If you only learn 6 things about Personality:

1. Personality refers to patterns of behavior that remain constant across situations.

2. There are different approaches to personality, including psychoanalytic, trait, humanistic, and learning theories.

3. Sigmund Freud is responsible for psychoanalytic approach, states that we are controlled by unconscious conflicts.

4. Trait theorists argue that our personality is simply a collection of traits.

5. Humanistic theorists argue that humans are basically good and strive for perfection.

6. Learning theorists argue that personality is nothing more than a shorthand description for clusters of behavior.

archetypes - Jung’s term for the universal forms that we encounter, such as mother, father, god, hero, and leader.

collectivism - trait wherein one works for the goals of a group.

defensive mechanisms - devices used by the ego to avoid pain or reduce anxiety.

ego - Freud’s term for the cognitive and perceptual processes that are in touch with reality.

id - Freud’s term for the part of unconscious mind containing biological and sexual drives.

individualism - trait wherein one works for personal and individual goals.

inferiority complex - mental state when a person’s conscious thoughts are dominated by an inability to succeed.

morality principle - principle upon which the superego acts; a combination of conscience and a moral self-image.

overcompensation - behavior that is more than what is required to overcome a sense of inferiority.

persona - according to Jung, the image of ourselves that we present to others.

personality - relatively stable patterns of thinking, feeling, and acting that an individual possesses.

pleasure principle - drive to satisfy needs and avoid pain; principle upon which the id acts.

precocious - part of the mind from which information from the unconscious can be retrieved by the conscious mind.

reality principle - recognition of the real environment; what the ego tempers the needs id with.

self-concept - our thoughts and feelings about the type of person we are.

superego - Freud’s term for the part of the mind that engages in ethical decision making and moral reasoning.

trait - characteristic of a personality that remains fairly stable over time.

type - set of traits that an individual typically demonstrates.

unconditional positive regard - love given by a parent regardless of the behavior of the child.

unconscious - (psychoanalysis) part of mind that contains thoughts, feelings, and desires of which we are mostly unaware.

INTRODUCTION:  The study of personality is always interesting to students of psychology. People want to know what “makes us tick.” Interestingly, though we use the term personality quite a bit and speak about liking someone because he has a “good personality,” we don’t have a good definition for the term. For the purposes of this chapter, we will define personality as a pattern of behavior that remains somewhat consistent across situations.

Psychologists have defined the concept of personality in different ways. In this chapter, we will concern ourselves with the following theories: Psychodynamic Theory (Freud/Jung/Adler/Horney), Behavioral/Learning View (Skinner/Bandura/Mischel),  Humanist Theories (Rogers/Maslow), and Biological/Traits  View (Eysenck/Buss). Each approach attempts to explain the individual differences we see in humans. Further, each has its own set of unique explanations for the diversity of behavior that exists. The study of personality is not easy. We cannot see personality, so measuring the construct is a challenge. With careful research, however, we can draw certain conclusions that might help us understand human behavior.

Traditionally, the study of personality has been dominated by these “grand theories.” They attempt to explain a great many facets of behavior. In the last few decades, however, the study of personality has shifted toward narrow research programs that examine specific issues related to personality (biological, cultural, and contemporary approaches).

PSYCHOANALYTIC THEORY. No discussion of personality would be complete without describing the psychoanalytic approach to understanding human behavior. And no discussion of the psychoanalytic approach would be complete without a description of the work of Sigmund Freud.

Freud was not a psychologist. In 1881, he was awarded a medical degree. While he was never interested in pursuing medicine as a career, he believed that his training as a neurologist would help him investigate the causes of human behavior.

Freud spent much of his early career working with other psychologists, as he developed different aspects of his theory - those learning how to treat “hysterical” women, for example. The belief was that some women could not control their emotions because of some unnamed conflict. Freud first learned how to do hypnotism as a treatment but then decided that this avenue was a dead end. Dream analysis came next, with the help of Breuer. Eventually, the two had a falling out and parted ways (common occurrence with Freud), though dream analysis did become part of Freud’s theory.

Freud soon developed more than just a description of human behavior - his became one of the most complete theories of the causes of human behavior. The main idea was that many of the causes of human behavior are outside of consciousness. We do what we do for reasons that we don’t completely understand. Moreover, many of our desires are either sexual or aggressive in nature. Freud believed that personality is formed from unconscious drives or conflicts that we need to resolve.

According to Freud, we have 3 levels of consciousness:

Conscious - what we are aware of

Preconscious - What we are not aware of but could be if we wanted to recall the information.

Unconscious - Information that is potentially dangerous to think about, so it is buried. We are not able to access this information, but it does come out under some circumstances.

These 3 levels of consciousness contain 3 components of personality:

Id - The pleasure principle. This is the part of our personality that wants what it wants, immediately. According to Freud, the id demands immediate satisfaction. The desires are typically sexual or aggressive in nature. The seat of impulses.

