Personality theories pdf

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PDF | Extract: The thesis of these volumes is that the study of personality traits has advanced towards 'normal science' in the sense of a Kuhnian paradigm (cf. The first of the modern personality theories was developed by Sigmund To understand Freud's theory of personality, we must begin with the concept of the. All rights reserved. 12–1. Personality Theories. • Consistent or distinctive tendencies to behave in a certain way. • Implies some consistency across situations.

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Personality Theories Pdf

PSYCHOLOGY. Personality Theories. Notes. MODULE-IV. Self and Personality. PERSONALITY THEORIES. Every one of us shares many things with others. Dollard/Miller's Stimulus-Response Theory. B. F. Skinner and Personality as Behavior. Bandura and Social Learning. Self-Growth Theories. Carl Rogers and . The Trait Approach. 4. The Social-Cognitive Approach. Personality Theories: History. • Grand Theories (Freud, Jung, Adler). – Attempted to explain all behavior.

Careers What exactly is personality? Where does it come from? Does it change as we grow older? These are the sorts of questions that have long held the fascination of psychologists and which have inspired a number of different theories of personality. Defining Personality While personality is something that we talk about all the time "He has such a great personality! Personality is broadly described as the characteristic patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that make a person unique.

Personality psychologists are interested in the unique characteristics of individuals, as well as similarities among groups of people. Personality is organized and consistent. We tend to express certain aspects of our personality in different situations and our responses are generally stable. Although personality is generally stable, it can be influenced by the environment.

For example, while your personality might lead you to be shy in social situations, an emergency might lead you to take on a more outspoken and take-charge approach.

Personality causes behaviors to happen. You react to the people and objects in your environment based on your personality. From your personal preferences to your choice of a career, every aspect of your life is affected by your personality. How Personality Impacts Physical and Mental Health Research Models Now that you know a bit more about the basics of personality, it's time to take a closer look at how scientists actually study human personality.

There are different techniques that are used in the study of personality. Each technique has its own strengths and weaknesses. Experimental methods are those in which the researcher controls and manipulates the variables of interests and takes measures of the results.

This is the most scientific form of research, but experimental research can be difficult when studying aspects of personality such as motivations , emotions , and drives. The experimental method allows researchers to look at cause-and-effect relationships between different variables of interest.

Case studies and self-report methods involve the in-depth analysis of an individual as well as information provided by the individual. Case studies rely heavily on the interpretations of the observer, while self-report methods depend on the memory of the individual of interest. Because of this, these methods tend to be highly subjective and it is difficult to generalize the findings to a larger population. Clinical research relies upon information gathered from clinical patients over the course of treatment.

Many personality theories are based on this type of research, but because the research subjects are unique and exhibit abnormal behavior, this research tends to be highly subjective and difficult to generalize. Important Terminology Classical Conditioning Classical conditioning is a behavioral training technique which begins with a naturally occurring stimulus eliciting an automatic response.

Then, a previously neutral stimulus is paired with the naturally occurring stimulus. Eventually, the previously neutral stimulus comes to evoke the response without the presence of the naturally occurring stimulus. Operant Conditioning Operant conditioning is a behavior training technique in which reinforcements or punishments are used to influence behavior. Despite a vague recognition of these four relatively arbitrary components of any theory of personality, mainstream psychology insists on dealing with theoretical propositions about personality as if they were statements about hypothesized relations between mass and energy or about the functioning of organisms such as frogs or amoebae.

As a result, partisans of whatever theory scurry to amass sufficient empirical evidence to prove that their favourite theory is indeed the most accurate, valid, fruitful, practical, insight-laden, all- encompassing, or deserving of research funding.

Since choices regarding the criteria and methods for evaluating a theory depend on the litany of factors we visited in the four points above, the entire science of personality gets caught in a vicious cycle.

Simple ideas with non-scientific origins become scientific variables used ubiquitously to account for behaviour e. Complex ideas that are perhaps very useful in understanding personal- ity but not operationalizable are neglected or rejected as unscientific e.

Years are spent to prove that a certain theory is valid only for it to be forgotten by the next generation or displaced by a theory that says roughly the same thing with different terminology. In general, mainstream psychology imports its criteria for evaluating theories of personality from those used in the natural sciences: empirical validity, verifiability, internal consistency, parsimony, and so on.

