an individual's characteristic pattern of thinking, feeling, and acting
Two historically significant perspectives that helped establish the field of personality psychology and raised key issues still being addressed in today's research
1 ~ Freud's psychoanalytic theory
2 ~ the humanistic approach
Sigmund Freud's theory and techniques
proposed that childhood sexuality and unconscious motivations influence personality
focused on our inner capacities for growth and self-fulfillment
in psychoanalysis, a method of exploring the unconscious in which the person relaxes and says whatever comes to mind, no matter how trivial or embarrassing
*Freud assumed a line of mental dominoes had fallen from his pt's distant past to their troubled present. Believed free association would allow him to retrace that line, to retrieve and release
according to Freud, a reservoir of mostly unacceptable thoughts, wishes, feelings, and memories.
According to contemporary psychologists, info processing of which we are unaware
Freud's theory of personality and his techniques
attributes thoughts and actions to unconscious motives and conflicts
*basic to his theory was the belief that the mind is mostly hidden
The techniques used in treating psychological disorders by seeking to expose and interpret unconscious tensions
*compared our awareness to the part of an iceberg that floats above the surface
Part of Freud's theory of psychoanalysis
thought some thoughts, wishes, feelings, and memories which are below our conscious are temporarily stored here, from which we can retrieve them into conscious awareness
forcibly blocking unacceptable passions and thoughts from consciousness because they would be too unsettling to acknowledge
Freud believed these feelings and ideas sometimes gain expression in disguised forms (ex: the work we choose, the beliefs we hold, daily habits)
*Freud was greatly interested in the mass of unacceptable passions & thoughts he felt we repress cause they would be too unsettling to acknowledge.
How did Freud view jokes and dreams?
viewed jokes as expressions of repressed sexual and aggressive tendencies
viewed dreams as the "royal road to the unconscious"
In dream analyses, he'd search for pt's inner conflicts
the remembered content of dreams
Freud believed to be a censored expression of unconscious wishes (the dream's latent content)
the dreamer's unconscious wishes
Freud's view of how personality arises
including it's emotions and strivings, arises from a conflict btwn impulse and restraint - btwn our aggressive, pleasure-seeking biological urges and our internalized social controls over these urges
Freud believed personality is the result of...
our efforts to resolve basic conflict (associated w personality, btwn impulse and restraint) - by expressing these impulses in ways that bring satisfaction w/o also bringing guilt or punishment
How did Freud feel personality was structured?
saw personality as composed of the id, the ego, and the superego
To understand the minds dynamics during this conflict, Freud proposed 3 interacting systems: id, ego, superego
One of 3 interacting systems proposed by Freud
unconscious psychic energy constantly striving to satisfy basic drives to survive, reproduce and aggress.
operates on the pleasure principle
Ex: An id-dominated person could be a newborn crying out for satisfaction, caring nothing of the outside world's conditions and demands. OR a person who often uses tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs and would sooner party now than sacrifice todays pleasure for future success.
demanding immediate gratification
The "executive" system
the largely conscious part of personality that mediates among the demands of the id, superego, and reality.
operates on the reality principle
contains our partly conscious perceptions, thoughts, judgments and memories.
seeks to gratify the id's impulses in realistic ways that will bring long-term pleasure rather than pain
the newly emerging moral compass (conscience) that forces the ego to consider the ideal - how we ought to behave
strives for perfection, judging actions and producing positive feelings of pride or negative feelings of guilt.
Freud theorized around age 4 or 5 a child's ego recognizes the demands of the superego
Ex: someone w exceptionally strong superego may be virtuous yet guilt-ridden; another w a weak superego may be wantonly self-indulgent and remorseless.
Freud was convinced that personality forms during life's first few years.
These are the childhood stages of development during which the id's pleasure-seeking energies focus on distinct erogenous zones.
Freud felt the id's pleasure-seeking energies focus on this area when children pass through the psychosexual stages
Freud's psychosexual stages
Oral stage of Freud's Psychosexual stages
Pleasure centers on the mouth - sucking, biting, chewing
Anal stage of Freud's Psychosexual stages
Pleasure focuses on bowel and bladder elimination; coping with demands for control
Phallic stage of Freud's Psychosexual stages
Pleasure zone is the genitals; coping with incestuous sexual feelings
Latency stage of Freud's Psychosexual stages
6 - puberty
Dormant sexual feelings
Genital stage of Freud's Psychosexual stages
Maturation of sexual interests
According to Freud, during the phallic stage, boys seek genital stimulation.
They develop both unconscious sexual desires for their mom and jealousy and hatred for their dad, who they consider a rival.
They then experience guilt and a lurking fear of punishment (perhaps castration) from their father
a girls experience parallel to the Oedipus complex
believed by some psychoanalysts in Freud's era
the process by which, according to Freud, children incorporate their parents' values into their developing superegos.
