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Introduction Most people use the term "personality "to identify the most obvious characteristic of a person, or to refer

to that person's social skills. Psychologists are mainly interested in personality to; (1) explain why people with similar heredity, experience, and motivation may react differently in the same situation; and (2) explain why people with different heredity, past experiences, and/or motivation may nevertheless react similarly in the same situation.

In studying personality, psychologists may use idiographic or nomothetic techniques. The study of personality involves many aspects of human behavior -- almost everything an adult human organism does or can do. Theories of personality organize what we do know, stimulate new research, and formally specify a view of personality. Five groups of such theories have been developed in the past century: type, trait, psychodynamic, phenomenological, and behavioral views. The sections below would be discussing these views.

Type theory Type theory in general has been criticized as over-simplistic because it overlooks the multi-dimensional and continuous nature of personality traits. Also, some would say that Individual Differences may be qualitative not quantitative. That is, there may be a difference in the qualities that people possess rather than, as trait theory

would have us believe, we all possess certain traits it is just a case of how much or how little we possess (the quantity). A key strength of the personality type approach, is its simple applicability and person-centered relevance. It can be particularly useful to complete personality type profiles for helping improve how people get along in relationships and at work.

The types

Despite any and all the criticisms of the theory, many people continue to use the terms "Type A" and "Type B" purely to describe personalities, though some still equate the Type A personality with medical disorders like coronary heart disease.

o Type A The theory describes a Type A individual as ambitious, aggressive, business-like, controlling, highly competitive, impatient, preoccupied with his or her status, time-conscious, and tightlywound. People with Type A personalities are often high-achieving "workaholics" who multitask, push themselves with deadlines, and hate both delays and ambivalence.

In his 1996 book, Type A Behavior: Its Diagnosis and Treatment, Friedman suggests that Type A behavior is expressed in three major symptoms: free-floating hostility, which can be triggered by even minor incidents; time urgency and impatience, which causes irritation and exasperation; and a competitive drive, which causes stress and an achievement-driven mentality. The first of these symptoms is believed to be covert and therefore less observable, while the other two are more overt.

o Type B The theory describes Type B individuals as perfect contrast to those with Type A personalities. People with Type B personalities are generally patient, relaxed, easy-going, and at times lacking an overriding sense of urgency.

Because of these characteristics, Type B individuals are often described as apathetic and disengaged by individuals with Type A or other personality types.

Trait Theories Among the various major theories of personality, trait theories are the primary ones labeled specifically in terms of a dependent variable -- traits. Traits are enduring, stable attributes or characteristics of a person. If our behavior changes, does this mean one of our traits has changed, or has our environment influenced our behavior?

Types of trait theories Central Traits: These are the general characteristics that form the basic foundations of personality. These central traits, while not as dominating as cardinal traits, are the major characteristics you might use to describe another person. Terms such as intelligent, honest, shy and anxious are considered central traits.

Secondary Traits: These are the traits that are sometimes related to attitudes or preferences and often appear only in certain situations or under specific circumstances. Some examples would be getting anxious when speaking to a group or impatient while waiting in line.

William Sheldon (1899 - 1977), an American medical doctor, first offered in the early 1940s one of the most interesting modern views of such a theory of personality. Sheldon identified three different general forms of human physique, or somatotypes. According to Sheldon each of us could be rated on a 7-point scale as to the amount of each form represented in our body. Thus, a pure endomorph would be described as a 711.

In addition, Sheldon also suggested that there is a close relation between measures of our physique taken from somatotype photographs and our personal temperament. This is, in fact, the

single, essential assumption of Sheldon's theory that a continuity, or a high correlation, exists between physique and behavior. Three personality types are identified by Sheldon.

