Ch.14 – Personality

question

Introduction to Personality and Psychodynamic Theories
answer

question

14-1 What historically significant and current theories inform our understanding of personality?
answer

Personality is an individual’s characteristic pattern of thinking, feeling, and acting. Psychodynamic theories view personality from the perspective that behavior is a dynamic interaction between the conscious and unconscious mind. – These theories trace their origin to Sigmund Freud’s theory of psychoanalysis. The humanistic approach focused on our inner capacities for growth and self-fulfillment. Trait theories examine characteristic patterns of behavior (traits). Social-cognitive theories explore the interaction between people’s traits (including their thinking) and their social context.
question

14-2 How did Sigmund Freud’s treatment of psychological disorders lead to his view of the unconscious mind?
answer

In treating patients whose disorders had no clear physical explanation, Freud concluded that these problems reflected unacceptable thoughts and feelings, hidden away in the unconscious mind. To explore this hidden part of a patient’s mind, Freud used free association and dream analysis.
question

14-3 What was Freud’s view of personality?
answer

Freud believed that personality results from conflict arising from the interaction among the mind’s three systems: – the id (pleasure-seeking impulses), – ego (reality-oriented executive), and – superego (internalized set of ideals, or conscience).
question

14-4 What developmental stages did Freud propose?
answer

He believed children pass through five psychosexual stages (oral, anal, phallic, latency, and genital). Unresolved conflicts at any stage can leave a person’s pleasure-seeking impulses fixated (stalled) at that stage.
question

14-5 How did Freud think people defended themselves against anxiety?
answer

For Freud, anxiety was the product of tensions between the demands of the id and superego. The ego copes by using unconscious defense mechanisms, such as repression, which he viewed as the basic mechanism underlying and enabling all the others.
question

14-6 Which of Freud’s ideas did his followers accept or reject?
answer

Freud’s early followers, the neo-Freudians, accepted many of his ideas. They differed in placing more emphasis on the conscious mind and in stressing social motives more than sex or aggression. Most contemporary psychodynamic theorists and therapists reject Freud’s emphasis on sexual motivation. They stress, with support from modern research findings, the view that much of our mental life is unconscious, and they believe that our childhood experiences influence our adult personality and attachment patterns. Many also believe that our species’ shared evolutionary history shaped some universal predispositions.
question

14-7 What are projective tests, how are they used, and what are some criticisms of them?
answer

Projective tests attempt to assess personality by showing people ambiguous stimuli (open to many possible interpretations) and treating their answers as revelations of unconscious motives. One such test, the Rorschach inkblot test, has low reliability and validity except in a few areas, such as hostility and anxiety.
question

14-8 How do contemporary psychologists view Freud’s psychoanalysis?
answer

They give Freud credit for drawing attention to the vast unconscious, to the struggle to cope with our sexuality, to the conflict between biological impulses and social restraints, and for some forms of defense mechanisms (false consensus effect/projection; reaction formation) and unconscious terror-management defenses. But his concept of repression, and his view of the unconscious as a collection of repressed and unacceptable thoughts, wishes, feelings, and memories, cannot survive scientific scrutiny. Freud offered after- the-fact explanations, which are hard to test scientifically. Research does not support many of Freud’s specific ideas, such as the view that development is fixed in childhood. (We now know it is lifelong.)
question

14-9 How has modern research developed our understanding of the unconscious?
answer

Current research confirms that we do not have full access to all that goes on in our mind, but the current view of the unconscious is that it is a separate and parallel track of information processing that occurs outside our awareness. This processing includes schemas that control our perceptions; priming; implicit memories of learned skills; instantly activated emotions; and stereotypes that filter our information processing of others’ traits and characteristics.
question

Humanistic Theories and Trait Theories
answer

question

14-10 How did humanistic psychologists view personality, and what was their goal in studying personality?
answer

The humanistic psychologists’ view of personality focused on the potential for healthy personal growth and people’s striving for self-determination and self-realization. Abraham Maslow proposed that human motivations form a hierarchy of needs; if basic needs are fulfilled, people will strive toward self-actualization and self-transcendence. Carl Rogers believed that the ingredients of a growth-promoting environment are – genuineness, – acceptance (including unconditional positive regard), and – empathy. Self- concept was a central feature of personality for both Maslow and Rogers.
question

