Make your own free website on Tripod.com
Home | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 13 | Chapter 14 | Contact Me | Favorite Links
Chapter 1
Theories of Personality

THEORIES OF PERSONALITY

CHAPTER 1

Evaluating Personality Theories

PERSONALITY

Because personality addresses the important question "who am I?, you might imagine that personality is the primary emphasis of psychology. In fact, personality is not the dominant concern in contemporary psychology, it is simply one area of specialization.

The term personality is difficult to define because there is little common agreement on how the term is used.

Each theorist presents us with his or her own understanding of the term personality.HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE PERSONALITY?In everyday speech, personality refers to ones public image.

However, personality theorists (Fromm, Cattell, Sullivan, Freud, Skinner) present us with various definitions based on their theoretical position.

Eric Fromm defines personality as the totality of an individuals psychic qualities.Cattell defines personality as ones attitude, or that quality which predicts what one might be in a given situation. According to Harry S. Sullivan, personality is the characteristic ways in which one deals with others. Sigmund Freud states that personality is largely unconscious, hidden, and unknown.B.F. Skinner felt that the concept of trying to define personality was an unnecessary construct. As you can see, there are some differences in opinion among theorist concerning the true meaning or definition of personality. (for this course, we will use everyday speech and say personality is "ones public image")

THEORY

A theory is a set of abstract concepts that we make about a group of facts or events in order to explain them.

Two concepts regarding theories of personality exist. (1) First, theory stems from psychological laboratories and academic research. (2) Second, theory stems from psychoanalysis and clinical studies. Academic Research of Personality: Done through research utilizing correlation and experiments and is conducted in an academic setting (Wilhelm Wundt).Psychoanalysis and Clinical Study of Personality: Done through research utilizing history and conducted in a Clinical environment (Sigmund Freud).The study of personality became a formal and systematic area of specialization in America in the mid 1930s but to this date the two concepts stated above have never merged.

THERE ARE THREE CRITERIA FOR EVALUATING PERSONALITY THEORIES

(why is it important to evaluate personality theories?)

COHERENCE

RELEVANCE

COMPREHENSIVENESS

Coherence: Are the assumptions made about Personality clear, logical and understandable: You do not want a lot of contradictions and inconsistencies surrounding you assumptions.Relevance: Does the assumptions about Personality have some bearing on reality? Does it apply to the everyday life we live? To study something that has nothing to do with nothing would be useless.Comprehensiveness: Is the assumption about Personality "deep" enough? Is the treatment of the subject profound or superficial? An assumption is superficial if it leaves too many questions unanswered or if it refuses to address them.

DIFFERENCES AMONG PERSONALITY THEORIES

Some of the issues on which personality theories commonly disagree are:Freedom versus Determinism: Theorists vary as to whether they believe that people basically have control over their behaviors and understand the motives behind them or whether they believe that the behavior of people is basically determined by internal or external forces over which they have little, if any, control.Hereditary versus Environmental: Theorists differ over whether inherited and inborn characteristics or factors in the environment have the more important influence on a persons behavior. WHATS YOUR OPINION?Uniqueness versus Universality: Some theorists believe that each individual is unique and cannot be compared with others. Others contend that people are basically very similar in nature.

Proactive versus Reactive: Proactive theories view human beings as acting on their initiative rather than simply reacting. The sources of behavior are perceived as lying within the individual, who does more than just react to stimuli from the outside world.Optimistic versus Pessimistic: Do significant changes in personality and behavior occur throughout the course of a lifetime? If an individual is motivated, can genuine changes be effected in personality? Can we help others to change by restructuring their environment? Some personality theories are decidedly more optimistic and hopeful than others concerning these possibilities. WHAT DO YOU THINK? WHY OR WHY NOT?

CHARACTERISTICS OF SCIENTIFIC STATEMENTS

Scientific Statements are statements about the world based on observation arising from a currently held Paradigm (pattern, or model). (Sun set in the West)

The simplest kinds of Scientific Statements are empirical, that is, they are based directly on observation. When a number of different observations coincide, a scientist may make a generalization (a statement that something is true about many or all of the members of a certain class. Example:

After 9 days without water, an individual loses the ability to reason or think rationally. After nine days, all Humans who do not receive water lose the ability to reason or think rationally.

Scientist also make or use what is called Operational Definitions (a definition that specifies those behaviors that are included in a concept).

Theorists also make statements that are called Scientific Constructs (that is, an imaginary or hypothetical analogy to explain what is observed in science).

THREE PRIMARY METHODS OR APPROACHES USED IN PERSONALITY RESEARCH

CLINICAL APPROACH

PSYCHOMETRIC APPROACH

EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH

Clinical Approach: Research through intensive interviews and observation of the participant. May also include the analysis of dreams and early memories.

Psychometric Approach: Quantitative measurement of psychological characteristic through statistical techniques.Experimental Approach: Scientific method involving a careful study of cause and effect by manipulating variables and observing their effect.Regardless of the approach or technique used, the most important factor to consider is the validity of the test of technique. (Does the test measure or assess what it is suppose to measure). Example

If you are attempting to assess Long Term Memory, having someone watch a particular action or event and then describe what he or she observed is not assessing long term memory

 

THREE MAJOR GOALS OF PSYCHOTHERAPY

Three major goals of psychotherapy is to insure that the therapist work is:

SCHOLARLY

ETHICAL

CURATIVE

 

HOW DO WE EVALUATE WHETHER A THERAPEUTIC TECHNIQUE IS SCHOLARLY, ETHICAL AND CURATIVE

 

Scholarly Scholarly therapies should be evaluated on the basis of their contributions to the understanding of the self and human nature.Ethical - Ethical therapies should be evaluated in terms of the suitability of the climate they create for fostering change and life improvement.Curative Curative therapies should be evaluated on basis of symptom remission and number of cures.

THREE FUNCTIONS OF PERSONALITY THEORIES

Personality theories may function asPhilosophy

Science

ArtAs philosophers, personality theorists explore what it means to be a person.

As scientists, they develop hypotheses that help us to understand human behavior.As artists, they seek to apply what is known about human behavior to make life better.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO DISTINGUISH DIFFERENT FUNCTIONS AMONG PERSONALITY THEORIES?

It is important to distinguish among the different functions of personality theories so that we can recognize each activity, when it occurs, and therefore, evaluate each theory according to the appropriate method.

 

 

I want you to learn to think outside the box as we progress through this course.

That is, I want you to be creative, imaginative and to view everything with a critical and perceptive eye. So, to test your ability to do this, I have a little I. Q. test for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next week in Chapter two, we will look at "The Father of Psychoanalysis", Mr. Sigmund Freud.

 

 

Each week as we study a theorist, I like to give a brief biography of the theorist. I have briefly composed a short sketch on each, however, I came up with the ideal that it would be more fun if one of you would prepare a short biography on the theorist we will study the following week.

Whats your thoughts in this regard?

 

 

 

 

 

I might talk about how old I am, what I look like, and what I do for a living. (I'll try to be truthful!)

I might also include some information about my personal history: where I grew up, where I went to school, various places I've lived. If I have one, I'll include a picture of myself engaging in an activity I enjoy, such as a sport or hobby.

Backpacker taking a drink; Size=180 pixels wide
Taking a break from work

What a job!

I might describe my job in a little more detail here. I'll write about what I do, what I like best about it, and even some of the frustrations. (A job with frustrations? Hard to believe, huh?)

Favorites

Here's a list of some of my favorite movies:

Jules and Jim, Manhattan, Breaking the Waves

Here's a list of some of my favorite music:

Nirvana, Frank Sinatra, Ibrahim Ferrer