Personality Welcome to plaza ufl edu by MikeJenny


Psychology 2012 – Fall 2003
    Introduction: What is
An individual’s unique and relatively
consistent patterns of thinking, feeling,
and behaving
  Personality – an attempt to describe and
  explain how people are similar, how they
  are different, and why every individual is
    Tries to explain the whole person
      Introduction: What is
Personality theories can be roughly grouped under
four basic perspectives:
  The psychoanalytic perspective – emphasizes the importance
  of unconscious processes and the influence of early
  childhood experiences
  The humanistic perspective – represents an optimistic look
  at human nature, emphasizing the self and the fulfillment of
  a person’s unique potential
  The social cognitive perspective – emphasizing learning and
  conscious cognitive processes, including the importance of
  beliefs about the self, goal-setting, and self-regulation
  The trait perspective – emphasizes the description and
  measurement of specific personality differences among
    The Psychoanalytic
 Perspective on Personality
Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud, the
founder of psychoanalysis, was one of the
most influential figures of the twentieth
  Psychoanalysis – the theory of personality that
  stresses the influence of:
     Unconscious mental processes
     Sexual and aggressive instincts, and
     The enduring effects of early childhood experience on
Sigmund Freud

        Traits transcend
        formed in
    The Psychoanalytic
 Perspective on Personality
The life of Sigmund Freud
  Freud studied medicine, became a
  physician, and then proved himself an
  outstanding physiological researcher
    However, prospects for an academic career in
    scientific research were very poor, especially
    for a Jew in Vienna, which was intensely anti-
    Semitic at that time
    The Psychoanalytic
 Perspective on Personality
Influences in the development of Freud’s ideas
  Joseph Breuer – a highly respected physician, who found
  that when patients were hypnotized and allowed to talk
  freely about a given symptom, forgotten memories of
  traumatic events would emerge
     After patients freely expressed the pent-up emotions
     associated with the events, symptoms would disappear
          A process Breuer call catharsis

  Freud dropped the use of hypnosis and developed his own
  technique of free association to help patients uncover
  forgotten memories
     Freud’s patients would spontaneously report their uncensored
     thoughts, mental images, and feelings as they came to mind
    The Psychoanalytic
 Perspective on Personality
Influences in the development of Freud’s ideas
  Breuer and Freud described several of their case studies in
  their landmark book Studies on Hysteria; published in 1895,
  it marked the beginning of psychoanalysis
  In 1900, Freud published what many consider his most
  important work, The Interpretation of Dreams
  Freud came to focus on humanity’s destructive tendencies;
  Freud wrote Civilization and Its Discontents, in which he
  applied his psychoanalytic perspective to civilization as a
     The central theme: human nature and civilization are in basic
     conflict – a conflict that cannot be resolved
   The Psychoanalytic
Perspective on Personality
Freud’s Dynamic Theory of Personality
  Freud saw personality and behavior as resulting from a
  constant interplay between conflicting psychological forces
  that operate at three different levels of awareness
  1.   All the thoughts, feelings, and sensations that you are aware
       of at this particular moment represent the conscious level
  2.   The preconscious contains information of which you’re not
       currently aware, but is easily capable of entering your
       consciousness, such as childhood memories or your social
       security number
  3.   The bulk of Freud’s psychological iceberg is made up of the
       unconscious, which lies below the waterline of the
       preconscious and the conscious
           We are not directly aware of these submerged thought, feelings,
           wishes, and drives
                But the unconscious exerts an enormous influence on our
                conscious thoughts and behavior
    The Psychoanalytic
 Perspective on Personality
Freud’s Dynamic Theory of Personality
  Freud believed that unconscious material often
  seeps through to the conscious level in distorted
  disguised, or symbolic forms
     Dream analysis was particularly important to Freud
         Beneath the surface images (manifest content) of a dream
         lies the true, hidden, unconscious meaning of the dream
         symbols (latent content)

