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Psychoanalysis and
personality theory
Pioneer by Sigmund Freud
A therapeutic and method
Based on the idea that
unconscious motivations and
needs influence behavior
Also known as Psychodynamic
theories personality as the result
of dynamic conflict between
unconscious and conscious
psychological forces
The conflict gives rise to a variety of
behavioral and psychological
outcomes such as symptoms,
dreams, and fantasies.
Five propositions of
Psychoanalysis :
Most of the thoughts, feelings and
motives underlying behavior are
unconscious to the individual
Unconscious and conscious
motives operate in parallel
Nurture ( the childs experience
with his/her parents) impact on the
personality development
An individuals representations of
The normative development of
personality requires the
progressive transition from
instinctual to social behavior.
Critic : the propositions cannot
easily be tested
Few personality researchers explain
individual differences in terms
psychoanalytic principles, often
compatible with empirical findings.
Example : the idea that consciousness
and behavior are the result of a constant
trade-off between different autonomous
subsystems of mind is widely accepted
and explains how individuals may learn
implicitly or without awareness of the
underpinning cognitive and affective
psychological processes
Development during childhood
(relationship with the parents)
influence personality :
Triandis and Suh (2002) :
Behaviorism and
Personality theory
U.S Founder : John Watson
The study of observable behavior
that explains human behavior not in
terms of internal psychological
processes but as a result of
conditioning, or learning how to
respond in specific ways to
appropriate stimuli
Replace the construct of mind with
observable variables such as behavior.
Assumption : Behavior caused by external
stimuli .
Concerned with producing behavioral
change than with understanding behavior
Focus : The role of learning associations
as determinants behavioral outcomes and
attempted to both identify existing
associations and create novel ones.
Personality is the sum of all learned
B. F Skinner developed radical
Proposed that the variables of which
human behavior is a function lie in
Tolman (1939) Everything important
in psychology can be investigated in
essence through the continued
experimental and theoretical analysis
Less radical behaviorism in order to
characterize behavioral patterns,
propensities or capacities, we need not
only a suitable behavioristic vocabulary,
but psychological terms as well.
While the moderate behaviorist
approaches aimed at resurrecting
unobservable variables such as memories,
emotions and perceptions to expand the
theoritical and explanatory scope of
Personality Theories
Known as humanistic or
existential theory
Hybrid between psychology and
Phenomenology the study of
things (phenomena) as they are
perceived or represented.
Life is experienced and interpreted
in a unique and subjective manner,
emphasis should be placed on
individuality and no two individuals
have the same perception of the
All human beings are free to choose
and create their lives, making life a
self-determined enterprise
Humanistic personality theories
consist :
Individuals, have a natural tendency
towards personal improvement and self-
perfection every person has the
potential for self-actualization or self
Actualization is the capacity to enhance
the organism, gain autonomy and be
If individuals are unaware of their
potential for self-actualization or find
obstacle that stop them from unleashing
this potential, psychologists can guide
and help them overcome obstacles
Selfactualized people tend to be happy
and enjoy life whereas failure to unleash
ones potential for growth can lead to
mental health problems
Failure to self-actualize may also lead to
state of reactance.
Self-actualization leads to congruence
between ones ideal and actual self.
Incongruity between ones aspirations
and reality causes anxiety.
Most significant contribution : the
application of phenomenological/
constructivist principles to the study
of cross-cultural.
theories of personality
Ramification of late behaviorist theories.
Emphasis is largely on subjective
Higgins (1999) studied is concerned with
self-comparative processes by which
individuals contrast their aspirations.
The bigger the difference between
individuals self-views and aspirations, the
higher the likelihood of experiencing
anxiety and even depression
Baldwin (1999) relational schemas
as a representational form of self-
image that arises from social
Schema Knowledge structure that
guides individual expectations and
beliefs, helps make sense of familiar
situations, and provides a framework
for processing and organizing new
These schemas not only self-fulfilling but
may also fluctuate accordingly to the
situation, notably depending of other
The implications are that individuals may
have several, and often plenty of, relational
schemas, and idea that is in direct conflict
with trait theories of personality.
Criticism : there is only one self that can
visualize different futures and select
courses of action.
Recently, theorists also focused on
self-perceptions with regard to
intellectual competence fixed
entity or incremental in nature.
Incremental believer set higher
goals and work much harder to
accomplished them.
Fixed entity believer self-defeating
cognition and strive less for success.
Biological approaches
to personality theory
Aim to identify observable links
between physical and psychological
Focusing on the relationship
between psychometrically assessed
personality traits and nervous
Trait and biological approaches are
not mutually exclusive but
Showing progress in identifying
biological correlates of
personality traits.
Findings in anatomical studies
of brain ;
Frontal lobes execution of
planning and behavioral guidance
Amygdala determining levels of
aggression and emotionality
Finding in Psychological
Hormone testosterone is relevant
in regard to social interaction
agreeable or aggressive manner
and sexual behavior
Neurotransmitters serotonin and
dopamine emotional regulation
and sociability
Behavioral genetics
Assesses the impact of genetic (inherited)
and non-genetic (environmental) factors,
not only on personality traits but also on
intellectual abilities.
Provided compelling evidence in support of
the hypothesis that those general
dispositions used to describe, classify, and
compare individuals refer to as personality
traits are, to a great and observable
extent, biologically transmitted and
Two similarities between behavior-
genetic and biological approaches;
Attempt to explain psychological
outcomes in terms of physical causes

Rely on psychometrically assessed

Emphasizes the important of trait
approaches to personality as a
ubiquitous method and framework
at centre of personality theories
Evolutionary and cultural
approaches to the study of
Known as sociobiology
Based on the identification of the
biological variables underlying
personality and behavior and how
these evolved from other species
More concerned with similarities
than differences between individuals
and should not, accordingly, be
considered part of individual
Identification of the most basic
aspects underlying human behavior,
thought and emotionality also
provide information on individual
Useful to mark the boundaries of
individual differences and more
importantly to scrutinize the
biological roots of the major
psychological aspects of human
Example : womens tendency to prefer
wealthy men and mens tendency to prefer
faithful women, are influence by biological
instinct rather than learned cultural and
Gosling & John (1999) - human personality
dimension such as Extraversion and the
minor trait of dominance can be accurately
used to described and predict individual
differences in animals too.
Useful to explain findings from other
studies ;
Research into the personality
correlates of interpersonal
relationships and marital status
suggests that there are mediating
gender differences underlying the
relationship between personality and
propensity to marry.
Cultural approaches to personality
traits argue quiet emphatically for
cross-cultural differences in
These differences would affect the
distribution of scores at levels of
each trait, but also the very validity
of dispositional and situational
Triandis & Suh (2004) traits
exist in all cultures, but account
for behavior less in collectivist
than in individualist cultures.
Situational determinants of
behavior are important
universally but more in
collectivist than in individualist
Collectivistic cultures tend to be
more homogeneous
Individualistic cultures more
Evolutionary and cultural
approaches are not always
Cultural effects can be
understood as the result of
evolutionary changes
Limitations to evolutionary
approach :
Provides little opportunity for
empirical testing of the theory
Open to reductionism tendency
to explain a complex set of facts
or ideas by using a simpler set of
facts or idea.
Current development outside the
dispositional paradigm
Psychoanalysis and personality theory
Behaviorism and personality theory
Phenomenological personality theories
Social-cognitive theories of personality
Biological approaches to personality
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