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Chapter 1

Chapter 1 - Reading Notes

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PSYC 2130
Frank Marchese

Study Notes: Chapter #1 – Overview  Book begins with a brief look at history of the term personality and the evolution of personality in psychology as a field of formal study The Search for the “Real” Person:  In Ancient Rome theatre, actors wore a mask called a persona to indicate the personality characteristics of the role they played o Told audience to expect a certain type of attitudes and behaviors o Term personae came to refer to not only the mask, but the roles implied  Persona is the source of English word personality, but this means more than a set of roles  Concept of personality as we use it today did not emerge until 18 century  Sampson had idea about the “Real person”: o Pre-modern times, roles were elements that constituted the person as such  Roles were not appended to the “real” person  There was no stepping outside one’s community or role to act differently  To be outside was to not exist, to be a stranger, or to be dead o Sampson concludes that about 200 years ago, seeking to understand the individual became a highly cherished cultural project  Gives rise to two important questions: 1. What am I really like? 2. What is the other person really like? o Many ways to answer those questions The Nature of Personality Psychology:  Modern psyc is a very broad field with many specialized areas  Typical domain of psych: o Interpersonal relations o Attitude change o Influence of social forces  Developmental psyc emphasizes historical antecedents of a person’s behavior o It’s concerned with interplay of maturational and social influences as people advance from childhood to adulthood to senior status  Deviant behavior -> behavior markedly different from the norms of society, especially behavior that proves maladaptive for the person or others o Deviant behavior of particular interest in abnormal psyc o This field includes theoretical and experimental work of psychopathology and applied work of clinical an counseling psychology  Biopsychology, health psychology, industrial and organizational psychology, educational psychology, and school psychology focus on specific human enterprises  Personality psychology is at the crossroad of many of these other fields o “to me, the most fruitful definition of the goal of scientific psychology is to understand and explain why individuals think, feel, act, and react as they do in real life. The special contribution of personality psychology to this effort is to develop theories and conduct empirical research on the functioning of the individual as a totality.” Defining Personality:  Personality psychologists use many definitions o Which one they use depends on their theoretical orientation  Personality -> the unique, dynamic organization of characteristics of a particular person, physical and psychological, which influence behavior and responses to the social and physical environment. Of these characteristics some will be entirely unique to the specific person (i.e. memories, habits, mannerisms) and others will be shared with a few, many, or all other people.  Classical Definitions of Personality: o Allport: personality is the dynamic organization within the individual of those psychophysical systems that determine his unique adjustments to his environment o Cattell: personality is that which permits prediction of what a person will do in a given situation. [It] is concerned with all the behavior of the individual, both overt and under skin o Eysenck: personality is the more or less stable and enduring organization of a person’s character, temperament, intellect and physique, which determines his unique adjustment to his environment o Sullivan: Personality is the relatively enduring pattern of interpersonal situations which characterize a human life o Strategies: The Precursors of a “Paradigm”  Ultimate goal of science = theory development o Scientific field generally considered mature when most of its practitioners accept and operate within the same framework or paradigm o Psychology currently remains in a preparadigmatic state o No single unifying theoretical framework o Physics and chemistry almost in paradigm o Personality psychology has not yet reached state of substantial theoretical agreement but is progressing in that direction  We refer to the major theoretical orientations to personality psychology as strategies o Strategies have been fundamental “guiding lights” in personality psyc – each of which is a starting point for approaching personality scientifically  Each viewpoint within any strategy all have a basic assumption in its approach to personality o These assumptions contract with fundamental assumptions of other strategies o It’s the fact that all strategies share assumptions that ties different approaches together while distinguishing them from others o There are four strategies o Would be wrong to consider them mutually exclusive so that each in some way denies or refutes all others  The four strategies are: o 1) Psychoanalytic o 2) Dispositional o 3) Representational o 4) Environmental The Psychoanalytic Strategy:  Most familiar to general public  It’s guiding assumption: personality is driven by one or more underlying forces within the person  Theorists of this strategy have divided