Psychology:
From Inquiry to Understanding 1/e
Scott O. Lilienfeld
Steven Jay Lynn
Laura Namy
Nancy J. Woolf
Prepared by Jennifer Sage
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Chapter 14:
Personality
Who We Are
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2009
Lecture Preview
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Discuss different approaches used to study
personality
Describe and evaluate psychoanalytic theories
of the mind and of development
Examine behavioral, social, and humanistic
theories of personality
Distinguish between what personality traits can
and cannot predict
Identify and evaluate different ways of
measuring personality
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2009
Personality: How Can We Study It?
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Personality consists of traits - relatively
enduring predispositions that influence our behavior
across many situations
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Two primary approaches:
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Nomothetic approach – focuses on identifying
general laws that govern the behavior of all
individuals (most modern research)
Idiographic approach – focuses on identifying the
unique configuration of characteristics and life history
experiences within a person (most case studies)
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2009
Causes of Personality Differences
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Genetic factors
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Shared environmental factors (e.g., parents
raise their children similarly)
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Nonshared environmental factors (e.g.,
parents treat one child more affectionately)
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2009
Causes of Personality
Differences
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Birth order (nonshared environmental influence)
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Twin studies
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Later-borns are 3 times more likely than firstborns to favor
revolutionary scientific ideas
Still controversial
Genetic factors have a heavy influence on personality, but not
complete control
Identical twins reared apart are as similar as identical twins reared
together
Shared environment plays little to no role in adult personality
Molecular genetic studies – pinpoint genes associated
with specific personality traits
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Remember that genes code for proteins, not specific behaviors
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2009
Apply Your Thinking
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Imagine a specific gene is found to be more
prevalent in Christians than in Muslims. Does
this mean that this gene could be considered
the Christianity gene? Why or why not?
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Absolutely not. While the popular media might publicize this
finding in a skewed manner, good scientists will not. Remember
that genes code for proteins, not behaviors. This gene may code
for any number of behaviors closely related to Christianity. Also,
this gene may be more prevalent in certain areas of the world
where different religions are practiced.
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2009
Psychoanalytic Theory
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Freud believed mental illness was
psychogenic rather than somatogenic
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Caused by psychological factors
Evidence from glove anesthesia, hypnosis, and
catharsis
Core assumptions:
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Psychic determinism – all psychological events
have a cause
Symbolic meaning – all actions are meaningful
Unconscious motivation – we rarely understand
why we do things
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2009
Glove Anesthesia
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2009
Three Agencies of
the Human Psyche
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Id – basic instincts; the reservoir of our most
primitive impulses, including sex and
aggression
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Ego – the boss; the psyche’s executive and
principal decision maker
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Pleasure principle – the tendency of the id to strive
for immediate gratification
Reality principle – the tendency of the ego to
postpone gratification until it can find an appropriate
outlet
Superego – our sense of morality
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2009
Freud’s Model of Personality
Structure
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2009
Three Agencies in Conflict
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Freud believed that these three agencies
interacted continuously
Hypothesized that psychological distress is
caused by disharmony between three agencies
of the psyche
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All dreams are wish fulfillments – expression of the
id’s impulses
The superego commands the ego to convert these
wishes into symbols
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2009
Anxiety and Defense
Mechanisms
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Defense mechanisms – unconscious
maneuvers intended to minimize anxiety
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Repression – motivated forgetting of emotionally
threatening memories or impulses
Denial – motivated forgetting of distressing external
experiences
Regression – act of returning psychologically to a
younger, and typically simpler and safer, age
Reaction-formation – transformation of an anxietyprovoking emotion into its opposite
Projection – unconscious attribution of our negative
characteristics to others
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2009
Defense Mechanisms
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Displacement – directing an impulse from a socially
unacceptable target onto a safer and more socially
acceptable one
Rationalization – providing a reasonable-sounding
explanation for unreasonable behaviors or failures
Intellectualization – avoiding emotions associated with
anxiety-provoking experiences by focusing on abstract
and impersonal thoughts
Identification with the aggressor – process of
adopting characteristics of people we find threatening
Sublimation – transforming a socially unacceptable
impulse into an admired goal
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2009
Freudian Personality Development
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Personality develops in psychosexual stages differing in
the erogenous zone, the sexually arousing area of the
body:
Oral stage (12-18 months) - infants obtain sexual
gratification by sucking and drinking
Anal stage (18 months-3 years) - focuses on toilet training
Phallic stage (3-6 years) - focuses on genitals
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Oedipus complex, Electra complex, and penis envy
Latency stage (6-12 years) - sexual impulses are
submerged into the unconscious
Genital Stage (12 years - adulthood) - sexual impulses
awaken and begin to mature into romantic attraction
toward others
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2009
Apply Your Thinking
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In a study entitled “Penis envy? Or pencil-needing?” Granville B. Johnson
(1966) examined 300 introductory psychology students who completed an
exam with pencils provided to them by the instructor. At the end of the
exam, students deposited their pencils in a box in the classroom. Johnson
hypothesized that according to Freud’s concept of penis envy, women
should keep more pencils than men, because pencils are phallic symbols.
As predicted, fewer women returned pencils than men. Do these findings
provide support for penis envy? Why or why not?
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These results may seem to provide evidence for Freudian penis envy,
but it is confounded in number of ways. For instance, one could easily
imagine that women have a higher affinity for pencils because they
enjoy the color of them, not because they remind them of a penis. Or
perhaps girls took more notes during class and thus became more
attached to the pencil and did not want to give it back. The possibilities
are endless. Thus this study does nothing to rule out rival hypotheses
and cannot be used to draw any conclusions.