  The unconscious also can be revealed in
  unintentional actions,
     Such as accidents, mistakes, instances of forgetting and
     inadvertent slips of the tongue (often referred to as
     “Freudian Slips”)
   The Psychoanalytic
Perspective on Personality
The structure of personality
  Psychological energy evolves to form the three basic
  structures of personality – the id, the ego, and the
  superego. These are distinct psychological processes.
     The id, the most primitive part of the personality, is entirely
     unconscious and present at birth – it is completely immune to
     logic, values, morality, danger, and the demands of the
     external world
         Two conflicting instinctual drives fuel the id: the life instinct and
         the death instinct
          1.  Eros – the life instinct; consists of biological urges that
              perpetuate the existence of the individual and the species
              (hunger, thirst, physical comfort, sexuality)
          2.  Thanatos – the death instinct; destructive energy that is
              reflected in aggressive, reckless, and life-threatening
              behaviors, including self-destructive actions
    The Psychoanalytic
 Perspective on Personality
The id is rules by the pleasure principle
  The relentless drive toward immediate
  satisfaction of the instinctual urges,
  especially sexual urges.
    The id strives to increase pleasure, reduce
    tension, and avoid pain
       The newborn infant is completely driven by the
       pleasure principle
    The Psychoanalytic
 Perspective on Personality
The structure of personality
  A new dimension of personality develops from part
  of the id’s psychological energy – the ego
     Partly conscious, the ego represents the organized,
     rational, and planning dimensions of personality
         The mediator between the id’s instinctual demands and
         the restrictions of the outer world, the ego operates on the
         reality principle
              The capacity to postpone gratification until the
              appropriate time or circumstances exist in the external
    The Psychoanalytic
 Perspective on Personality
The ego is the pragmatic part of the
personality that learns various
compromises to reduce the tension of
the id’s instinctual urges.
  If the ego cannot identify an acceptable
  compromise to satisfy an instinctual urge,
  it can repress the impulse
    Remove it from conscious awareness
    The Psychoanalytic
 Perspective on Personality
The structure of personality
  Gradually, social values move from being
  externally imposed demands to being
  internalized rules and values
    By age 5-6, young children develop an internal,
    parental voice that is partly conscious – the
       As the internal representation of parental and
       societal values, the superego evaluates the
       acceptability of behavior and thoughts, then praises
       or admonishes
Freud’s Model
    The Psychoanalytic
 Perspective on Personality
The ego defense mechanisms: unconscious
  When the demands of the id or superego threaten
  to overwhelm the ego, anxiety results
  If a realistic solution or compromise is not
  possible, the ego may temporarily reduce anxiety
  by distorting thoughts or perceptions of reality
  through processes Freud called ego defense
    By resorting to these largely unconscious self-deceptions,
    the ego can maintain an integrated sense of self
        While searching for a more acceptable and realistic
        solution to a conflict between the id and superego
    The Psychoanalytic
 Perspective on Personality
Ego defenses
  The most fundamental ego defense mechanism is repression
  – unconscious forgetting
     Unbeknownst to the person, anxiety-producing thoughts,
     feelings, or impulses are pushed out of conscious awareness
     into the unconscious

  Displacement – impulses are redirected to a substitute
  object or person
     Usually one less threatening or dangerous than the original
     source of conflict

  The use of defense mechanisms is very common
     Many psychologically healthy people temporarily use ego
     defense mechanisms to deal with stressful events
         When they delay or interfere with our use of more constructive
         coping strategies, they can be counterproductive
  Freudian Theory: Defense
Defense Mechanisms
 Methods for dealing with anxiety
 Freud thought some more mature than
    Denial           Sublimation
    Projection       Reaction Formation
Refusing to accept that the feeling is
present or that the event occurred
A very primitive mechanism
Example: preschoolers will convince
themselves they didn't do something
they wish they hadn't
Attributing one's undesirable traits or
actions to others, so they become the
problem instead of you

Example from a failing student:
"I'm not worried about me, but I'd
hate to see Ellen flunk--she's so
     Reaction Formation
Taking actions opposite to one's
feelings in order to deny the reality of
the feelings

Example: A woman says she can’t
stand her boss, when in reality she is
in love with him
The most mature mechanism
Redirecting anxiety-causing impulses
into socially acceptable actions

