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Lecture 4

Jessica S. Dunn
Learning Objectives
To explore the contribution of
psychology to the understanding of
human personality.

To examine different research
approaches in personality psychology.

To identify and assess various ways of
assessing personality.
What is Personality?
Unique psychological qualities of an
individual that influence their
characteristic behaviour patterns
across different situations and over

Personality is regarded as Stable /
Relatively unchanging.
A theory is a model of reality that helps
us to understand, explain, predict, and
control that reality. In the study of
personality, these models are usually

A theory as guide to action that is like
a little like a map: It isn't the same as the
place it describes; it doesn't give you
every detail and may not even be terribly
accurate, but it does provide us
something to correct when it fails.

(Boree, 2006)
Theory: Understanding vs.
Prediction and Control
Different philosophical approaches focus on
different aspects of personality theory.

Humanists and Existentialists tend to focus on the
understanding part. They believe that much of what
we are is way too complex and embedded in history
and culture to "predict and control, which in some
cases has been conducted in an unethical fashion.

Behaviourists and Freudians, on the other hand,
prefer to discuss prediction and control. If an idea is
useful, if it works, go with it!
Approaches to Studying
Copyright 2002 Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Key Theoretical Perspectives
Psychodynamic - unconscious

Type/Trait - specific dimensions of

Humanistic - inner capacity for growth

Social-Cognitive - influence of
first comprehensive theory of personality
Psychodynamic Theories:

- examines how human unconscious
mental forces interplay with our
thoughts, feelings, and actions.
Proposes that personality is shaped
by and behaviour is motivated by
powerful inner forces.
Key Figures:
Founding fatherSigmund Freud
Neo-Freudians--Adler, Jung, Horney
Freud & Personality
personality forms during the first few years of life,
rooted in unresolved conflicts of early childhood
Psychosexual Stages
Oral (0-18 mos) - centered on the mouth
Anal (18-36 mos) - focus on bowel/bladder
Phallic (3-6 yrs) - focus on genitals/Oedipus
(Identification & Gender Identity)
Latency (6-puberty) - sexuality is dormant
Genital (puberty onwards) - sexual feelings
toward others
Strong conflict can fixate an individual at Stages 1,2 or
Psychodynamic Theory
Here Freud, sees personality as a product of
unconscious mental forces (thoughts, desires
and feelings) that influence behaviour.

Theory is premised on the idea that our levels
of consciousness shape our personality -- We
are unaware of some aspects of our mental
Freud argued that personality is made up of
multiple structures, some of which are
According to Freud, we all have impulses that
cause us anxiety; our personality develops
defense mechanisms to protect against such
Conscious vs. Unconscious
Conscious thought wishes, desires or
thoughts that we are aware of and can recall
at any given moment.
Unconscious forces wishes desires and
thoughts that because of their disturbing or
threatening content, we automatically repress
and cannot voluntarily access.
Unconscious motivations Freudian
concept referring to the influence of repressed
thoughts, desires or impulses on our
conscious thoughts and behaviours
Discovering the Unconscious
Free Association
Freudian Slips
Iceberg What exactly lies
above and beneath the surface?
Levels of Consciousness
- thoughts or motives a
person is currently aware
of or remembering

- thoughts, motives, or
memories that can be
voluntarily brought to mind

- thoughts, motives, or
memories blocked from
normal awareness
Divisions of the Mind:
Personality Structures
- instinctual energy; energy constantly striving to
satisfy basic drives (pleasure principle)

- seeks to gratify the Id in realistic ways
- rational part of psyche (reality principle)

- voice of conscience that focuses on how we ought
to behave
- The conscience (morality principle)

without the guilt?
Psychoanalytic Theory
Levels of
That which we are fully
aware of
Memories, thoughts
etc. that can be
recalled with effort
Wishes, feelings,
impulses that lie
beyond awareness

Structures of
Operates according to
the pleasure principle
Operates according to
the reality principle

Contains values and
ideals which we
consider in decision-
making about

Personality arises from conflict between aggressive, pleasure-
seeking impulses and social restraints
Defense Mechanisms
refer to unconscious mental processes that
protect the conscious person from developing
anxiety. We develop a repertoire of these during

They may protect us from experiencing anxiety
but can also prevent us from dealing with the true
source of the anxiety.

Sublimation: person channels energy from
unacceptable impulses to create socially acceptable
Denial: person refuses to recognize admit to reality.
Projection: person attributes their own unacceptable
impulses to others.
Repression: anxiety-evoking thoughts are pushed
into the unconscious.

Defense Mechanisms
When the inner war
gets out of hand, the
result is Anxiety
Ego protects itself via
Defense Mechanisms
Defense Mechanisms reduce/redirect
anxiety by distorting reality
Defense Mechanisms
When anxiety becomes too overwhelming, the ego
employs defense mechanisms to protect the individual.