Sheldon's view is intriguing, but it is limited primarily by an obvious problem. How can you rate someone's personality or behavior without seeing him or her behave? In short, raters of behavior must also see the physique of the body that is behaving. The measures and ratings are thus confounded. The same participants who gave Sheldon his ratings of various body types also provided the ratings of personal behavior. This may account for the high correlations Sheldon reported relating body form and behavior. In essence, the correlations may represent nothing more than commonly held stereotypes. Maybe you and I reward someone for behaving according to certain stereotypes. If we believe that fat people are jolly, we may already be inclined to laugh with them even before they speak. So it's a low-level, common sense kind of theory, and it may be dignifying it a bit to label it a developed theory of personality.

Raymond B. Cattell has developed a different approach to the description and analysis of personality. He relies on data collected from three sources: a person's life record, self-ratings, and objective tests. Drawing from people's life records and self-ratings, Cattell identified major personality factors both within individuals and across people in general.

Cattell distinguishes between surface traits, which are observable patterns of behavior, and source traits, which he viewed as underlying, internal traits responsible for our overt behavior. He viewed the source traits as more important. Source traits can be identified only by means of computer analysis of all the collected data. Cattell also distinguishes between general traits -those possessed by all -- and specific traits -- those typical of only one person.

Indeed, one of the major criticisms registered against these factor-analysis based theories is that by collapsing so many data they lose the individual person in the process. Yet, if you observe carefully, it is possible to trace the increases and decreases in various response styles in a given individual over a period of time. Others -- perhaps rightly criticize the factor- and trait-theorists for not being theoretical at all. Rather, they are empirical, or data-oriented. This is true enough but not necessarily bad.
Strengths Limitations

Case Studies - Subjective / Cannot generalise results

Unscientific (lacks empirical support)

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Made the Case Study method popular in psychology


Too Deterministic (little freewill)

Defence Mechanisms Free association


Biased Sample (e.g. middle aged women from Vienna)

Projective Tests (TAT, Rorschach) Highlighted the importance of Childhood


Ignores Mediational Processes (e.g. thinking, memory)

Highlighted the importance of the unconscious mind Dream analysis


Rejects Free will (e.g. Humanism believe free will exists)

Unfalsifiable (difficult to

prove wrong)

Psychodynamic Theory It is the theory and systematic study of the psychological forces that underlie human behavior, especially the dynamic relations between conscious motivation and unconscious motivation. The psychologist Sigmund Freud (18561939) developed psychodynamics to describe the processes of the mind as flows of psychological energy (Libido) in an organically complex brain.

Central Elements of Psychoanalysis There are two major elements underlying all of Freud's theory. One of these is his conception of the conscious unconscious dimension. He suggested that the mind has three subsystems. The conscious involves thoughts of which you are aware. Thus, our thinking about psychology and Freud's views of our conscious mind are in your conscious mind right now. The preconscious involves thoughts of which you are not immediately aware. However, they are thoughts you can bring to conscious attention easily and rapidly.

Your unconscious involves the largest source of influences on your overt, conscious behavior, as seen in the diagram. Without our awareness (according to Freud) the conscious becomes a symbol or vehicle of unconscious urges. Thus, by studying such things as slips of the tongue and dreams, Freud would assert we are able to study unconscious processes. Remember that psychoanalysis was first developed in the 1800's, just at a time when physics, chemistry, and biology were making great strides as disciplines.

Essentially mimicking the theories of physics and physical energy, Freud proposed that each of us is born with a certain amount of psychic energy, or libido. This energy creates inner tensions

that we seek to reduce. Freud stressed sexuality in his theoretical statements and analyses, but he used the word "sexual" broadly, as it relates to many different intentions and activities. These concepts of the conscious-preconscious-unconscious dimension and libido operate throughout the structure and motivational systems of the personality. Other psychodynamic theorists especially with the issue of unconscious urges -- developed somewhat different concepts. Psychodynamic Personality Structure As a theorist, Freud's major contribution to our understanding of personality was his development of the concepts of the id, ego, and superego. He viewed them as separate but interacting systems. Freud liked to use analogies when he spoke and wrote about psychoanalytic concepts. He often compared the id, ego, and superego to a Russian troika. Success in moving this type of vehicle requires contributions by three horses all hitched abreast, and the same idea applies (Freud asserted) in developing a functioning personality. The id is the initial system present at birth.

