INTRODUCTION - Like intelligence, personality is an abstract concept that cannot be seen, touched, or directly measured. to psychologists, personality is one's relatively consistent and distinctive pattern of thinking. We have examined four major perspectives on personality, each valuable for the light it sheds on our complex workings. SIGMUND FREUD AND PSYCHOANALYSIS - Psychoanalytic assessment aims to reveal unconscious aspects of personality. Although some criticize projective tests, such as Rorschach inkblots, because they have only modest reliability and validity, the Rorschach continues to be used by many clinicians.


TRAIT THEORIES - Rather than explain the hidden aspects of personality, trait researchers describe the predispositions that underlie our actions. To assess traits, psychologists have devised self-report inventories, such as the empirically derived MMPI-2. Peer reports may provide even more trustworthy clues to a person's behavioral traits. For example, through factor analysis, researchers have isolated five distinct dimensions of personality. Most such traits are biologically influenced by genetic predispositions and perhaps by autonomic reactivity.


HUMANISTIC PERSONALITY THEORIES - Humanistic psychologists have sought to turn psychology's attention from baser motives and environmental conditioning to the growth potential of healthy people, as seen through the individual's own experiences. They assess personality through questionnaires on which people report their self-concept and by seeking to understand others' subjective personal experiences in therapy.

Freud's Psychosexual Stages

Stage Focus Oral (0-18 months) Pleasure centers on the mouth - sucking, biting, chewing.
Anal (18-36 months) Pleasure focuses on bowel/bladder elimination; coping with demands for control.
Phallic (3-6 years) Pleasure zone is the genitals; coping with incestuous sexual feelings.
Latency (6 to puberty) Repressed sexual feelings.
Genital (puberty on) Maturation of sexual interests.

The "Big Five" Personality FactorsTrait dimension Description Emotional Stability Calm vs. anxious Secure vs. insecure Self-satisfied vs. self-pitying
Extraversion Sociable vs. retiring Fun-loving vs. sober Affectionate vs. reserved
Openness Imaginative vs. practical Preference for variety vs. preference for routine Independent vs. conforming
Agreeableness Soft-hearted vs. ruthless Trusting vs. suspicious Helpful vs. uncooperative
Conscientiousness Organized vs. disorganized Careful vs. careless Disciplined vs. impulsive
The Four Perspectives on PersonalityPerspective: Psychoanalytic Behavior springs from: Processing unconscious conflicts between pleasure-seeking impulses and social restraints. Assessment techniques: Projective tests aim to reveal unconscious motivations. Evaluation: A speculative, hard-to-confirm theory with enormous cultural impact.
Perspective: Trait Behavior springs from: Expressing biologically influenced dispositions, such as extroversion and introversion. Assessment techniques: Personality inventories assess the strength of different traits; peers rate behavior patterns. Evaluation: A descriptive approach criticized as sometimes underestimating the variability of behavior from situation to situation.
Perspective: Humanistic Behavior springs from: Processing conscious feelings about oneself in light of one's experiences. Assessment techniques: (a) Questionnaire assessments of self-concepts; (b) Empathetic understandings of people's unique experiences. Evaluation: A humane theory that reinvigorated contemporary interest in the self; criticized as subjective and sometimes naively self-centered and optimistic.
Perspective: Social-cognitive Behavior springs from: Reciprocal influences between people and their situations, colored by perceptions of control. Assessment techniques: (a) Questionnaire assessments of people's feelings of control; (b) Observation's of people's behavior in particular situations. Evaluation: An interactive theory that integrates research on learning, cognition, and social behavior; criticized as underestimating the importance of the unconscious, of emotions, and of enduring traits.
The Big Five Factors and Illustrative Scales:

