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THE PERSONALITY PUZZLE

CHAPTER 1: The Study of the Person



- Personality psychology addresses how people feel, think, and behave (psychological triad) and
is closely allied with clinical psychology; is where the rest of psychology comes together
(drawing heavily from social/cognitive/developmental/clinical/biological psychology);
contributes to each of these subfields
THE GOALS OF PERSONALITY PSYCHOLOGY
- Personality: an individuals characteristic patterns of thought, emotion, and behavior, together
with the psychological mechanisms (hidden or not) behind those patterns
- Personality psychologists = put together the pieces of the puzzle contributed by the various
other subfields of psychology, as well as by their own research, to assemble an integrated view
of whole, functioning individuals in their daily environments
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE
- Its impossible to try to understand everything about a person at once; the only way out is to
choose to limit what you look at a systematic, self-imposed limitation = basic approach (aka
paradigm) personality psychology is organized around several different basic approaches
- TABLE 1.1 Basic Approaches to Personality and their Focal Topics
Basic Approach Focal Topics
Trait approach Conceptualization of individual differences
Measurement of individual differences
Focused on the ways that ppl differ psychologically
Biological approach Anatomy; physiology; genetics; evolution
Trying to understand the mind in terms of the
body
Psychoanalytic approach Unconscious mind
Internal mental conflict
Phenomenological approach Conscious awareness and experience of the world
Humanistic psychology (pursues how conscious
awareness can produce such uniquely human
attributes such as existential
anxiety/creativity/free will and tries to understand
the meaning/basis of happiness)
Cross-cultural psychology
Learning and cognitive approach Learning approach (concentrating on how ppl
change their behavior as a result of rewards/
punishments/experiences)
Classic behaviorists (behaviorism)
Social learning theory (draws inferences about
the ways that mental processes such as
observation and self-evaluation determine which
behaviors are learned and how they are
performed)
Cognitive personality psychology
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CHAPTER 1: The Study of the Person

COMPETITORS OR COMPLEMENTS?
- Ex: approaches like psychoanalysis and behaviorism were vocal in claiming their views of human
nature and denounced all other approaches
- Each approach to personality psychology can be useful for handling its own key concerns but at
the same time, each one typically and rather disconcertingly tends to ignore the key concerns of
the others
DISTINCT APPROACHES VS. THE ONE BIG THEORY
- A theory that accounts for certain things extremely well will probably not explain everything else
so well; a theory that tries to explain almost everything would probably not provide the best
explanation for any one thing
- Authors POV = the different basic approaches address different sets of questions, and each
approach generally has the best answers for the questions it has chosen to address
- Personality psychology needs to look at ppl from all these directions and utilize all of these
approaches b/c different issues are best viewed from different perspectives
ADVANTAGES AS DISADVANTAGES AND VICE VERSA
- In life and in psychology, advantages and disadvantages have a way of being so tightly
interconnected as to be inseparable great strengths are usually great weaknesses, and
surprisingly often the opposite is true as well
- The challenge for a personality psychologist is to maximize the advantages of the fields broad
mandate and try to minimize the disadvantages, even though the two are related and perhaps
inseparable
- Personality is coherent, and each part stems from and depends on the others
- If the scope of personality psychology were narrowed, the field would be more manageable and
research would become easier but then the study of personality would lose much of what
makes it distinctive, important, and interesting similarly, each basic approach to personality
has made a more or less deliberate decision to ignore some aspects of psychology this is a
heavy cost to pay, but so far it seems necessary in order for each approach to make progress in
its chosen area
SUMMARY
T HE GOALS OF PERS ONA LI T Y PS YCHOLOGY
Personality psychologys unique mission is to address the psychological triad of thought, feeling, and behavior, and to try to explain
the functioning of whole individuals. This is an impossible mission, however, so different approaches to personality must limit
themselves by emphasizing different psychological topics.
Personality psychology can be organized into five basic approaches: trait, biological, psychoanalytic, phenomenological, and learning
and cognitive processes. Each addresses certain aspects of human psychology quite well and ignores others. The advantages and
disadvantages of each approach are probably inseparable.
THE PERSONALITY PUZZLE
CHAPTER 1: The Study of the Person

T HE P LAN OF THI S BOOK
This book is grouped into six sections, beginning with a section on research methods and continuing with five sections that survey
the basic approaches to personality. It ends with a chapter on the personality disorders and a final summing up.
P I GEONHOLI NG VERS US APPRE CI AT I ON OF I NDI VI DUAL DI FFERE NCES
Sometimes regarded as a field that seeks to pigeonhole people, personality psychologys real mission is to appreciate the ways in
which each individual is unique.
THINK ABOUT IT
1. What do we know when we know a person?
2. What is the purpose of psychology? What questions should the science of psychology seek to
answer?
3. Why are you taking this course? What do you hope to learn? Of what use do you expect it to be?
4. If you could choose what this course (or book) would be about, what would you ask for? Why?
5. Are psychology textbooks and courses more boring than they should be? If so, why do you think
that is? Can something be done about it? Should something be done about it? (Perhaps boring just
means that a complex topic is being rigorously studied. Do you agree?)
6. Which are more important, answers or questions?
CHAPTER 1 QUIZ
1. How do clinical psychology and personality psychology overlap?
A. Clinical psychologists and personality psychologists do not overlap because clinical psychologists are not
interested in personality.
B. Clinical and personality psychology do not overlap because personality psychologists have never had
clinical training.
C. Clinical and personality psychology share a common responsibility to understand every feature of an
individual, not just single aspects about them. [Personality psychology and clinical psychology are not the
same, but they do overlap (see "The Study of the Person").]
D.
Clinical and personality psychology are the same thing.