All libidinal energy is deposited there. That is, all the organism's personal activities are at first directed to satisfying the needs of the id. The id has to do with our most basic desires, and it cannot tolerate tension. Functioning completely unconsciously, the id is said to operate in terms of pleasure principle. It seeks pleasure for itself without any regard for the needs, wants, or concerns of others.

The ego develops to monitor the id and to direct its impulsive desires. At first it serves only to satisfy the id's impulses. The ego stresses rationality and an awareness of the realities of our physical and social environment. It operates at a conscious and preconscious level, mainly in

terms of the reality principle. It balances the impulses of the id against the equally real demands of the environment.

The superego is the last of the three to develop. It really doesn't begin to make its appearance until as late as the age of six or seven, though Freud was loath to assign age deadlines for developmental processes. The superego is thought to be composed of one's conscience (the values of one's parents) and to involve an ego-ideal. Other Psychodynamic Theorists There were two other theorists who are traditionally and strongly associated with psychoanalytic theories of personality. One is Carl Jung. Jung believed that we harbor within us not only our own thoughts, but also what he called a collective unconscious. This was viewed as the accumulated memories and urgings of the whole human race, based on certain common elements of our experience. We each have parents, and we each experience a life of sunrises and sunsets, tragedies and celebrations, feasts and deprivations. And Jung was interested in opposites. His other important contributions were the concepts of introversion (a turning inward, or seclusiveness) and extraversion (a looking outward, outgoing). For Jung, the successful person can bring the opposing parts of his person (inclinations toward introversion and extraversion, among others) together.

The other important person in this group would be Alfred Adler, who assumed that since we have little control over our life in childhood, we grow up feeling inferior. For Adler, the battle to overcome this feeling of inferiority becomes a style of life. Those who fail to master the feelings of inferiority, or who remain overly worried about it even when they have mastered it, are said to have developed an inferiority complex.

Psychodynamic Approach Summary Key Features Methodology Case Study (Little Hans) Dream Analysis Free Association Projective Tests (TAT, Rorschach)

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Collective Unconscious (Carl Jung) Psychosexual Development (Freud) Unconscious Mind (Freud) Psyche (Freud) Defence Mechanisms (Freud) Psychosocial Development (Erikson)

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Slips of the Tongue (parapraxes)


Basic Assumptions

Areas of Application

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Gender Role Development Therapy (Psychoanalysis) Attachment (Bowlby) Moral Development (superego)

The major causes of behaviour have their origin in the


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Psychic determinism: all behaviour has a cause/reason.


Different parts of the unconscious mind are in constant struggle.


Aggression (Displacement / Thanatos)

Our behaviour and feelings as adults (including psychological problems) are rooted in our childhood

Personality (Erikson, Freud)


Phenomenological theory Historically, the phenomenological perspective can be traced to Wilhelm Wundt who is often considered as having conducted the first formal psychological research in the 1870's. Wundt had people "introspect", that is concentrate on and report on subjective conscious experience. Introspection was seen as lacking in scientific rigour and as not having any particular application, then psychoanalysis which emphasized the unconscious mind came along and become more dominant. Interestingly, though, in the 1950's and 1960's sense of political and personal freedom, the importance and interest in subjective experience become more interesting again to psychology. Figures such as Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers emerged and created the humanistic or third force movement in psychology.

There a number of strands to the phenomenological perspective. There is no single person or even really any single theory that unites these perspectives, but they can all be considered phenomenological because they value and focus on the nature of individual's subjective experience.

The phenomenological perspective, and particularly the humanistic perspectives, sees humankind as being intrinsically good and self-perfecting. People are seen as being drawn towards growth, health, self-sufficiency, and maturity. This is a very OPTIMISTIC perspective which focuses on peoples POTENTIAL. People are seen as growing and evolving naturally towards greater beauty and more completeness.

The major themes and underlying assumptions of this perspective are:

There is a self which has beautiful and unique form.


