Chapter 14Theories of Personality Personality is the consistent, enduring, and unique characteristics of a person. The first purpose of personality theories is to provide a way of organizing the many characteristics you know about yourself and other people. The second is to explain differences between people. Thirdly is to how people conduct their lives. Lastly it looks to see how you can improve their lives.
Major Schools of Personality Thought • Psychoanalytic Theories developed by Freud and his followers emphasize the importance of motive hidden in the unconscious. • The Behaviorists headed by B.F. Skinner study the way rewards and punishments shape our actions. • Social Learning theories examine the impact of observational learning on our personality. • Cognitivists focus on how our thoughts, perceptions, and feelings shape our personalities. • Humanists like Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers, stress one’s potential for growth, like creativity and spontaneity. • Trait theorists like Gordon Allport and Hans Eysenck emphasize the importance of understanding basic personality characteristics like friendliness and aggression.
Psychoanalytic Theory &Freud’s Id, Ego, and Superego • He saw personality as an energy system, drawing on two different instincts, life and death. • Freud saw that all life moves toward death and a desire for a final end shows up as destruction and aggression. • But he focused on the life instincts and saw them as the pleasure – seeking or erotic urges. • Therefore he developed the id, ego, and superego which were to explain how the mind functions and how instinctual energies are organized and regulated.
The Id is the container or reservoir for all your instinctual and biological urges. It’s in the unconscious or subconscious. • The id operates in terms of what Freud called the pleasure principle, seeking immediate gratification of desires. • The ego, is mostly conscious, gradually formed in the second and third years of your life, and operates in terms of Freud’s reality principle. Think of it as one that rationalizes or looks ahead. • The Superego represents the learning and incorporates your primary caretaker’s ideals. It’s the moral part of your personality, the source of conscience and of high ideals which operated in what Freud labeled the moral principle. The id represents what a person wants to do, the ego plans what you can do, and the superego promotes what you do.
Defense Mechanisms • The ego’s job is so difficult that people resort to psychological defenses. • Rather than face frustration, conflict, or other feelings of unworthiness, people deceive themselves into believing nothing is wrong. If the id and ego cannot be resolved it may be necessary to distort reality. • Freud called them defense mechanisms, because they defend the ego from experiencing anxiety about failing in its tasks.
Rationalization • Rationalization involves making up acceptable excuses for behaviors that cause us to feel anxious.
Repression • When a person has painful memories and unacceptable thoughts and motives that cause your ego too much anxiety, they may push those thoughts out of the consciousness to the unconscious. • These thoughts may show themselves in cutting remarks, sarcasm, slips of the tongue, or dreams.
Denial • In denial, you refuse to accept the reality of something that makes you anxious.
Projection • Projection occurs when your inner feelings are thrown, or projected, outside the self and assigned to others. • It is a common mechanism and most have experienced it from time to time.
Reaction Formation • Reaction formation is the act where you replace an unacceptable feeling or urge with an opposite one. • An example of reaction formation would be treating someone you strongly dislike in an excessively friendly manner in order to hide your true feelings. Why do people behave this way? According to Freud, they are using reaction formation as a defense mechanism to hide their true feelings by behaving in the exact opposite manner.
Regression • Regression means going back to an earlier and less mature pattern of behavior. • When under severe pressure a person may revert to acting in ways that helped them in the past. • For example, throw a temper tantrum, or start crying, maybe reverting to eating and sleeping all the time.
Displacement • Displacement occurs when you cannot take out your anger on the source of your frustration.
Sublimation • Sublimation refers to redirecting a forbidden desire into a socially acceptable desire. • For example, you get sick of your friend’s attitude and wear yourself out and push yourself at a gym or practice until you are physically exhausted.