Feelings of guilt, embarrassment and shame often
accompany the feeling of anxiety.

The first definitive book on defense mechanisms (The
Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense,1936) was written
by Anna Freud.

She argued that DM did not directly emerge from a
conflicted instinctual tension, but a signal occurring in
the ego of an anticipated instinctual tension".

The signaling function of anxiety is thus seen as a
crucial one. It is biologically adapted to warn the
organism of danger or a threat to its equilibrium.
Repression - banishes certain thoughts/feelings
from consciousness (underlies all other

Regression individual retreats to earlier stage
of fixated development

Reaction Formation - ego makes unacceptable
impulses appear as their opposites/acting in a
manner opposite to our innermost feelings.

Projection person attributes threatening
impulses to others
Defense Mechanisms
Defence Mechanisms
Rationalization - generate self-
justifying explanations to hide the real
reasons for our actions.

Displacement - divert impulses toward
a more acceptable object (e.g. I cant
have cheesecake so Ill eat a sweet

Sublimation - transform unacceptable
impulse into something socially valued.

Psychoanalytic Neo-Freudian

Alfred Adler (1870-1937) Individual Psychology
Was initially a devoted disciple of Freud but thought
the emphases on sexual motivation and the
unconscious mind was too strong.
His theory was inspired by his own childhood He
felt inferior to his stronger, healthier older brother
due to being sickly.
Inferiority complex is a motivator toward striving for
He felt this desire for superiority was healthy as long
as it promoted active concern for the welfare of
others, which he called social interest

In striving for superiority we develop a style
(schema) of life motivated by beliefs that
may not be true (fictional finalism) e.g.
nice guys finish last
He highlighted however that it could lead to
overcompensation i.e. through dominating
others rather than furthering their own
A person whose belief underlies the notion
that it is more blessed to give than to
receive may have a style of life that is more
Alfred Adler
Humans are motivated by social interest
Takes social context into account
First Born
Privileged until Dethroned
Second Born
In shadow of 1
Born inferiority, restlessness
Pampered, dependent
Only Child
Higher intellect, timid, passive, & withdrawn
Carl Jung (1875-1961)
Freuds crown prince
A collective unconscious is
represented by universal archetypes
and is the basic force in the
development of personality.
Two forms of unconscious mind exist:
Personal unconscious: unique for each
Collective unconscious: consists of primitive
images and ideas that are universal for
Neo-Freudian Carl Jung
Liked Freuds publication on the interpretation of
He accepted Freuds unconscious mind which
he called the personal unconscious.
He also posited that we share a common
unconscious mind the collective unconscious
which contained inherited memories passed
down through generations.
He called these memories archetypes which
he felt were important for explaining the
experience of human kind.
Karen Horney
Feminist Neo-Freudian
Did not accept all of Freuds
psychosexual conflicts nor the notion
that every child must experience child-
parent conflicts.
Argued that the major influence on
personality development was in child-
parent social interactions.
Believed that conflicts could be avoided
if the child is raised in a loving trusting
and secure environment.
The Type and Trait
Type A and Type B Theory
a theory which describes two
common, contrasting personality types
which are classified by patterns of
behaviour that could either raise or
lower an individuals chances of
developing coronary heart disease.

the high-strung Type A and
the easy-going Type B
Type theory
Theophrastus (372 -288 B.C.) - Personality differences
arise form inborn predispositions to develop particular
personality types dominated by a single characteristic.
E.g. Flatterer, Joker.

Hans Eysenck most influential modern theory of
personality types 3 Factor Theory.
Fled to England refusing to become a member of
Hitlers secret police. He used Factor Analysis to
identify 3 dimensions of personality.
Extraversion (to which Introversion was later added)
Theory regarded personality as a Type or Trait
Eysencks Personality Circle
Trait Theory
Traits (relatively stable personal
characteristics used to describe

Key Figures:
Early Trait Theorists: Allport, Cattell

Modern trait theorists: McCrae and
Costas Five-Factor Model (FFM) Test
of Personality Types
Trait Theories
Instead of looking at personality in single types, Trait
theorists believe it emerges from distinctive
combinations of personal characteristics.

Gordon Allport another Freud sympathiser initially,
changed his mind claiming that psychoanalysis was
too concerned with finding hidden motives for even
the most mundane of behaviours (psychic

Classified 3 Major Traits
Can we inherit Traits?
Behavioural Genetics - Study of the
degree to which personality traits and
behaviour patterns are inherited.

Usually conducted via:
Family Studies
Twin Studies
Can we measure Personality?
English language over 17,000
adjectives to describe behaviour

Provides rich resource to explore and
investigate individual differences

How do we measure personality?
How can we predict future behaviour?

