The psychologists definition of personality is that is it the particular pattern of behaviour and thinking that prevails across time and contexts and differentiates one person from another.
Most psychologists measure personality using tests that hypothetically measure important personality dimensions
e.g. type A versus B personalities
The goal of such psychologists is to understand the causes
of individual differences in behaviour.
In order to do this one must (a) identify personality characteristics and (b) determine the variables that produce and control them.
3 Trait Theories A trait of a person is assumed to be some enduring characteristic that is relatively constant. In this sense it is differentiated from the state of that individual which refers to the present temperament of that person which is not necessarily a stable characteristic. Thus trait theories are specifically focused on explaining the more permanent personality characteristics that differentiate one individual from another. Things like being friendly caring nasty insensitive dependable offish etc. 4 Earliest Known Trait Theory Perhaps one of the first trait theories came about in ancient Greece at the time of a famous physician named Galen. Galen thought our personality was a reflection of the four humors (fluids) that make up our bodies. Yellow Bile - bad temper irritability (Choleric) Black Bile - gloomy pessimistic (Melancholic) Phlegm - sluggish non-excitable (Phlegmatic) Blood - cheerful passionate (Sanguine) If one of these fluids was dominated the personality associated with that fluid would be observed. 5 Types versus Traits The kind of strict categorization suggested by theories like Galens suggests that there very different types of personalities. More recently personality theories have leaned more towards the notion that we all have similar personality traits but we differ in terms of the extent to which we have that trait. For example we often classify people as short or tall but we do not really think that people are either short OR tall we realize the height is a trait the some of us have more of that others but we all have it to some extent. 6 The Search for Basic Personality Traits OK so if there are some basic personality traits that we all have to varying extents what are those traits and what techniques do we use to identify them Allport (1897-1967) thought that a good place to start would be to look in a dictionary and identify all the words that described what could be seen as personality traits. There turned out to be approximately 18000 such words. When he eliminated words that referred more to states than to traits he was still left with 4000 or so. Many of these words were synonyms that had subtly different connotations. Most present researchers believe there is about 3 to 16 basic personality traits. 7 A 16 Factor Theory
Cattell started with Allports list of adjectives created questions related to them then using a procedure called factor analysis eventually identified 16 core personality factors (Steve will explain factor analysis here)
Cattell these 16 traits as the cornerstones upon which personality is built the factors are
Some of these Cattell called surface traits which were traits that people could directly observe like friendliness.
These arise from source traits which lie deeper within the individual.
8 A 3 Factor Theory At the other extreme Eysenck also used factor analysis but came up with only 3 basic personality factors which he termed Extroversion Neuroticism Psychotocism. Extroversion refers to an outgoing nature and the liking of a high level of activity (opposite is introversion). Neuroticism refers to worry guilt and anxiety (with the opposite being emotional stability which is characterized by a relaxed person at peace with themselves) Psychoticism refers to an aggressive egocentric and anti- social nature (the opposite being self-control which is characterized by kindness and obeying rules) 9 From 3 to many a la Eysenck 10 Genetics Determinants of Personality To what extent is your personality the result of your genetic heritage Genetics definitely plays a large role as exemplified by findings such as the fact that identical twins appear to have more similar personalities than fraternal twins do. In an analysis of such findings Zuckerman concluded that when thinking about personality in Eysencks framework 70 of the variance in extroversion is due to heredity as is approx 59 percent of the variance in psychoticism and 48 of the variance in neuroticism. Clearly the personality of your predecessors is a major determinant of your personality. 11 Environmental Contributions If genetic heritage accounts for 50-70 of your personality what accounts for the rest One obvious answer would be the environment in which you were raised. In fact it seems as though pure environmental factors do not account for much variance in personality as suggested by findings such as the fact that the similarity in personality of identical twins does not seem to depend on whether they were raised together or not. Studies examining the extent to which a adoptive parents personality accounts for the childs personality suggest that it accounts for about 0-7 of the childs personality. 12 What About the Rest
That still leaves a good chunk of a persons personality unaccounted for what else plays a role
A big contribution appears to come from the interaction between genetics and environment.
Specifically although members of a family are raised in roughly the same environment the exact environment for a given member is often partially determined by that members personality.
a more outgoing child will often receive more social interaction than an introverted child
13 Does the Debate Really Make Any Sense Some psychologists get very upset when anyone raises the Genetic versus Environment debate at all. Such a psychologist would point to the fact that both genetics and the environment interact to produce virtually all our behaviours and traits. A classic example of this is PKU syndrome a disease that is perfectly predicted by a genetic marker but perfectly controllable via an environmental manipulation (i.e. dietary change). 14 Freuds Mechanisms of the MindThe Id Freud believed that the mind was composed of three components the Id the Superego and the Ego. The Id is the most primitive of the three basically the Id is thought to channel basic instincts into strong drives. It obeys the pleasure principle which basically means it wants immediate gratification for its desires and can be very insistent in this regard. These basic desires are thought to mostly center on sexual and aggressive drives but others (e.g. hunger) as well. 15 Freuds Mechanisms of the MindThe Superego In contrast to the Id the superego is thought to be the part of the mind that houses the rules of the society we live in (the conscience) and our own goals concerning where we want to be and how we want to behave (the ego-ideal). If our behaviour does not conform to either the conscience or our ego-ideal the superego punishes that behaviour via feelings of guilt or remorse. 16 Freuds Mechanisms of the MindThe Ego
Obviously the desires of the Id are not always in concert with the rules of the superego.
