Chapter 12
by Jim Foley
Overview: Ways of Looking at the Self
Freudian/Psychodynamic views: the Unconscious parts of the self
Humanistic view of the Self-Actualizing Person
Examining Traits, including the Big Five Factors/Dimensions
Social and Cognitive Influences on Personality
Self-Esteem and Self-Serving Bias
These different perspectives and concepts
can help us examine:
 What we have in common: personality
components, basic drives, stages of
development, categories of traits
 Ways in which we differ: individual paths
through stages, ways of managing basic
drives and needs, levels of Trait
Psychodynamic Theories of Personality
Bringing out the Unconscious Part of Your Personality
 Freud and the Psychoanalytic on:
 Personality Structure: id, ego,
 Personality Development:
Psychosexual Stages
 Defense Mechanisms
 The Neo-Freudian, Psychodynamic
theorists: from sexual to social issues
 Assessing Unconscious Processes:
Projective Tests.
 Modern ideas about the unconscious
and other Freudian concepts
Personality: An individual’s characteristic
patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors
[persisting over time and across situations]
Agreeable, Open
Neurotically Conscientious
Psychodynamic/Psychoanalytic Theories
 These theories of human
personality focus on the inner
forces that interact to make us
who we are.
 In this view: behavior, as well as
human emotions and
personality, develop in a
dynamic (interacting, changing)
interplay between conscious and
unconscious processes, including
various motives and inner
Freud’s Path to Developing Psychonalysis
 Sigmund Freud started his career as a physician.
 He decided to explore how mental and physical
symptoms could be caused by purely
psychological factors.
 He became aware that many powerful mental
processes operate in the unconscious, without
our awareness.
 This insight grew into a theory of the structure
of human personality and its development.
 His name for his theory and his therapeutic
technique: psychoanalysis.
Psychoanalysis: Techniques
Techniques for revealing
the unconscious mind:
 He used creative
techniques such as free
association: encourage
the patient to speak
whatever comes to mind,
 The therapist then
interprets any potential
unconscious wishes
hidden in the client’s
hesitations, slips of the
tongue, and dreams.
Freud’s Personality/Mind Iceberg
The mind is mostly below the
surface of conscious
Personality develops
from the efforts of our
ego, our rational self, to
resolve tension between
our id, based in biological
drives, and the superego,
society’s rules and
The Unconscious, in Freud’s
view: A reservoir of thoughts,
wishes, feelings, and memories,
that are hidden from
awareness because they feel
The Developing
We start life with
a personality
made up of the
id, striving
impulsively to
meet basic
needs, living by
“the pleasure
In a toddler, an
ego develops, a
self that has
judgments, and
following a
“reality principle”
The ego works as the “executive”
of this three-part system, to
manage bodily needs and wishes in
a socially acceptable way.
Around age 4 or 5,
the child develops
the superego, a
conscience internalized from parents
and society,
following a
“morality principle.”
Freud’s Theory of Psychosexual Stages
 The id is focused on the
needs of erogenous zones,
sensitive areas of the body.
 People feel shame about
these needs and can get
fixated at one stage, never
resolve how to manage the
needs of that zone’s needs.
Male Development Issues
 Freud believed that as boys in the phallic stage seek genital
stimulation, they begin to develop unconscious sexual desires
for their mothers and hate their father as a rival, feeling guilt
and fearing punishment by castration.
 He named these feelings “the Oedipus complex,” after a story
from Greek mythology.
Resolution of this
conflict: Boys
identify with their
fathers rather than
seeing them as a
Against Anxiety
Freud believed that we are anxious
about our unacceptable wishes and
impulses, and we repress this anxiety
with the help of the strategies below.
Which Defense Mechanism Am I?
A politician gives anti-gay
speeches, then turns out
to have homosexual
 Reaction Formation
Someone with an anger
problem accuses everyone
else of being angry and
 Projection
 These two are
sometimes confused
with each other.
 The common theme,
as with all defense
mechanisms: they
seek to prevent being
conscious of
unacceptable feelings.
