forces can influence behavior.
ii. Internal conflict often plays a key role in generating psychological
iii. Early childhood experiences can have powerful influences on adult
iv. People do use defense mechanisms to reduce their experience of
v. Criticized on several grounds:
1. Poor testability. Scientific investigations require testable
hypotheses. Psychodynamic ideas have often been too
vague and conjectural to permit a clear scientific test.
2. Inadequate evidence. The empirical evidence on
psychodynamic theories has often been characterized as
“inadequate.” Psychodynamic theories depend too heavily
on clinical case studies in which it’s much too easy for
clinicians to see what they expect to see. Re-examinations
of Freud’s own clinical work suggest that he frequently
distorted his patients’ case histories to make them mesh
with his theory.
3. Sexism. Many critics have argued that psychodynamic
theories are characterized by a sexist bias against women.
3) Behavioral perspectives
a. Behaviorism is a theoretical orientation based on the premise that
scientific psychology should study only observable behavior.
b. Since 1913, when john. B Watson began campaigning for the behavioral
point of view. It focused largely on learning.
c. John Dollard and Neal Miller attempted to translate selected Freudian
ideas into behavioral terminology. They showed that behavioral concepts
could provide enlightening insights about the complicated subject of
d. Skinner’s ideas applied to personality
i. Personality structure: a view from the outside
1. Skinner showed little interest in what goes on “inside”
people. He argued that it’s useless to speculate about
private, unobservable cognitive processes. He focused on how the external environment moulds overt behavior. He
argued for a strong brand of determinism, asserting that
behavior is fully determined by environmental stimuli. He
claimed that free will is but an illusion; there is no place in
the scientific position for a self as a true originator or
initiator of action. According to his view, people show some
consistent patterns of behavior because they have some
stable response tendencies that they have acquired through
experience. These response tendencies may change in the
future, as a result of new experiences, but they’re enduring
enough to create a certain degree of consistency in a
person’s behavior. Implicitly, Skinner viewed an
individual’s personality as a collection of response
tendencies that are tied to various stimulus situations. A
specific situation may be associated with a number of
response tendencies that vary in strength, depending on
ii. Personality development as a product of conditioning
1. Skinner’s theory accounts for personality development by
explaining how various response tendencies are acquired
2. He believed that most human responses are shaped by the
type of conditioning. He described: operant conditioning.
3. Skinner maintained that environmental consequences—
reinforcement, punishment, and extinction—determine
people’s patterns of responding.
4. On the one hand, when responses are followed by favorable
consequences (reinforcement), they are strengthened.
5. Because response tendencies are constantly being
strengthened or weakened by new experiences, Skinner’s
theory views personality development as a continuous,
lifelong journey. Unlike Freud and many other theorists,
Skinner saw no reason to break the developmental process
into stages. Nor did he attribute special importance to early
6. He assumed that conditioning strengthens and weakens
response tendencies mechanically—that is, without the
person’s conscious participation. Thus, skinner was able to
explain consistencies in behavior (personality) without
being concerned about individuals’ cognitive processes.
e. Albert Bandura’s social cognitive theory
i. Cognitive processes and reciprocal determinism
1. Albert Bandura agrees with the fundamental thrust of
behaviorism in that he believes that personality is largely
shaped through learning. However, he contends that
conditioning is not a mechanical process in which people
are passive participants. He maintains that “people are self-
organizing, proactive, self-reflecting, and self-regulating, not just reactive organisms shape and shepherded by
2. Bandura also emphasizes the important role of forward
directed planning, noting that “people set goals for
themselves, anticipate the likely consequences of
prospective actions, and select and create courses of action
likely to produce desired outcomes and avoid detrimental
3. Bandura advocates a position called reciprocal determinism.
(Compare to Skinner’s highly deterministic view)
4. According to this notion, the environment does determine
behavior. However, behavior also determines the
environment. Moreover, personal factors determine and are
determined by both behavior and the environment.
5. Reciprocal determinism is the idea that internal mental
events, external environmental events, and overt behavior
all influence one another.
ii. Observational learning
1. Observational learning occurs when an organism’s
responding is influenced by the observation of others, who
are called models.
2. Bandura maintains that people’s characteristic patterns of
behavior are shaped by the models that they’re exposed to.
3. A model is a person whose behavior is observed by another.
4. Bandura’s key point is that many response tendencies are
the product of imitation.
5. Both children and adults tend to imitate people they like or
respect more than people they don’t.
6. People are also especially prone to imitate the behavior of
people whom they consider attractive or powerful. In
addition, imitation is more likely when people see similarity
between models and themselves. Thus, children tend to
imitate same sex role models somewhat more than
opposite sex models. Finally, people are more likely to copy
a model if they observe that the model’s behavior leads to
1. Self-efficacy refers to one’s belief about one’s ability to
perform behaviors that should lead to expected outcomes.
When self-efficacy is high, individuals feel confident that
they can execute the responses necessary to earn reinforce.
‘Perceptions of self-efficacy are subjective and specific to
certain kinds of tasks.
2. Perception of self-efficacy can influence which challenges
people tackle and how well they perform.
f. Walter Mischel and the person-situation controversy
i. According to social learning theory, people try to gauge the
reinforcement contingencies and adjust their behavior to the circumstances. Social learning theory predicts that people will
often behave differently in different situation.
ii. People exhibit far less consistency across situations than had been
iii. Mischel maintains that behavior is characterized by more
situational specificity than consistency.
iv. Mischel’s position has generated great controversy because it
strikes at the heart of the concept of personality itself.
1. Epstein argued that the methods used in much of the
research reviewed by Mischel led to an underestimate of
2. Robert and Pomerantz: Studies have often used young
people as subjects, but personality doesn’t fully stabilize
until middle age.
3. Kenrick and Funder: It is unreasonable to expect complete
cross-situational consistency, because specific traits are
more easily expressed in some situations than others.