What is personality
Depends on our theory or view of the
world, i.e., our way of understanding
how things work
Manifestation of biological processes
Constellation of "self-descriptors" or
what we say about ourselves
Pervasive behavioral repertoire under
WHAT IS PERSONALITY?
An individual’s unique and relatively stable
patterns of behavior, thoughts and feelings –
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
Is Personality real?
In the past this was one of the debates that
They questioned whether or not the individual
could display enough consistency in their
behaviour over time and across situations, for
us to say that this is personality
With the growing evidence of consistency,
psychologists felt that there was enough basis
to state that personality is real
Our behaviour in any situation is a function of
our personality and situational factors
This resulted in the term interactionism or
transactional approach – this approach says that
how one behaves is a function of an interaction of
stable personality characteristics and the
individual’s perception of the situation (situation-
THEORIES OF PERSONALITY
Behavioural- Learning Approach- Classical Conditioning,
Operant Conditioning, Observational Learning
Trait/ Biological Approach
Sigmund Freud 1856-1939
The Freudians and neo-Freudians, who for the
most part, attribute significance to unconscious
BASIC CONCEPTS OF THE
Levels of Consciousness
Structures of Personality- ID, EGO and SUPEREGO
Psychosexual stages of development
Levels of Consciousness
Conscious level- Mental events of which we are actively
aware at the moment.
Preconscious level- Aspects of our mental life of which
we are not conscious of at the moment but that can be
easily brought to awareness are stored at this level.
Unconscious level- Cognitions, feelings, and motives
that are not available at the conscious or preconscious
level. Here we keep ideas, memories, and desires of
which we are not aware and cannot easily become
According to Sigmund Freud, there are only two basic
drives that serve to motivate all thoughts, emotions,
Freud said that a large measure of life is an
attempt to resolve conflicts between these two
natural but diametrically opposed instincts.
These two drives are, simply put, sex and
aggression. Also called Eros and Thanatos, or life and
death, respectively, they underlie every motivation we
as humans experience.
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 (thanatos) – impulses of destruction.
Directed inward, they give rise to feelings of depression
or suicide; directed outward, they result in aggression.
Lets look at a few examples.
Why would an adult decide to get a college
According to Freud, we are driven to improve
ourselves so that we may be more attractive to the
opposite sex and therefore attract a better mate.
With a better mate, we are more likely to produce
offspring and therefore continue our
bloodline. Furthermore, a college degree is likely to
bring a higher income, permitting advantages over
others who may be seen as our adversaries
THE STRUCTURE OF
Freud suggested that personality consist of
3 separate, though interacting, structures or
subsystems: the id, ego, and superego.
Each system has its own job to do and its
own principle to follow.
We are born with our ID.
It is an important part of our personality
because as newborns, it allows us to get our
basic needs met.
The id is based on our pleasure principle. In
other words, the id wants whatever feels
good at the time, with no consideration for
the reality of the situation.
The id doesn't care about reality, about the needs of
anyone else, only its own satisfaction.
If you think about it, babies are not really considerate of
their parents' wishes. They have no care for time,
whether their parents are sleeping, relaxing, eating
dinner, or bathing. When the id wants something,
nothing else is important.
It resides in the unconscious level of the mind, and it is
through the id that basic instincts develop.
Driving force behind the ID is the libido.
Within the next three years, as the child interacts more
and more with the world, the second part of the
personality begins to develop.
The part of the personality that develops through one’s
experience with reality.
It is the rational, reasoning part of our personality.
Operates on the reality principle.
The ego understands that other people have needs and
desires and that sometimes being impulsive or selfish
can hurt us in the long run.
Its the ego's job to meet the needs of the id, while taking
into consideration the reality of the situation.
The ego may delay gratification of some libidinal
impulse or may need to find and acceptable outlet for
According to Freud, “the ego stands for reason and
good sense while the id stands for untamed passions.”
Delay gratification – the MAYBE of the personality.
By the age of five, or the end of the phallic stage of
development, the Superego develops.
The Superego is the moral part of us and develops due
to the moral and ethical restraints placed on us by our
Many equate the superego with the conscience as it
dictates our belief of right and wrong.
The superego operates on the idealistic principle.
Like the id, the superego has no contact with reality
and, therefore, places unrealistic demands on the
It demands that we do what is right and proper, no
matter the circumstances.