 The difference: the
first one compensates,
the second one
Neo-Freudian, Psychodynamic Theorists
Psychodynamic theorists,
such as Adler, Horney,
and Jung, accepted
Freud’s ideas about:
 The importance of the
unconscious and childhood
relationships in shaping
 The id/ego/superego
structure of personality
 The role of defense
mechanisms in reducing
anxiety about
uncomfortable ideas
theorists differed from
Freud in a few ways:
 Adler and Horney believed
that anxiety and personality
are a function of social, not
sexual tensions in childhood
 Jung believed that we have
a collective unconscious,
containing images from our
species’ experiences, not
just personal repressed
memories and wishes
The Psychodynamic Theorists
Highlighted universal themes in the
unconscious as a source of creativity and
insight. Found opportunities for personal
growth by finding meaning in moments of
Focused on the fight against feelings of
inferiority as a theme at the core of
personality, although he may have been
projecting from his own experience.
Criticized the Freudian portrayal of women
as weak and subordinate to men.
She highlighted the need to feel secure in
Assessing the Unconscious:
Psychodynamic Personality Assessment
 Freud tried to get unconscious themes to be projected into
the conscious world through free association and dream
 Projective tests are a structured, systematic exposure to a
standardized set of ambiguous prompts, designed to reveal
inner dynamics.
Rorschach test:
“what do you see in
these inkblots?”
Problem: Results
don’t link well to
traits (low validity)
and different raters
get different results
(low reliability).
He developed theories
that are hard to prove or
disprove: can we test to
see if there is an id? Unrepresentative
Post facto
(hindsight bias)
He did not build his
Flaws in
rather than
theories on a broad
sample of
Whether or not a
observations; he
situation makes you
described all of
anxious or not, you
humanity based on
could either be
people with unusual
fixated or
Biased observations:
He based theories on his
patients, which may give
him an incentive to see
them as unwell before
his treatment.
Evidence has Updated Freud’s Ideas
 Development appears to be lifelong, not set in stone by
 Infant neural networks are not mature enough to create a
lifelong impact of childhood trauma.
 Peers have more influence on personality, and parents less,
than Freud assumed.
 Dreams, as well as slips of the tongue, have many possible
origins, less likely to reveal deep unconscious conflicts and
 We may ignore threatening information, but traumatic
memories are usually intensely remembered, not repressed.
 Still, sexual abuse stories are more likely to be fact, less likely
to be wish fulfillment, than Freud thought.
 Gender and sexual identity seems to be more a function of
genetics than Oedipus conflicts and relationships with
The Unconscious As Seen Today:
Processing, Perceptions, and Priming, But
Not a Place
a stream, not
a reservoir
The following processes operate at an
unconscious level, not because they’re
repressed, but because they are
 Schemas guide our perceptions
 Right hemisphere makes choices the
left hemisphere doesn’t verbalize
 Conditioned responses, learned skills
and procedures, all guide our actions
without conscious recall
 Emotions get activated
 Stereotypes influence our reactions
 Priming affects our choices
Freud’s Legacy
 Freud benefitted psychology, giving us ideas
about: the impact of childhood on adulthood,
human irrationality, sexuality, evil, defenses,
anxiety, and the tension between our biological
selves and our socialized/civilized selves.
 Freud gave us specific concepts we still use often,
such as ego, projection, regression,
rationalization, dream interpretation, inferiority
“complex,” oral fixation, sibling rivalry, and
Freudian slips.
Not bad for someone writing over 100 years ago with no
technology for seeing inside the brain.
Developing a Healthy, Genuine Human
 Maslow: Becoming a selfactualized person
 Rogers: Growing, in a
social environment of:
 Genuineness
 Acceptance
 Empathy
 Assessing the self
 Evaluating Humanistic
 What about Evil?
 Too much individualism?
Humanistic Theories
of Personality
 In the 1960’s, some psychologists began to reject:
 the dehumanizing ideas in Behaviorism, and
 the dysfunctional view of people in Psychodynamic
 Maslow and Rogers sought to offer a “third force” in
psychology: The Humanistic Perspective.
 They studied healthy people rather than people with mental
health problems.
