you read the personality chapter, you will find out that personality is defined in different terms very much dependent on the theorist behind it. You will also find that the main concepts differ and at times contradict a theory and another.Getting used to your scholarly level of contribution, I want to challenge you to choose two theories to master, and then apply them to what I anticipate to be a lively dialogue between the makers of each of the theories. So your assignment this week sounds simple: read the chapter, love two theories, and provide a dialogue using the main concepts of the theory to explain your case. For example, if your preference is psychoanalysis and humanistic, I want you to base it on the theory and in about five hundred words explain it as a dialogue between Freud and Rogers (the fathers of psychodynamic and humanistic theories respectively), assuming what is really going on with you as you stress to succeed in your college life and education.I think you will get a super understanding of the theory if you highlight similarities and differences if any in their approaches and conclusions. You can choose to have a variety of combination and you can make it really fun and informative.(This is one of my tougher assignments and I rarely assign it for this reason. But I have faith in you… after all, you are making me so very proud.)Personality
Chapter 12
Prepared by
Melissa S. Terlecki,
Cabrini College, PA
Personality: What It Is and How It Is
• Personality: an individual’s characteristic style
of behaving, thinking, and feeling
– Study developing explanations of the basis for
psychological differences among people
– Explanations of personality differences are
concerned with prior events and anticipated
events that affect personality.
Measuring Personality
• Personality inventories use multiple-choice/ forced-choice.
– Validity scales can help alleviate response style biases.
– Self-report: a series of answers to a questionnaire that asks people to
indicate the extent to which sets of statements or adjectives accurately
describe their own behavior or mental state
– MMPI-2: a well-researched clinical questionnaire used to assess
personality and psychological problems
• Projective techniques: a standard series of ambiguous stimuli
designed to elicit unique responses that reveal inner aspects of an
individual’s personality
– Open to subjective interpretation
– Rorschach Inkblot Test: individual interpretations of the meaning of a set
of unstructured inkblots are analyzed to identify a respondent’s inner
feelings and interpret his/her personality structure
– Thematic Apperception Test (TAT): respondents reveal underlying
motives, concerns, and the way they see the social world through the
stories they make up about ambiguous pictures of people
Figure 12.1
Sample Rorschach Inkblot
The Trait Approach: Identifying Patterns of
• Trait: a relatively stable disposition to behave
in a particular and consistent way
– A trait may be a pre-existing disposition that
causes the behavior (personality inventories), or
the motivation that guides the behavior (projective
– Researchers have described and measured
hundreds of traits, such as authoritarianism.
The Search for Core Traits
• Traits can be classified by using adjectives
(language), which may be organized in a
hierarchical pattern.
– Factor analysis sorts trait items into small
dimensions. Researchers have argued how many
core factors exist.
– Big Five: the traits of a five-factor model:
conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism,
openness to experience, and extraversion
Table 12.2
The Big Five Factor Model
The Psychodynamic Approach: Forces That
Lie Beneath Awareness
• Psychodynamic approach: regards personality
as formed by needs, strivings, and desires
largely operating outside of awareness –
motives that can also produce emotional
disorders; discovered by Freud
– Dynamic unconscious: an active system
encompassing a lifetime of hidden memories, the
person’s deepest instincts and desires and the
person’s inner struggle to control these forces
The Structure of the Mind: Id, Ego, and
• Freud proposed that the mind consists of three
independent systems that determine the
personality’s structure.
– Id: the part of the mind containing the drives present at
birth; the source of our bodily needs, wants, desires, and
impulses, particularly our sexual and aggressive drives
– Ego: the component of personality, developed through
contact with the external world, that enables us to deal
with life’s practical demands
– Superego: the mental system that reflects the
internalization of cultural rules, mainly learned as
parents exercise their authority
The Good and The Bad, and the Struggle
Between the Id and Superego
Dealing with Inner Conflict
• Conflict between the id, ego, and superego causes anxiety.
• Defense mechanisms: unconscious coping mechanisms that reduce
anxiety generated by threats from unacceptable impulses
– Rationalization: supplying a reasonable-sounding explanation for
unacceptable feelings and behavior to conceal one’s underlying motives or
– Reaction formation: unconsciously replacing threatening inner wishes and
fantasies with an exaggerated version of their opposite
– Projection: attributing one’s own threatening feelings, motives, or impulses
to another person or group.
– Regression: the ego deals with internal conflict and perceived threat by
reverting to an immature behavior or earlier stage of development
– Displacement: shifting unacceptable wishes or drives to a neutral or less
threatening alternative
– Identification: helps deal with feelings of threat and anxiety by enabling us
to unconsciously to take on the characteristics of another person who seems
more powerful or able to cope
– Sublimation: channeling unacceptable sexual or aggressive drives into
socially acceptable and culturally enhancing activities
Psychosexual Stages and the Development of
• Psychosexual stages: distinct early life stages through which personality is
formed as children experience sexual pleasures from specific body areas
(erotogenic zone) and caregivers redirect or interfere with those pleasures
– Fixation: a phenomenon in which a person’s pleasure-seeking drives become
psychologically stuck, or arrested, at a particular psychosexual stage
– Oral stage: experience centers on the pleasures and frustrations associated with the
mouth, sucking, and being fed
– Anal stage: experience centers on the pleasures and frustrations associated with the
anus, retention and expulsion of feces and urine, and toilet training
– Phallic stage: experience centers on the pleasure, conflict, and frustration associated
with the phallic-genital region as well as coping with powerful incestuous feelings of
love, hate, jealousy, and conflict
• Oedipus conflict: a child’s conflicting feelings toward the opposite-sex parent are usually
resolved by identifying with the same-sex parent
– Latency stage: primary focus is on the further development of intellectual, creative,
interpersonal, and athletic skills
– Genital stage: a time for coming together of the mature adult personality with a
capacity to love, work, and relate to others in a mutually satisfying and reciprocal
Table 12.4
The Psychosexual Stages
The Humanistic-Existential Approach:
Personality as Choice
• Humanistic and existential theorists focus on
how healthy choices create personality.
– Humanistic psychologists emphasize a positive,
optimistic view of human nature; goodness and
potential for growth.
– Existentialist psychologists focus on the individual
as responsible agent, negotiating the issue of
meaning and the reality of death.
Human Needs, Self-Actualization, and
Personality as Existence
• Self-actualizing tendency: the human motive
toward realizing our inner potential
– Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs recognizes selfactualization as a higher need.
• Existential approach: regards personality as
governed by an individual’s ongoing choices
and decisions in the context of the realities of
life and death; argued by Rollo May (19091994) and Victor Frankl (1905-1997)

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