14-11 How did humanistic psychologists assess a person’s sense of self?
answer

Some rejected any standardized assessments and relied on interviews and conversations. Rogers sometimes used questionnaires in which people described their ideal and actual selves, which he later used to judge progress during therapy.
question

14-12 How have humanistic theories influenced psychology? What criticisms have they faced?
answer

Humanistic psychology helped renew interest in the concept of self. Critics have said that humanistic psychology’s concepts were vague and subjective, its values self-centered, and its assumptions naively optimistic.
question

14-13 How do psychologists use traits to describe personality?
answer

Trait theorists see personality as a stable and enduring pattern of behavior. They describe our differences rather than trying to explain them. Using factor analysis, they identify clusters of behavior tendencies that occur together. Genetic predispositions influence many traits.
question

14-14 What are some common misunderstandings about introversion? Does extraversion lead to greater success than introversion?
answer

Introversion is often misunderstood as shyness, but introverted people often simply seek low levels of stimulation from their environment. Introversion is also sometimes thought to be a barrier to success, but in fact introverts often experience great achievement, even in sales, through characteristics such as their superior listening skills.
question

14-15 What are personality inventories, and what are their strengths and weaknesses as trait-assessment tools?
answer

Personality inventories (such as the MMPI) are questionnaires on which people respond to items designed to gauge a wide range of feelings and behaviors. Test items are empirically derived, and the tests are objectively scored. But people can fake their answers to create a good impression, and the ease of computerized testing may lead to misuse of the tests.
question

14-16 Which traits seem to provide the most useful information about personality variation?
answer

The Big Five personality factors—conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism, openness, and extraversion (CANOE)—currently offer the clearest picture of personality. These factors are quite stable and appear to be found in all cultures.
question

14-17 Does research support the consistency of personality traits over time and across situations?
answer

A person’s average traits persist over time and are predictable over many different situations. But traits cannot predict behavior in any one particular situation.
question

Social-Cognitive Theories and the Self
answer

question

14-18 How do social-cognitive theorists view personality development, and how do they explore behavior?
answer

Albert Bandura first proposed the social-cognitive perspective, which emphasizes the interaction of our traits with our situations. Social-cognitive researchers apply principles of learning, cognition, and social behavior to personality. Reciprocal determinism is a term describing the interaction and mutual influence of behavior, internal personal factors, and environmental factors.
question

14-19 What criticisms have social-cognitive theorists faced?
answer

Social-cognitive theorists build on well-established concepts of learning and cognition. They tend to believe that the best way to predict someone’s behavior in a given situation is to observe that person’s behavior in similar situations. They have been faulted for underemphasizing the importance of unconscious motives, emotions, and biologically influenced traits.
question

14-20 Why has psychology generated so much research on the self? How important is self-esteem to psychology and to human well-being?
answer

The self is the center of personality, organizing our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Considering possible selves helps motivate us toward positive development, but focusing too intensely on ourselves can lead to the spotlight effect. Self-esteem is our feeling of self-worth; self-efficacy is our sense of competence on a task. High self-esteem correlates with less pressure to conform, with persistence at difficult tasks, and with happiness. But the direction of the correlation is not clear. Psychologists caution against unrealistically promoting children’s feelings of self-worth. It’s better to reward their achievements, which leads to feelings of competence.
question

14-21 How do excessive optimism, blindness to one’s own incompetence, and self- serving bias reveal the costs of self-esteem, and how do defensive and secure self- esteem differ?
answer

Excessive optimism can lead to complacency and prevent us from seeing real risks. Blindness to one’s own incompetence may lead us to make the same mistakes repeatedly. Self-serving bias is our tendency to perceive ourselves favorably, as when viewing ourselves as better than average or when accepting credit for our successes but not blame for our failures. Narcissism is excessive self-love and self-absorption. Defensive self-esteem is fragile, focuses on sustaining itself, and views failure or criticism as a threat. Secure self-esteem enables us to feel accepted for who we are.

Get instant access to
all materials

Become a Member