Introduction to Personality and Psychodynamic Theories
What Is Personality?
LOQ: What is personality, and what theories inform our understanding of personality?
Psychologists have varied ways to view and study personality
Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theory proposed that childhood sexuality and unconscious motivations influence personality.
humanistic theories focused on our inner capacities for growth and self-fulfillment
Trait theories examine characteristic patterns of behavior (traits).
Social-cognitive theories explore the interaction between people’s traits (including their thinking) and their social context
Personality: an individual’s characteristic pattern of thinking, feeling, and acting.
Psychodynamic theories of personality view human behavior as a dynamic interaction between the conscious mind and unconscious mind, including associated motives and conflicts
Psychodynamic Theories: theories that view personality with a focus on the unconscious and the importance of childhood experiences.
Psychoanalysis: Freud’s theory of personality that attributes thoughts and actions to unconscious motives and conflicts; the techniques used in treating psychological disorders by seeking to expose and interpret unconscious tensions.
Freud’s Psychoanalytic Perspective: Exploring the Unconscious
LOQ: How did Sigmund Freud’s treatment of psychological disorders lead to his view of the unconscious mind?
We may speak of ego, repression, projection, complex (as in “inferiority complex”), sibling rivalry, Freudian slips, and fixation
Sigmund Freud studied during the Victorian ers when f tremendous discovery and scientific advancement, but also of sexual suppression and male dominance
Observing patients led to Freud’s “discovery” of the unconscious
Freud’s theory was his belief that the mind is mostly hidden
Our conscious awareness is like the part of an iceberg that floats above the surface
Under this awareness is the larger unconscious mind, with its thoughts, wishes, feelings, and memories
Freud was the mass of unacceptable passions and thoughts that he believed we repress, or forcibly block from our consciousness because they would be too unsettling to acknowledge
LOQ: What was Freud’s view of personality?
Freud believed that human personality, including its emotions and strivings, arises from a conflict between impulse and restrain
The id’s unconscious psychic energy constantly strives to satisfy basic drives to survive, reproduce, and aggress
As the ego develops, the young child responds to the real world. The ego, operating on the reality principle, seeks to gratify the id’s impulses in realistic ways that will bring long-term pleasure.
The superego focuses on how we ought to behave. It strives for perfection, judging actions and producing positive feelings of pride or negative feelings of guilt.
Id: a reservoir of unconscious psychic energy that, according to Freud, strives to satisfy basic sexual and aggressive drives. The id operates on the pleasure principle, demanding immediate gratification.
Ego: the largely conscious, “executive” part of personality that, according to Freud, mediates among the demands of the id, superego, and reality. The ego operates on the reality principle, satisfying the id’s desires in ways that will realistically bring pleasure rather than pain.
Superego: the part of personality that, according to Freud, represents internalized ideals and provides standards for judgment (the conscience) and for future aspirations.
LOQ: What developmental stages did Freud propose?
Freud concluded that children pass through a series of psychosexual stages, during which the id’s pleasure-seeking energies focus on distinct pleasure-sensitive areas of the body called erogenous zones
Through this identification process, children’s superegos gain strength as they incorporate many of their parents’ values
Freud thought that at any point in the oral, anal, or phallic stages, strong conflict could lock, or fixate, the person’s pleasure-seeking energies in that stage
Psychosexual Stages: the childhood stages of development (oral, anal, phallic, latency, genital) during which, according to Freud, the id’s pleasureseeking energies focus on distinct erogenous zones
Oedipus Complex: according to Freud, a boy’s sexual desires toward his mother and feelings of jealousy and hatred for the rival father
Identification: the process by which, according to Freud, children incorporate
their parents’ values into their developing superegos.
Fixation: in personality theory, according to Freud, a lingering focus of pleasure-seeking energies at an earlier psychosexual stage, in which conflicts were unresolved.
LOQ: How did Freud think people defended themselves against anxiety?
