“Characteristic pattern of thinking, feeling and acting is termed as personality”
Four major perspectives on Personality
- Psychoanalytic – Unconscious motivations
- Trait – Specific dimensions of personality
- Humanistic – Inner capacity for growth
- Social-Cognitive – Influence of environment
- It was the first comprehensive theory of personality
- It was proposed by Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), who was a professor at University of Vienna 1873, was a Medical School Graduate and Specialized in Nervous Disorders
- He noticed that some patients’ disorders had no physical cause!
- He started pondering what caused neurological symptoms in patients with no neurological problems?
So he proposed that “The mind is like an iceberg - mostly hidden” and consists of two parts
- Conscious Awareness – Small part above surface (Preconscious)
- Unconscious – Below the surface(thoughts, feelings, wishes, memories)
Freud & Personality Structure
So based on his theory Freud, proposed a personality structure model stating
“Personality arises from conflict twixt aggressive, pleasure-seeking impulses and social restraints”
It consists of three parts
Id – Energy constantly striving to satisfy basic drives Pleasure Principle
Ego – Seeks to gratify the Id in realistic ways Reality Principle
Super Ego – Voice of conscience that focuses on how we should behave
Freud also described the stages of formation of personality in an individual, now called Psychosexual stages
“Personality forms during the first few years of life, rooted in unresolved conflicts of early childhood”
- Oral (0-18 months) – Centered on the mouth
- Anal (18-36 months) – Focus on bowel/bladder elim.
- Phallic (3-6 yrs) – Focus on genitals/“Oedipus Complex” (Identification & Gender Identity)
- Latency (6-puberty) – Sexuality is dormant
- Genital (puberty on) – Sexual feelings toward others
- Strong conflict can fixate an individual at Stages 1, 2 or 3
- Development of an individual’s personality basically stops after puberty.
- A person’s dreams and slips of tongue basically represents his unconscious drives, conflicts and wishes
- When the inner war gets out of hand, the result is Anxiety
- Ego protects itself via Defense Mechanisms
- Defense Mechanisms reduce/redirect anxiety by distorting reality
- Repression – banishes certain thoughts/feelings from consciousness (underlies all other defense mechanisms)
- Regression – retreating to earlier stage of fixated development
- Reaction Formation – ego makes unacceptable impulses appear as their opposites
- Projection – attributes threatening impulses to others
- Rationalization – generate self-justifying explanations to hide the real reasons for our actions
- Displacement – divert impulses toward a more acceptable object
- Sublimation – transform unacceptable impulse into something socially valued
Evaluating the Psychoanalytic Perspective
Now the question arises that were Freud’s theories the “best of his time” or were they simply incorrect?
Current research contradicts many of Freud’s specific ideas
- Development does not stop after childhood
- Slips of the tongue are likely competing “nodes” in memory network
- Dreams may not be unconscious drives and wishes
Freud’s Ideas as Scientific Theory
As you know, theories must explain observations and offer testable hypotheses. Freud’s theories based on his recollections & interpretations of patients’ free associations, dreams & slips of the tongue. Therefore, question marks are still raised on Freud’s work.
- According to this, there are No hidden personality dynamics, just basic personality dimensions
- Traits are people’s characteristic behaviors & conscious motives
- We describe & classify different personalities based on its traits (for example, Type A vs Type B or Depressed vs Cheerful?)
- It is based on Myers-Briggs Type Indicator – We classify people based upon responses to 126 questions
What trait “dimensions” describe personality?
5 Expanded set of factors called the “The Big 5” are included in this.
- Emotional Stability
- Fun Loving/Sober
How can we assess traits?
It is done by an inventory called MMPI.
- Most widely used personality inventory
- Assess psychological disorders (not normal traits)
- Empirically derived - test items selected based
THE HUMANISTIC PERSPECTIVE
It is based on Maslow’s Self-Actualizing Person and Roger’s Person-Centered Perspective. It theorizes Individual as greater than the sum of test scores
Maslow & Self-Actualization
Self-Actualization is the process of fulfilling our potential. He studied healthy, creative people (Abe Lincoln, Tom Jefferson & Eleanor Roosevelt). These type of people are Self-Aware & Self-Accepting, Open & Spontaneous, Loving & Caring and are Problem-Centered not Self-Centered
Roger’s Person-Centered Perspective
According to this theory People are basically good with actualizing tendencies. Given the right environmental conditions, they will develop to their full potentials. Self Concept is central feature of personality (either good or bad)
Behavior is learned through conditioning & observation. What we think about our situation affects our behavior. So basically, it is Interaction of Environment & Intellect
It consists of a triad of factors which are inter-dependent on one another.
- Personal/Cognitive Factors
- Environment Factors
It can be described as
- Internal Locus of Control
According to it, you pretty much control your own destiny
- External Locus of Control
Luck, fate and/or powerful others control your destiny
Methods of Study
- Correlate feelings of control with behavior
- Experiment by raising/lowering people’s sense of control and noting effects outcomes of Personal Control
Uncontrollable bad events lead to Perceived lack of control which leads to Generalized helpless behavior