Theories of Personality

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					Theories of Personality

   Doneisha Burke, MSc.
 An individual’s unique and relatively stable
  patterns of behavior, thoughts and emotions –
  these stable patterns usually characterize persons
  in a number of situations over time.

 Also refers to the enduring, inner characteristics of
  individuals that organize their behaviors.
 Over 30 years ago Walter Mischel challenged this
  basic assumption of personality. He argued that
  personality might not be consistent.
 What do you think?
 This debate has brought about a personality
  approach known as the interactionist perspective-
  the view that behaviour in any situation is a
  function of both personality and external factors.
 This is the view currently accepted by most

 Psychoanalytic Approach
 Behavioural- Learning Approach- Classical Conditioning,
  Operant Conditioning, Observational Learning

 Humanistic Approach
 Cognitive Approach
 Trait/ Biological Approach
Psychoanalytic Approach
 Sigmund Freud 1856-
 Many biographies of
  Freud have drawn
  connections between his
  theories and his personal
  life experiences
 Levels of Consciousness

 Basic Instincts

 Structures of Personality- ID, EGO and SUPEREGO

 Defense Mechanisms
Levels of Consciousness
 Conscious level- contains our current thoughts: whatever
  we are thinking about or experiencing at a given moment.
  (e.g. thoughts & perceptions).
 Preconscious level- contains aspects of our mental life of
  which we are not conscious of at the moment but can
  readily be brought to mind/awareness if the need arises
  (e.g. memories stored knowledge).
 Unconscious level- thoughts, desires and impulses of
  which we remain largely unaware and cannot easily
  become aware of ( e.g. fears, unacceptable sexual desires,
  violent motives, shameful experiences).
Basic Instincts
 According to Freudian theory, our behaviors,
  thoughts, and feelings are largely governed by
  innate biological drives, known as instincts.
 2 categories- Life Instincts, Death Instincts
 Freud said that a large measure of life is an
  attempt to resolve conflicts between these two
  natural but diametrically opposed instincts.
Basic Instincts
 Life instincts (EROS) – impulses for survival,
  including those that motivate sex, hunger and
  thirst. Each instinct has its own energy that
  drives it. The psychic energy that drives the
  sexual instinct is called the libido.
 Death instincts (THANTOS) – impulses of
  destruction. Directed inward, they give rise to
  feelings of depression or suicide; directed
  outward, they result in aggression.
The Structure of Personality
 Freud suggested that personality consist of 3
  separate, though interacting, structures or
  subsystems each governed by its own principle
  and function to carry out:
      Id,
      Ego, and
      Superego.
The Id
 Consists of al our primitive and innate urges
 According to Freud the id is completely
 It operates according to the Pleasure Principle
    immediate pleasure is the sole motivation for
      behaviour and is incapable of considering the
      potential costs of seeking this pleasure.
 It is the Yes of the personality
The Ego
 The part of the personality that develops through one’s
  experience with reality.
 The ego’s task is to hold the id in check until conditions
  allow for satisfaction of it’s impulses
 It operates in accordance with the Reality Principle
      the reality principle strives to satisfy the id’s desires in
       realistic and socially appropriate ways. The reality
       principle weighs the costs and benefits of an action
       before deciding to act upon or abandon an impulse.
 The ego is partly conscious and is the Maybe of our
 The ego must strike a balance between our primitive (id)
  urges and our learned moral constraints (superego).
  Struggle is visible in Freudian Slips
The Superego
 Like the ego it seeks to control satisfaction of id impulses and is
  concerned with morality (looks at right/wrong in terms of
  satisfying id impulses)
 It is acquired through our parents and our experiences and
  reflects an internalization of society’s rules
 The Superego is made up of two parts:
    The Ego Ideal- includes the rules and standards for good
       behaviors are approved of by parental and other authority
       figures. Obeying these rules leads to feelings of pride, value,
       and accomplishment.
    The Conscience- includes information about things that are
       viewed as bad by parents and society. These behaviors are
       often forbidden and lead to bad consequences, punishments,
       or feelings of guilt and remorse.
The Superego
 Like the id, the superego has no contact with
  reality and, therefore, places unrealistic demands
  on the individual.
 It is very rigid and inflexible
 It is the No of the personality.
 It operates on the Idealistic Principle
Defense Mechanisms
   Repression
   Sublimation
   Denial
   Rationalization (Intellectualization)
   Fantasy
   Projection
   Regression
   Displacement
   Reaction Formation
   Compensation
(See hand out)
Two things to know about defense
 It’s use is a normal reaction which helps us
  cope with anxieties and conflicts of everyday
 Although normal they can however become
  maladaptive. As long as defense mechanism
  are successful in easing the unpleasant
  feelings of anxiety, we may no longer feel a
  need to search for the true sources of
  anxiety and we will be less likely to resolve
  the conflict that is producing the anxiety.
 Oral Stage- Birth to 1 yr

 Anal Stage- 1- 3yrs

 Phallic Stage- 3- 5 yrs

 Latency Period- 6- puberty

 Genital Stage- 11- 18 yrs
 (View handout posted online)
Evaluating the Psychoanalytic Approach

 Major criticism is the over-reliance on innate biological/sexual
   drives as being our central motivator for our personality and

 Freud seems to have ignored the social approach to personality

 Freud in the development of his theory relied on case studies –
   and this form of research in not generalizable.