Dealing with anxiety over a final by
engaging in vigorous physical activity
    The Psychoanalytic
 Perspective on Personality
Personality development: The psychosexual
  Freud believed that people progress through five
  psychosexual stages of development
    The foundations of the adult personality are established
    during the first six years of life, as the child progresses
    through the oral, anal, and phallic stages
    The latency stage occurs during later childhood and the
    fifth and final stage, the genital stage, begins in
    The Psychoanalytic
 Perspective on Personality
In Freud’s theory, the psychosexual
stages are age-related developmental
periods in which sexual impulses are
focused on different bodily zones
  And are expressed through activities
  associated with those areas
Freudian Theory: Stages
   Psychosexual Stages
 (source of libido satisfaction)
         Oral (0-1 year)
         Anal (1-3 years)
        Phallic (3-6 years)
       Latency (6-puberty)
      Genital (from puberty)
   Freudian Theory: Stages
Oral Stage:
 Libido gratification comes from oral
 exploration of the world
 Infant learns to trust in others, esp. for
Oral Personality:
 Problems in the oral stage supposedly lead
 to pessimism about the world, hostility or
   Freudian Theory: Stages
Anal Stage:
 Kids learn about delay of gratification
 Kids gain pleasure and libido
 satisfaction from being in control
Anal Personality:
 Problems in the anal stage supposedly
 lead to either excessive orderliness or
 excessive messiness
    Freudian Theory: Stages
Phallic Stage:
 Freud believed sex-role identification occurred
 Mechanisms included castration anxiety (boys)
 & penis envy (girls)
Phallic Personality:
  Problems in the phallic stage supposedly lead
  to sex-role identification problems,
  promiscuity, vanity, or excessive chastity
    Freudian Theory: Stages
Latency Stage:
 A time of focus on achievement and mastery
 of skills
 Libido is channeled into mastery activities
 Freud thought little of interest happened here
 Others have argued the sense of self-esteem
 is established here
  Freudian Theory: Stages

Genital Stage:

 The time of mature personality,
 intimacy with others

 Libido satisfied by adult-type sexual
    The Psychoanalytic
 Perspective on Personality
Fixation – unresolved developmental conflicts
  At each psychosexual stage, according to Freud,
  the infant or young child is faced with a
  developmental conflict that must be successfully
  resolved in order to move on to the next stage
  If frustrated, the child will be left with feelings of
  unmet needs characteristic of that stage;
     If overindulged, the child may be reluctant to move on to
     the next stage
     In either case, the result of an unresolved developmental
     conflict is fixation at a particular stage
    The Psychoanalytic
 Perspective on Personality
The Oedipus complex: A psychosexual
  The most critical conflict occurs during the
  phallic stage
    Freud believed that the child develops a sexual
    attraction to the opposite-sex parent and
    hostility toward the same-sex parent
       Freud called this the Oedipus complex – named after
       the hero of a Greek myth
    The Psychoanalytic
 Perspective on Personality
The Oedipus complex: A psychosexual drama
  The little boy feels hostility and jealously toward his father,
  but he realizes that his father is more physically powerful
     The boy experiences castration anxiety
  To resolve the Oedipus complex, the little boy ultimately
  joins forces with his former enemy resorting to the defense
  mechanism of identification
     He imitates and internalizes his father’s values, attitudes, and
  The little girl discovers that little boys have a penis and that
  she does not
     She feels a sense of deprivation and loss that Freud termed
     penis envy
          The little girl blames her mother and develops contempt for her
               However, in her attempt to take her mother’s place with her
               father, she also identifies with her mother
    The Psychoanalytic
 Perspective on Personality
The Neo-Freudians: Freud’s descendents and
  In general, the neo-Freudians disagreed with
  Freud on three key points
    Freud’s belief that behavior was primarily motivated by
    sexual urges
    Freud’s contention that personality is fundamentally
    determined by early childhood experiences
    Freud’s generally pessimistic view of human nature and
    The Psychoanalytic
 Perspective on Personality
Carl Jung: Archetypes and the collective
  Swiss psychiatrist Carl G. Jung broke with Freud to
  develop his own psychoanalytic theory of
     He believed that people are motivated by a more general
     psychological energy that pushes them to achieve
     psychological growth, self-realization, and psychic
     wholeness and harmony
        He also believed that personality continues to develop in
        significant ways throughout the lifespan
    The Psychoanalytic
 Perspective on Personality
Carl Jung, continued
  Jung believed that the deepest part of the individual psyche
  is the collective unconscious
     Shared by all people and reflects humanity’s collective
     evolutionary history
     Contained in the collective unconscious are the archetypes
         The mental images of universal human instincts, themes and
  Jung was the first to describe two basic personality types:
     Introverts – who focus their attention inward
     Extroverts – who turn their attention and energy toward the
     outside world
             Karen Horney

