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The Psychology of the Person Chapter 1 Introduction


The Psychology of the Person Chapter 1 Introduction Naomi Wagner, Ph.D Lecture Outlines Based on Burger, 8th edition Application Application: The most obvious ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Psychology of the Person Chapter 1 Introduction

The Psychology of the PersonChapter 1
  • Naomi Wagner, Ph.D
  • Lecture Outlines
  • Based on Burger, 8th edition

Personality vs. Human Behavior
  • The term personality refers to an invisible,
    hypothetical entity
  • We cannot see what is going on inside the
  • We assess what is going on inside on the basis
    of behavioral observations
  • Behaviors that are consistent along time and
    across situations seem to reflect ones

Why Study Personality?
  • We often want to explain the behavior of other
  • Especially when this behavior is unexpected
  • We need to explain in order to be able to predict
    (and possibly to protect ourselves)
  • The ability to predict provides us with a sense
    of safety

Examples of Attempting to Predict Behavior
  • Dating services Studies have shown that
    similarity in personal tendencies, interests, etc
    is a good predictor of the success of t he
  • In the job-market some jobs may require, in
    addition to the technical skills, some
    personality dispositions, e.g. the ability to
    work under stress

The Person vs. the Situation
  • One of the enduring questions in psychology
  • Is our behavior shaped by the situation we are in
    (external), or by the type of person we are
  • Both the person and the situation contribute to
    our behavior. On the one hand, we know that we do
    not act the same way in all situations, but on
    the other hand we also know that in similar
    situations, under the same conditions, different
    people act differently.

Personality variables vs. Situational Variables
in Affecting our behavior
  • The term Personality originates from the Greek
    word Persona, meaning a mask
  • In the ancient Greek theater, the actors carried
    a mask attached to a stick, it represented the
    character they played

Are we putting on a mask?
  • The term personality means a mask in Greek, and
    further linguistic analysis points to per
    sonare to sound through the mask, meaning, to
    pretend you are someone else
  • Under what conditions might this be true?
  • One example is job interview, where we want to
    present ourselves in a favorable light
  • Another example is in a court of law, when we
    have committed a crime and want to present
    ourselves as incompetent to stand trial

How do the fields of personality and social
psychology differ? The Study of Individual
  • Social psychologists are interested in how people
    typically behave in respond to situational
  • Personality psychologists accept that there might
    be typical responses in certain situations, but
    their main interest is what makes one person
    different from the other.
  • The study of individual differences, that is-
    consistent individual differences across
    situations- for example, why are some people
    outgoing and others are shy?

Definition of Personality
  • There is no single definition to the term
  • Burger (our author), suggests that personality
    can be defined as consistent behavioral patterns
    and intrapersonal processes originating within
    the individual.
  • Note elements of this definition personality is
    consistent, along time and across situations.
    Personality is our intrapersonal processes (not
    interpersonal) our emotional, motivational, and
    cognitive processes that affect how we feel and
    how we act.

Six approaches to studying personality
  • What are the sources of consistent behavioral
    patterns, and intrapersonal processes?
  • There are six approaches, or perspectives, that
    attempt to answer the question. Each approach
    aims to identify and explore an important aspect
    of human personality.

Five blind men meet an elephant
  • They each perceives it differently

The main point of each perspectivePsychoanalysis
  • The psychoanalytic approach focuses on the role
    of the unconscious mind in affecting behavior.
  • Freud used the analogy of the iceberg
  • The unconscious stores desires, impulses, drives,
    painful memories- of which we are not aware

Psychoanalysis (cont-d)
  • We are not aware of the motivations for our
    behavior- we do not have free will
  • A deterministic perspective

The Trait Approach
  • The term trait refers to a hypothetical
    construct, some inner factor that is not a
    physical entity, that is abstract
  • However, we assume that we have inner traits that
    are reflected in our behavior
  • We say that someone is shy, anxious, friendly,
    etc on the basis of behaviors

The Trait Approach (cont-d)
  • A trait is perceived as a dimension or a
    continuum, ranging from less amount of the
    trait to a lot of the trait
  • Less__________________________More
  • By assessing traits (e.g. a test to assess
    shyness) each person can be identified in terms
    how much of the trait he/she posses
  • This enables comparison across people (e.g. when
    you want to determine who among the applicants
    for a job has more of the trait needed)

The Biological Approach
  • The biological approach points to inherited
    dispositions, and physiological processes as
    affecting human behavior
  • The Human Genome Project identified all the genes
    on the human chromosome
  • Brain imaging techniques enable us to watch
    physiological activity in the brain as the brain
    processes information.

The Biological Approach (cont-d)
  • The neuron

The biological Approach (cont-d)
  • Every cell in the human body has 46 chromosomes,
    arranged in 23 pairs (one from you mother and one
    from your father) , they are made of DNA

  • The humanistic approach identifies personal
    responsibility, the drive for self-actualization
    and self-acceptance as key factors in personality.

The Biological Approach (cont-d)
  • We do not come I to the world a blank slate
    (tabula rasa0
  • Biology means our familial heritability
  • Biology means our shared evolutionary history
  • Biology means the physiology underlying our
    mental processes

The Humanistic Approach
  • Main concepts of this approach is free will,
    self-actualization, self-acceptance
  • Maslows hierarchy of needs is an important theme
    of this approach
  • It sees us human beings as motivated to grow and
    to become the best we can

The Humanistic Approach
The Behavioral-Learning Approach
  • The behavioral/social-learning approach explains
    personality differences among people as results
    of conditioning, learning and expectations, and
    other environmental influences
  • This approach is deterministic- we are not always
    aware of the causes for our behavior, because we
    are manipulated by environmental forces

The Cognitive Approach
  • The Cognitive approach looks at the way different
    people process information to explain differences
    in behavior.

