Theories of Personality

Topics: Personality psychology, Psychology, Behaviorism Pages: 7 (2029 words) Published: September 4, 2013
What is more important in determining your behavior - your personality or the siltation in which you are in (the environment)? Are you a "nice" person? If you said yes, are you always nice? The answer, if you are being honest, is no. The question then is, if you are a "nice" person (and thus that is part of your personality), why aren't you nice all the time; how can you be every not be nice if that is your personality? According to personality theorists, the human personality is enduring and the determining factor in human behavior. But, as you will see in the Social Psychology section (later in the semester), this may not be exactly the case. For now, let's take a look at what Personality is according to Personality theorists. Personality can be defined as an individuals unique, relatively consistent pattern of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. I. The Psychobiological approach (the perspective that personality is determined by biological factors). temperament -- a person's characteristic emotional state, first apparent in early infancy and possibly inborn.  

A. Hippocrates' view -- According to Hippocrates, temperament is determined by a person's level of 4 different body fluids, called humors. 1) Blood was associated with a cheerful, or sanguine temperament. 2) Phlegm assoc. with a calm, or phlegmatic temperament.

3) Black bile was associated with a depressed, or melancholic temperament. 4) Yellow bile was assoc. w/ an irritable, or choleric temperament.

B. Phrenology and Physiognomy
1) Phrenology -- the study of bumps on the skull (believed in the 19th century to be associated with particular personality and intellectual characteristics). 2) Physiognomy -- the study of the face (based on the belief that personality was revealed by facial features. C. Physique and Personality -- Somatotypes (body types) -- Constitutional theory of personality -- William Sheldon. According to this view, there is al ink between a person's body type and personality. 1) ectomorph -- thin, frail body; believed by Sheldon to reveal a shy, restrained, and introspective temperament called cerebrotonia. 2) mesomorph -- muscular, strong body; believed to display a bold, assertive, and energetic temperament called somatotonia. 3) endomorph -- large, soft body; believed to display a relaxed, sociable and easygoing temperament called viscerotonia.  

D. Heredity and Personality
Behavioral Genetics -- the study of the relationship between heredity and behavior. 1) support for this perspective is demonstrated by the differences found in infants. At that early age, personality theorists say that the baby has not had time to learn how to behave, but is behaving according to their innate personalities. 2) Bouchard studies of identical twins reared apart. These studies demonstrate that identical twins who grow up in different homes often exhibit many similar behaviors and characteristics.

II. The Psychoanalytic Approach (rooted in the psychobiological approach) - this theory is extremely popular, and was developed by Freud. A. Psychosexual Theory of the Structure of Personality
1) Id (Latin for "it") -- contains innate biological drives, seeks immediate gratification, and operates by the pleasure principle (seeking gratification of impulses). 2) Ego (Latin for "I") -- helps the individual adapt to external reality by making compromises between the id, the superego, and the environment. Operates by the "reality principle" -- directs the individual to express sexual and aggressive impulses in socially acceptable ways. 3) Superego (Latin for "over the I") -- acts as our moral guide; contains the conscience, which makes us feel guilty for doing or thinking something wrong; also contains the ego ideal, which makes us feel good for wanting or doing something good. 4) Defense Mechanisms -- distort reality to protect the ego from anxiety caused by id impulses. There are many different types of defense mechanisms: a) repression -- this...
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