 He mainly used persons from wealthy background and these
   persons are not representative of the wider society.
The Psychoanalytic Approach After
 Neo- Freudians- they had their own theory.
  They didn’t agree with everything that Freud
  proposed so they had to part from Freud
Carl Jung – (1875-1961)
 Disagreed with Freud
  over the role of
  sexuality and the nature
  of the unconscious.
 He had a more positive
  attitude about an
  individual’s ability to
  control his or her own
  destiny. Libido was
  energy for personal
  growth and development
  according to Jung and
  not sexual energy.
Alfred Adler – (1870-1937)
 Adler was turned off most
  by the negativity of
  Freud’s view – the death
  instinct as well as the idea
  of sexual libido as the
  prime impulse in life
 Adler argued that we are a
  product of the social
  influences on our
  personality. All behaviors
  occur in a social context,
  “behavior is a function of
  person and environment.”
Alfred Adler – (1870-1937)
 Adler contented that people cannot be studied in
  isolation. We are motivated not so much by drives
  and instincts as by goals and incentives – our main
  motivation is to Striving for Superiority – in
  order to overcome inferiority – Adler coined the
  term Inferiority Complex.
Karen Horney – (1885-1952)
 Trained, as a
  psychoanalyst in Germany
  and came to the US in
  1934. Horney theorized
  that the prime impulses
  that motivate behavior are
  not biological and inborn
  or sexual and aggressive,
  but basic anxiety, which
  grows out of childhood
  when the child feels alone
  and isolated in a hostile
The Learning Theory of Personality
The Learning Theory of Personality
 What is learning?
    A relatively permanent change in behavior that
     occurs as a result of practice or experience.
 According to this theory personality is acquired
  through learning (via reinforcement, punishment
  and observational learning).
 Learning Theories include:
      Classical Conditioning
      Operant Conditioning
      Observational Learning
Classical Conditioning
 Have you ever noticed that once your dog hears
  the pot cover or scraping of a fork they
  immediately show up?
 Or every time you hear the microwave beep you
  anticipate the food and your mouth starts
Classical Conditioning
 Ivan Pavlov a Russian
  physiologist is credited
  with discovering classical
  conditioning and won a
  Nobel Peace Prize in 1904
  for his work on digestion.
 Classical conditioning is
  a basic form of learning in
  which one stimulus comes
  to serve as a signal for the
  occurrence of a second
  stimulus (Baron, 2001)
Classical Conditioning
 In order to understand    UCS- Unconditioned
  how classical                  stimulus
  conditioning works, it
  is important to be        UCR-Unconditioned
  familiar with the basic        Response
  concepts of the
                            NS- Neutral Stimulus
                            CS- Conditioned
                            CR- Conditioned
Classical Conditioning
   Unconditioned Stimulus- one that unconditionally,
    naturally, and automatically triggers a response. For
    example, when you smell one of your favorite foods,
    you may immediately feel very hungry. In this
    example, the smell of the food is the unconditioned
   Unconditioned Response -the unlearned
    response that occurs naturally and automatically in
    response to the presence of the unconditioned
    stimulus. In our example, the feeling of hunger in
    response to the smell of food is the unconditioned
Classical Conditioning
   Conditioned Stimulus is a previously neutral
    stimulus that, after becoming associated with the
    unconditioned stimulus, eventually comes to trigger
    a conditioned response.
       In our earlier example, suppose that when you
        smelled your favorite food, you also heard the sound
        of a whistle. While the whistle is unrelated to the
        smell of the food, if the sound of the whistle was
        paired multiple times with the smell, the sound would
        eventually trigger the conditioned response. In this
        case, the sound of the whistle is the conditioned
Classical Conditioning
 Conditioned response- the learned response
  to the previously neutral stimulus. In our
  example, the conditioned response would be
  feeling hungry when you heard the sound of
  the whistle.
Classical Conditioning: The Steps
Classical Conditioning: The Steps
Two technicalities
1. CR and UCR are not identical. The CR is
   usually weaker than UCR. Example: never gets
   as much saliva from the tone as you would from
2. The order of pairing of the CS and UCS does
   matter and is important.
     1.   It is best that the CS is presented first followed
          shortly after (one to two seconds) by the UCS
Classical conditioning in real life
 Story of “Little Albert”- John B. Watson – (1878-
 Role it plays in developing phobias
 Drug use