The ego is thought to be that part of the mind that tries to find behaviours that are satisfactory to both.
Often this might involve some sort of compromise that can come in two forms
The rules of the superego can be broken and the guilt must then be endured.
The desires of the Id can be denied or re-channeled via certain defense mechanisms ...
17 Relation to Conscious and Unconscious 18 Showtime 19 Conflict - Achieving Compromise Conflicts of the mind begin when one of the two most basic drives the sexual drive or the aggression drive are aroused. The id demands immediate gratification for these drives but is then held in check by superego as allowing the drives to be fulfilled in a straightforward manner would often involve violating the rules of society or the ego-ideal. This leads to a situation Freud termed compromise formation in which safe vents for the desires of the id must be found. It is these vents that are responsible for both mental disorder but also for other interesting and more positive aspects of mental life (e.g. dreams and creativity). 20 Defense Mechanisms
Freud actually believed there were a number of ways that
compromise could be reached and termed these defense
mechanisms. These include such things as
Repression. The purpose of the repression mechanism is to
actually keep unwanted thoughts or images from entering
the conscious parts of the mind perhaps related to denial.
false memories denial of alcoholism
Reaction Formation. This involves replacing an anxiety-
provoking idea with its opposite in order to satisfy both the
desires of the id and the rules of the superego.
anti-pornography crusaders pedophile doctors
21 More Defense Mechanisms
Projection. The involves denial of some unwanted trait in
oneself then the projection of some other trait on others
that justifies the individuals behaviour.
Road rage sexual promiscuity
Sublimation. Involves the diversion of sexual and aggressive
energies towards permissible activities. This is often seen
as the positive way to divert energies.
dreams creativity intellectualism
22 And Yet More Defense Mechanisms
Rationalization. The process of inventing an acceptable
reason for a behaviour that actually reflected unacceptable
I cheated on the exam because others were
I look at those X-rated websites because they use the latest web-technology and I want to learn it
Conversion. The re-channeling of a psychic conflict into a
physical symptom one that may often be associated with the
source of the conflict (may be linked to repression).
becoming deaf (or having a coughing spell) when youre around someone you hate listening to
23 Freuds Therapeutic Technique The basic therapeutic technique Freud espoused was one meant to establish what the conflict was and to bring that conflict to the patients consciousness so that they could gain release from the psychic energy (or learn positive ways to do so). Techniques for finding the conflict included such things as the analysis of dreams free associations hypnosis and consideration of the symptoms themselves. Such a release was termed catharsis a term we still use quite frequently. Modern psychoanalysts often focus on using hypnosis which may have dangerous consequences. 24 More Positive Ideas While Freud focussed on sexual and aggressive tendencies others Psychologists termed humanists have a more positive view of the development of personality and have therapies based on it. Maslow for example thought that humans attempted to progress through a hierarchy of needs and their personality reflected how far along they were nextplease Rogers thinks we are all striving to gain self-actualization (a positive opinion of oneself) and in order to do so one must might a continual battle of properly weighting others opinions of them. 25 Hierarchy of Needs 26 Why Experimental Psychologists dislike this If you mention the ideas of Freud Maslow or Rogers to some experimental psychologists they may roll their eyes and try hard to convince you that what they do is nothing like that. The primary reason for this reaction is that although all these notions are interesting and while they may even be true to some extent they are very hard to test empirically. How does one measure self-actualization How do we show that repression exists Is there any evidence that psychic conflict leads to any form conversion disorder or creativity Theories that cannot be tested are simply not very useful beyond the ideas they convey irrespective of their veracity. 27 Measuring Personality Whether one is an experimental psychologist interested in personality or a therapist often the first necessary step is to come up with tools that measure it. The tools used by psychologists tend to fall into two general categories Object ive tests are paper and pencil type tests that directly ask a person to answer various questions about their personality - see section on MMPI Projective tests exam personality in a much more indirect way by assessing a patients reaction to certain stimuli. 28 Projective Tests of Personality As discussed psychoanalytic theories of personality assume that personality is primarily governed by unconscious sources not conscious ones. Thus they see the notion of asking a person about their personality to be inadequate as it only taps conscious notions which are not critical to behaviour at all. Instead they devised and promoted tests that examine personality in a much more indirect manner. These tests were thought to reflect both the conscious and the unconscious aspects of personality. 29 Examples of Projective Tests The Rorschach (or inkplot) test in which patients are asked to describe what they see when presented with an ambiguous pattern of ink. The Thematic Apperception Test. People are shown ambiguous pictures and are asked to construct a story about the events that lead up to the picture including detailed discussion about what the characters in the story are doing and thinking. The notion is that the person will project themselves into the story and the things they tell you about the characters are really about themselves. 30 Relevant Links For a discussion of research methods in the study of personality http//fas.psych.nwu.edu/personal ity.html For more on Freud check out the Freud museum at http//freud.t0.or.at/freud/index-e.ht m For more about Rogers http//oldsci.eiu.edu/p sychology/Spencer/Rogers.html
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