Introduction

We have a tendency to place people into categories according to the typical
ways they behave. We often describe people as pleasant, talkative, serious, etc.
One of the most famous names in personality research in the United Kingdom is
that of Hans Eysenck. He developed a technique to try to identify and measure
different personality types. In this topic, we shall take a closer look at Eysenck’s
type theory.
Eysenck’s type theory of personality
Eysenck believed that personality has a biological basis. He investigated
personality by sampling different bits of people’s behaviour by asking them
questions about the way they behaved in their daily lives. To do this, he used
questionnaires and, by analysing the responses he got, he developed his theory
of personality. To help with his research, Eysenck (1952) investigated 700
servicemen who were being treated for neurotic disorders in the Maudsley
Hospital in London.
You will learn about
Eysenck’s type theory of personality
personality measurement scales.
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TOPIC
2
Development
of personality:
type theory
Before we take a look at Eysenck’s theory, how would you describe your own personality? Take a few
minutes to write a short paragraph about yourself.
Fromhis research, Eysenck concluded that there appear to be two major
dimensions of personality that account for the many different types of people
that we meet. The two main personality dimensions are called
extravert/introvert and neurotic/stable.
Extraverts are outgoing, lively and sociable. They enjoy the company of
people and have many friends.
Introverts are shy and withdrawn. They usually have a small number of
close friends.
Neurotic people are anxious and moody. They often lack confidence and
self-esteem.
Stable people are calmand even-tempered.
Did you use any of those words to describe yourself?
Eysenck believed that these two personality dimensions are totally independent
of each other, so that an individual’s personality can contain any combination of
extraversion/introversion and neuroticism/stability. There could be neurotic
extraverts or neurotic introverts. Also, there could be stable extraverts or stable
introverts. Figure 3.1 below helps to illustrate this. Fromthis, you can see the
various personality types and their typical behaviour; for example, a neurotic
extravert would be an excitable and possibly changeable person.
Activity 1
EXTRAVERT
sociable
outgoing
talkative
responsive
easygoing
lively
carefree
leadership
STABLE
calm
even-tempered
reliable
controlled
peaceful
thoughtful
careful
passive
INTROVERT
active
optimistic
impulsive
changeable
excitable
aggressive
restless
touchy
NEUROTIC
moody
anxious
rigid
sober
pessimistic
reserved
unsociable
quiet
4
3
2
1
0
10
9
8
7
6
5
0 1 2 3 4
6 7 8 9 10
Figure 3.1 Eysenck’s
personality dimensions
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GCSE Psychology I Module 3 I Topic 2 Development of personality: type theory
© National Extension College
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Personality scales
Personality is measured by using a personality scale. This is usually in the form
of a questionnaire fromwhich numerical scores can be obtained. One of these
scales is called the Eysenck Personality Inventory or EPI for short. It is used to
measure extraversion/introversion and neuroticism/stability. The scale contains
a series of short questions requiring YES or NO answers.
Answer the following questions with either YES or NO.
YES NO
Do you often long for excitement? I I
Are you usually carefree? I I
Do you generally do and say things quickly without stopping to think? I I
Would you do almost anything for a dare? I I
Do you often do things on the spur of the moment? I I
Do you like going out a lot? I I
When people shout at you do you shout back? I I
Can you usually let yourself go and enjoy yourself a lot at a lively party? I I
Do other people think of you as being very lively? I I
Do you like playing pranks on others? I I
Now count up the number of YES answers you have given to these questions.
If you said YES more than five times, you would probably be considered an
extravert. Fewer than five YES answers would probably mean that you are an
introvert.
Activity 2
GCSE Psychology I Module 3 I Topic 2 Development of personality: type theory
© National Extension College
Now answer the following questions with YES or NO answers.
YES NO
Do you often need understanding friends to cheer you up? I I
Do you find it very hard to take no for an answer? I I
Do your moods go up and down? I I
Do you ever feel ‘just miserable’ for no good reason? I I
Do you suddenly feel shy when you want to talk to an attractive stranger? I I
Do you often worry about things you should have done or said? I I
Are your feelings rather easily hurt? I I
Do you daydream a lot? I I
Are you often troubled by feelings of guilt? I I
Do ideas run through your head so that you cannot sleep? I I
Now count up the number of YES answers you have given to these questions.
If you said YES more than five times, you would probably be considered neurotic.
Fewer than five YES answers would probably mean that you are stable.
You can now use your scores for the two activities you have just done to plot
your position on the grid shown in Figure 3.1.
What was your score for Activity 2? That corresponds to your position on the vertical axis in Figure 3.1.
Draw a horizontal line through the point that matches your score.
And what was your score for Activity 3? That corresponds to your position on the horizontal axis in
Figure 3.1. Draw a vertical line through the point that matches your score.
The two lines should cross at just one point and the word nearest to that point should indicate your
personality type. Do you think it is accurate? Does it match the description you wrote for the first
activity of this topic?
Activity 4
Activity 3
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GCSE Psychology I Module 3 I Topic 2 Development of personality: type theory
© National Extension College
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More recently, another scale used to measure personality has been developed.
It is known as the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire or EPQ. As well as
measuring extraversion/introversion and neuroticism, a third dimension was
added, known as psychoticism. People who score high on this dimension are
solitary, not fitting in anywhere, insensitive, inhumane and cruel. The majority
of people score low on this scale regardless of where they register on the other
two dimensions.
Evaluation of Eysenck’s type theory
Some psychologists have criticised Eysenck’s type theory.
Now that you have read about Eysenck’s type theory and tried to measure your own personality using
his method, can you think of any criticisms? Think, for example, about the type of participants Eysenck
used and the kinds of questions he asked.
Much of his theory was developed from information received from 700
servicemen who were being treated for neurotic disorders. It could be argued
that this is not a representative sample of the population of people not suffering
from neurotic disorders. It might be misleading to generalise beyond the sample
of servicemen used in the research and assume the results apply to other people.
It could also be argued that there might be other valid personality dimensions
beyond the two used in the EPI scale. Other psychologists have developed more
complex theories of personality involving other personality traits.
Also, answering a few simple YES/NO questions hardly does justice to the
complexities of human personality. People’s answers to these questions might
be affected by the mood they happen to be in at the time. To get a more accurate
result, you would probably need to repeat the questionnaire several times. There
is also an assumption that people are being truthful when answering these
questions. But is that the case? They may answer the questions as they would
like to be seen rather than as they really are. It may be that people are just not
very self-aware and therefore cannot answer the questionnaire with accurate
information.
Finally, because Eysenck thought that personality is biological in basis, he has
not given consideration to the idea that personality can change with experience.
Are you the same person you were 10 years ago?
Activity 5
GCSE Psychology I Module 3 I Topic 2 Development of personality: type theory
© National Extension College
1 Distinguish between the EPI and the EPQ.
2 Explain one criticism of Eysenck’s type theory of personality.
You will find the feedback to self checks at the end of this module.
Eysenck’s type theory of personality says that everyone’s personality can be described as
combinations of extraversion/introversion and neuroticism/stability.
Personality can be measured using the EPI and the EPQ.
Key studies
Eysenck (1952): measures of personality
Remember
Self check
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GCSE Psychology I Module 3 I Topic 2 Development of personality: type theory
© National Extension College