Characteristic of the High Scorer

Trait Scales Characteristic of the Low Scorer
Worrying, nervous, emotional, insecure, inadequate, hypochondriacal Assess adjustment vs. emotional instability. Identifies individuals prone to psychological distress, unrealistic ideas, excessive cravings or urges, and maladaptive coping responses. Calm, relaxed, unemotional, hardy, secure, self-satisfied
Sociable, active, talkative, person-oriented, optimistic, fun-loving, affectionate Assesses quantity and intensity of interpersonal interaction; activity level; need for stimulation; and capacity for joy. Reserved, sober, unexurberant, aloof, task-oriented, retiring, quiet
Curious, broad interests, creative, original, imaginative, untraditional Assesses proactive seeking and appreciation of experience for its own sake; toleration for and exploration of the unfamiliar Conventional, down-to-earth, narrow interests, unartistic, unanalytical.
Soft-hearted, good-natured, trusting, helpful, forgiving, gullible, straightforward Assess the quality of one's interpersonal orientation along a continuum from compassion to antagonism in thoughts, feelings, and actions Cynical, rude, suspicious uncooperative, vengeful, ruthless, irritable, manipulative
Organized, reliable, hard-working, self-disciplined, punctual, scrupulous, neat, ambitious, persevering Assesses the individual's degree of organization, persistence, and motivation in goal-directed behavior. Contrasts dependable, fastidious people with those who are lackadaisical and sloppy. Aimless, unreliable, lazy, careless, lax, negligent, weak-willed, hedonistic
Basic Points of Emphasis of Learning, Behavioral Approaches to Personality:
1. Empirical research is the cornerstone of theory and practice. 2. Personality theory and applied practice should be based on principles of learning. 3. Behavior is responsive to reinforcement variables in the environment and is more situation specific than suggested by other personality theories (e.g., trait, psychoanalytic). 4. Rejection of the medical symptom-disease view of psychopathology and emphasis instead on the basic principles of learning and behavior change.

Contrasting General Points of Emphasis of Learning-Behavioral Views and Traditional Theories of Personality:

Learning-Behavioral Views

Traditional Personality Theory

Processes of learning

Personality structures

Specific behaviors

General characteristics

General laws

Individual differences

Laboratory data

Clinical data and questionnaires

Environmental variables

Internal variables

Summary of Strengths and Limitations of Learning, Behavioral Approaches:



1. Committed to systematic research and theory development.

1. Oversimplifies personality and neglects important phenomena.

2. Recognizes the role of situational and environmental variables in influencing behavior.

2. Lacks a single, unified theory; gap between theory and practice.

3. Takes a pragmatic approach to treatment which can lead to important new developments.

3. Requires further evidence to support claims of treatment effectiveness.

Major Theories/Theorists in Personality Research:

Theorist or Theory

Structure< Process Growth and Development Pathology Change
FREUD Id, ego, superego; unconscious, preconscious, conscious Life ad death instincts; anxiety and the mechanisms of defense Erogenous zones; oral, anal, phallic stages of development; Oedipus complex Infantile sexuality; fixation and regression; conflict; symptoms Transference; conflict resolution; "where id was, ego shall be"
ROGERS Self; ideal self Self-actualization; congruence of self and experience; incongruence and defensive distortion and denial Congruence and self-actualization versus incongruence and defensiveness Defensive maintenance of self; incongruence Therapeutic atmosphere: congruence, unconditional positive regard, empathetic understanding
KELLY Constructs Processes channelized by anticipation of events Increased complexity and definition to construct system Disordered functioning of construct system Psychological reconstruction of life; invitational mood; fixed-role therapy
FIVE-FACTOR TRAIT MODEL Traits Dynamic traits; motives associated with traits Contributions of heredity and environment to traits Extreme scores on trait dimensions (e.g., neuroticism) (No formal model)
LEARNING THEORY Response Classical conditioning; instrumental conditioning; operant conditioning Imitation; schedules of reinforcement and successive approximations Maladaptive learned response patterns Extinction; discrimination learning; counter-conditioning; positive reinforcement; imitation; systematic desensitization; behavior modification
SOCIAL COGNITIVE THEORY Expectancies; standards; goals-plans; self-efficacy beliefs Observational learning; vicarious conditioning; symbolic processes, self-evaluative and self-regulatory processes (standards) Social learning through observation and direct experience; development of self-efficacy judgments and standards for self-regulation Learned response patterns; excessive self-standards; problems in self-efficacy Modeling; guided participation; increased self-efficacy
COGNITIVE, INFORMATION-PROCESSING THEORY Cognitive categories and schemata; attributions; generalized expectancies Information-processing strategies; attributions Development of cognitive competencies, self-schemata, expectancies, attributions Unrealistic or maladaptive beliefs; errors in information-processing Cognitive therapy -- changes in irrational beliefs, dysfunctional thoughts, and maladaptive attributions