What might be the relationships between the six
  • Although sometimes the six approaches differ
    only in focus, in many instances the explanations
    of two or more approaches are entirely
  • For example The Behavioral approach is
    deterministic (we may not be aware of the way we
    have been conditioned), whereas the Humanistic
    approaches believes in Free Will.

How are the Psychoanalytical and the Behavioral
Approaches Similar?
  • Both present a deterministic perspective
  • We are not in charge of our behavior, but rather
    operate along the influence of forces that we
    are not aware of
  • In the psychoanalytic view it is the unconscious
  • In the behavioral view our behavior is shaped by
    learning principles that we might not be aware of
    (e.g. commercials create an association between a
    product and a desired result, so we buy the

Why Study Personality?
  • We hope to identify personality traits, so we can
    predict how the person will behave
  • In hiring decisions, the job may require some
    personality characteristics
  • Dating services operate on the basis of the
    research finding that similarity in traits and
    tendencies predict the success of the
  • In the legal system, the lawyers want to assess
    the tendencies of prospective jurors.

How the 6 approaches view aggression? (Please
review in textbook the 6 explanations of
depression as well)
  • The psychoanalytic points to an unconscious
    death instinct. According to this point of view,
    we all posses an unconscious drive to
    self-destruct. However, since people with healthy
    personality do not hurt themselves, this death
    wish is turned outward, and expressed as
    aggression against others. Another psychoanalytic
    suggestion is that aggression results from
    frustrationwhen our goal-directed movement is
  • The trait approach focuses on individual
    differences among people in aggression, and the
    stability of this behavior along time and across

  • The biological perspective is also interested in
    stable patterns of aggressive behavior in people,
    and point to the genetic predisposition to act
    aggressively as one reason for this stability.
    Evidence supports the genetic basis of
    aggression- it seems to be running in families.
  • Another facet of the biological perspective is
    the evolutionary explanation In terms to our
    prehistory, the more aggressive members of the
    species had a higher chance to survive, to live
    long enough in order to mate and to pass on the
    aggressive genes to their offspring. Testosterone
    levels were also implicated in aggression.

  • The humanistic approach views aggression as the
    result of unfulfilled needs to grow in a healthy
  • The behavioral/social learning perspective
    aggression is learned on the basis of rewards and
    reinforcement, and also on the basis of observing
    aggressive models being rewarded.
  • Cognitive psychologists view aggression from the
    perspective of information-processing. We respond
    to situations of the basis of our interpretation
    of the situation.

Personality and Culture
  • Individualistic cultures place great emphasis on
    individual needs and accomplishments
  • Collectivist cultures are concerned about group
    belongingness and group needs.
  • Concepts that are studied by Western personality
    psychologists can take on very different meanings
    when people from collectivist cultures are
    studied. For example, the Western notion of
    self-esteem is based on assumptions of personal
    goals and feeling of uniqueness that may not be
    appropriate to people in collectivist,
    group-oriented cultures.
  • Similarly, the Western definition of
    achievement and success is not universal. In
    collectivist cultures success means cooperation
    and groups accomplishments.

The study of personality Theory, Application,
Assessment, and Research
  • Theory each approach to understanding
    personality begins with a theory. The theory is
    an attempt to explain the mechanisms that
    underlie human personality and how these
    mechanisms are responsible for creating behaviors
    unique to a given individual. Also each theory
    attempts to emphasize a different aspect of
    personality, each theory must wrestle with
    several issues relating to the nature of human

Issues along which the theories differ
  • Genetic vs. environmental influences Is our
    personality the result of inherited
    (genetically-based) dispositions, or is it shaped
    by the environment, as we grow up?
  • Conscious vs. unconscious determinants of
    behavior To what extent are people aware of the
    causes of their behavior? There is some agreement
    today that much information processing takes
    place at a level below awareness.
  • Free will vs. determinism To what extent do we
    decide our own fate, and to what extent are our
    behaviors determined by forces outside our
    control? This is an issue that has spilled from
    philosophy. Radical behaviorism, as represented
    by Skinner, argued that our behavior is not
    freely chosen, but rather the result of
    environmental stimuli to which we are exposed.
    Psychoanalysis also stresses innate needs and
    unconscious mechanism that leave much of human
    behavior outside of our control. At the other end
    of the spectrum are humanistic theorists, who
    identify personal responsibility as the
    cornerstone of mental health.

  • Application The most obvious application of
    personality theories is in psychotherapy. Many of
    the major pioneers in the study of personality
    were clinicians, who developed their ideas about
    human nature of the basis of their work with
    clients. Psychotherapy comes in many styles,
    reflecting the assumptions the therapist makes
    about the nature of personality.

  • Since the concept of personality implies some
    internal structures that are invisible and
    non-physical, how do we measure it?
  • The psychoanalytic approach attempts to get to
    the unconscious mind by presenting a person with
    ambiguous stimuli
  • In the absence of clear meaning, the person is
    expected to project onto the stimulus
    unconscious sentiments.

Assessment (Cont-d)
  • Many personality researchers, especially of the
    trait approach, use self-report inventories
  • Behavioral psychologists use direct observations
    of behavior to assess the existence of a given
    trait inside the person.

  • Research Each of the theories we will examine
    generates a great deal of research. Sometimes
    this research tests principles and assumptions
    central to the theory. Other times researchers
    are interested in further exploring concepts
    introduced by the theory.