Week 17: Personality

Is personality monogenetic?
– no, it is composed of multiple traits

4 major theories of personality
– trait
– psychodynamic
– humanistic
– social-cognitive

2 Objective Personality Tests
– Minnesota Multiphasic Inventory (MMPI-2)
– NEO personality inventory

– minnesota multiphasic inventory
– asks people to answer series of true/false questions about themselves

NEO Personality Inventory
– measures 5 personality factors
– provides series of statements that a person agrees or disagrees with on a 5-point scale

What does NEO stand for?
N = neuroticism
E = extroversion
O = openness to expereince

3 Projective Tests
– Rorschach test

the Rorschach test
– series of inkblots presented, person describes what he or she sees in the inkblots
– called projective because person may project his/her personality onto the inkblot

– another projective test in which the person makes up stories about a series of ambiguous pictures presented on cards

The traditional/trait approach
– trait perspective
– classifies and describes psychological characteristics by which people differ consistently between situations and over time

Gordon Allpot
– identified 18,000 English adjectives that could describe an individual’s personality

– narrowed Allport’s list to 16 core personality traits
– used factor analysis

Factor Analysis
– technique used to reveal the factors or basic dimensions that underlie a questionnaire data set
– examines all correlations among questionnaire items

Critics of Cattell’s personality questionnaire
– too complex and contains many redundant personality traits
– newer measure based on fewer distinct personality traits

5-factor model
– current best trait model and dominant approach used today
– the Big Five

5 factors in Big Five
– openness to experience
– conscientousness
– extraversion
– agreeableness
– neuroticism

Big 5 questionnaire
– NEO personality inventory

People with high neuroticism scores pay less or more attention to threats and unpleasant experience
– more attention than people with low neuroticism scores

How consistent do traits remain over time?
– remain fairly consistent, but we also behave according to social norms and environmental cues

2 Explanatory approaches to personality
– psychodynamic (psychoanalytic)
– humanistic perspective

– primary theorist in the PSYCHODYNAMIC literature
– came to believe that disturbing childhood experience caused suffering of patients
– concluded that mind is more than just conscious perception!
– believed the mind largely consists of unconscious forces and desires

Psychoanalytic theory
– term used by Freud to describe personality and the techniques he used to examine patients
– unconcious as reservoir filled with mostly unacceptable feelings, desires and memories

Freud’s 3 parts of the mind
– Id
– Ego
– Superego

– completely unconscious reservoir of psychic energy
– strives to satisfy basic sexual and aggressive drives
– operates on a pleasure principle and demanding immediate gratification

– large conscious, mediating the conflicting demands of the id, superego and reality

– partly conscious, partly unconscious
– strives to live up to our internalized ideals and desires to follow rules/restrictions society places on us
– punishes ego by creating feelings of guilt and shame

Psychosexual Development
– Freud believed personality develops through a series of childhood stages, during which pleasure-seeking energies of the id become focused on distinct erogenous zones on the body

What happens if psychosexual stages are completed successfully? if they are not resolved?
– if completed successfully, result is a healthy personality
– if issues or conflicts are not resolved at appropriate stage, fixation can occur!

– lingering focus of pleasure seeking energies at an earlier psychosexual stage
– until conflict is resolved, individual will remain “stuck” in this stage
– ex. person stuck in oral stage dependent on smoking , drinking, eating, chewing gum

Defence Mechanisms
– mental systems that become active whenever the unconscious instinctual drives of the id come into conflict with the prohibitions of the superego
– way that people handle fixations or unwanted thoughts/desires

Anna Freud
– Freud’s daughter
– very influential in developing the theory of defense mechanisms
– said we employ defensive mental mechanisms (ex. repression) to keep anxiety-producing motives/desires from our conscious awareness

3 Categories of Defenses
– immature defenses
– intermediate defenses
– mature defenses

Immature Defenses
– distort reality the most
– lead to the most ineffective behaviour
– projections, regression, displacement