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It is changing and growing. Everyone self is unique. Once we provide a nurturing outer and inner environment, growth towards our higher selves occurs naturally.

We have enormous potential, possibility, and choice.

Uniqueness of Individuals: we view the world from our own unique perspective and our subjective experience of reality is very important. Phenomenology means the subjective experience of individuals.

We can and must exercise our free will. Some people think that they dont have the capacity or ability to make life HAPPEN for themselves. Or they believe that past problems are insurmountable. Or they spend so much time regretting the past that they are blinded to the possibilities of the here and now and the future. This perspective takes the view that this is due to people losing sight of the free will they possess and not recognizing their own potential for change and growth.

Behavioural theory There are a number of theories which have attempted to explain human behavior and its impact on social as well as work life. These theories have tried to explain how human behavior shapes a persons personality. One of the important theories is the Behavioral Theory or Behaviorism. This theory depends on the premise that all kinds of human behaviors are basically acquired via conditioning. The behavioral theories originated in the first part of the 20th century and were promoted by eminent psychologists like John B. Watson and B.F. Skinner. These behavioral techniques are in use even today to facilitate the learning process of individuals and learn new behavior in various circumstances. This theory, put forward by Watson, was a departure from

other prevailing theories of the time and advocated the exclusion of introspection and consciousness and laid more stress on determinism than on freewill.

B. F. Skinner and Personality as Behavior Skinner doesn't have a theory of personality, not even a (social) learning theory of personality development. Yet the principles of operant conditioning can be applied to the derivation of statements about how personality is formed and how it functions. Dollard and Miller emphasize internal processes such as motivation, drive, drive-reduction, and reinforcement. By contrast, Skinner concentrates entirely on observable behavior -- though not learning by observation as endorsed by Albert Bandura.

For Skinner, nobody is "neurotic" -- you simply show a variety of ineffective modes of escape. You are not "frustrated" -- you are simply replacing one response with another. According to Skinner, much of our behavior especially in the company of others -- involves freely emitted "operants" (see the Learning Chapter) or responses. If an operant is reinforced, Skinner asserts, we will be more likely to emit that operant in a similar situation.

Thus, two important concepts for Skinner are generalization and discrimination. We must learn stimulus generalization so that we will emit responses to a variety of similar, if not identical, situations. For instance, you can eat a hamburger whether sitting in McDonald's or in Burger King. Likewise, we must learn to discriminate when to and when not to emit certain responses. Talking in class is all right, but not when your professor has asked for quiet. Talking in church is all right, but not when the preacher is preaching.


And what assures that all these operants will be reinforced? Skinner emphasizes the importance of generalized reinforcers -- such things as money and social approval. They are often associated with primary goal objects such as food and water. Yet, on occasion, we can even be controlled by a smile. Skinner simply rejects Freud's concept of unconscious urges as excess baggage -unnecessary to explain ongoing human behavior. He has even argued in Beyond Freedom and Dignity against the existence of free will as a factor in governing human behavior. Thus, by implication he is also rejecting the main tenets of self-growth theories, again because of too much appeal by these theorists to internal, not-directly-observable processes.


References Carver, C. S. & Scheier, M. F. (2000). Perspectives on personality (4th ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon. DiCaprio, N. S. (1983). Personality Theories: A Guide to Human Nature, 2nd ed. Holt, Rinehart, Winston. Provides expanded coverage of each of the theorists discussed in this chapter, and also discusses a number of related theorists. Well illustrated; written in an engaging, educational style. Funder, D. C. (1997). The personality puzzle. New York: Norton. Keutzer, C. S. (1978). Whatever turns you on: Triggers to transcendental experiences. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 18, 77-80. Maslow, A.H. (1970). Motivation and Personality (2nd ed.). New York: Van Nostrand. Nye, R. D. (1981). Three Psychologists: Perspectives from Freud, Skinner, and Rogers, 2nd ed. Brooks/Cole. Analyzes the human personality in terms of psychodynamic, behavioral, and trait theories.