Criteria such as these have limited relevance for studies in psychology in general. They have been especially irrelevant to the advance of personality theorizing. Critical psychologists must take this irrelevance very seriously. In part, this implies becoming hyper-aware of how the factors listed above enter into our thinking about personality.

The point of doing so will become clear if we back up a few steps and ask why we need theories of personality in the first place. This strategy takes into account the fact that consumers of theories rarely use them as their authors intended. Furthermore, what ends up having a direct impact on individuals and societies is the way ideas are adopted and implemented.

Within mainstream psychology, personality theories are primarily used to guide attempts to change behaviour, to predict future action, or to under- stand individual lives.

Although these purposes overlap somewhat, we will address them separately. For example, repetitive handwashing might be understood by relating it to the category of obsessive-compulsiveness.

Once the category is applied, various treatments would be indicated. In such cases, one assumes that correct assignment of a category will aid a psychologist in knowing how to change the problematic behaviour. From this perspective, the purpose of a personality theory is to provide concepts linking symptom to syndrome, behaviour to trait, effect to cause, etc.

Theories and Terminology of Personality Psychology

A theory is judged to be a good one if interventions based on these linkages actually work. Note that the main purpose of a theory in this case is to produce successful interventions, that is, to achieve a desired effect at the level of individual behaviour or experience.

Subjective human judgments are supplemented or replaced by supposedly objective personality descriptors. The interest in individual differences is also relevant to research in mainstream personality psychology. In that field, debate still continues on the question of which traits are the most central to human personality in general and which traits make the best predictors of future behaviour Sloan, The field has also tried to determine the importance of personality relative to situational determinants of behaviour.

(PDF) Theories of Personality | Tod Sloan -

Eventually these concerns come around again to issues of prediction, since according to mainstream philosophy of science, one should be able to predict future behav- iour if one has explained it correctly in the first place. Note that in this case as well the main purpose served by theory is to suggest a technical intervention to produce a desired outcome.

A good theory is expected to increase our ability to explain, predict, and control behaviour. But psychol- ogy is not monolithic Kimble, Thus, a third purpose of personality theory meets expectations that come from other quarters, in this case, the educated public and humanists.

People want to understand why people, especially famous individuals, do what they do. Understanding differs signifi- cantly from explanation in terms of cause and effect in order to predict. The aims of understanding are multiple, and on occasion the ability to predict is desired, but even if it were possible, it would have little impact. Biographical understanding also requires a related empathic identification on the part of the person who seeks understanding.

Biographical understanding necessarily involves an interpretive moment based on the subjective expres- sions of the person being understood diaries, letters, interviews, creative works, etc. An entire subfield known as the study of lives has arisen to address such issues and continues to inspire important contributions to our under- standing of personality cf. Following German social theorist Habermas , we may refer to these as the interest in technical control typical of the physical and natural sciences and the interest in interpretive understanding the hermeneutic interest characteristic of historical and humanistic studies.

In light of this, we may begin to differentiate between the purposes of mainstream theorizing and the interest to be served by critical approaches.

Critical psychology seeks knowledge in order to serve a third sort of purpose. Habermas contrasts the interests in technical control and interpretive under- standing with an emancipatory interest that motivates critical social science cf. Fay, ; Held, As prototypes of emancipatory scientific inquiry, Habermas cites psychoanalysis and Marxist social theory.

Both modes of inquiry attempt not only to explain and understand, but also seek to enhance human agency in order to modify conditions of systematic suffering. Psychoanalysis invites the patient to move away from neurotic and ideologi- cal structures toward awareness, responsibility, and desire.

Marxist social theory urges oppressed social classes to be cognisant of their exploitation and to work for social change.

In Chapter 19, I expand on the critical functions of these two approaches. As these examples indicate, the emancipatory interest differs from the other two in that it requires the self-reflective involvement of the persons who hope to bring about change in their own situation. Strangely enough, while the emancipatory interest is relatively inoperative in mainstream psychology, it is this interest that the general public expects the field, and personality theory in particular, to serve.

When readers go to counsellors and therapists or pick up books by Freud, Rogers, or Skinner, they seek exactly the sort of enlightenment that follows when the emancipatory interest of science is being fulfilled.

They have problems in living; they are perplexed, alienated, and confused Rosenwald, , They do not seek merely to be fixed by an expert technician.