                            Stressed need for
                            safety & satisfaction
                            Childhood frustration
                            may lead to
                            development of basic
                            anxiety & neurosis
Tyranny of the Should: Horney's term for focusing
on an unrealistic, perfect self-image that leads to
    The Psychoanalytic
 Perspective on Personality
Karen Horney: basic anxiety and “womb envy”
  German-born American psychoanalyst Karen Horney came to
  stress the importance of cultural and social factors in
  personality development, matters that Freud had largely
     She also stressed the importance of social relationships,
     especially the parent-child relationship, and culture in
  Horney believed that disturbances in human relationships,
  not sexual conflicts, were the cause of psychological
     Such problems arise from the attempt to deal with basic
    The Psychoanalytic
 Perspective on Personality
Horney described three patterns of behavior that
individuals use to defend against basic anxiety
   Those who move toward other people have an excessive
   need for approval and affection
   Those who move against others have an excessive need for
   Those who move away from other people have an excessive
   need for independence and self-sufficiency
Horney contended that people with a healthy
personality are flexible in balancing these different
    The Psychoanalytic
 Perspective on Personality
Horney also sharply disagreed with Freud’s
interpretation of female development, especially the
notion that women suffer from penis envy
  She believed that what women envy in men is not their
  penis, but their superior status in society
  She contended that men often suffer from womb envy
     Envying women’s capacity to bear children
         She argued that men compensated for their minor role in
         reproduction by creating artifacts and other external
         accomplishments through their work
Alfred Adler
       Humans motivated by
       the need to overcome
       inferiority and strive
       for significance
       Inferiority Complex:
       Adler's term for
       feelings of inferiority
       that interfere with
    The Psychoanalytic
 Perspective on Personality
Alfred Adler: Feelings of inferiority and
striving for superiority
  Austrian physician Adler broke away from Freud to
  establish his own theory of personality
     Adler believed that the most fundamental human motive
     was striving for superiority
        The desire to improve oneself, master challenges, and
        move toward self-perfection and self-realization
            This striving arises from universal feelings of inferiority
            These feelings motivate people to compensate for
            their real or imagined weaknesses
    The Psychoanalytic
 Perspective on Personality
Alfred Adler, continued
  When people are unable to compensate for
  specific weaknesses or when their feelings of
  inferiority are excessive they can develop an
  inferiority complex
     A sense of inadequacy, weakness, and helplessness
  At the other extreme, people can overcompensate
  for their feelings of inferiority and develop a
  superiority complex
   The Psychoanalytic
Perspective on Personality
Evaluating Freud and the psychoanalytic
perspective on personality
  Although Freudian theory has had a profound
  impact on Western culture and on psychology, it
  has been criticized on three major counts
 1.   Inadequacy of evidence
 2.   Lack of testability
 3.   Sexism
    The Psychoanalytic
 Perspective on Personality
 Inadequacy of evidence
1.   Freud’s theory relies wholly on data derived from
     his relatively small number of patients and from
2.   It seems impossible to objectively assess Freud’s
   The Psychoanalytic
Perspective on Personality
Lack of testability
   Many psychoanalytic concepts are so vague and ambiguous that
   they are impossible to measure or confirm objectively
        Yet they are often impossible to disprove, because even seemingly
        contradictory information can be used to support Freud’s theory

   Psychoanalysis is better at explaining past behavior than at
   predicting future behavior

   Nonetheless, several key psychoanalytic ideas have been
   substantiated by empirical research. Among them:
   1.   Much of mental life is unconscious
   2.   Early childhood experiences have a critical influence on interpersonal
        relationships and psychological adjustment in adulthood
   3.   People differ significantly in the degree to which they are able to
        regulate their impulses, emotions, and thoughts toward adaptive and
        socially acceptable ends
    The Psychoanalytic
 Perspective on Personality
  Horney and other female psychoanalysts have
  pointed out that Freud’s theory uses male
  psychology as a prototype
    However, to Freud’s credit, women were quite active in
    the early psychoanalytic movement
The Humanistic Perspective on
 Emergence of the “Third Force”
   In opposition to both psychoanalysis and
   behaviorism, humanistic psychology was a
   “third force” in psychology
     This view of personality emphasizes human
     potential and such uniquely human
     characteristics as self-awareness and free will
        It sees people as being innately good and focuses on
        the healthy personality
The Humanistic Perspective on
 Humanistic psychologists contended that the
 most important factor in personality is the
 individual’s conscious, subjective perception
 of his or her self