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2009
Criticisms of Psychoanalytic
Theory
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Unfalsifiability
Failed predictions
Lack of evidence for defense mechanisms
Questionable conception of the unconscious
Reliance on unrepresentative samples
Flawed assumption of shared environmental
influences
Freud’s theories have exerted a profound
influence on conceptions of the mind, but they
are problematic, scientifically
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2009
Freud’s Followers
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Neo-Freudian theories - derived from Freud’s
model:
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Emphasize unconscious influences on behavior
Early experiences are important in shaping
personality
Place less emphasis on sexuality as a driving force
in personality
More optimistic regarding the prospects for long-term
personality growth
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2009
Neo-Freudians
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Alfred Adler – striving for superiority (style of life)
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Inferiority complex – feelings of inferiority that can lead to
overcompensation
Carl Jung – the collective unconscious
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Collective unconscious – shared storehouse of memories that
ancestors have passed down to us
• Contains archetypes – cross-culturally universal emotional symbols
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Karen Horney – feminist psychology
Erich Fromm – escape from freedom
Object relations theorists – emphasized children’s
mental representations of others, especially their parents
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2009
Behavioral Views of Personality
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Behaviorists believe personality is controlled by
genetic factors and contingencies
(reinforcers/punishers)
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Determinists – believe all our actions are
products of preexisting causal influences
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Believe unconscious variables that play a role
in causing behavior lie outside, not inside, us
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2009
True or False?
Both Freudian psychologists and pure
behavioral psychologists believe in free will.
FALSE. Freudian psychologists and
behaviorists both believe in determinism,
that every action is brought upon as the
result of something else. Thus, they do not
leave room for free will. This is one of the
very few ideas that they agree upon.
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2009
Social Learning Theories of
Personality
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Emphasize thinking as a cause of
personality
Reciprocal determinism – mutual influence of
personality and cognitive factors, behavior,
and environment
 Observational learning – learning can occur
by watching others
 Locus of control – extent to which people
believe that reinforcers and punishers lie
inside or outside of their control
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Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2009
Humanistic Model of Personality
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Core motive in personality is self-actualization:
the drive to develop our innate potential to the
fullest possible extent
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Carl Rogers – personalities consist of three major
components: organism, self, and conditions of
worth
• Incongruence – inconsistency between our personalities
and innate dispositions
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Abraham Maslow – studied the characteristics of
self-actualized people
• Prone to peak experiences – transcendent moments of
intense excitement and tranquility marked by a profound
sense of connection to the world
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2009
Trait Theories of Personality
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Factor analysis – statistical technique that
analyzes the correlations among responses on
personality inventories
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Used to reduce a large diversity of personality traits
into as few as three to five factors
Walter Mischel – argued that personality traits did
not predict behavior very well
Seymour Epstein – demonstrated that while Mischel
was correct for specific events, personality traits can
predict aggregated behaviors
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2009
Trait Theories
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Big Five - traits that have surfaced repeatedly
in factor analysis of personality measures
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Uncovered using lexical approach – most crucial
features of personality are embedded in language
Extraversion – social and lively
Neuroticism – tense and moody
Conscientiousness – careful and responsible
Agreeableness – friendly, and easy to get along with
Openness – intellectually curious
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2009
Evaluating the Big Five
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Able to predict real-world behaviors
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Some question the lexical approach because
there may be unconscious features of
personality
There appear to be limits to the cross-cultural
universality
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Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2009
Other Considerations
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Cultural influences on personality:
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We can express our personality traits in
different ways: basic tendencies vs.
characteristic adaptations
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Individualistic vs. Collectivistic societies
National character? No evidence to support
Sensation seekers - firefighting vs. crime
Most personality traits don’t change much after
age 30
Trait models focus on description, rather than
explanation, of individual differences
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2009
William Sheldon: Personality
Assessment from Body Types?
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2009
Personality Assessment
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Structured personality tests – paper-and-pencil
tests consisting of questions that respondents answer in
one of a few fixed ways
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Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory
(MMPI) – widely used structured test designed to
assess symptoms of mental disorders
 Built using empirical method of test construction:
an approach in which researchers begin with two or
more criterion groups, and examine which items best
distinguish them
• Results in low face validity – the extent to which
respondents can tell what the items are measuring
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2009
Apply Your Thinking
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What are some of the advantages and
disadvantages of having low face validity?
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Advantages:
• Does not allow people to consciously skew results toward a
positive or negative diagnosis
• May add unconscious feelings to the evaluation that cannot
be done with direct questions
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Disadvantages
• Questions without direct relevance may not be helpful in
evaluating personality
• Subjects may think questions are not important and give
random answers
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2009
MMPI-2 Profile
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2009
Personality Tests
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California Psychological Inventory – offspring of
MMPI
 Primarily assesses traits in the normal range
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Rational/theoretical method of test
construction – requires test developers to begin with
a clear-cut conceptualization of a trait and then write
items to assess that conceptualization
 Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire (MPQ) –
assesses positive emotions, negative emotions, and
impulse control
• MPQ has strong validity, but not all rational/theoretical tests
do, such as the widely used Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
(MBTI)
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2009
Personality Assessment
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Projective tests - consist of ambiguous
stimuli that examinees must interpret
Projective hypothesis – examinees
project aspects of their own personality
onto the ambiguous stimulus
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Rorschach Inkblot Test
Thematic Apperception Test (TAT)
Human figure drawings
Graphology
Lack incremental validity
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2009
Pitfalls in Personality Assessment
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P.T. Barnum effect – tendency of people to
accept high base rate descriptions as accurate
 Demonstrates that personal validation
(subjective judgments of accuracy) are a
flawed method for evaluating a test’s validity
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Illusory correlation – the perception of
nonexistent statistical associations between
variables in personality test results
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2009
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