1. The study of personality is concerned with generalities about people (human nature) as well as with individual differences. Personality is understood in terms of what characteristics individuals have, how they became that way (the determinants of personality), and why they behave the way they do (motivation). 2. There are several perspectives or approaches that one can use to understand a person’s personality:
A. Psychodynamic Perspective: Early life experiences, particularly with parents, shape the individual’s personality. The unconscious plays a role in personality development. Personality goes through stages of development
B. Behavioral Perspective: Personality is learned through experience with the environment. Behavior changes as the environment changes.
C. Social Cognitive Perspective: Personality is determined by a complex interplay of behavior, environment, and cognitive processes. Instead of being passive recipients of the environment, individuals actively regulate and control behaviors.
D. Humanistic Perspective: This perspective emphasizes the importance of self-perception and world perception. It assumes that individuals have the innate capacity to fulfill their potential; however, a controlling and conditional world keeps individuals from reaching that potential. E. Trait Perspective: Personality can be understood by describing the organization of traits within the individual.
3. Sigmund Freud’s Psychoanalytic theory: The unconscious mind is the key to understanding personality; hence, exploring the deep inner workings of the mind is needed to understand behavior. The unconscious processes are disguised in symbolized form, which can be accessed and analyzed through the interpretation of dreams, fantasies, and free associations. The iceberg is used as an analogy of the conscious and unconscious mind—the conscious mind is the part of the iceberg above water, the preconscious mind is the part directly below the surface, and the unconscious mind is a big part below the water.
A. The personality has three structures: the id, the ego, and the superego. The id consists of instincts and is the individual’s reservoir of psychic energy. The id is unconscious, has no contact with reality, and operates according to the pleasure principle. As young children mature and experience the demands and constraints of reality, the ego is formed to deal with the demands of reality. The ego abides by the reality principle, and is considered as the executive branch of the personality because it uses rationality in dealing with the environment. The superego develops as the moral branch of personality.
B. To resolve the conflict between its demands for reality, the wishes of the id, and the constraints of the superego, the ego uses defense mechanisms, which serve to reduce anxiety by unconsciously distorting reality. Examples of defense mechanisms are: repression, rationalization, displacement, sublimation, projection, reaction formation, denial, regression, intellectualization, undoing, and compensation.
C. Personality is the result of early childhood experiences. The individual moves from one pleasure-giving body part—erogenous zone—to another in different psychosexual stages of development. Adult personality is determined by the resolution of conflicts between early sources of pleasure and the demands of reality. The psychosexual stages are the oral stage, anal stage, phallic stage, latency stage, and genital stage.
D. Individuals may become fixated at any psychosexual stage of development if the underlying conflict is not resolved. Fixation is the defense mechanism that occurs when the individual remains locked in an earlier developmental stage because needs are under- or over gratified. E. An alternative psychodynamic-oriented theory to Freud’s psychoanalytic theory is Carl Jung’s Analytical Theory. Jung believed that the roots of personality are traced back to the collective unconscious, which is the...
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