 Humanism: focusing on the conditions that support healthy
personal growth.
Maslow: The Self-Actualizing Person
In Maslow’s view, people are
motivated to keep moving up a
hierarchy of needs, growing beyond
getting basic needs met.
At the top of this hierarchy
are self-actualization,
fulfilling one’s potential, and
In this ideal state, a
personality includes
being self-aware, selfaccepting, open,
ethical, spontaneous,
loving caring, focusing
on a greater mission
than social acceptance.
Rogers’ Person-Centered Perspective
Rogers agreed that people have natural tendencies to
grow, become healthy, and move toward self-actualization.
The three
that facilitate
growth (just
as water,
nutrients, and
light facilitate
the growth of
a tree):
Genuineness: Being honest, direct,
not using a façade
Acceptance, a.k.a Unconditional
Positive Regard: acknowledging
feelings without passing judgment;
Empathy: tuning into the feelings of
others, showing your efforts to
understand, listening well
Assessing the Self in Humanistic
Psychology: Ideal Self vs. Actual Self
 In the humanistic perspective, the core
of personality is the self-concept, our
sense of our nature and identity.
 People are happiest with a self-concept
that matches their ideal self.
 Thus, it is important to ask people to
describe themselves as they are and as
they ideally would like to be.
• Questionnaires
can be used, but
some prefer open
• Questions about
actual self: How
do you see
yourself? What
are you like?
What do you
value? What are
you capable of?
• If the answers do
not match the
ideal, selfacceptance may
be needed, not
just self-change.
Critiquing the Humanist Perspective
What about evil?
 Some say Rogers did not
appreciate the human capacity for
 Rogers saw “evil” as a social
phenomenon, not an individual
 “When I look at the world I’m
pessimistic, but when I look at
people I am optimistic.” –Rogers
Humanist response: Selfacceptance is not the
end; it then allows us to
move on from defending
our own needs to loving
and caring for others.
Critiquing the Humanist Perspective
Too much self-centeredness?
Some say that the pursuit of selfconcept, an accepting ideal self,
and self-actualization
encouraged not selftranscendence but selfindulgence, self-centeredness.
Humanist response: The
therapist using this approach
should not encourage
selfishness, and should keep in
mind that that “positive regard”
means “acceptance,” not
Trait Theories, Social-Cognitive
Theories, and the Self
Getting you to think about the qualities
you may see in yourself:
Traits: Stable components
of personality
• Dimensions and factors
• Assessing traits: MMPI
• The 5 “CANOE” factors
• The impact of traits on
situations & vice versa
Social-Cognitive influences
on personality
• Reciprocal Determinism
among thoughts, social
situation, behavior
• Internal vs. external locus
of control
• Optimism and positive
The Self: Spotlight effect, Self-Esteem, Self-serving bias
Personality As Seen in Palms and Stars
And handwriting, and crystal balls,
and tea leaves, and scattered bones
By saying something
that is vague and likely to
be true of you, then
following up on
comments that you
reinforce by nodding,
someone can appear to
see into your soul.
You too can turn your
keen sense of the
obvious into a career in
predicting the present!
I see by your
handwriting you
like bananas.
Trait Theory of Personality
 Gordon Allport decided
that Freud overvalued
unconscious motives and
undervalued our real,
observable personality
 Myers and Briggs wanted
to to study individual
behaviors and statements
to find how people
differed in personality:
having different traits.
 The Myers-Briggs Type
Indicator (MBTI) is a
questionnaire categorizing
people by traits.
Trait: An enduring quality
that makes a person tend to
act a certain way.
Examples: “honest.” “shy.”
MBTI traits come in pairs:
“Judging” vs. “Perceiving.”
“Thinking” vs. “Feeling.”
Trait theory of personality:
That we are made up of a
collection of traits, behavioral
predispositions that can be
identified and measured, traits
that differ from person to
Traits: Rooted in Biology?
 Brain: Extraverts tend to have
low levels of brain activity,
making it hard to suppress
impulses, and leading them to
seek stimulation.