Stimulus-Response Theory (S-R)
Operant Conditioning
 The major theorists for     B.F. Skinner 1904-1990
  the development of
  operant conditioning are
  B.F. Skinner & Edward
 Edward L. Thorndike
Operant Conditioning
 Operant conditioning a.k.a instrumental
  conditioning) is a method of learning that occurs
  through rewards and punishments for behavior.
  Through operant conditioning, an association is
  made between a behavior and a consequence for
  that behavior.
Operant Conditioning
 Behaviors will maintain or increase if they are
  reinforced: and decrease if they are punished or
  not reinforced.
 In large part we do what we do because of what
  has happened i.e. the consequences of our actions
 According to Skinner there are four ways that
  behavior can be changed (or, four ways that
  learning might occur).
Operant Conditioning
 There are 2 procedures that strengthen/increase
  the rate of behaviour i.e. reinforcement (+ & -)
 There are 2 procedures that weaken/decrease the
  rate of behaviour i.e. punishment (+& -)
Operant Conditioning: Reinforcement
 Reinforcement (2 types)
      The application or removal of a stimulus to
       increase the strength of behaviour.
 Positive Reinforcement
 Negative Reinforcement
Positive Reinforcement
 Involves the impact of positive reinforcers
      any event that strengthens or increases the behavior that
       precede them. There are two kinds of reinforcers:
         Primary reinforcers- natural/unlearnedUsually related to
          survival and are usually biological or physiological e.g.
          food, water, sex.
         Secondary/Conditioned reinforcers- acquired or learned
          reinforcers. E.g. money, praise, grades, promotions.
 Preferred activities can also be used to reinforce
  behavior, a principle referred to as the
      Premack Principle using a more preferred activity to
       reinforce a less preferred one.
Negative Reinforcement
 It involves the impact of negative reinforcers.
 In negative reinforcement the removal or
  avoidance of some event causes the behavior to
 Negative reinforcement is different from
 Keep in mind that both negative and positive
  reinforcement are procedures that strengthen and
  increases behavior.
Operant Conditioning: Punishment
 Punishment (2 types)
       the presentation of an adverse event or outcome
        that causes a decrease in the behavior it follows.
 Positive punishment
       involves the presentation of an unfavorable event or
        outcome in order to weaken the response it follows.
 Negative Punishment
       occurs when a favorable event or outcome is removed
        after a behavior occurs.
 (Please see table 5.1 on page 185 of the Baron, 2001)
Observational Learning
Observational Learning
 Observational or social
  learning is based primarily
  on the work of Albert
 He and his colleagues were
  able to demonstrate through
  a variety of experiments that
  the application of
  consequences was not
  necessary for learning to
  take place. Rather learning
  could occur through the
  simple processes of
  observing someone else's
Observational Learning
   Bandura formulated his findings in a four-step
    1.   Attention -- the individual notices something in the
    2.   Retention -- the individual remembers what was
    3.   Reproduction -- the individual produces an action that
         is a copy of what was noticed
    4.   Motivation -- the environment delivers a
         consequence that changes the probability the
         behavior will be emitted again (reinforcement and
Observational Learning
 Bandura's work combines both a cognitive and
  behavioural view of learning. He believes that
  mind, behavior and the environment all play an
  important role in the learning process
 In a set of well known experiments, called the
  "Bobo doll" studies, Bandura showed that children
  (ages 3 to 6) would change their behavior by
  simply watching others.
Evaluating the Behavioral-Learning
 Critics argue that they rely too much on the
  individual’s environment or learning history. This
  leaves nothing for the person to contribute – no
  free will – very deterministic. Ignore inner
  conflicts and influence of unconscious thoughts
  and impulses on behavior.
Humanistic Theories
 Theories of personality emphasizing personal
  responsibility and innate tendencies toward personal
  growth (Baron, 2001)
 Two American psychologists, Abraham Maslow and Carl
  Rogers paved the way for this new approach to
  understanding personality and improving the overall
  satisfaction of individuals.
 What matters is how people view themselves.
 Its roots are based in the understanding and acceptance of
  one's own existence and responsibility.
Humanistic Theories
   The basic ideas behind humanistic psychology are
    1.   The present is the most important aspect of the person and
         therefore humanists focus on the here and now rather than
         looking at the past or trying to predict the future.
    2.   Humanistic theory is reality based and to be
         psychologically healthy people must take responsibility for
         themselves, whether the person's actions are positive or
    3.   The individual, merely by being human, posses an inherent
         worth. Actions may not be positive but this does not
         negate the value of the person.
    4.   The goal of life should always be to achieve personal
         growth and understanding. Only through self-
         improvement and self-knowledge can one truly be happy.
Humanistic Theorists
Carl Rogers (1902-1986)   Abraham Maslow (1908-
Rogers Self Theory
 Approach to psychology was based on self- concept. Each
  individual has a self- concept, which consists of his or her
  conscious thoughts and beliefs about himself or herself.
  View referred to as person-centered.
 He believed that the most powerful drives are the ones to
  become fully functioning.
    Being psychologically healthy and living life to its
 To be fully functioning is to achieve “optimal
  psychological adjustment”, to live in the present, getting
  the most from each experience.
        To help children become fully functioning requires
         that we offer them unconditional positive regard.
Rogers Self Theory
 Unconditional Positive Regard means showing a
  child that they are loved, respected, and accepted
  (this is positive regard) regardless of what he or
  she says or does.
 Rogers said we should separate the child’s
  behaviors from the child’s self. We punish a child
  for doing a bad thing, but never for being a bad
 Helping people achieve positive self-regard is one
  of the major goal of Roger’s person-centered
Maslow’s Self Actualization &
Hierarchy of Needs
 People’s needs are positive and our major goal is
  to realize and put into practice those needs
 According to Maslow we must meet and master
  our lower needs before we could move to the
  highest need.
 Our personality and subsequently behaviors are
  driven by or ability to master these needs.
The Needs Hierarchy
Evaluating the Humanistic-
Phenomenological Approach
 Critics argue against the humanist psychologist strong
  emphasis on personal responsibility or free will.
 View of free will conflicts with that of determinism- the
  idea that behaviour is determined by numerous factors and
  can be predicted from them
 Also concepts are loosely defined. What is self-
  actualization, fully functioning? Hard to do systematic
  research b/c concepts cannot be defined or tested. How do
  you measure self-actualizing, self-concept etc?
Cognitive Theory of Personality
 Cognitive therapy is based on a theory of personality
  which maintains that how one thinks largely determines
  how one feels and behaves.