views on particular issues (e.g., number and nature of specific drives) o But all focus mainly on idea of driving forces that motivate all human behavior The Dispositional Theory:  Strategy has roots going back far as early Greek philosophy  Basic assumption: personality is a set of enduring characteristics, with individuals differing on how much of each characteristic they possess  Assumption is shared by an array of specific biological viewpoints and forms basis for sophisticated mathematical studies o These studies aim at identification and measurement of individual differences among people The Environmental Strategy:  Basic assumption: personality is shaped by an enormous set of external conditions and circumstances impinging on the individual o Strategy concerns itself with both how and what the individual learns through interactions with the environment  Both processes by which personalities are shaped (i.e., conditioning and observing of others) and the content of what is learned (i.e., the specific language, practices and beliefs of the surrounding culture and subculture) interest psychologists who espouse the Environmental Strategy The Representational Strategy:  Basic assumption: personality is a reflection of the ways individuals mentally present themselves and the people, object and events they experience  Foundation laid in 1950’s by writings of Carl Rogers, George Kelly, and Julian Rotter  Particular strategy has grown in popularity to point where psychologists now recognize that a “cognitive revolution” reverberated through psychology in 1970’s  Strategy is distinctive in that it is now embraced by many who were formerly environmentally oriented Issues: Four Fundamental Concerns in the Study of Personality  each of the four strategies must all address the same four underlying issues: o 1) a theory of personality o 2) an approach to the assessment (or measurement) o 3) research procedures for testing hypotheses (or implications derived from theory) o 4) applications derived from the theory including methods of personality change (i.e. psychotherapy)  The strategies differ in how and to what extent each of these particular issues is addressed  Considerable overlap with each issue  Theories suggest ideas or hypotheses that are tested in research o Nature of research is determined by what the particular theory leads the researcher to expect o To conduct research, aspects of personality that are of interest must be measured o Before measurement can be executed, assessment techniques that conform to the theory’s assumptions about personality must be developed  In sum, theory, assessment, research and applications are linked elements of every strategy o Discussing one issue without referring to other three is difficult Personality Theories:  A “true” scientific theory, in philosophy of science sense, must meet set of criteria  None of the many descriptions and explanations of personality that have been proposed are true theories in the classical sense o ** other than George A Kelly’s  Scientific theory -> an explanation, but not all explanations are scientific theories. Scientific theories have two components: o 1) theoretical constructs o 2) relational propositions  Theoretical constructs -> the basic terms and building blocks of a theory  Energy is a theoretical construct in physics, etc.  Personality psychologists use a wide variety of theoretical constructs, among the more familiar are: o Anxiety o self-concept o extraversion o ego  one characteristic distinguishes all theoretical constructs: they have been invented to describe and explain observations o theoretical constructs do not actually exist, they’re entirely abstract and cannot be seen, touched, or heard  theoretical constructs are necessary because they economically tie together meaningful relationships among observations that would otherwise soon become a hopeless quagmire of raw facts o theoretical constructs allow for efficient organization and communication of ideas Relational Propositions:  relational propositions -> constructs of a scientific theory are related to one another by statements called (sometimes called laws) that describe the relationships among constructs  personality theories contain many relational propositions but are not precise as physics o ex. Psychoanalytic theory tells us that frustration leads to aggression Functions of Theory:  theory has three main purposes in science: o 1) to organize and clarify observations o 2) to provide a sense of understanding of the subject matter o 3) to guide future research Organizing and Clarifying Observations:  Classic example of scientific theory organizing and clarifying observations in Nicolaus Copernicus’s heliocentric theory of the solar system (sun, not earth is center of our planetary system) o Copernicus considered whole set of observations made about positions of planets and came up with his geocentric theory, which was based on presumptions and speculations Providing a Sense of Understanding:  Freud’s transference concept illustrates how theories can provide a sense of understanding o Often we notice immediate attraction or repulsion to someone they meet for the first time o Freud thinks feelings such as these have transferred from one person to another  i.e., someone reminds you of your mother Guiding Future R
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