Intermediate Defenses
– involved less distortion of reality
– lead to somewhat more effective behaviour
– repression, reaction formation, sublimation

Mature Defenses
– least reality distortion
– association with the most adaptive coping
– humour and suppression (negative info is available to conscious mind but doesn’t overrun it)

2 types of psychoanalysis
– free association
– dream analysis

Free association
– patients say whatever comes to mind, no matter how trivial or embarrassing
– can be clue to unconscious motivators

Dream analysis
– Freud though dreams were gateways to the unconscious

Criticism of Freud’s Theories
– very controversial
– theory is largely untestable
– not the simplest, most straightforward way to explain personality (lacks parsimony)

Humanistic Perspective
– emphasizes people’s conscious understanding of themselves and their capacity to choose their own paths to self-fulfillment
– focus on aspects of human nature that separate us from other animals

Phenomenological reality
– person’s conscious understanding of his or her own world

2 influential humanistic theorists
– Rogers
– Maslow

Carl Rogers
– concluded that self-concept plays a crucial role in shaping one’s phenomenological reality
– found that many people were striving to discover or become their real selves
– thought that if others aren’t happy with us, we can’t be happy with ourselves
– proposed that to become true selves, people need to receive unconditional positive regard

Abraham Maslow
– believed that a person’s behaviour stems from motivation to reach his/her full potential
– thought that people must first satisfy their lower-level needs before focusing on higher-level needs of self-fulfillment
– 5 levels

Maslow’s 5 levels of needs
1. physiological needs
2. safety needs
3. belonging needs
4. esteem needs
5. self-actualizing (discovering and fully enjoying true meaning of life)

Self-actualization qualities
– Maslow studied people he viewed as the most productive and well- adjusted, and looked from commonalities
– included accurate perception of reality, independent and creative mind, sophisticated sense of humour, interest in helping society, true enjoyment of life
– ex. Einstein and Gandhi

Therapeutic Value
– most therapies help clients to a limited extent
– cognitive behavioural therapy and medication are most effective
– humanistic/psychoanalytic treatments take a lot of time and are hard to assess

Reciprocal Determinism
– cyclical notion that personalities affect how we interact with our environment, and how the environment influence us is affected by our personalities

Cognitive Constructs
– general belief system that affects how a person understands events and selects behaviour

Julian Rotter
– believe that people decide to believe that what happens to them either is or is not controllable by their own efforts
– belief is locus of control!!

Internal locus of control
– people who believe that they are in control of their own rewards/fate

External locus of control
– people who feel that chance or outside forces determine their fate

Qualities of people who tend towards an internal locus of control
– more likely to take preventative healthcare measures
– likely to succeed in weight-loss
– likely to resist group pressure in tests of conformity
– likely to achieve strong academic goals
– less anxious and more content with life

learned helplessness
– people who are unable to control repeated adverse external events eventually lose their internal locus of control
– learn that hopelessness and passive resignation are the only possible responses to adverse external enviornment

Seligman’s research on dogs
– dogs and electric shocks
– dogs that had not originally been harnessed and shocked almost immediately figured out how to escape and avoid the shocks
– previuosly harnessed dogs failed to escape the shock and laid down and whimpered
– showed learned helplessness!

– people’s belief about their ability to perform a specific task
– good predictor of task performance
– proposed by Bandura!!

Low-self efficacy
– if you are not confident of your ability to perform a particular task

Maladaptive Optimism
– people maintain extremely unrealistic and self-delusional beliefs
– can lead to taking unnecessary risks (ex. not studying)

Motivation in Individualistic vs. Collectivist cultures
individual = people are motivated by their success
collectivist = people are motivated by their failure

Heritability and Personality
– finding that the Big Five are strongly affected by genetic factors
– shared environment contributes less than unique environment
– children sharing an environment are more likely to be different than similar (carving out niche in family)