 Abraham Maslow was one of the founders of
 humanistic psychology: key ideas included
 the hierarch of needs and self-actualization
The Humanistic Perspective on
 Carl Rogers: On becoming a person
   Was one of the founders of humanistic
   psychology, developed his personality theory from
   his clinical experiences with his patients,
     Whom he referred to as “clients” to emphasize their
     active and voluntary participation in therapy
     According to Rogers, the most basic human motive is the
     actualizing tendency
         The innate drive to maintain and enhance the human
The Humanistic Perspective on
 The cornerstone of Roger’s personality
 theory is the idea of the self-concept
   The set of perceptions and beliefs that you
   hold about yourself
   As children develop a greater sense of self-
   awareness, there is an increasing need for
   positive regard
     The sense of being valued and loved by other
The Humanistic Perspective on
 Rogers maintained that most parents provide their
 children with conditional positive regard
   The sense that the child is valued and loved only when the
   child behaves in a way that is acceptable to others
      Incongruence – a state in which a child’s self-concept conflicts
      with his or her actual experience

   Unconditional positive regard – the child’s sense of being
   unconditionally loved and valued,
      Even if she doesn’t conform to the standards and expectations
      of others

   Rogers did not advocate permissive parenting
      He maintained that parents can disapprove of a child’s specific
      behavior without completely rejecting the child herself
The Humanistic Perspective on
 Through consistent experiences of
 unconditional positive regard, one becomes a
 fully functioning person
   A person who has a flexible, constantly evolving
   Rather than defending against or distorting her
   own thoughts or feelings, the person experiences
     Her sense of self is consistent with her emotions and
The Humanistic Perspective on
  Evaluating the Humanistic Perspective on
    The humanistic perspective has been criticized on two
    1.   Humanistic theories are hard to validate or test scientifically
             Because they tend to be based on philosophical assumptions or
             clinical observations, rather than on empirical research
    2.   Many psychologists believe that humanistic psychology’s view
         of human nature is too optimistic

  Although the influence of humanistic psychology
  has waned since the 60’s and early 70’s, it has
  made lasting contributions to psychotherapy,
  counseling, education, and parenting
    The Social Cognitive
 Perspective on Personality
The idea that a person’s conscious thought processes
in different situations strongly influence his or her
actions is one important characteristic of the social
cognitive perspective on personality
   This perspective differs from the psychoanalytic
   and humanistic perspectives in several ways:
     It relies heavily on experimental findings
     It emphasizes conscious, self-regulated behavior
     It emphasizes that our sense of self can vary
    The Social Cognitive
 Perspective on Personality
Albert Bandura & social cognitive theory
  Several contemporary personality theorists
  have embraced the social cognitive
  approach to explaining personality;
    Albert Bandura is well-known for observational
    learning and self-efficacy
       Both of these topics are central to social cognitive
           Emphasizes the social origins of thoughts and
           actions and also stresses active cognitive
           processes and the capacity for self-regulation
    The Social Cognitive
 Perspective on Personality
Bandura’s research has shown that we
  The consequences that follow people’s actions
  The rules and standards that apply to behavior in
  specific situations, and
  The ways in which people regulate their own

Reciprocal determinism – a model that
explains human functioning and personality
as caused by the interaction of behavioral,
cognitive, and environmental factors
    The Social Cognitive
 Perspective on Personality
Beliefs of self-efficacy
  Collectively, a person’s cognitive skills, abilities,
  and attitudes represent the person’s self-system
  The most critical elements influencing the self-
  system are our beliefs in self-efficacy
     The degree to which we are subjectively convinced of
     our own capabilities and effectiveness in meeting the
     demands of a particular situation

  Developing self-efficacy begins in childhood, but it
  continues as a lifelong process, with each stage of
  the lifespan presenting new challenges

  Belief                  Greater
you will do               effort &
   well                 persistence


  Belief                   Less
you will do               effort &
  poorly                persistence

    The Social Cognitive
 Perspective on Personality
Evaluating the social cognitive perspective on
   A key strength of the social cognitive perspective on
   personality is its grounding in empirical, laboratory research
      It is built on research in learning, cognitive psychology, and
      social psychology
           Rather than on clinical impressions
      Some psychologists feel the approach applies best to laboratory

