Psych 120General PsychologyChristopher GadeOffice: 1030AOffice hours: MW 4:30-5:30Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgClass MW 1:30-4:30 Room 2240
Personality • To effectively examine the topic of personality, one must ask a number of questions… • How is an individual’s personality defined? • How do we determine different personalities? • Can and do our personalities change? • How does personality come about?
What is personality? • Personality – all the consistent ways in which the behavior of one person differs from and is similar to that of others, especially in social situations. • Specific behaviors signify specific personalities • Personality measures can’t determine what we do all of the time in every social situation, but it can give us a good indication about what we are likely to do. • Personality traits are often tough to define, but there are a number of theories about how many, and what types of traits individuals have. • Personality is said to be the product of experience and genetics.
Freud and his psychodynamic approach • Psychodynamic theory – personality is based on the interplay of conflicting forces within the individual. This includes forces that the individual is both aware, and unaware of. • Our personality is a derivative of all of experiences of our past, as well as the forces acting on the individual. • Abnormal personality is a result of pent up or conflicting forces within the individual. • Catharsis – a release of pent up emotional tensions
What are these forces in conflict? • the ‘id’: an unconscious force that constantly seeks satisfaction of basic needs (survival, sex, immediate gratification). • The ‘superego’: an unconscious force that’s only goal is to push us to do what is ‘right’ (society’s standards). • The ‘ego’: a conscious force that operates on the reality principle. It seeks to satisfy id’s and the superego’s desires in realistic ways.
So what causes these emotional tensions (according to Freud)? • A pent up store of unconscious desires and experiences that have a detrimental effect on the individual. • Conscious – thoughts, memories, and emotions that we are aware of. • Unconscious – thoughts, memories, and emotions that we are unaware of due to their traumatic or unacceptable nature.
How do we get at these unconscious memories/emotions/thoughts? • Psychoanalysis • Hypnosis • Free association • Dream interpretation • “Freudian Slips”
Freud’s Psychosexual Stages Stage Focus Fixation Oral Pleasure centers on the mouth-- smoking, (0-18 months) sucking, biting, chewing overeating Anal Pleasure focuses on bowel and bladder stinginess (18-36 months) elimination; coping with demands for control strict orderliness Phallic Pleasure zone is the genitals; coping with penis envy (3-6 years) incestuous sexual feelings castration fear Latency Dormant sexual feelings (6 to puberty) Genital Maturation of sexual interests (puberty on) Differentiation of Sexual Desires • Freud eventually went on to argue that children of all ages have some form of sexual tension. This tension was a result of libido (psychosexual energy), that comes in different forms throughout development.
So what can we take from Freud? • Humans apparently have a mental life that is at least partly unconscious. • People often have conflicting motives and desires. • Childhood experiences contribute to the development of adult personality and social behavior. • Sexual development has an impact on psychological development.
Where was Freud just dead wrong? • Unconscious thoughts defined by Freud are very different from today’s theories of unconscious. • Its not all about sex and psychosexual stages (if these stages even exist). • Almost all (if not all) forms of mental disorders have been only weakly linked to childhood experiences.
Then and now… • In the last part of this lecture, we began studying the field of personality psychology by discussing the personality theories proposed by Sigmund Freud. • Now we’ll be continuing our exploration of personality psychology. • Other theories about personality formation • Other possible origins of personality (a slightly more scientific approach)
Carl Jung (1875-1961) • Colleague of Freud’s • Accepted many of Freud’s beliefs about the formation of personality. • Personality is formed from both conscious and unconscious forces • Our past experiences have an impact on our personalities • Broke with Freud’s work because of his differing beliefs about personality formation. • Our personal unconscious did not contain the basic instincts that Freud proposed (primarily the id) • People possess personality traits as a result of a collective unconscious. • Archetypes – vague images of our personality. Some archetypes are inherited from the experiences of our ancestors.
Alfred Adler’s Superiority Theory • Another early student of Freud’s, but broke away because of differing theories (too much focus on sex). • Formed a branch of psychology called individual psychology • Individual psychology – a psychology of the person as a whole rather than a person in parts • Believed that personality was based on our attempts to pursue our strengths and make up for our shortcomings. • Striving for superiority – a desire to seek personal excellence and fulfillment. • Inferiority complex – an exaggerated feeling of weakness, inadequacy, and helplessness.