 Body: The trait of shyness
appears to be related to high
autonomic system reactivity, an
easily triggered alarm system.
 Genes: Selective breeding of
animals seems to create lifelong
differences in traits such as
aggression, sociability, or
calmness, suggesting genetic
roots for these traits.
Factor Analysis and the Eysencks’
Personality Dimensions
 Factor Analysis:
Identifying factors that
tend to cluster
 Using factor analysis,
Hans and Sybil Eysenck
found that many
personality traits
actually are a function
of two basic dimensions
along which we all vary.
 Research supports their
idea that these
variations are linked to
Assessing Traits: Questionnaires
 Personality Inventory: Questionnaire assessing many
personality traits, by asking which behaviors and
responses the person would choose
 Empirically derived test: all test items have been
selected to because they predictably match the qualities
being assessed.
 Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI):
Designed to identify people with personality difficulties
 T/F questionnaire; items were selected because they
correlated with various traits, emotions, attitudes
 Example: depressed people tend to answer “true” to:
“Nothing in the paper interests me except the comics.”
Sample MMPI Test Profile
The “Big Five” Personality Factors
 The Eysencks felt that people
 Conscientiousness:
varied along two dimensions.
self-discipline, careful
 Current cross-cultural research and
pursuit of delayed
theory supports the expansion
from two dimensions to five
 Agreeableness:
helpful, trusting,
to help us
 Neuroticism: anxiety,
insecurity, emotional
the five
 Openness: flexibility,
that the first
letters spell
 Extraversion:
Drawing energy from
others, sociability
The “Big Five”/ C.A.N.O.E.
Personality Dimensions
Questions about Traits
These topics are the subject of ongoing research:
Stability: One’s
distinctive mix of traits
doesn’t change much
over the lifespan.
However, everyone in
adulthood becomes:
 More conscientious
and agreeable, and
 Less extraverted,
neurotic/unstable, and
less open (imaginative,
Predictive value: Levels
of success in work and
relationships relates to
traits such as openness
and conscientiousness.
Heritability: For most
traits, genes account for
50% of the variation
among individuals
Change vs. Consistency: Shifts with Age
Over years of development, we change interests, attitudes,
roles, jobs, relationships; we develop skills, maturity. Do traits
stay stable through all this change?
The evidence shows
that it takes time for
personality to
stabilize. Traits do
change, but less and
less so over time. We
change less, become
more consistent.
Person-Situation Controversy
 Trait theory
assumes that we
have traits that
are a function of
personality, not
 There is evidence
that some traits
are linked to roles
and to personas
we use in different
Personality Affecting the Situation,
Not Just a Function of the Situation
 Your Facebook posts, your website, music lists, choice
of ringtone--these all reflect your personality.
 These choices also may shape how others treat you,
which may affect your personality.
This room may
reflect the
personality of the
guy who lives
The setup and
contents of the
room may also
shape his
Social-Cognitive Perspective
Albert Bandura believes that Personality is:
The result of an interaction that takes place between a person
and their social context, involving how we think about
ourselves and our situations.
Questions raised in this perspective:
How do we
interpret and
respond to
events? How
do those
shape us?
How do our
influence our
How do the
and social
each other?
Reciprocal Influences in Becoming
“The Kind of Person Who Does Rock Climbing”
Reciprocal: a back and forth
influence, with no primary cause
Example: a tendency
to enjoy risky behavior
affects choice of
friends, who in turn
may encourage rock
climbing, which may
lead to identifying with
the activity.
Avoiding the highway today
without identifying or
explaining any fear: the
“low road” of emotion.
Reciprocal Determinism:
How personality, thoughts, social environment
all reinforce/cause each other
 Why is Jake a happy, smiley
person? He may have started with
an “easy” temperament;
 He may attract other happy
people, and people are more likely
to smile when around him, which
reinforces his smiles;
 His mind fills in the reasons why
he’s smiling even if some of it was
a reflection of his happy friends,
and these happy reasons give him
more reason to smile.
Evaluating Behavior in Situations:
Blindness to One’s Own Faults
 Donald Trump as the host of “The
Apprentice” prided himself on
assessing executive skills in others.