2. The trait approach to personality psychology best describes what situation?
A. A psychologist studying the ways in which people alter their behaviors because of rewards or punishments
B. A psychologist focusing on ways that people differ from one another in behavior and disposition, and how
these differences might be measured [Trait psychology focuses on measuring the degree to which (and ways in
which) people differ from each other (see "Mission: Impossible").]
C. A psychologist trying to understand personality in terms of anatomy, physiology, inheritance, and evolution
D. A psychologist studying the role of gene expression in babies, children, and young adults
3. Why have personality psychologists not combined all paradigms into "One Big Theory"?
A. A theory that tries to explain everything would probably not provide the best explanation for any one thing.
B. The manageability of research programs would be lost.
C. The different basic approaches to psychology address different sets of questions.
D. a and c [Personality psychology needs to look at people from all directions and utilize all approaches because different
issues are best viewed from different perspectives (see "Distinct Approaches Versus the One Big Theory").]
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4. Personality psychology's biggest advantage over other areas of psychology is that:
A. It employs a diverse set of research methods.
B. The psychology of whole persons is taken into account. [Not only is taking the whole person into account an
advantage of personality psychology, it is also a disadvantage (see "Advantages as Disadvantages and Vice Versa").]
C. It does not need to rely on scientific evidence as much.
D. The information it uses to construct theories is easier to collect.
5. A psychologist who is concerned primarily with a person's conscious experiences follows the ___________
approach.
A. phenomenological [The phenomenological approach to psychology is invested in a persons immediate, conscious self
(see "Mission: Impossible").]
B. superego
C. learning-cognitive
D. psychoanalytic
6. One of personality psychologys biggest advantages over other areas of psychology is that it:
A. Uses rigorous research methods.
B. Has a broad mandate to account for the psychology of whole persons. [Personality psychology has a broad
mandate to account for the psychology of whole persons and real-life concerns. However, this mandate is also a big
disadvantage (see "Advantages as Disadvantages and Vice Versa").]
C. Created One Big Theory to explain whole persons.
D. Uses the psychological triad.
7. Personality psychologys unique mission is to:
A. Explain whole persons. [Personality psychology tries to accomplish this mission by adopting several approaches (e.g.,
trait, learning, biological, etc.) to explaining the whole person (see "Mission: Impossible").]
B. Examine a persons behavior and consciousness.
C. Explore brain structure for clues about behavior.
D. A and b
E. B and c
8. The three parts of the psychological triad:
A. Are not related to one another.
B. Are not always consistent at all times. [The psychological triadthe combination of how people think, feel, and
behaveis not always a harmonious structure, but neither is it always a chaotic one (see "The Study of the Person").]
C. Are always consistent with one another.
D. Are called the id, the ego, and the superego.
9. Which of the following answers is an example of a basic approach, orparadigm, of personality psychology?
A. The psychoanalytic approach [Different paradigms of psychology can seem to conflict with one another, but it may be
less a matter of having different answers to the same psychological puzzles and more a matter of posing different
questions about the mind and behavior (see "Mission: Impossible").]
B. When one theory must be used to explain a certain aspect of another theory
C. When two theories overlap each other
D. Funders First Law
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CHAPTER 1: The Study of the Person

