General Psychology (PY110)
Chapter 8
Personality Theories and Assessment
Personality
A person’s internally based
characteristic ways of
acting and thinking
An enduring trait or
characteristic such as
extroversion or
introversion
Freudian Classical Psychoanalytic Theory of
Personality
Developed by Sigmund Freud in
the late nineteenth century
◦ Freud was a neurologist
◦ Had patients whose symptoms
could not be explained
medically
◦ Discovered that physical
problems could have a
mental cause (Mind/Body Connection)
 Believed that people are driven to seek
pleasure (sex) and avoid pain (aggression)

Freud’s Three Levels of Awareness
Conscious
Preconscious
Unconscious
• Here and
now
• Stored
memories
• Where
memory
cannot reach
• Aware of
• Can be
retrieved
• Cannot be
retrieved but
does effect
our behavior
Freud’s
Three-Part Personality Structure
Id
Pleasure
principle
Sex &
Aggression
Only part
at birth
Ego
Reality
principle
Seeks to
reconcile
needs of Id
& Super
Ego
Super
Ego Morality
Principle
Guilt &
shame
•The conflict between Id and Superego anxiety
•These can be temporarily resolved by Ego defense
mechanisms
Id
Superego Conflict
Freud’s Defense Mechanisms
Repression
Regression
Displacement
Unknowingly placing an
Not remembering a
unpleasant memory or
traumatic incident in
thought in the unconscious which you witnessed a
crime
Reverting back to
Throwing temper tantrums
immature behavior from an as an adult when you
earlier stage of
don’t get your way
development
Redirecting unacceptable
Taking your anger toward
feelings from the original
your boss out on your
source to a safer substitute spouse or children by
target
yelling at them and not
your boss
Freud’s Defense Mechanisms
Sublimation
Replacing socially
unacceptable impulses
with socially acceptable
behavior
Channeling aggressive
drives into playing football
or inappropriate sexual
desires into art
Reaction
Formation
Acting in exactly the
opposite way to one’s
unacceptable impulses
Being overprotective of
and lavishing attention on
an unwanted child
Projection
Attributing one’s own
unacceptable feelings and
thoughts to others and not
yourself
Accusing your boyfriend
of cheating on you
because you have felt like
cheating on him
Rationalization Creating false excuses for
one’s unacceptable
feelings, thoughts, or
behavior
Justifying cheating on an
exam by saying that
everyone else cheats
Unhealthy Personalities
Freud believed that:
 Defense mechanisms can provide temporary
relief from id < > superego conflict
 Can also cause ‘unhealthy
personalities’ when we become
too dependent upon them
 Usually when the id or
superego is unusually strong
or the ego unusually weak

Freud’s
Psychosexual Stage Theory
Developed to explain personality development,
divided childhood into 5 stages
 Each stage has an erogenous zone where the
id’s pleasure-seeking tendency
is focused
 Fixation occurs when
excessive or insufficient
gratification occurs during
a stage
 This can impact their behavior
and personality traits in later life

Freud’s Psychosocial States
of Personality Development
Stage (age range)
Erogenous Zone
Activity Focus
Oral
(birth to 1½ years)
Mouth, lips, and
tongue
Sucking, biting, and chewing
Anal
(1½ to 3 years)
Anus
Bowel retention and
elimination
Phallic
(3 to 6 years)
Genitals
Identifying with same-sex
parent to learn gender role
and sense of morality
Latency
(6 years to puberty)
No erogenous
zone
Cognitive and social
development
Genital
(puberty to adulthood)
Genitals
Development of sexual
relationships, moving toward
intimate adult relationships
Anal Stage - Potty Training
Parents try to get the child to have self-control
during toilet training
 Harsh toilet training can result in

◦ Child getting even by withholding
bowel movements leading to an
anal-retentive personality
 Orderliness, neatness, stinginess,
and obstinacy
◦ Child rebels and has bowel
movements whenever and
wherever leads to an anal-expulsive personality
 Conceit, suspicion, excessive ambition
Phallic Stage Conflicts
Oedipus conflict:
little boy becomes
sexually attracted
to his mother and
fears the father
(his rival)
 In the Electra conflict, the little girl is
attracted to her father because he has a penis;
she wants one and feels inferior without one
(penis envy)
 Both conflicts can result in difficulty in finding an
appropriate partner later in life