Superego - The conscience. This is the part of our personality that is the moral principle. The superego wants to do what is right at all times.

Ego - The ego tries to satisfy the demands of the id within the context of the superego. That is, the ego mediates between the id and the superego. The ego emerges from the conflict between the internal id and the externally imposed superego. The ego is fragile, though, and defensive mechanisms serve the purpose of diverting anxiety away from the ego to protect it.

To protect the ego, we often engage in what Freud and his daughter (Anna Freud) called defensive mechanisms. A defensive mechanism protects the ego by diverting the anxiety that might occur and deflecting that energy towards something else.

Repression - Anxiety is so strong that we push the cause of the anxiety deep into the unconscious. At times, the anxiety may rise to the surface via dreams or “Freudian slips.”

Projection - We see anxiety-causing behavior in others rather than in ourselves.

Reaction Formation - We engage in the opposite of an anxiety-producing behavior. Suppose one is interested in pornography. This is a socially unacceptable behavior, so to protect his ego, he might engage in a protest against pornography.

Sublimation - We replace a socially unacceptable desire or urge with something socially acceptable. We would replace our desire to hit someone with exercise, for example.

Displacement - We take out our anxiety on someone other than the person who caused the anxiety.

Regression - When confronted with anxiety, we retreat to an earlier stage of development. We may curl up on the sofa like a baby, or we may ask our parents to bail us out of a dilemma.

Denial - We push the existence of some problem right out of our heads as if it did not exist, or we refuse to acknowledge and confront it.

Rationalization - We legitimize our failures by coming up with logical-sounding excuses for what happened. For example, we might say, “The college that did not accept me has a poor perception in the academic community.”

**Repression is when we push painful information deep into our memory so we do not have to deal with it. Don’t confuse that with regression, which is reverting back to a previous developmental stage to deal with anxiety.

Freud’s theory suggested that we go through several stages of psycho sexual development. We must successfully navigate the issues with each stage to develop without issues that will influence behavior later.

Oral Stage - pleasure gained by feeding - If not successfully weaned, child will become orally fixed. Thus, as an adult, one may drink too much, smoke too much, etc.

Anal Stage - pleasure gained by controlling one’s bowels - If potty training is tough, child will become anally retentive. Thus, as an adult, one will become obsessed with organization and control of environment.

Phallic Stage - pleasure gained by exploring one’s body - Stifling this stage may result in poor body image or inappropriate body image.

Latency Stage - focus moves away from one area

Genital Stage - Mature sexuality.

During phallic stage, children go through a period where they unconsciously desire their opposite-sex partner (the Oedipus complex in males). During this time, children form a bond with the parent that they are jealous of because their unconscious fear of what might happen.

Freud’s theory is well known, and many people associate it with mainstream psychology. In modern psychology, however, very few completely embrace this theory. The most common complaint is that it does not have any real empirical support. Tests of his theories using modern scientific techniques like experiments and correlational studies have yielded little support for these ideas.

Others veered off of where Freud began. The most well-known is Carl Jung, whose theories include the collective unconscious, which was similar to Freud’s idea of the unconscious, except this was one that would be shared by all of humanity. Jung was a close friend of Freud, and founded analytic psychology. Carl Jung believed that a collective unconsciousness connects all cultures, and he supported this theory by showing that the same types of figures and ideas appear in the stories and legends of many different cultures. He called these archetypes; some examples are The Great Mother, The Wise Old Man, The Mentor, and The Trickster. Jung believed that being in touch with the archetypes within us is important to a healthy personality. For example, women may experience their masculine side and men, their feminine tendencies, in appropriate situations. Jung spoke of persona as the image we present to others. Your real self can be very different from the persona that you allow others to see. Jung suggested that when the persona and the real self were substantially different, serious anxieties and emotional problems could occur.

Other neo-Freudians include Alfred Adler, who developed the concept of the inferiority complex. Adler believed we are all born with feelings of inferiority. Striving for superiority is the main motivational force in the development of personality. We do this by actively developing talents, working towards improvement, and learning to cope with any weaknesses.

Karen Horney,  stressed importance of childhood anxiety and countered Freud’s view of women as the weaker sex. She agreed with Freud that childhood experiences play a large role in the development of personality, but she believed that it was social influences rather than sexual drives that were most important. Horney studied basic anxiety, which she claimed could be overcome by learning to adjust to and cope with the social world. She said that people suffering from basic anxiety move toward, away from, or against people, which can a problems if extreme.

Biological/Trait Theories. Other theories of personality focus on different aspects of behavior. Trait theorists, for example, argue that personality consists of a collection of traits or personality characteristics. People vary on traits such as introversion/extroversion, aggression, talkativeness, etc. Each person is born or learns behavior patterns that represent these traits. Take the test developed by Hans Eysenck, for example. One could ask questions that would allow the development of a score. The score represented the degree to which one might possess this trait. Another widely known test is the Myers-Briggs test.  Trait theorists believe we are born with traits from our parents and they help to reinforce them.

