Unit 6 Study Guide: Personality

Define personality and describe early theories of personality
  • What is personality?
  • How has personality been studied?

Personality is the long-term traits and patterns that make us think, behave, and feel the way we do. Personality is what makes us who we are and what differentiates us from others.

A number of theorists have studied personality and its development since the ancient Greek times. Hippocrates who identified 4 basic temperaments (choleric, melancholic, sanguine, and phlegmatic), and Galen believed that personality is a result of imbalances in these temperaments. In the 18th century, a German physician by the name of Franz Gall examined patients' brain size in relation to their personality. Phrenology became an early focus in this line of inquiry, although it has since been discredited.

A number of other theorists, including Immanuel Kant and Wilhelm Wundt, have added

their thoughts about the 4 basic temperaments originally introduced hundreds of years ago. For example, Wundt used these temperaments to understand personality through two major axes: emotional/nonemotional and changeable/unchangeable.

To review, read section 11.1 in the textbook.

Describe and differentiate the theories of Sigmund Freud, Erik Erikson, Carl Jung, and Karen Horney
  • Who developed the first complete theory of personality? What are its components?
  • How does Sigmund Freud's influential theory of personality differ from those of Alfred Adler, Erik Erikson, Carl Jung, and Karen Horney?

Sigmund Freud introduced the first complete theory of personality. According to Freud's

psychodynamic perspective, the id contains our most primitive instincts (hunger, thirst, sex) and houses the pleasure principle, which seeks immediate gratification. The id is present from birth onwards while the superego develops over time as children navigate rules and order. The superego is essentially our conscience and tells us what our expected behaviors are. The ego is the rational part of our personality. Freud viewed this part as our true "self" and how others perceive us. The ego balances the conflicting id and superego drives by finding middle ground. Freud further suggested that our mind makes use of defense mechanism (e.g., denial, displacement, repression) to reduce the anxiety that often arises from these conflicts.

Freud developed stages of psychodynamic development starting with oral at birth, anal during early toddler years, phallic, latency, and lastly, genital during the adolescent years. Each stage is marked by a pleasure fixation (id drive). His theory was controversial when first introduced but has dominated much of the psychology literature.

Freud's theory focused on underlying sexual and aggressive drives in motivating our behaviors while Alfred Adler believed that underlying feelings of inferiority motivate us towards superiority which guides our behaviors, thoughts, and actions. Unlike Freud, Adler also embraced the role of social relationships in developing personality and focused on birth order in explaining personality.

Unlike Freud's theory, Erik Erikson's theory focused on personality development across one's entire lifetime while Freud focused on the significance of childhood years. Further, Erikson suggested that our personality is a product of how we resolve various conflicts throughout our lifespan.

Carl Jung introduced the school of analytical psychology and focused on the role of a collective unconscious. Unlike Freud, Jung assumed we all have shared collective unconscious memories and experiences.

Karen Horney was the first woman to take a serious look at Freud's theory and like Jung wanted to focus on reaching patients' full potential through psychoanalysis while Freud was focused on uncovering childhood experiences. Horney's theory largely focused on the role of unconscious anxiety. She contributed to the field by identifying three ways of coping: moving toward people, moving against people, and moving away from people.

To review, read sections 11.2 and 11.3 in the textbook.

Describe behaviorist, cognitive, and social learning approaches, as well as humanistic and biological perspectives on personality development
  • What are the behaviorist, cognitive, and social learning perspectives in personality?
  • What do the humanistic and biological views suggest?
  • What was the purpose of the marshmallow test? Who studied it?
  • What was the influence of Raymond Cattell in the field of personality psychology?

People, like B.F. Skinner who follow a behaviorist perspective view that personality is not a product of genes but rather a result of learned behaviors that have been reinforced. Albert Bandura viewed that cognition or thought as well as situation/context also affect behaviors and thus termed the idea of "reciprocal determinism" which is at the heart of the social-cognitive perspective.

Within this social-cognitive perspective, Bandura introduced the concept of "self-efficacy," namely the level of confidence we have in our abilities. Julian Rotter discussed the "locus of control," referring to the belief of how much control we have over our lives.

Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers favored the humanistic approach suggesting that we need to focus on our personal depth and the meaning of an experience to understand personality. They studied the characteristics of healthy and productive people and focused on the concept of the "self."

The biological approach views that personality is innate so this type of research examines the outcomes of twins who are reared together or apart (if they are adopted) and how that affects their personalities.

Walter Mischel studied self-regulation (self control) with a group of preschoolers by presenting them with one marshmallow. He gave the children a choice when he had to leave the room: either eat the one marshmallow now or wait for him to return at which point they could eat two marshmallows. He followed the children's academic careers for several years and found that the children who could wait for his return and thus self regulate, had better educational outcomes compared to children who chose to eat the marshmallow right away.

Raymond Cattell built on the work by Gordon Allport in identifying personality traits. Cattell narrowed Allport's list of character traits substantially and viewed that our personality is shaped by multiple traits. He finally identified 16 factors or dimensions of personality: warmth, reasoning, emotional stability, dominance, liveliness, rule-consciousness, social boldness, sensitivity, vigilance, abstractedness, privateness, apprehension, openness to change, self- reliance, perfectionism, and tension.

To review, read sections 11.4 through 11.7 in the textbook and "Personality Traits".

Explain the uses and utility of personality assessment methods
  • What are the differences between self-report and projective personality tests? What are some examples of each?
  • How have popular personality assessment tests been modified to adapt to minority populations?

A number of assessment techniques have been developed to measure personality. Self-report assessments like the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) ask respondents to rate answer choices on Likert scales to a host of statements. The MMPI takes a few hours to administer. Generally, these self-report assessments yield more reliable and valid results than projective inventories. Clinicians favor the MMPI because results can be summarized in distinct clinical profiles.

There are a number of subjective projective tests to measure personality. For example, the Rorschach Inkblot test shows respondents an Inkblot and then asks them what it might depict. The Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) shows respondents a picture and asks them to tell a story about it. The Rotter Incomplete Sentence Bank (RISB) asks respondents to finish a sentence. Projective tests are generally not as reliable or valid as self-report measures although they are still commonly used in a number of settings.

Two personality tests have been introduced specifically for minority populations since the conventional assessments have been shown to have bias. The TAT has been modified for African-Americans and is referred to as the Contemporized-Themes Concerning Blacks Test (C-TCB) while the TEMAS Multicultural Thematic Apperception Test was developed primarily for Hispanic populations.

To review, read section 11.9 in the textbook and "Personality Assessment".

Unit 6 Vocabulary

This vocabulary list includes terms that might help you with the review items above and some terms you should be familiar with to be successful in completing the final exam for the course.

Try to think of the reason why each term is included.

  • Thematic Apperception Test
  • Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI)
  • Five factor model
  • Rorschach Inkblot test
  • Rotter Incomplete Sentence Bank (RISB)
  • Id
  • Ego
  • Superego
  • Inferiority complex
  • Womb complex
  • Birth order
  • Self efficacy
  • reciprocal determinism
  • locus of control
  • collective unconscious
  • phrenology
  • defense mechanism
  • temperament
Last modified: Tuesday, August 20, 2019, 6:24 PM