Freud proposed that the ego protects itself with defense mechanisms tactics that reduce or redirect anxiety by distorting reality
Defense Mechanisms: in psychoanalytic theory, the ego’s protective methods of reducing anxiety by unconsciously distorting reality.
Repression: in psychoanalytic theory, the basic defense mechanism that banishes from consciousness anxiety-arousing thoughts, feelings, and memories
The Neo-Freudian and Later Psychodynamic Theorists
LOQ: Which of Freud’s ideas did his followers accept or reject?
Alfred Adler and Karen Horney agrees with Freud that Childhood is important
believed that childhood social, not sexual, tensions are crucial for personality formation
Alder believed that much of our behavior is driven by efforts to conquer childhood inferiority feelings that trigger our strivings for superiority and power
Carl Jung placed less emphasis on social factors and agreed with Freud that the unconscious exerts a powerful influence.
Collective Unconscious: Carl Jung’s concept of a shared, inherited reservoir of memory traces from our species’ history
Assessing Unconscious Processes
LOQ: What are projective tests, how are they used, and what are some criticisms of them?
Projective tests aim to provide this “psychological X-ray” by asking test-takers to describe an ambiguous image or tell a story about it
Hermann Rorschach created the Rorschach inkblot test which is the most widely used projective test
Thematic Apperception Test (TAT): a projective test in which people express their inner feelings and interests through the stories they make up about ambiguous scenes.
Rorschach Inkblot Test: the most widely used projective test; a set of 10 inkblots, designed by Hermann Rorschach; seeks to identify people’s inner feelings by analyzing their interpretations of the blots.
Evaluating Freud’s Psychoanalytic Perspective and Modern Views of the Unconscious
LOQ: How do contemporary psychologists view Freud’s psychoanalysis?
Modern Research Contradicts Many of Freud’s Ideas
Freud’s devotees and his detractors agree that recent research contradicts many of his specific ideas
developmental psychologists see our development as lifelong, not fixed in childhood
Freud overestimated parental influence and underestimated peer influence
we know that childhood sexual abuse happens, and we also understand how Freud’s questioning might have created false memories of abuse.
Today’s dream research disputes Freud’s belief that dreams disguise and fulfill wishes.
Freud’s supporters also note that some of his ideas are enduring.
Modern Research Challenges the Idea of Repression
Psychoanalytic theory is the assumption that our mind often represses offending wish
Today’s researchers agree that we sometimes preserve our self-esteem by neglecting threatening information
Some researchers do believe that extreme, prolonged stress, such as the stress some severely abused children experience, might disrupt memory by damaging the hippocampus
The Modern Unconscious Minds
LOQ: How has modern research developed our understanding of the unconscious?
Many research psychologists now think of the unconscious not as seething passions and repressive censoring but as cooler information
the schemas that automatically control our perceptions and interpretations
the priming by stimuli to which we have not consciously attended
the right-hemisphere activity that enables the split-brain patient’s left hand to carry out an instruction the patient cannot verbalize
the implicit memories that operate without conscious recall, even among those with amnesia
the emotions that activate instantly, before conscious analysis
the stereotypes and implicit prejudice that automatically and unconsciously influence how we process information about others
Freud’s projection (attributing our own threatening impulses to others) has also been confirmed
People do tend to see their traits, attitudes, and goals in others
Today’s researchers call this the false consensus effect
research has supported Freud’s idea that we unconsciously defend ourselves against anxiety
Terror-Management Theory: a theory of death-related anxiety; explores people’s emotional and behavioral responses to reminders of their impending death.
Humanistic Theories and Trait Theories
LOQ: How did humanistic psychologists view personality, and what was their goal in studying personality?
Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers offered a third-force perspective that emphasized our potential for healthy personal growth.
Sigmund Freud’s emphasis on disorders born out of dark conflicts, these humanistic theorists emphasized the ways people strive for self-determination and self-realization.
