Personality defined • The consistent, enduring, and unique characteristics of a person.
Purposes of Personality Theories • To organize the many characteristics you know about yourself • To explain differences among individuals. • To explore how people conduct their lives. • To determine how life can be improved. • Theories of personality are used to guide research.
Sigmund Freud’s Theory of Personality • Freud developed the first theory of personality called the psychodynamic theory of personality. • He believed that personality is shaped by underlying conflicts between opposing forces within the mind.
Freud’s beliefs were controversial in his own time and remain so today.
Freud believed the mind consists of 3 levels of consciousness • (1) The conscious: Present awareness; what we are thinking or feeling at any given moment. • (2) The preconscious: Holds information from past experience or learning. This info can be retrieved from memory and brought into awareness at any time. • (3) The unconscious: Contains primitive sexual and aggressive impulses, wishes and ideas; memories of troubling emotional experiences
Unconscious mind continued • The contents of the unconscious cannot be brought directly into consciousness simply by focusing on them. • They may never come to the surface and so we remain unaware of our deepest wishes, ideas, and urges.
How does one tap into the unconscious mind? • Projective personality test: Unstructured test in which a person is asked to respond freely, giving his or her own interpretation of various ambiguous stimuli. • Rorschach Inkblot Test • TAT Test
Freud believed that personality consists of 3 mental entities • (1) The id (literally “it”) operates only in the unconscious • Contains our animal drives including sex and aggression • It’s the only psychological structure we have at birth • Follows the “pleasure principle;” it wants what it wants when it wants it.
(2) The ego: The second part of the mind which forms during the first year of life. • Responsible for organizing ways to handle delays of gratification • Represents reason and good sense • Operates according to the “reality principle” taking into account what is practical and acceptable.
(3)The superego: Is our internal moral guardian or conscience. • By age 3-5 it splits off from the ego • Forms through internalizing moral teachings of parents our other significant people. • Part of the superego may be available to consciousness, the part that corresponds to our moral convictions. • Much of it is unconscious- creating guilt or shame
Freud’s was the first psychodynamic theory of personality • It was based on the belief that our behavior is influenced by the on-going “dynamic” conflicts within the mind. • Conflicts between the id, ego and superego take place in the unconscious mind.
The ego uses defense mechanisms • These are used to prevent anxiety that would result if troubling desires and memories residing in the unconscious were fully realized in conscious awareness. • In other words, Freud believed we can’t handle our unconscious thoughts and feelings… so we avoid them.
How do we avoid dealing with whatever is in our unconscious? • (1) Repression: Is a defense mechanism involving “motivated forgetting” of anxiety causing material. • You push memories down into the unconscious. • This is a controversial belief today, in modern psychology.
A “Freudian Slip” or “Slip of the Tongue” May reveal (according to Freud) underlying motives or feelings kept hidden by repression.
Other Defense Mechanisms • (2) Denial: Failure to recognize a threatening impulse or urge. • Rather than just pushing the urge down into the unconscious, with denial you don’t even acknowledge the urge.
(3) Rationalization: The use of self- justification to explain away unacceptable behavior, impulses, or ideas. • It’s taking something that you may in reality find unacceptable, and making it acceptable.
(4) Projection: The putting of one’s own unacceptable impulses, wishes, or urges on other people. • When you find someone’s personality difficult to deal with, it may be your own negative personality characteristics that you are projecting onto them.
(5) Sublimation: Channeling unacceptable impulses into socially sanctioned behaviors or interests. • Becoming a boxer, punching people with gloves on in a ring can be a socially acceptable way to express hostility and anger.
(6) Displacement: An unacceptable urge or aggressive impulse is transferred to an object or person that is safer or less threatening that the original object or impulse. • Your parent makes you angry but it’s safer to take out your anger and frustration on your younger sibling instead of your parent.
(7) Reaction formation: Behavior that stands in opposition to one’s true motives and desires so as to prevent conscious awareness of them. • This is acting the opposite to how you really feel, like being overly nice to someone you don’t like or acting aloof and distant towards someone you really do like.
(8) Regression: Going back to an earlier and less mature pattern of behavior. • Throwing a temper tantrum, crying loudly, or making faces would be expected from a young child, but not a teenager.