 What matters most are the client’s beliefs, thoughts,
  perceptions and attitudes about him/herself and the

 They don’t deny the importance of behavior (stimulus-
  response), but they argue that A (activating events –
  stimulus) doesn’t just lead to C (consequences or behavior
  – response), but there is an intervening process B (beliefs).
Cognitive Theory of Personality
 These beliefs can be rational or irrational. The way a
  person processes stimulus events is critical in determining
  what responses are produced and subsequently one’s

 In Cognitive therapy it is not the stimuli (A) activating
  events that are crucial, but rather the person’s
  (B)beleifs/perceptions and interpretation of the events .

 Individuals make themselves emotionally healthy or
  emotionally upset by the way they think, not by the
The Trait/Biological
The Trait/Biological
 Trait theories are theories of personality that focus
  on identifying the key dimensions along which
  people differ (Baron, 2001)
 Gordon Allport (1st trait theorist) did pioneering
  work in identifying the key dimensions upon
  which personalities differ.
 He divided personality traits into categories which
  varied in their importance
    Secondary traits
    Central traits
    Cardinal traits
The Trait/Biological
 Raymond Cattell also did pioneering work in
  identifying the key dimensions upon which
  personalities differ.
 He conducted extensive research and by using
  factor analysis was able to identify groups of traits
  that seem to be closely linked to one another.
 From that research 16 source traits (key
  dimensions of personality that underlie many other
  traits) were identified
The Trait/Biological Approach:
The “Big Five” Factors
 The "Big five" personality traits are five broad factors or
    dimensions of personality discovered through empirical research
    (Goldberg, 1993).
   The Big Five are summarized as follows:
   Openness - appreciation for art, emotion, adventure, unusual
    ideas, imagination, curiosity, and variety of experience.
   Conscientiousness - a tendency to show self-discipline, act
    dutifully, and aim for achievement; planned rather than
    spontaneous behaviour.
   Extraversion - energy, positive emotions, surgency, and the
    tendency to seek stimulation and the company of others.
   Agreeableness - a tendency to be compassionate and
    cooperative rather than suspicious and antagonistic towards
   Neuroticism - a tendency to experience unpleasant emotions
    easily, such as anger, anxiety, depression, or vulnerability;
    sometimes called emotional instability.
Trait Theories: An Evaluation
 It is too descriptive in nature and does not tell
    How various traits develop
    How they influence behaviour and
    Why they are important’
 There is no final agreement on which traits are
  most important/basic
Measuring Personality
 Self Reports
      This refers to the use of questionnaires and
      They contain questions/statements and scoring is
       done through the sue of special keys
      Scores are then compared with those from other
       test takers
Measuring Personality
 Projective Tests
      They present individuals with ambiguous stimuli
       that can be interpreted in many different ways
      E.g. Rorschach Inkblot Test, and Thematic
       Apperception test (TAT)
 Other measures
      Interviews
      Biological measures e.g. PET Scans and hormone

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