Humanistic Theories: theories that view personality with a focus on the potential for healthy personal growth.
Abraham Maslow’s Self-Actualizing Person
Maslow proposed that we are motivated by a hierarchy of needs
Hierarchy of Needs: Maslow’s pyramid of human needs, beginning at the base with physiological needs that must first be satisfied before higher-level safety needs and then psychological needs become active.
Self-Actualization According: to Maslow, one of the ultimate psychological needs that arises after basic physical and psychological needs are met and self esteem is achieved; the motivation to fulfill one’s potential.
Self-Transcendence According: to Maslow, the striving for identity, meaning, and purpose beyond the self. Maslow (1970) developed his ideas by studying
Carl Rogers’ Person-Centered Perspective
Rogers’ person-centered perspective held that people are basically good and are endowed with self-actualizing tendencies
Rogers believed that a growth-promoting social climate provides
Acceptance: When people are accepting, they offer unconditional positive regard, an attitude of grace that values us even knowing our failings
Genuineness: When people are genuine, they are open with their own feelings, drop their facades, and are transparent and self- disclosing.
Empathy: When people are empathic, they share and mirror other’s feelings and reflect their meanings.
Maslow and Rogers believed that the feature of personality is one’s self-concept
Unconditional Positive Regard: a caring, accepting, nonjudgmental attitude, which Carl Rogers believed would help people develop self-awareness and self-acceptance.
Self-Concept: all our thoughts and feelings about ourselves, in answer to the question, “Who am I?”
Assessing the Self
LOQ: How did humanistic psychologists assess a person’s sense of self?
Carl Rogers assessed his clients’ personal growth during therapy, he looked for successively closer ratings of actual and ideal selves.
Evaluating Humanistic Theories
LOQ: How have humanistic theories influenced psychology? What criticisms have they faced?
Malsow’s and Rogers’ ideas have laid the basis of today’s scientific positive psychology
LOQ: How do psychologists use traits to describe personality?
Gordon Allport described personality in terms of fundamental traits
Isabel Briggs Myers and Katharine Briggs wanted to describe important personality differences
Trait: a characteristic pattern of behavior or a disposition to feel and act in certain ways, as assessed by self-report inventories and peer reports.
By placing people on several trait dimensions simultaneously, psychologists can describe countless individual personality variations.
One technique is factor analysis
Biology and Personality
Brain-activity scans of extraverts add to the growing list of traits and mental states
LOQ: What are personality inventories, and what are their strengths and weaknesses as trait-assessment tools?
Several trait assessment techniques exist—some more valid than others.
The classic personality inventory is the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI).
Personality Inventory: a questionnaire (often with true-false or agree-disagree items) on which people respond to items designed to gauge a wide range of feelings and behaviors; used to assess selected personality traits.
The MMPI items were empirically derived
a large pool of items, Hathaway and his colleagues selected those on which particular diagnostic groups differed
The objectivity of the MMPI has contributed to its popularity and its translation into more than 100 languages.
Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI): the most widely researched and clinically used of all personality tests. Originally developed to identify emotional disorders (still considered its most appropriate use), this test is now used for many other screening purposes.
Empirically Derived Test: a test (such as the MMPI) created by selecting from a pool of items those that discriminate between groups.
The Big Five Factors
LOQ: Which traits seem to provide the most useful information about personality variation?
The Big Five
Some clinical psychologists have begun to use the Big Five to understand personality disorder and dysfunction
Evaluating Trait Theories
LOQ: Does research support the consistency of personality traits over time and across situations?
In some ways, our personality seems stable
The Person-Situation Controversy
Our behavior is influenced by the interaction of our inner disposition with our environment
Are personality traits get expressed through our
music preferences. Your playlist reveals something of your personality
written communications. If you have ever felt you could detect someone’s personality from their writing voice, you are right!!
online and personal spaces. Are online profiles, websites, and avatars also a canvas for self-expression?