Carl Rogers’ Self Actualization Theory • This theory is very similar in structure to Adler’s theory of striving for superiority. • It postulates that people are constantly striving for betterment and to reach a point of self actualization. • self actualization – the achievement of one’s full potential (note: this stage is said to rarely be met by individuals) • Our personality is based on a number of selves that we have, and the discrepancy between these selves. • Actual self – the person that we are • Ideal self – the person that we want to be • Aught self – the person that we feel we “should” be (not really Rogers’ idea)
Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs • Maslow was another psychologist that believed in the concept of self actualization. However, he believed that self actualization was met through another mechanism… The fulfillment of needs. • Maslow proposed that each of us has a hierarchy of needs, and once all of those needs are met, we are able to reach a state of self actualization.
What does it mean to reach a point of self actualization? • According to humanistic psychologists (Rogers and Maslow), once a person reaches self actualization, a number of recognizable behaviors take shape. • Unconditional positive regard • An accurate perception of reality • Independence, creativity, and spontaneity • Acceptance of oneself and others • Enjoyment of life • A good sense of humor ***Note: Skeptics have questions whether or not this was a sign of self-actualization, or just a list of characteristics that Rogers and Maslow valued.
The “Learning Approach” to Personality • Our personality is primarily the result of learned responses and behaviors. These learned behaviors and responses allow us to follow group norms. • Gender roles • Class norms • Racial norms • Family standards
Other determinants of personality • Genes!!! • Twin studies have allowed us to conclude that genetic influence has a large impact on our personality. • However, specific genes have not been linked to specific personality characteristics (at least they haven’t been linked yet).
And now… • In the final section of class, we’ll be discussing the state trait issue, different ways of determining traits, and different personality measures.
The final look at personality… • In the two previous sections of lecture, we’ve looked two topic relating to the concept of personality. • The definition of personality • The causes of personality • Theoretical • Proven • Today, we’re going to address three of the most prominent concerns of today’s personality psychologists. • The definition of traits • The correct number of traits • Measures to determine these traits
The state/trait issue • When looking at the concept of personality, psychologists attempt to maintain a clear cut distinction between traits and states when describing people and behaviors. • Traits – a consistent, long-lasting tendency in behavior. • Much more consistent over time • Less influenced by social cues (supposedly) • e.g. kindness, shyness, hostility, laziness • States – a temporary activation of a particular behavior • The result of social cues • Short-lived and slightly more influential while they are experienced • e.g. fear, excitation, sorrow, surprise
So how many traits do we have? • The best answer for that question is... It depends. • When looking for a way to define a large group of individuals, the amount of personality traits that can be useful to describe these people can range anywhere from 2 – ??? traits. • When looking to predict a specific behavior, only one or two defining traits might be necessary to describe an individual.
The Big 5 Model of Personality • When just looking at people as a whole, psychologists attempt to describe personality based on the premise of parsimony (remember parsimony?). • Parsimony (AKA Occam’s Razor): Results should be explained through the most consistent and simplest conclusion that can be drawn in the context of the situation. • So to do this, psychologists began looking for ways to describe personality in the most parsimonious fashion possible. And how did they do it?
The Big 5 Model of Personality (cont.) • The dictionary… • Looked in dictionaries to find every word in the English language that related to personality • 18,000 words were found • Comparing words for synonyms and antonyms… • Similar to each other (e.g. nice and friendly) • Opposite of each other (e.g. nice and mean) • This search reduced the list down to 35 traits • Conducting “factor analyses” to see which remaining words/traits emerged… • Found the ones that overlapped with each other in response frequency. • This reduction left us with a total of 5 personality traits… the big 5.
So what are the big 5? • (O)penness to experience – a tendency to enjoy new intellectual experiences and new ideas. • (C)onscientiousness – a tendency to show self-discipline, to be dutiful, and to strive for achievement and competence. • (E)xtraversion – a tendency to seek stimulation and to enjoy the company of others. • (A)greeableness – a tendency to be compassionate toward others. • (N)euroticism – a tendency to experience unpleasant emotions relatively easily.
So what are some of the shortcomings of the big 5? • Might not be a good predictor of other cultures. • Remember, this grouping was based on the English language. • However, modest supportive evidence has shown that the big five might have some value in other cultures. • Might have too few variables. • Religiosity, to name one variable, might also be an important aspect of personality not covered in the big 5. • Might have too many variables. • Some variables are modestly positively correlated (E with O), while others are modestly negatively correlated (both E and O with N). • Might not be a good predictor of the situation that you are examining. • Some situations might not be predicted by big 5 measures, others might just be better predicted by different, more specific personality traits.
Ways to look at personality • Observations • Delay of gratification video • Questionnaires • Big Five Inventory • Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) • Peer/family ratings • Projective measures • Rorschach Inkblots • Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) • Implicit tests • The emotional Stroop task • IAT
The MMPI • The most widely used personality test. • 567 T/F statements. • Tests for personality, disorders, and deception.