10. A personality psychologist that is concerned primarily with people's unconscious mind and internal conflict
follows what approach?
A. Trait approach
B. Biological approach
C. Social approach
D. Psychoanalytic approach [Psychologists who use the psychoanalytic approach focus on the unconscious mind and the
nature and resolution of internal mental conflict (see "Mission: Impossible").]
11. How people feel, think, and behave are parts of:
A. The study of social-person cognition.
B. Psychological conflict.
C. The psychological triad. [The psychological triad encompasses, in a sense, all of the things that make a person a
person (see "The Study of the Person").]
D. The sensation-perception-cognition triad.
12. The different approaches to studying personality _____ rather than _______ each other.
A. Compete with; complement
B. Complement; compete with [The approaches complement rather than compete with each other because each
addresses a different set of questions about human psychology (see "Competitors or Complements?").]
C. Prove; disprove
D. Disprove; prove
13. When defining personality, we could say that an individual's personality is best described as:
A. How they interact in a social setting combined with how the individual reasons and solves complex
problems.
B. How they express their emotions through verbal and nonverbal communication.
C. Their characteristic patterns of thought, emotion, and behavior together with the psychological
mechanismshidden or notbehind those patterns. [This is essentially the meaning of the psychological triad (see
"The Goals of Personality Psychology").]
D. Their behavioral patterns only.
14. One branch of the phenomenological approach focuses on how conscious awareness produces uniquely
human attributes; the other branch focuses on:
A. Biological mechanisms.
B. The degree to which the experience of reality might be different in different cultures. [Interest in this topic has
led to an explosion of cross-cultural research (see "Mission: Impossible").]
C. The conflict of the unconscious mind.
D. How people change their behavior based on rewards, punishment, and learning.
15. Personality psychology can be organized into ____ basic approaches.
A. 3
B. 4
C. 5 [The five basic approaches are: trait, biological, psychoanalytic, phenomenological, and learning/cognitive (see "Mission:
Impossible").]
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D. 10
16. Is "stubbornness" a good personality trait to have?
A. No, being resistant to change is always a weakness.
B. Yes, being resolute is always a strength.
C. Yes and no; it can be a strength in some situations and a weakness in others. [Funders First Law: Great
strengths are usually great weaknesses, and, surprisingly, often the opposite is true as well (see "Advantages as
Disadvantages and Vice Versa").]
D. It is not necessarily scientific or relevant to look at traits as being good or bad.
17. Humanistic psychology pursues how conscious awareness can produce uniquely human attributes such
as________.
A. Existential anxiety, creativity, and free will [This is part of the phenomenological approach of personality psychology,
which focuses on peoples conscious experience of their world (see "Mission: Impossible").]
B. Eating, drinking, and sleeping
C. Thoughts, feelings, and biology
D. Id, ego, and superego
18. Personality psychology emphasizes individual differences. How does this focus serve as one of the disciplines
strengths?
A. It allows personality psychologists to conduct experiments in which people have no idea they are being
observed, letting psychologists observe true personality patterns.
B. Pigeonholing people has no advantages and, in fact, is a great weakness of personality psychology.
C. It creates valid labels for individuals so clinicians can better diagnose their difficulties and prescribe
treatment plans.
D. It leads personality psychologists to be extremely sensitive to the fact that people really are different from
each other. [Depending on your point of view, the categorizing and codification of knowledge inherent in psychology
could be a matter of pigeonholing or it might be a matter of appreciating individual differences (see "Pigeonholing Versus
Appreciation of Individual Differences").]
19. One critique of personality psychology is that it "pigeonholes" people. What does this mean?
A. Categorizing and labeling people [Although the emphasis of personality psychology often entails categorizing and
labeling people (pigeonholing), it also leads the field to be extraordinarily sensitive to the fact that people are different
(see "Pigeonholing Versus Appreciation of Individual Differences").]
B. Statistically analyzing results
C. Prescribing medication
D. Psychoanalyzing people
20. Behaviorism, social learning theory, and cognitive personality psychology comprise which of the following
approaches to psychology?
A. Learning and cognitive approach [The learning approach focuses on how people change their behavior as a result of
rewards, punishments, and other experiences in life. The cognitive approach focuses on studying perception, memory, and
thought (see "Mission: Impossible").]
B. Social learning approach
C. Trait approach
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CHAPTER 1: The Study of the Person

D. Biological approach
21. When patterns of behavior are extreme, unusual, and problematic, personality psychology overlaps with:
A. Cognitive psychology.
B. Clinical psychology. [Personality psychology and clinical psychology are not the same, but they do overlap (see "The
Study of the Person").]
C. Social psychology.
D. Biological psychology.
22. Personality psychology draws heavily from which other branch(es) of psychology?
A. Developmental psychology
B. Biological psychology
C. Social psychology
D. All of the above [In a sense, personality psychology is the largest as well as the smallest subfield of psychology (see "The
Study of the Person").]
23. A systematic, self-imposed limitation of observations, patterns, and ways of thinking about these patterns is
called:
A. The trait approach.
B. Personality.
C. The basic approach. [Another term for the basic approach is called a paradigm (see "Mission: Impossible").]
D. The psychological triad.
24. One disadvantage of creating "One Big Theory" of personality psychology is:
A. Psychologists would no longer need several approaches.
B. It would simplify human behavior.
C. It would explain some parts of behavior well and other parts not as well. [A theory that accounts for certain
things extremely well will probably not explain everything else so well. And a theory that tries to explain almost everything
would probably not provide the best explanation for any one thing (see "Distinct Approaches Versus One Big Theory").]
D. It would nullify the definition of personality.
25. A psychologist who is concerned primarily with how a persons genes, physiology, and brain anatomy are
related to their personality follows the ___________ approach.
A. Biological [Biological psychology is an exploration of genetics, brain structure, neurotransmitters, and other aspects of
human physiology, and how they relate to behavior (see "Mission: Impossible").]
B. Humanitarian
C. Psychoanalytical
D. Behavioral
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