Oprah Winfrey: a Personality Analysis Using the Cognitive-Experiential Domain

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Oprah Winfrey: Personality Analysis Using the Cognitive-Experiential Domain Oprah Winfrey was born January 29, 1954, and is the richest African American of the 20th century (Wikipedia, Oprah Winfrey, 2007). Oprah’s talk show is the highest rated talk show in television history with an astonishing 8.4 million viewers daily (Doyle, 2007). Numerous assessments rank Winfrey as the most influential and powerful woman in the world, with a net worth over half a billion dollars (Henley, 2007). In my research paper, I will be discussing the personality of Winfrey using the cognitive-experiential domain. Specifically, I will explore how Oprah’s personality in terms of her emotions, self-concept, and cognition influences her decisions and help create the woman she is today. Vernita Lee gave birth to an illegitimate child, Oprah Winfrey, in Kosciusko, Mississippi (Lowe, 1998). Oprah’s father, Vernon Winfrey did not know of Oprah’s existence until after she was born through a note he received in his barracks asking for baby clothes (Lowe, 1998). To this day, Oprah questions whether Vernon is her biological father (Lowe, 1998). Oprah was named after a bible character named Orpah but there was a mistake on the birth certificate so she remains Oprah (Lowe, 1998). Oprah initially resided on a small farm with her fraternal grandparents in Mississippi until age six (Lowe, 1998). The farm was hardly large enough to call a farm, a mere couple of acres where they raised pigs and chickens and grew vegetables (Lowe, 1998). Oprah credits her grandmother, Hattie Mae Bullock, for challenging her to excel academically (Lowe, 1998). By the age of three, Oprah was able to read and write (Lowe, 1998). Winfrey has fond memories of her grandmother cooking, fixing her hair, and comforting her (Lowe, 1998). Although Oprah received much nurturance from her grandmother, she feels her grandmother’s methods of Oprah Winfrey 3

discipline were unnecessarily harsh (Lowe, 1998). Oprah was frequently sent into the woods to retrieve a switch; if an unsatisfactory switch was brought back, Oprah would return to the woods until one was found adequate (Lowe, 1998). Oprah recalls wishing she were a white girl because they did not get whippings, “they got talked to” (Lowe, 1998). Oprah was fearful of her grandfather, Earless Lee, whom she states was a dark presence to her (Lowe, 1998). Oprah’s grandfather would throw things at her and shoo her away with his cane (Lowe, 1998).

The farm where Oprah lived did not have the luxury of indoor plumbing (Lowe, 1998). Oprah’s chores included bringing in water buckets, emptying the morning urine bucket, and caring for the farm animals (Lowe, 1998). Their home did not have a television so reading became one of Oprah’s favorite pastimes (Lowe, 1998). Oprah’s childhood was a bittersweet mix of triumph and challenge. Oprah received inspiration and praise from her church congregation where she exhibited her gifted speaking abilities (Lowe, 1998). She also endured sexual abuse at the hands of several of her relatives (Lowe, 1998). In spite of the harsh punishment and sexual abuse Oprah endured during the early years of her childhood, Oprah has stated that she is where she is because of the grace in her life (Lowe, 1998). Oprah moved in with her father, Vernon Winfrey, in the fourth grade (Lowe, 1998). He and his wife, Zelma, owned a combination grocery store and barbershop (Lowe, 1998). They had no children and gladly accepted Oprah into their home. At the age of 14, Oprah’s mother asked her to return home with her (Lowe, 1998). Her mother had a new boyfriend she planned to marry and felt she could provide a good home for Oprah (Lowe, 1998). Life did not go as planned with her mother and Oprah retaliated by getting into trouble. Oprah stole money from her mother and was promiscuous (Lowe, 1998). When the juvenile detention center had no room for Oprah at age 14, she returned home to her father and...
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