Humanistic Theories. According to humanistic theories, humans are born inherently good. What drives them is the goal of self-actualization. Self-actualization is the achievement of one’s personal best. To achieve self-actualization, we strive towards becoming better people. So the goal becomes being the best person one can be. Noted humanistic psychologists are Carl Rogers (championed Humanistic approach to personality) and Abraham Maslow.

Behavioral/Learning Theories. Learning theories argue that personality is an explanatory fiction. Rather, what is called “personality” is really a collection of behaviors. We learn patterns of behaviors through the traditional strategies of reinforcement and punishment, just like we learn everything else. Personality is just a description of behaviors under certain environmental circumstances. A learning theorist would believe that we are born with a blank slate and that experience is the key to personality. You should immediately consider behaviorism and Skinner’s work when you see the word “reinforced.” Those who believe in the learning theory of personality argue that our personality forms as a reaction to the events in our lives, and as our behaviors are reinforced or punished, our personality will follow. We are products of our environment. We act the way we do because in the past, we were reinforced for certain behaviors and punished (or not reinforced) for competing behaviors.

Trait theorists argue that traits such as introversion/extroversion are stable across a lifetime. Learning theorists argue that introverts could become extroverts if properly reinforced.

Questions about Personality to know:

1. Which of the following statements best captures Freud's point of view about personality?

A - Personality is learned from our parents by being around them.

B - Personality is the result of unconscious drives or conflicts that we need to resolve

C - Personality is the result of a group of clustered traits.

2. “Our personality is nothing more than acquired habits that we learned through our experience.” What theory would support this statement? (trait, psychoanalytic, learning, humanistic)

3. The approach of personality championed by Carl Rogers is called (learning, trait, psychoanalytic, humanistic)

4. The personality theory is most likely to use an objective test to determine someone's personality is (psychoanalytic, cognitive, humanistic, trait)

5. During the _____ stage of Freud’s theory, the focus is on controlling one’s environment. (oral, anal, phallic, latency)

6. You have three friends: the first is bossy and always tells you what to do, the second is always telling you what is right or wrong, and the third tries to help mediate between the two. If you were giving Freudian nicknames to your friends, they would be, in order,

Id, Supergo, Ego

Id, Ego, Superego

Ego, Superego, Id

Superego, Id, Ego

7. According to Freud, your memory of your own birth would be at what level of consciousness? (unconscious, subconscious, conscious, preconscious)

8. Proponents of which theory might suggest that traits such as introversion and extraversion could be changed over time to properly reinforced? (cognitive, psychoanalytic, learning, humanistic)

9. The humanistic approach to personality makes which of the following claims? 

(we are all inherently good, we are all inherently bad, we are born a blank slate, we are born with genes that determine who we will become)

10. Phil has anxiety because he has very strong anger towards his parents. He knows this isn’t right, so he decides to work hard to do all his chores and homework. According to the psychoanalytic approach, Phil is engaging in which defensive mechanism?  (projection, sublimation, reaction formation, transference)

11. The most common complaint about Freud’s psychoanalytic theory is that it 

(does not discuss the role of sexuality, ignores the unconscious forces that drives behavior, lacks real empirical support, overemphasizes the role of reinforcement and punishment)

12. Information that is not available to conscious awareness because it would be too damaging is in the ___ level of consciousness. (subconscious, unconscious, conscious, preconscious)

13. Jose applied for a full scholarship to a local university and made it to the semifinals, but then it was announced that another student at his school won. Jose was later heard by several friends criticizing the school, saying that the people there were rude and the professors he met didn’t seem very smart. Freud would say that Jose is using the defensive mechanisms of  (denial, projection, regression, rationalization)

14. In Freud’s theory of personality, the ______ is the seat of impulses. (ego, superego, mask, id)

15. Humanistic psychologists see people as inherently good. They believe that people are trying to reach their potential at all times. This process is called

 (perfecting, self-actualization, performance enhancement, general adaption syndrome)

16. According to a learning perspective, the most important determinant of how we behave in any given situation is (our previous learning history, our unconscious, the traits we have, our socialization needs)

17. A proponent of learning theory might be (Freud, Skinner, Maslow, Rogers)

18. Which of the following defensive mechanisms involves pushing painful information deep into our memory so that we don’t have access to it? (regression, denial, repression, sublimation)

19. According to Freud, a defense mechanism is used when a person encounters anxiety, and it acts to protect the person’s (ego, id, superego, life instinct)

20. Archetypes and the collective unconscious are mostly associated with which neo-Freudian? (Horney, Jung, Rogers, Adler)