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Theories of Personality


Personality is 'an individual's unique constellation of consistent behavioral traits'. A personality trait is 'a durable disposition to behave in a particular way in a ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Theories of Personality

  • Chapter 2
  • Theories of Personality

The Nature of Personality, continued
  • Personality is an individuals unique
    constellation of consistent behavioral traits.
  • A personality trait is a durable disposition to
    behave in a particular way in a variety of
  • Common personality traits include
  • honest
  • Moody
  • impulsive
  • friendly

The Nature of Personality, continued
  • Robert McCrae and Paul Costa (1987, 1997, 1999)
    state that there are five higher-order traits
    that are known as the Big Five (see Figure
  • Extraversion (or positive emotionality)
  • Neuroticism (or negative emotionality)
  • Openness to experience
  • Agreeableness
  • Conscientiousness
  • However, this is but one of many perspectives on
    human personality.

  • Figure 2.1 The five-factor model of personality.
    Trait models attempt to analyze personality into
    its basic dimensions. McCrae and Costa (1987,
    1997) maintain that personality can be described
    adequately with the five higher-order traits
    identified here, widely known as the Big Five

Psychodynamic Perspectives
  • Psychodynamic theories include a variety of
    theoretical models derived from the work of
    Sigmund Freud.
  • All focus on unconscious mental forces that shape
    our personalities.
  • Well known psychodynamic theorists include
  • Freud
  • Jung
  • Adler
  • Erikson

Psychodynamic Perspectives, continued
  • Freuds Psychoanalytic theory of personality is
    somewhat controversial and is based on three main
  • Personality is governed by unconscious forces
    that we cannot control.
  • Childhood experiences play a significant role in
    determining adult personality.
  • Personality is shaped by the manner in which
    children cope with sexual urges.

Freuds Psychoanalytic Theory, continued
  • Freud argued that personality is divided into
    three structures
  • The id is the primitive, instinctive component
    of personality that operates according to the
    pleasure principle.
  • The ego is the decision-making component of
    personality that operates according to the
    reality principle.
  • The superego is the moral component of
    personality that incorporates social standards
    about what represents right and wrong.

Freuds Psychoanalytic Theory, continued
  • The id, ego and superego are arranged into
    different layers of awareness including
  • The conscious layer this includes thoughts or
    feelings we are fully aware of.
  • The preconscious layer this includes
    information just beneath the surface of our
  • The unconscious layer this includes thoughts,
    memories, feelings and desires that we are not
    aware of, but that greatly influence our behavior
    (see Figure 2.2).

  • Figure 2.2 Freuds model of personality
    structure. Freud theorized that we have three
    levels of awareness the conscious, the
    preconscious, and the unconscious. To dramatize
    the size of the unconscious, he compared it to
    the portion of an iceberg that lies beneath the
    waters surface. Freud also divided personality
    structure into three componentsid, ego, and
    superegothat operate according to different
    principles and exhibit different modes of
    thinking. In Freuds model, the id is entirely
    unconscious, but the ego and superego operate at
    all three levels of awareness.

Freuds Psychoanalytic Theory, continued
  • Freud believed that behavior is the result of
    ongoing internal conflict among the id, ego and
  • Conflicts stemming from sexual and aggressive
    urges are especially significant.
  • Such conflicts arouse anxiety and we use defense
    mechanisms largely unconscious reactions that
    protect a person from painful emotions such as
    anxiety and guilt.

Freuds Psychoanalytic Theory, continued
  • Personality development
  • Freud believed that the basic elements of adult
    personality are in place by age five and result
    from the outcome of five psychosexual stages.
  • In each stage, children must cope with distinct
    immature sexual urges that influence adult
  • Fixation results if the child fails to move
    forward from one stage to another, and is usually
    caused by excessive gratification, or frustration
    of needs at a particular stage.

Psychodynamic Perspectives, continued
  • Jungs Analytical Psychology.
  • Jung also focused on the role of the unconscious
    in shaping personality.
  • However, he argued that the unconscious is
    comprised of two layers
  • The personal unconscious (this contains the same
    material as Freuds unconscious layer), and
  • The collective unconscious this contains traces
    of memories, shared by the entire human race,
    inherited from our ancestors.

Jungs Analytical Psychology, continued
  • The collective unconscious does not contain
    memories of distinct, personal experiences.
  • Rather, it contains archetypes emotionally
    charged images and thought forms that have
    universal meaning.
  • Jung was also the first to describe the
  • Introverted (inner-directed), and the
  • Extroverted (outer-directed) personality types.

Psychodynamic Perspectives, continued
  • Adlers Individual Psychology.
  • Adler believed that the most important human
    drive is not sexuality, but our drive for
  • Adler stated that we use compensation - efforts
    to overcome imagined or real inferiorities by
    developing ones abilities.
  • If we are unsuccessful, we may develop an
    inferiority complex exaggerated feelings of
    weakness and inadequacy.
  • Adler also believed that birth order may
    contribute to personality.

Behavioral Perspectives
  • Behaviorism - is a theoretical orientation based
    on the premise that scientific psychology should
    study observable behavior.
  • Behavioral theorists view personality as a
    collection of response tendencies that are tied
    to various stimulus situations.
  • They focus on personality development, and how
    childrens response tendencies are shaped by
    classical conditioning, operant conditioning, and
    observational learning.