 Assessments based on
performance in such simulations
predict future job performance
better than interviews and
 Donald Trump as a politician could
not understand why more people
didn’t join his candidacy, his
debates, his “birther” theories.
Evaluating the Social-Cognitive
 The social-cognitive perspective on
personality helps us focus on the
interaction of behaviors, thoughts,
and social situations.
 This focus, though, may distract us
from noticing an individual’s
feelings, emotions, inner qualities.
 Critics note that traits may be
more a function of genetics and
upbringing, not just situation.
 Example of two people with
different reactions in the same
situation: Two lottery winners
sharing a jackpot; one sobbed, the
other slept.
Biopsychosocial Approaches to
Exploring the Self, Viewing the Self
 Research in personality
includes the topic of a
person’s sense of self.
 Topics of research include
self-talk, self-esteem, selfawareness, selfmonitoring, self-control.
 The field has refined a
definition of “self” as the
core of personality, the
organizer and reservoir of
our thoughts, feelings,
actions, choices, attitudes.
Topics for our study of
people’s sense of self:
 The Spotlight Effect
 Self-esteem, low and
high, benefits and risks
 Self-Serving Bias
 Narcissism
 Self-disparagement
 Secure self-esteem
Self-Consciousness: The Spotlight Effect
Experiment: Students put on Barry Manilow
T-shirts before entering a room with other
students. (Manilow was not even cool “back
in the day.”)
Result: The students thought others would
notice the T-shirt, assumed people were
looking at them, when this was not the case;
they greatly overestimated the extent to
which the spotlight was on them.
The spotlight effect: assuming that people
are have attention focused on you when
they actually may not be noticing you.
Lesson: People don’t notice our errors, quirks,
features, and shirts as much as we think they
High and Low, Good and Bad
 People who have normal or
high self-esteem, feeling
confident and valuable, get
some benefits:
 Increased resistance to
conformity pressure
 Decreased harm from
 Increased resilience and
efforts to improve their
own mood
 But maybe this “high” selfesteem is really realistic, and
is a result, not a cause, of
these successes.
 Low self-esteem, even
temporarily lowered by insults,
leads to problems: prejudice,
being critical of others
We all generally
tend to think
we are above
This bias can
help defend
our selfesteem, as it
does for the
people in this
Self-Focus and Narcissism
 Since 1980, song lyrics have become more focused on the
self, both gratification and self-praise.
 Empathy scores and skills are decreasing, being lost;
people increasingly don’t bother trying to see things from
the perspective of others.
 There is a rise in narcissism (self-absorption, selfgratification, inflated but fragile self-worth).
 Narcissists see themselves as having a special place in the
 Danger, especially in narcissism: When self-esteem is
threatened, it can trigger defensive aggression.
 Preventing this aggressive defense of self-esteem: not
raising self-esteem, but reinforcing it, having people state
their own values and qualities
Self-Disparagement, Self-Acceptance
Left behind in the supposed increase in egotism: those
who feel worthless, unlovable
Some people have a habit of self-disparaging self-talk:
“I’m no good. I’m going to fail.”
Sometimes such remarks are a sign of depression or at
least feeling inferior.
Sometimes such remarks may elicit pity, or prepare us
for possible bad events, or help us learn from mistakes
(people are more critical of their past selves).
Moving from defensive to secure self-esteem requires
realistic expectations and self-acceptance.
Culture and the Self:
Individualism and Collectivism
 Individualist cultures value independence. They promote personal
ideals, strengths, and goals, pursued in competition with others,
leading to individual achievement and finding a unique identity.
 Collectivist cultures value interdependence. They promote group
and societal goals and duties, and blending in with group identity,
with achievement attributed to mutual support.
Individualist and Collectivist Cultures Compared
Thinking about the self:
Cultural differences
People in collectivist cultures (those which
emphasize group unity, allegiance, and purpose
over the wishes of the individual) do not make
the same kinds of attributions:
1. The behavior of others is attributed more
to the situation; also,
2. Credit for successes is given more to
3. Blame for failures is taken on oneself.

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