Failure to do so may lead to guilt and shame.
Never – the NO of the personality.
In a healthy person, according to Freud, the ego is
the strongest so that it can satisfy the needs of the
id, not upset the superego, and still take into
consideration the reality of every situation.
Not an easy job by any means, but if the id gets too
strong, impulses and self gratification take over the
If the superego becomes to strong, the person
would be driven by rigid morals, would be
judgmental and unbending in his or her interactions
with the world.
When the ego has a difficult time satisfying
both the id and the superego, it gets help.
The ego has some tools it can use in its job
as the mediator, tools that help defend the
These are called Ego Defense
Mechanisms or Defenses.
When the ego has a difficult time making
both the id and the superego happy, it will
employ one or more of these defenses:
DEFENSE DESCRIPTION EXAMPLE
denial arguing against an anxiety provoking denying that your physician's
stimuli by stating it doesn't exist diagnosis of cancer is correct and
seeking a second opinion
Displacement taking out impulses on a less slamming a door instead of hitting as
threatening target person, yelling at your spouse after
an argument with your boss
Intellectualization avoiding unacceptable emotions by focusing on the details of a funeral as
focusing on the intellectual aspects opposed to the sadness and grief
Projection placing unacceptable impulses in when losing an argument, you state
yourself onto someone else "You're just Stupid;" homophobia
Rationalization supplying a logical or rational reason stating that you were fired because
as opposed to the real reason you didn't kiss up the the boss, when
the real reason was your poor
reaction formation taking the opposite belief because the having a bias against a particular race
true belief causes anxiety or culture and then embracing that
race or culture to the extreme
regression returning to a previous stage of sitting in a corner and crying after
development hearing bad news; throwing a temper
tantrum when you don't get your way
repression pulling into the unconscious forgetting sexual abuse from your
childhood due to the trauma and
Sublimation acting out unacceptable impulses in a sublimating your aggressive impulses
socially acceptable way toward a career as a boxer; becoming
a surgeon because of your desire to
cut; lifting weights to release 'pent up'
Two things to know about defense
Using DM is a normal reaction. You shouldn’t be alarmed if
you find that some of these mechanisms sound like reactions
you have used. They help us cope with anxieties and
conflicts of everyday life.
Although they are normal they can 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.
STAGES OF PERSONALITY
Oral Stage- Birth to 1 yr
Anal Stage- 1- 3yrs
Phallic Stage- 3- 5 yrs
Latency Period- 6- puberty
Genital Stage- 11- 18 yrs
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
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 representational of human beings in general.
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. He would
not accept disagreement – you either accepted all
of Freudian theory or you had to leave the inner
Carl Jung – (1875-1961)
The main disagreement was his belief that there was more to the
unconscious than Freud theorized.
There were fears, behaviors, and thoughts that children and adults exhibit
that are remarkably similar across time and culture.
He believed that this was more than coincidence and represented what he
called the collective unconscious.
He argued that it was made up of what he termed archetypes which are
primordial images inherited from our ancestors. As support for such a
theory, he spoke of the immediate attachment infants have for their
In his view, infants are drawn to their mother because of the unconscious
image of mother that is alive in all of us and that we fear the dark because
of the unconscious image of darkness. He also spoke about
The animus is the masculine side of the female and the anima is the
feminine side of the male. According to Jung, we all have an unconscious
opposite gender hidden within us and the role of this archetype is to guide
us toward the perfect mate.
Another approach of Jung was that we are born with innate tendencies
that has to do with our inner selves and the outside world.
He believed that there are introverts (hesitant cautious and do not make
friends easily) and extroverts (individuals who are open and confidents
and make friends easily)
Alfred Adler – (1870-1937)
According to Adler's theory, each of us is born into the world with a
sense of inferiority.
We start as a weak and helpless child and strive to overcome these
deficiencies by become superior to those around us.
He called this struggle a striving for superiority, and like Freud's
Eros and Thanatos, he saw this as the driving force behind all
human thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
For those of us who strive to be accomplished writers, powerful
business people, or influential politicians, it is because of our
feelings of inferiority and a strong need to over come this negative
part of us according to Adler. This excessive feeling of inferiority
can also have the opposite effect. As it becomes overwhelming and
without the needed successes, we can develop an inferiority
complex. Leaving us with feeling incredibly less important and
deserving than others, helpless, hopeless, and unmotivated to strive
for the superiority that would make us complete.