Social-Cognitive Theories and the Self
LOQ: How do social-cognitive theorists view personality development, and how do they explore behavior?
Albert Bandura proposed the social cognitive perspective and emphasizes the interaction of our traits with our situations.
Bandura views the person-environment interaction as reciprocal determinism.
There are several specific ways on how individuals and environments interact:
Different people choose different environments. The schools we attend, the reading we do, the movies we watch, the music we listen to, the friends we associate with—all are part of an environment we have chosen, based partly on our disposition
Our personalities shape how we interpret and react to events. Anxious people tend to attend and react strongly to relationship threats
Our personalities help create situations to which we react. How we view and treat people influences how they then treat us
As well as the interaction of internal personal factors, the environment, and our behaviors, we also experience gene-environment interaction
Behavior emerges from the interplay of external and internal influences
At every moment, our behavior is influenced by our biology, our social and cultural experiences, and our cognition and dispositions
Reciprocal Determinism: the interacting influences of behavior, internal cognition, and environment
Assessing Behavior in Situations
Social-cognitive psychologists by predicting behavior often observe behavior in realistic situation
the best predictor of future behavior is the person’s past behavior patterns in similar situations
If you can’t check the person’s past behavior, the next best thing is to create an assessment situation that simulates the task so you can see how the person handles it
Evaluating Social-Cognitive Theories
Critics charge that social-cognitive theories focus so much on the situation that they fail to appreciate the person’s inner traits
Personality traits have been shown to predict behavior at work, in love, and at play
Our biologically influenced traits really do matter.
Exploring the Self
LOQ: Why has psychology generated so much research on the self? How important is self-esteem to our well-being?
Our personality feeds our sense of self
The self, as organizer of our thoughts, feelings, and actions, occupies the center of personality.
One examples of thinking about self is the concept of possible selves
possible selves include your visions of the self you dream of becoming—the rich self, the successful self, the loved and admired self
Dreams do often give birth to achievements.
Our self-focused perspective may motivate us
it can also lead us to presume too readily that others are noticing and evaluating us
We stand out less than we imagine, even with dorky clothes and bad hair, and even after a blunder like setting off a library alarm
Self: in contemporary psychology, assumed to be the center of personality, the organizer of our thoughts, feelings, and actions.
Spotlight Effect: overestimating others’ noticing and evaluating our appearance, performance, and blunders (as if we presume a spotlight shines on us).
The Benefits of Self-Esteem
Self-esteem—our feelings of high or low self-worth—matters.
If feeling good follows doing well, then giving praise in the absence of good performance may actually harm people
Self-Esteem: one’s feelings of high or low self-worth.
Self-Efficacy: one’s sense of competence and effectiveness.
The Costs of Self-Esteem
LOQ: How do excessive optimism, blindness to one’s own incompetence, and self-serving bias reveal the costs of self-esteem, and how do defensive and secure self-esteem differ?
Positive thinking in the face of adversity can pay dividends,
Excessive optimism can blind us to real risks
Blindness To One’s Own Incompetence
Justin Kruger and David Dunning sais that people often are most overconfident when most incompetent
Personality psychologists have found that most people choose the second door, which leads to positive self-thought
Self-serving bias reflects both an overestimation of the self and a desire to maintain a positive self-view
After criticism, those with inflated self-esteem were “exceptionally aggressive.
researchers identify two types of self-esteem
Defensive self-esteem is fragile. It focuses on sustaining itself, which makes failure and criticism feel threatening
Secure self-esteem is less fragile, because it is less contingent on external evaluations
To feel accepted for who we are, and not for our looks, wealth, or acclaim, relieves pressures to succeed and enables us to focus beyond ourselves
losing ourselves in relationships and purposes larger than ourselves, we may achieve a more secure self-esteem, satisfying relationships, and greater quality of life
Self-Serving Bias: a readiness to perceive oneself favorably.
Narcissism: excessive self-love and self-absorption