   The social cognitive perspective has been criticized for its
   limited view of personality
      Clinical data, rather than laboratory data, may be more
      reflective of human personality
           It ignores unconscious influences, emotions, or conflicts
    The Social Cognitive
 Perspective on Personality
Evaluating the social cognitive perspective on
  By emphasizing the self-regulation of behavior,
  the social cognitive perspective places most of the
  responsibility for our behavior on ourselves
     And for the consequences we experience due to our
   The Trait Perspective on
In contrast to the psychoanalytic, humanistic, and
social cognitive theories, which emphasize the
similarities among people, the trait approach to
personality focuses primarily on describing individual
   Trait theorists view the person as a unique combination of
   personality characteristics or attributes, called traits
      A relatively stable, enduring predisposition to behave in a
      certain way

   Trait theory is a theory of personality that focuses on
   identifying, describing, and measuring individual differences
   The Trait Perspective on
Surface traits and source traits
  Surface traits – traits that lie on the surface and
  can be easily inferred from observable behavior
  Source traits – thought to be the most basic
  dimension of personality;
     A source trait can potentially give rise to a vast number
     of surface traits
     There are relatively few source traits, and these few
     represent a universal way of describing individual
     personality differences
  The Trait Perspective on
Two Trait Theories: Cattell and Eysenck
  Cattell used a statistical technique called
  factor analysis to identify traits that were
  most closely related to one another
    Eventually reducing his list to 16 key
    personality factors
       He developed the widely used self-report personality
       test, the Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire
       (16 PF)
  The Trait Perspective on
Two Trait Theories: Cattell and Eysenck
  British psychologist Eysenck developed a trait
  theory of personality that identifies three basic
  dimensions of personality
     The first dimension in introversion-extroversion, which is
     the degree to which a person directs his or her energies
     outward toward the environment and other people
     versus inward toward his or her inner and self-focused
         Introversion – quiet, solitary, reserved; avoiding new
         Extroversion – outgoing and sociable, enjoying new
         experiences and stimulating environments
  The Trait Perspective on
Eysenck’s trait theory of personality:
three basic dimensions of personality
  The second major dimension is
  neuroticism-emotional stability
    Neuroticism – a person’s predisposition to
    become emotionally upset
    Stability – a person’s predisposition to be
    emotionally even
  The Trait Perspective on
Eysenck’s trait theory of personality:
three basic dimensions of personality
  The third major personality dimension,
  which Eysenck identified in later research,
  is called psychoticism
    A person high in this trait is antisocial, cold,
    hostile, and unconcerned about others
    A person low in this trait is warm and caring
    about others
  The Trait Perspective on
The five-factor model
  The consensus among many trait researchers is
  that the essential building blocks of personality
  can be described in terms of five basic personality
  dimensions, sometimes called the “Big Five”
     The five-factor model of personality represents the
     structural organization of personality traits

         The most commonly accepted five factors are:
         extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness,
         conscientiousness, and openness to experience
 The 5 Factor Theory

Outgoing                  Withdrawn

Stable                     Unstable
 The 5 Factor Theory

Low                       High

Undependable       Dependable
 The 5 Factor Theory

    Openness to Experience
Closed                   Open
  The Trait Perspective on
The five-factor model, continued
  Research has shown that traits are remarkably
  stable across time
  Traits are also generally consistent across different
     However, situational influences may affect the
     expression of personality traits

  However, remember that human behavior is the
  result of a complex interaction between traits and
   The Trait Perspective on
Personality traits and genetics
   Behavioral genetics – studies the effects of genes and
   heredity on behavior

   Using twins-reared-apart and adoption studies, behavioral
   geneticists have found that certain personality traits are
   substantially influenced by genetics
      Especially extraversion and neuroticism
      Openness to experience and conscientiousness are also
      substantially influenced by genetics, although to a lesser
      degree than extraversion and neuroticism

   It seems that the influence of environmental factors is at
   least equal to the influence of genetic factors
 The Trait Perspective on
Evaluating the trait perspective on personality
  Psychologists generally agree that people can be described
  and compared in terms of basic personality traits