Freud believe this provides gender identity
*In regards to the Oedipus and Electra complexes, Freud felt kids cope w the threatening feelings by repressing them and identifying with the rival parent.
Nevertheless, Freud presumed our early childhood relations - w parents, caregivers, and everything else - influence our developing identity, personality, and frailties
the sense of being male or female
according to Freud, a lingering focus of pleasure-seeking energies at an earlier psychosexual stage, in which conflicts were unresolved.
In psychoanalytic theory, the ego's protective methods of reducing anxiety by unconsciously distorting reality
*Freud said anxiety is price we pay for civilization. As members, we must control our impulses and not act them out. When anxiety happens then the ego fears losing control of the inner war btwn id and superego
the basic defense mechanism which banishes anxiety-arousing wishes from consciousness, but enables other defense mechanisms
Freud believed each of the other defense mechanisms disguise threatening impulses and keeps them from reaching consciousness
Unconscious process to avoid anxiety: Retreating to a more infantile psychosexual stage, where some psychic energy remains fixated
Ex: A little boy reverts to the oral comfort of thumb sucking in the car on the way to his first day of school
one of 6 defense mechanisms
Unconscious process to avoid anxiety: Switching unacceptable impulses into their opposites
Ex: Repressing angry feeling, a person displays exaggerated friendliness
one of 6 defense mechanisms
Unconscious process to avoid anxiety: Disguising one's own threatening impulses by attributing them to others
Ex: "A thief thinks everyone else is a thief."
one of 6 defense mechanisms
Unconscious process to avoid anxiety: offering self-justifying explanations in place of the real, more threatening unconscious reasons for one's actions
Ex: "A habitual drinker says she drinks with her friends 'just to be sociable.'"
One of 6 defense mechanisms
Unconscious process to avoid anxiety: Shifting sexual or aggressive impulses toward a more acceptable or less threatening object of person
Ex: A little girl kicks the family dog after her mother sends her to her room
one of 6 defense mechanisms
Unconscious process to avoid anxiety: refusing to believe or even perceive painful realities
Ex: A partner denies evidence of his loved one's affair
those pioneering psychoanalysts who accepted Freud's basic ideas of:
the personality structures of id, ego and superego
the importance of the unconscious
the shaping of personality in childhood
the dynamics of anxiety and the defense mechanisms
2 important ways Neo-Freudians veered away from Freud
1. They placed more emphasis on the conscious mind's role in interpreting experience and in coping w the environment
2. They doubted that sex and aggression were all-consuming motivations
Instead, they tended to emphasize loftier motives and social interactions
Alfred Adler and Karen Horney
Both Neo-Freudians; agreed childhood was important
But they believed that childhood social, not sexual, tensions are crucial for personal formation
What did Alfred Adler believe?
that much of our behavior is driven by efforts to conquer childhood feelings of inferiority, feelings that trigger our strivings for superiority and power
*proposed the still-popular idea of inferiority complex
What did Karen Horney believe?
said childhood anxiety, caused by the dependent child's sense of helplessness, triggers our desire for love and security
also attempted to balance the masculine bias she detected in Freud's view of psychology, such as the assumptions that women have weak superegos and suffer "penis envy"
unlike other neo-freudians, he placed less emphasis on social factors & agreed the unconscious exerts a powerful influence
Believed the unconscious contains more than repressed thoughts and feelings
believed we have a collective unconscious
Carl Jung's concept of a common reservoir of images derived from our specie's universal experiences
explains why people in different cultures share certain spiritual concerns, myths, and images
a personality test in which test takers are asked to describe an ambiguous stimulus or tell a story about it.
the stimulus has no inherent significance, so any meaning people read into it is presumably a projection of their interests and conflicts
Rorschach inkblot test
a type of projective test in which people describe what they see in a series of inkblots
seeks to identify people's inner feelings by analyzing their interpretations of the blots
Has questionable reliability and validity
designed by Hermann Rorschach
Difference btwn validity and reliability
Validity is the extent to which a test measures or predicts what it is supposed to
Reliability is the extent to which a test yields consistent results
Does developmental research support Freud's views of childhood?
Dev. psychologists now see our development as lifelong, not fixed in childhood.
They doubt infants neural networks are mature enough to sustain as much emotional trauma as Freud though
Also doubt that conscience and gener id form as the child resolves the Oedipus complex at age 5 - 6
We gain our gender if earlier even w or w/o a same sex parent present
Does cognitive research support Freud's view of the unconscious?
Freud was right about 1 thing: We have limited access to all that goes on in our minds
Research confirms the reality of unconscious implicit learning
But the "iceberg" notion held today differs from Freud's in that many now think of the unconscious not as seething passions and repressive censoring but as cooler info processing that occurs w/o our awareness
Researchers also find little support for Freud's idea that defense mechanisms disguise sexual and aggressive impulses. More evidence exists for defenses that defend self-esteem & self-image.