As many chapters in this volume insist, the field managed to get so far off track partly because it has been trying so hard to be respected as a science. This meant adopting various methods associated with positivism. People do not need to be studied as if they were plants or crystals, unable to communicate about their desires, needs, hopes, and sufferings.

People do not need a set of universal principles or laws of behaviour. Instead, people need to be invited by psychol- ogists and other social scientists to participate in an ongoing process of reflec- tion on our personal and collective problems in living meaningfully.

One senses that personality theories could play a very important role in the process of social transformation and human betterment, in particular by showing how personal concerns and social injustice are intertwined. Occasionally, personality theories have painted pretty pictures of what the good life might be like the fully functioning person, the self-actualizing individual , but they tend to end up simply exhorting us to change without empowering us to do so.

Some theorists, such as Fromm and Skinner , even wrote tracts on how society should be changed. Nevertheless, a theory of personality with well-articulated links to a theory of modern society has yet to appear. Since critical psychologists have their work cut out for them, let us turn to the question of how we might go about the task of theorizing about personality in a different manner.

In this final section, I will move gradually toward an explicit statement of the criteria that critical theorizing about personality should meet. What I present here is my own formulation and should not be construed as broadly representative of a criti- cal psychological approach.


Nevertheless, the particulars of my formulation will show that I am indebted to the influence of various authors who provide key elements for critical theorizing about personality. Sampson and Broughton demonstrate how our concepts of self are shaped by historical contexts in ways that serve ideological functions. Marcuse and Benjamin critique patterns of socialization and social structure that interfere with our capacities for enjoyment and meaningful relatedness to others.

First, critical psychology needs a definition of personality that guides our attention to the aspects of personhood that have something to do with both systematic suffering and emancipation from it. We should hasten to add that, seen this way, personality is not only a problem but a social problem with social origins and effects. The aspects of personhood that concern critical psychologists are those that social relations characterized by domination and oppression systematically produce.

A criti- cal definition of personality might thus refer to socially produced aspects of identity and affective experience that impede self-reflection, agency, auton- omy, mutuality, participation, and other capacities that characterize meaningful living.

In this view, personality is something to be transcended. A critical theory of personality would help us individually and collectively to accomplish this transcendence. In moving beyond personality, the capacities toward which we would want to strive could be lumped together under the term intersubjectivity Habermas, The term derives in part from a notion of full communication between self-determining subjects.

Given this rough definition of personality, we need some idea of how personality develops. Here several varieties of psychodynamic theory suggest themselves, because these models focus on ways that early relationships limit our capacities to experience our needs and to reflect on and communicate them adequately to others Sloan, a.

As a consequence of the limita- tions and power relations associated with early socialization, we each become unable to experience and understand our lives as fully as possible. How we label this deficit the terms neurosis and alienation work fairly well is less important than correctly analysing its origins. For this task, standard psycho- dynamic theory is insufficient because it focuses primarily on intrafamilial factors.

I have in mind factors such as social class, gender, ethnicity, and other social realities that always mediate personality processes throughout the life span Gregg, Critical approaches define ideology as a system of representations and practices that sustain and reproduce relations of domination within a given social order Thompson, In this light, personality can be viewed as a crystallization of ideological processes.


The ego is 'like a man on horseback, who has to hold in check the superior strength of the horse. The ego engages in secondary process thinking, which is rational, realistic, and orientated towards problem-solving. If a plan of action does not work, then it is thought through again until a solution is found.

This is known as reality testing and enables the person to control their impulses and demonstrate self-control, via mastery of the ego. An important feature of clinical and social work is to enhance ego functioning and help the client test reality through assisting the client to think through their options.

What is the superego? The superego's function is to control the id's impulses, especially those which society forbids, such as sex and aggression.

It also has the function of persuading the ego to turn to moralistic goals rather than simply realistic ones and to strive for perfection. The superego consists of two systems: The conscience and the ideal self. The conscience can punish the ego through causing feelings of guilt.

For example, if the ego gives in to the id's demands, the superego may make the person feel bad through guilt. The ideal self or ego-ideal is an imaginary picture of how you ought to be, and represents career aspirations, how to treat other people, and how to behave as a member of society.

Behavior which falls short of the ideal self may be punished by the superego through guilt. The ideal self and conscience are largely determined in childhood from parental values and how you were brought up.