  Like the other personality theories, the trait approach has
  its weaknesses. Trait theories fail to:
  1.   Truly explain human personality
  2.   Explain how or why individual differences developed
  3.   Address other important personality issues, like:
           The basic motives that drive human personality
           The role of unconscious mental processes
           How beliefs about the self influence personality, or
           How psychological change and growth occur
    Assessing Personality:
     Psychological Tests
Psychological test – a test that assesses a person’s
abilities, aptitudes, interests, or personality,
  Based on a systematically obtained sample of behavior
  A psychological test is useful insofar as it achieves two
  basic goals:
  1. It accurately and consistently reflects a person’s
     characteristics on some dimension, and
  2. It predicts a person’s future psychological functioning
     or behavior
  Two basic types of personality tests are projective tests
  and self-report inventories
    Assessing Personality:
     Psychological Tests
Projective Tests
  A type of personality test that involves a
  person’s interpreting an ambiguous image
    Used to assess unconscious motives, conflicts,
    psychological defenses, and personality traits
       The Rorschach Inkblot Test – a projective test using
       inkblots, developed by Swiss psychiatrist Hermann
       Rorschach in 1921
       The Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) – a projective
       personality test that involves creating stories about
       each of a series of ambiguous scenes
      The Rorschach
Subject tells what each blot looks
like and what aspect of the blot
triggered that response
        The Rorschach

Responses scored on use of parts vs.
wholes, movement, content, use of

Criticized for lack of reliability, low
validity (inability to predict behavior)
         The TAT

Consists of 19 vague or
ambiguous drawings

Person describes what is
happening in each
            The TAT
A TAT-like picture:

    Criticized for low reliability & for
    reflecting temporary states rather
    than long-term traits
     Assessing Personality:
      Psychological Tests
Strengths and weaknesses of projective tests
  The primary strength of projective tests is that they provide
  a wealth of qualitative information about an individual’s
  psychological functioning
  Projective tests have several drawbacks:
     The testing situation or the examiner’s behavior can influence a
     person’s responses
     The scoring of projective tests is highly subjective, requiring
     the examiner to make numerous judgments about the person’s
     Projective tests often fail to produce consistent results
     Projective tests are poor at predicting future behavior
  Despite their widespread use, hundreds of studies of projective
  tests seriously question their validity and reliability
      Assessing Personality:
       Psychological Tests
Self-report inventories
   A type of psychological test in which a person’s responses to
   standardized questions are compared to established norms
      The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) – a
      self-report inventory that assesses personality characteristics
      and psychological disorders;
          Used to assess both normal and disturbed populations

      The California Personality Inventory (CPI) – a self-report
      inventory that assesses personality characteristics in “normal”

      The Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire (16 PF) – a self-
      report inventory developed by Raymond Cattell that generates
      a personality profile with ratings on 16 trait dimensions
      The MMPI-2

The most widely-used inventory

Consists of 567 true-false
 MMPI-2: Clinical Scales
Hypochondriasis(Hs): Exaggerated concern
about physical health
Depression (D): Distress, depression
Hysteria (Hy): Physical symptoms w/ no
Psychopathic Deviate (Pd): Disregard for
moral & social standards
Masculinity-Femininity (Mf): Having
traditional male or female traits
 MMPI-2: Clinical Scales
Paranoia (Pa): Fear of others &
Psychasthenia (Pt): Rigidity, tension, worry
Schizophrenia (Sc): bizarre & unusual
Hypomania (Ma): Excitability, impulsiveness
Social Introversion (S): Modesty, Shyness
 MMPI-2: Validity Scales

Cannot Say (?): Evasiveness

Lying (L): Lying in order to look good

Infrequency (F): Lying in order to look bad

Correction (K): Defensiveness in filling out
the scale
     Assessing Personality:
      Psychological Tests
Strengths & Weaknesses of self-report inventories
  The strengths include:
     Standardization and the use of established norms
     Reliability and validity, which, as a general rule, are greater
     than those of projective tests

  The weaknesses include:
     Considerable evidence that despite inclusion of items designed
     to detect deliberate deception,
          People can still successfully fake responses and answer in
          socially desirable ways
     Some people are prone to responding in a set way, whether
     the item accurately reflects them or not
     People are not always accurate judges of their own behavior,
     attitudes, or attributes
    Assessing Personality:
     Psychological Tests
Despite their weaknesses, personality
tests are generally useful strategies that
can provide insights about the
psychological makeup of people

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