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Chapter 14: Theories of Personality


Chapter 14: Theories of Personality Personality defined The consistent, enduring, and unique characteristics of a person. Purposes of Personality Theories To organize ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Chapter 14: Theories of Personality

Chapter 14 Theories of Personality
Personality defined
  • The consistent, enduring, and unique
    characteristics of a person.

Purposes of Personality Theories
  • To organize the many characteristics you know
    about yourself
  • To explain differences among individuals.
  • To explore how people conduct their lives.
  • To determine how life can be improved.
  • Theories of personality are used to guide

Sigmund Freuds Theory of Personality
  • Freud developed the first theory of personality
    called the psychodynamic theory of personality.
  • He believed that personality is shaped by
    underlying conflicts between opposing forces
    within the mind.

  • Freuds beliefs were controversial in his own
    time and remain so today.

Freud believed the mind consists of 3 levels of
  • (1) The conscious Present awareness what we are
    thinking or feeling at any given moment.
  • (2) The preconscious Holds information from past
    experience or learning. This info can be
    retrieved from memory and brought into awareness
    at any time.
  • (3) The unconscious Contains primitive sexual
    and aggressive impulses, wishes and ideas
    memories of troubling emotional experiences

Unconscious mind continued
  • The contents of the unconscious cannot be brought
    directly into consciousness simply by focusing on
  • They may never come to the surface and so we
    remain unaware of our deepest wishes, ideas, and

How does one tap into the unconscious mind?
  • Projective personality test Unstructured test in
    which a person is asked to respond freely, giving
    his or her own interpretation of various
    ambiguous stimuli.
  • Rorschach Inkblot Test
  • TAT Test

Freud believed that personality consists of 3
mental entities
  • (1) The id (literally it) operates only in the
  • Contains our animal drives including sex and
  • Its the only psychological structure we have at
  • Follows the pleasure principle it wants what
    it wants when it wants it.

  • (2) The ego The second part of the mind which
    forms during the first year of life.
  • Responsible for organizing ways to handle delays
    of gratification
  • Represents reason and good sense
  • Operates according to the reality principle
    taking into account what is practical and

  • (3)The superego Is our internal moral guardian
    or conscience.
  • By age 3-5 it splits off from the ego
  • Forms through internalizing moral teachings of
    parents our other significant people.
  • Part of the superego may be available to
    consciousness, the part that corresponds to our
    moral convictions.
  • Much of it is unconscious- creating guilt or shame

  • The ego is the great compromiser standing between
    the id and superego.

Freuds was the first psychodynamic theory of
  • It was based on the belief that our behavior is
    influenced by the on-going dynamic conflicts
    within the mind.
  • Conflicts between the id, ego and superego take
    place in the unconscious mind.

The ego uses defense mechanisms
  • These are used to prevent anxiety that would
    result if troubling desires and memories residing
    in the unconscious were fully realized in
    conscious awareness.
  • In other words, Freud believed we cant handle
    our unconscious thoughts and feelings so we
    avoid them.

How do we avoid dealing with whatever is in our
  • (1) Repression Is a defense mechanism involving
    motivated forgetting of anxiety causing
  • You push memories down into the unconscious.
  • This is a controversial belief today, in modern

  • A Freudian Slip or Slip of the Tongue
  • May reveal (according to Freud) underlying
    motives or feelings kept hidden by repression.

Other Defense Mechanisms
  • (2) Denial Failure to recognize a threatening
    impulse or urge.
  • Rather than just pushing the urge down into the
    unconscious, with denial you dont even
    acknowledge the urge.

  • (3) Rationalization The use of self-
    justification to explain away unacceptable
    behavior, impulses, or ideas.
  • Its taking something that you may in reality
    find unacceptable, and making it acceptable.

  • (4) Projection The putting of ones own
    unacceptable impulses, wishes, or urges on other
  • When you find someones personality difficult to
    deal with, it may be your own negative
    personality characteristics that you are
    projecting onto them.

  • (5) Sublimation Channeling unacceptable
    impulses into socially sanctioned behaviors or
  • Becoming a boxer, punching people with gloves on
    in a ring can be a socially acceptable way to
    express hostility and anger.

  • (6) Displacement An unacceptable urge or
    aggressive impulse is transferred to an object or
    person that is safer or less threatening that the
    original object or impulse.
  • Your parent makes you angry but its safer to
    take out your anger and frustration on your
    younger sibling instead of your parent.

  • (7) Reaction formation Behavior that stands in
    opposition to ones true motives and desires so
    as to prevent conscious awareness of them.
  • This is acting the opposite to how you really
    feel, like being overly nice to someone you dont
    like or acting aloof and distant towards someone
    you really do like.

  • (8) Regression Going back to an earlier and less
    mature pattern of behavior.
  • Throwing a temper tantrum, crying loudly, or
    making faces would be expected from a young
    child, but not a teenager.