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 environment.
If the child receives proper parental nurturance the child is able to
overcome basic anxiety. If parents are overly punishing, inconsistent,
or indifferent, however, children may develop basic hostility and may
feel very hostile and aggressive toward their parents. However, young
children cannot express hostility toward their parents openly, so the
hostility gets repressed, building even more anxiety. Emphasized early
childhood experiences, but from a perspective of social interaction and
Which of Erikson’s eight stages seems most
2. What aspects of Erikson’s theory are most
important for educators to understand?
3. What aspects of Erikson’s theory are most
important for parents to understand?\
4. What are some of the most crucial differences
between Freud’s theory and Erikson’s theory?
5. Which developmental theory do you prefer,
Freud’s or Erikson’s? Why?
Claims that people have the ability to shape their own
destiny, and this is not driven by biological, instinctive
Emphasize the wholeness or completeness of
personality, rather than focusing on its structural parts.
What matters is how people view themselves.
Themes of Humanistic Theories
Emphasis on personal responsibility and free will –
each of us is responsible for what happens to us.
The importance of the here and now rather than the
Also emphasize personal growth and fulfillment–
moving towards bigger goals – self-actualizing
Carl Rogers (1902-1986)
Abraham Maslow – (1908-1970)
Carl Rogers (1902-1987)
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 spoke about the real and ideal self
Believed that the most powerful drives are the ones to
become fully functioning.
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.
Unconditional Positive Regard means showing a child
that they are loved, respected, and accepted (this is
positive regard) with no conditions attached.
This does NOT mean that parents must always agree with
their child’s behaviour choices. But they must never use
love and acceptance as a means of pressuring the child
into accepting their views.
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 child.
Helping people achieve positive self-regard is one of the
major goal of Roger’s person-centered therapy.
Abraham Maslow – (1908-1970)
People’s needs are positive and our major
goal is to realize and put into practice those
needs, or to self-actualize
We have to 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
Biological and Physiological needs - air, food, drink,
shelter, warmth, sex, sleep, etc.
Safety needs - protection from elements, security, order,
law, limits, stability, etc.
Belongingness and Love needs - work group, family,
affection, relationships, etc.
Esteem needs - self-esteem, achievement, mastery,
independence, status, dominance, prestige, managerial
Self-Actualization needs - realizing personal potential,
self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak
Self - Actualization
A musician must make music, and
artist must paint, a poet must write, if
he is to ultimately be at peace with
himself. What a man can be, he must
be. This need we may call self-
Evaluating the Humanistic-
Critics argue against the humanist psychologist strong
emphasis on personal responsibility or free will.
This conflicts with the deterministic view that says that
behavior and personality is influenced by many factors –
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 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).
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 personality.
In Cognitive therapy it is not the stimuli (A) activating
events that are crucial, but rather the person’s
perceptions and interpretation of the events.
Individuals make themselves emotionally healthy or
emotionally upset by the way they think, not by the
Personality trait is defined as the stable dimensions of
personality along which people vary from very low to very
According to Allport personality traits can be divided into
several categories; there are secondary traits (exert
relatively weak and limited effect on behaviour), central
traits (5-10 traits account for our uniqueness) and cardinal
traits (few people are dominated with a single important
In Allport’s theory he spoke about Functional Autonomy,
which is defined as maintenance of patterns of behaviour
by motives other than the ones originally responsible for
the behaviour occurence
Many of us have taken some sort of psychological test,
whether for mental health reasons, potential employment, job
evaluations, or research.
Objective tests do not have the biases that are common
among subjective measures, but they also don't provide the
breadth of information.
Some of the most common objective tests include the
Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, Second Edition
(MMPI-2), Million Clinical Multiaxial Inventory (MCMI), NEO
Personality Inventory (NEO-PI).
Projective techniques are designed to uncover thoughts,
emotions, and desires that may not be known to the test
taker. In other words, unconscious impulses that may be
driving current behaviors. The most common of this type
include the Rorschach Inkblot Test, The Thematic
Apperception Test (TAT) and the Incomplete Sentences
Interview the person and ask subjective
questions about his or her feelings, thoughts
and behaviors. This will gather information
in the person's own words, allowing the
interview to better understand the
person. This could also alert the interview
to associated issues such as anxiety.
Biological measures of personality PET