Big 5 Personality Inventory
In contemporary psychology, the "Big
Five" factors (a.k.a Five Factor
Model; FFM) of personality are five
broad domains or dimensions of
personality which are used to describe
human personality types.

The Five-Factor Model
Big 5
The Big Five factors and their traits can be
summarized as:
Openness (inventive/curious vs.
consistent/cautious). Appreciation for art, emotion,
adventure, unusual ideas, curiosity, and variety of
Conscientiousness (efficient/organized vs.
easy-going/careless). A tendency to show self-
discipline, act dutifully, and aim for achievement;
planned rather than spontaneous behaviour.
Extraversion (outgoing/energetic vs.
solitary/reserved). Energy, positive emotions,
surgency, and the tendency to seek stimulation in
the company of others.

Big 5
Agreeableness (friendly/compassionate
vs. cold/unkind). A tendency to be
compassionate and cooperative rather than
suspicious and antagonistic towards others.

Neuroticism (sensitive/nervous vs.
secure/confident). A tendency to experience
unpleasant emotions easily, such as anger,
anxiety, depression, or vulnerability.

Critical Reviews of Trait
describe peoples personalities
Evolutionary, cross-cultural, and cross-
species studies support five-factor model

does not explain how behaviour is
generated or how it develops
only portrays a static view of personality
as it currently exists.
Ignores situational effects.
Humanistic Theory
Humanistic personality theories reject
psychoanalytic notions
Humanistic theories view each person
as basically good and that people are
striving for self-fulfillment
Humanistic theory argues that people
carry a perception of themselves and
of the world
The goal for a humanist is to
develop/promote a positive self-
Humanistic Perspectives
Carl Rogers (1902-87)

We have needs for:
Self-consistency (absence of conflict between
Congruence (consistency between self-
perceptions and experience)
Inconsistency evokes anxiety and threat
People with low self-esteem generally have
poor congruence between their self-concepts
and life experience.
Abraham Maslow (1908-
emphasized the basic
goodness of human
nature and a natural
tendency toward self-
Humanistic Perspectives
Behaviourist in nature.
It discounted biological factors,
unconscious influences and
dispositional traits.
Stressed the importance of learning
and environmental factors - Bandura
B.F. Skinner - Personality is simply a
unique pattern of behaviour tied to
specific situations. E.g. Sociable,
We are what we do.
Social-Cognitive Perspective
Proposed that each person has a unique
personality because our personal histories
and interpretations shape our personalities
Albert Banduras social-cognitive approach
focuses on self-efficacy and reciprocal

Julian Rotters locus of control theory
emphasizes a persons internal or external
focus as a major determinant of personality.
Locus of Control (Rotter)
Internal locus of control
Life outcomes are under personal control
Positively correlated with self-esteem
Internals use more problem-focused

External locus of control
Luck, chance, and powerful others control
There have been 2 main approaches
used currently in researching
motives in human personality:

1. Self-report Personality Measures
easy to administer and are objectively scored but are subject to
the honesty of participants
2. Projective Tests objective meaning can be
extracted from responses to meaningless blots of ink (e.g.
Rorschach Ink Blot Test created by Hermann Rorschach in 1921).
Assessing the Unconscious --
Inkblot Test
the most widely
used projective test
a set of 10 inkblots
designed by

Hermann Rorschach
Assessing the Unconscious--
used to
inner feelings
by analyzing
s of the blots.
Rorschachs Inkblots
Content is classified in terms of "human",
"nature", "animal", "abstract
The basis for the response is usually the
whole inkblot, a detail , or the negative space
around or within the inkblot.
Form - most common determinant, and is
related to intellectual processes;
Color responses often provide direct insight
into emotional life and impulse control;
Movement has been considered more
ambiguously ranging from actual experiencing of
motion to taking it to mean that the subject sees something
"going on".
What do you see?
What is this?
Assessing the Unconscious--
Test (TAT)
express their
inner motives
through the
stories they
make up about

So which theory is right?

According to Boree (2006) this aspect of psychology is the
least amenable to direct research that pits one theory
against another.

Much of Personality Theory involves things that are only
accessible to the person him- or herself -- your inner
thoughts and feelings.

Some of it is thought to be unavailable even to the person
it encompasses instincts and unconscious motivations.

As such, personality is still very much in a "pre-scientific" or
philosophical stage, and some aspects may well always
remain that way.

So, at present, we are stuck with theories (plural) rather
than the science of personality.

Key References used for this

Gerrig, R.J. & Zimbardo, P.G.(2010).
Psychology and Life, 19t Ed. Boston:
Pearson [Chapter 13]

Huffman, K. (2007). Psychology in
Action, 8
Ed. MA: John Wiley and
Sons Inc.

Sdorow, L. M. (1993). Psychology . 2

Ed. Iowa: Wm C. Brown

Web links for Images &
Boree, C.G. (2006) Personality
Theories: Introduction, URL