Does memory research support Freud's idea of Repression
Today's researchers acknowledge that sometimes we spare our egos by neglecting threatening info
But many content that repression, if it even occurs, is a rare mental response to terrible trauma
Some researchers believe that extreme, prolonged stress might disrupt memory by damaging the hippocampus
However, far more common reality is that high stress and associated stress hormones actually enhance memory
false consensus effect
a phenomenon that Freud called projection
the tendency to overestimate the extent to which others share our beliefs and behaviors
What are the problems with Freud's theory?
his theory rests on few objective observations and parts of it offer few testable hypotheses
It offers after-the-fact explanations of any characteristic yet fails to predict such behaviors and traits
What do Freud's supporters say?
Freud never claimed that psychoanalysis was predictive science, merely that psychoanalysts could find meaning in our state of mind.
They also content that some of his ideas are enduring
focused on the ways "healthy" people strive for self-determination and self realization (in contrast to Freud's study of the base motives of "sick" people)
They studied people through their own self-reported experiences and feelings
Two pioneering theorists: Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers ~ emphasized human potential
a pioneering humanistic psychologist that emphasized human potential
proposed we are motivated by a hierarchy of needs
Proposed order is we become concerned w personal safety; then seek we love; then we seek self-esteem; then we seek self-actualization and self-transcendence
according to Maslow, one of the ultimate psychological needs that arises after basic physical and psychological needs are met and self-esteem is achieved
the motivation to fulfill one's potential
people are open, spontaneous, loving, self-accepting and productive
meaning, purpose, and communion beyond the self
studied those who seemed notable for their rich and productive lives - including Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and Eleanor Roosevelt
Reported these people shared certain characteristics: open, spontaneous, loving, self-accepting and productive
*Maslow called these mature adult qualities
pioneering humanistic psychologist that agreed w much of Maslow's thinking
believed that people are basically good and are endowed with self-actualizing tendencies
Unless thwarted by an environment
that inhibits growth, we r primed for growth and fulfillment
*a growth-promoting climate required three conditions: Genuineness, Acceptance, Empathy
Genuineness (Carl Rogers)
When people are genuine, they are open with their own feelings, drop their facades, and are transparent and self-disclosing.
When people are accepting, they offer unconditional positive regard
It is a profound relief to drop our pretenses, confess our worst feelings, and discover that
we are still accepted.
unconditional positive regard
an attitude of grace that values us even knowing our failings
When people are empathic, they share and mirror others’ feelings and reflect their meanings.
all the thoughts and feelings we have in response to the question, “Who am I?”
for Maslow and Rogers, a central feature of personality
If our self-concept is positive, we tend to act and perceive the world positively
If it is negative—if in our own eyes we fall far short of our ideal self—we feel dissatisfied and unhappy
How did humanistic psychologists assess a person’s sense of self?
some humanistic psychologists assessed personality through questionnaires on which people reported their self-concept
Others believed the only acceptable approach is understanding others' subjective personal experiences in face-to-face situations
How has humanistic perspective influenced psychology and what criticisms has it faced?
helped to renew psychology's interest in the concept of self
It's critics complain it's concepts are vague and subjective, values self-centered, and it's assumptions naively optimistic
said to be encouraged by humanistic psychology
trusting and acting on one's feelings, being true to oneself, fulfilling oneself
How do psychologists use traits to describe personality
Rather than explain the hidden aspects of personality, trait theorists attempt to describe our stable and enduring characteristics.
Through factor analysis, researchers have isolated important dimensions of personality
Genetics also influence many traits
22 yr old psychology student who interviewed Freud and discovered just how preoccupied Freud was with finding hidden motives
He came to define personality in terms of fundamental traits
He was concerned less with explaining individual traits than with describing them
people's characteristic behavior patterns and conscious motives
a disposition to feel and act, as assessed by self-report and peer reports.
the statistical procedure to identify clusters of test items that tap basic components of intelligence
a questionnaire (often true-false or agree-disagree) on which people respond to items designed to gauge a wide range of feelings and behaviors
used to assess several personality traits
Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory
the most widely researched and clinically used of all personality tests
originally developed to identify emotional disorders (still considered it's most appropriate use) this test is now used for many other screening purposes
Items on test are empirically derived and tests are objectively scored
empirically derived test
a test (such as the MMPI) developed by testing a pool of items and then selecting those that discriminate btwn groups
make predictions from handwriting samples
a technique used by palm readers
builds on the observation that each of us is in some ways like no one else and in other ways just like everyone
the acceptance of stock, positive descriptions (in regards to palm reading)
Which traits seem to provide the most useful information about personality variation?
The Big Five personality dimensions; offer a reasonable comprehensive picture of personality