Behavioral Perspectives, continued
  • Pavlovs Classical Conditioning is a type of
    learning in which a neutral stimulus acquires the
    capacity to evoke a response that was originally
    evoked by another stimulus (see Figure 2.8).
  • Classical conditioning may explain how people
    acquire particular emotional responses such as
    anxiety or phobias.

  • Figure 2.8 The process of classical
    conditioning. The sequence of events in classical
    conditioning is outlined here As we encounter
    new examples of classical conditioning through
    the book, you will see diagrams like that shown
    in the fourth panel, which summarizes the process.

Behavioral Perspectives, continued
  • Skinners Operant Conditioning is a form of
    learning in which voluntary responses come to be
    controlled by their consequences (see Figure
  • Favorable consequences, called reinforcers,
    tend to cause organisms to repeat the behaviors
    that precede them, and
  • Unfavorable consequences, called punishers,
    tend to discourage behaviors.

  • Figure 2.11 Positive and negative reinforcement
    in operant conditioning Positive reinforcement
    occurs when a response is followed by a favorable
    outcome, so that the response is strengthened. In
    negative reinforcement, the removal (symbolized
    here by the No sign) of an aversive stimulus
    serves as a reinforcer. Negative reinforcement
    produces the same result as positive
    reinforcement The persons tendency to emit the
    reinforced response is strengthened (the response
    becomes more frequent).

Behavioral Perspectives, continued
  • Banduras Observational Learning refers to
    learning which occurs when an organisms
    responding is influenced by the observation of
    others, who are called models.
  • This behavioral theory is unique in that it
    involves cognition because it requires that we
  • pay attention to others behavior
  • understand the consequences that follow others
    behavior, and
  • store this information in memory.

Banduras theory, continued
  • Bandura stressed the importance of self-efficacy
    ones belief about ones ability to perform
    behaviors that should lead to expected outcomes.
  • High self-efficacy is associated with confidence
    whereas low self-efficacy creates doubt in ones
  • Bandura believed that self-efficacy is one of the
    most important personality traits because it is
    tied to success in many endeavors and resistance
    to stress.

Humanistic Perspectives
  • Humanism is a theoretical orientation that
    emphasizes the unique qualities of humans,
    especially their free will and their potential
    for personal growth.
  • This perspective is based on the following ideas
  • We have an innate drive toward personal growth.
  • We exercise free will to control our actions.
  • We are rational beings driven by conscious, not
    unconscious, needs.

Humanistic Perspectives, continued
  • Rogers Person-Centered Theory.
  • Personality contains only one construct, the
    self, or self-concept a collection of beliefs
    about ones own nature, unique qualities, and
    typical behavior.
  • If our ideas about ourselves match our actual
    experiences, our self-concept is congruent with
  • However, if our ideas about ourselves do not
    match reality, this disparity is called
    incongruence, which undermines our well-being
    (see Figure 2.13).

  • Figure 2.13 Rogers view of personality
    structure. In Rogers model, the self-concept is
    the only important structural construct.
    However, Rogers acknowledged that ones
    self-concept may not jell with the realities of
    ones actual experiencea condition called
    incongruence. Different people have varied
    amounts of incongruence between their
    self-concept and reality.

Rogers Person-Centered Theory, continued
  • Self-Concept and Development
  • All humans have a need for affection, and
    experiences early in life are key.
  • If parents make affection conditional (given only
    if the childs behavior meets their expectations)
    children do not feel worthy of love and develop
    an incongruent self-concept.
  • If parents give affection unconditionally,
    children feel worthy of love and develop
    congruent self-concepts.

Humanistic Perspectives, continued
  • Maslows Theory of Self-Actualization.
  • Human motives are organized into a hierarchy of
    needs a systematic arrangement of needs,
    according to priority, in which basic needs must
    be met before less basic needs are aroused (see
    Figure 2.15).
  • Humans have an innate drive toward personal
    growth and the greatest need is the need for
    self-actualization the fulfillment of ones

  • Figure 2.15 Maslows hierarchy of needs.
    According to Maslow, human needs are arranged in
    a hierarchy, and individuals must satisfy their
    basic needs first, before they progress to higher
    needs. In the diagram, higher levels in the
    pyramid represent progressively less basic needs.
    People progress upward in the hierarchy when
    lower needs are satisfied reasonably well, but
    they may regress back to lower levels if basic
    needs cease to be satisfied.

Maslows Theory, continued
  • Maslow called people with extremely healthy
    personalities self-actualizing persons.
  • They have demonstrated significant personal
    growth and tend to share certain ideal
    characteristics, listed in Figure 2.16.

  • Figure 2.16 Characteristics of self-actualizing
    people. Humanistic theorists emphasize
    psychological health instead of maladjustment.
    Maslows sketch of the self-actualizing person
    provides a provocative picture of the healthy

Essentials of Terror Management Theory
  • Terror Management Theory is based on the
    following assumptions
  • Human cognition is unique in that it allows us to
    be aware of our own mortality.
  • This creates great anxiety which can be reduced
    by cultural worldviews that promote self-esteem
    and faith.
  • These constructs give people a sense of order,
    context and meaning.
  • These, along with self-esteem, serve as buffers
    against the anxiety that death awareness creates.

Terror Management Theory, continued.
  • Terror Management Theory has been applied as an
    explanation for many phenomena, including
  • Excessive materialism
  • Depressive disorders
  • Appreciation of art
  • Suppression of sexual urges
  • Inhibition of health-protective behaviors
  • Psychological discomfort about bodily processes