Neo-Freudian
Theories of Personality

Agree with many of Freud’s basic ideas, but
differ in one or more important ways
Carl Jung’s
Collective
Unconscious
Alfred Adler’s
Striving for
Superiority
Karen Horney
and the
Need for
Security
Carl Jung’s
Collective Unconscious


Jung proposed two main personality
attitudes, extraversion and
introversion
Jung also proposed four functions/styles of gathering
information
◦
◦
◦
◦

Sensing is the function where the world is carefully perceived
Intuiting is more subjective perception
Thinking is logical deduction
Feeling is the subjective emotional function
The two personality attitudes and four functions are
the basis for the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, still in
wide use today
Alfred Adler’s
Striving for Superiority
Saw main motivation as “striving
for superiority” overcoming a
sense of inferiority that we
feel as infants
 A healthy person learns to cope with these
feelings, becomes competent, and develops a sense
of self-esteem
 Inferiority complex is the strong feeling of
inferiority felt by those who never overcome this
initial feeling of inferiority

Karen Horney and
The Need for Security
Focused on dealing with our need
for security
 If security is not achieved then
three neurotic personality
patterns could develop

◦ Moving toward people
A compliant, submissive person
◦ Moving against people
An aggressive, domineering person
◦ Moving away from people
A detached, aloof person
The Humanistic
Approach to Personality

Abraham Maslow is considered
the father of the humanistic
movement
◦ Humanists emphasizes conscious free will in one’s
actions, the uniqueness of the individual person, and
personal growth
◦ Maslow studied the lives of very healthy and
creative people to develop his theory of
personality

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs arranges the
needs that motivate our behavior, from the
strongest needs at the bottom to the weakness
needs at the top
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

The needs of each level must be reasonably met to
progress to next
Self-Actualization


Maslow saw Self-Actualization as the peak of human
achievement
Characteristics of
self-actualized people
◦ Accepting of themselves,
others, and the nature
of world
◦ Need privacy and only
a few close, emotional
relationships
◦ Being autonomous and independent, democratic, and very
creative
◦ Having peak experiences – Experiencing whatever you are
doing as fully as possible
Roger’s Self Theory

Carl Rogers dealt with college
students with adjustment problems
◦ Believed that people need positive
regard – to be accepted by and
have the affection of others

Our parents set up conditions of worth - behaviors
and attitudes for which gave us positive regard
Unconditional positive regard – acceptance and
approval without conditions
◦ Empathy from others, and having genuine respect for
your own feelings is necessary for self-actualization
Note that neither Maslow nor Roger’s theories
are research-based


Unconditional Positive Regard?
“Just remember son, it doesn’t
matter if you win or lose – Unless
you want Daddy’s love.”
Personality Assessment
Personality tests are used to aid in
diagnosing people’s problems, counseling,
and making personnel decisions
 There are two main types:

Personality
Inventories
Projective
Tests
Personality Inventories


Designed to measure multiple traits of personality, and
in some cases, disorders
Results are objective and tests can be administered by
anyone
Personality
Inventories
Understanding
Myers-Briggs
Diagnostic
MMPI
Minnesota Multiphasic
Personality Inventory
MMPI


Minnesota Multiphasic
Personality Inventory
Uses “True/False/
Cannot Say” questions
◦ “I like to cook”
◦ “I like to speak in public”



Measures abnormal
personality, with 10
clinical scales including
depression and
schizophrenia
Also includes questions designed to catch lies and
people trying to cover up their problems
Used worldwide – translated into over 100 languages
Projective Tests
Contain a series of ambiguous stimuli, such as
inkblots, to which the test taker
must respond about his
perceptions of the stimuli
 Sample tests

◦ Rorschach Inkblots Test
◦ Thematic Apperception
Tests (TAT)

Tests are highly subjective and
can only be administered by
trained mental health
professionals
Rorschach Inkblots Test
10 symmetric inkblots which the examiner asks
“what do you see?” then asks for explanation of
interpretation.
 Assumes the test taker’s responses are
projections of their
personal conflicts
and personality
dynamics
 Widely used but not
demonstrated to be
reliable and valid

Thematic Apperception Tests (TAT)
20 cards with ambiguous
black and white pictures
 Test taker asked to make up
a story for each card

◦ What happened before,
is happening now, and
how things will turn out
Looks for recurring themes
in the responses
 Scoring has yet to be
demonstrated to be either
reliable or valid

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Griggs Chapter 8: Personality Theories and Assessment