Personality

What Forces Shape Our Personalities?

Every individual has their own personality. Personality consists of a person's behaviors and thoughts in different situations. When the consistent pattern of personality breaks, certain mental disorders can be caused, such as depression. Personality theorists discuss how patterns come about and how the forces may shape or break the pattern. There are 3 view points on the development of personality: psychodynamic (Freud), humanistic (Carl Rogers), and cognitive. Supporters of these theories believe that personality is a continuously changing process influenced by internal needs and cognition and external pressures.

Psychodynamic Theory




The psychoanalytic theory, created by Freud, is the idea that one's personality is influenced by unconscious impulses. In this Freudian theory, unconscious refers to an individual's repressed impulses, drives, and conflicts that are not present in the conscious mind. The unconscious (such as being sexually molested in your childhood would hold this memory), is driven by thanatos, the fear of death, and eros, the energy from which is called libido, or essentially one's sex drive/love. Freud describes the structure of the unconscious as a battle between the Id, which is the impulsive part of the unconscious, and the Superego, which is the super moral part of the unconscious. Freud believed that the conscious mind, the ego, resolves conflicts between the two. However, when the ego is under too much pressure from the id and superego in combination with the environment, the effect can be mental illness. An example situation could be if you are given too much change at the grocery store your id might say keep it and buy ice-cream when your superego says give it back. Your ego might try and satisfy both by returning the money and buying ice cream with your own money. Just like in the iceberg example your Id is the part of your conscious that's hidden (underneath the water) and may come out periodically.
Freud's famous way of describing this is the metaphor comparing the mind to an iceberg. The ego is the small amount of ice above water, the superego is the water level, and the id is the large part of the iceberg submerged underneath.
The ego is equipped with ego defense mechanisms to deal with conflict between the id's impulses and the superego's demand to deny them. This means that pushes memories into the unconscious to reduce anxiety or conflict. Ego defense mechanisms include repression, denial, rationalization, reaction formation, displacement, regression, sublimation, and projection. Most of these mechanisms, however, only relieve the issue for a moment, leaving the underlying cause without resolve.
Later on, Freud concluded that forgotten experiences during infancy and early childhood have the biggest impact on personality formation. These events will continue to shape personality through psychosexual stages.
In attempt to further develop personality influences, Freud came up with different theories to explain why, for instance, most boys develop masculine identities and why people often, but not always, develop a sexual attraction to the opposite sex. The Oedipus complex suggests that boys develop an Identification with their fathers and shift their attraction to females of their own age in order to solve the problem of being erotically attracted to their mothers. In addition, he proposed that girls develop penis envy which suggests that because they do not have one, it leads to their desire for males. This might explain why today females undergo sex-change operations. These theories, however, are partially rejected by most psychologists today as Freud's theories lack scientific proof. One Freudian theory that may be true is that difficulties early in life may lead to fixation.
On a more reserved note, Freud believed he could reach hidden feelings. To probe one's innermost desires, Freudian clinicians use projective tests, the most famous one being the Rorschach inkblot technique where a persons personality can be determined through their interpretation of the inkblot picture. Another test is the Thematic Apperception Test, which is more scientifically grounded. In psychic determinism and within Freudian slips, Freud claims that all of our acts are determined by unconscious processes involving traumas, desires, or conflicts.
Freud's concepts are still practiced, but have been altered slightly by his new supporters, the Neo-Freudians. One of his most famous supporters was Carl Jung, who later believed that Freud overemphasized sexuality at the expense for other unconscious needs and desires. Jung came up the idea of personal unconscious and the collective unconscious. Jung also came up with the idea that the collective unconscious gives us the images known as archetypes. Another Jungian concept are introversion and extroversion which are the direct opposite of each other. Introversion means people look at their own experiences or thoughts while its opposing tendency in personality is extroversion, meaning that people are outgoing and direct themselves to others. These are just two examples of fourteen dispositions termed as Jung's Opposing Tendencies. Another Neo-Freudian, Karen Horney, believed that the difference between female and males personality stems from social roles. She also believed if an individual were to become anxious or unsafe, the process of healthy psychological development would be skewed, resulting in the individual becoming neurotic. In Karen Horney's theory of neurotic needs you can find 10 examples of needs brought about by unhealthy development and neurosis. Horney also developed the idea of basic anxiety, an emotion that gives a sense of loneliness and uncertainty. This can lead to maladjustment.

Humanistic Theory


The humanistic theories are optimistic about the core of human nature. For humanists, personality is not driven by unconscious conflicts and defenses against anxiety but rather by needs to adapt, learn, grow, and excel. The humanists emphasized the positive in human nature. Once people are free from negative situations, such as an abusive relationship or negative self-evaluations (such as "I'm not smart"), then the tendency to be healthy should actively guide them to life-enhancing choices. Gordon Allport developed one of the first complete theories in humanistic psychology that divided traits into three groups:central traits (happy, sad, moody), secondary traits (Preferences such as you like chocolate ice cream), and cardinal traits (greed). Abraham Maslow described a healthy personality as one that is not only free from illness but is also fulfilled, he also came up with the idea that an individual is motivated by a hierarchy of needs. Maslow described people who had met a healthy personality, such as Abraham Lincoln, as self-actualizing personalities. Carl Rogers had a different take on the personality. He referred to the healthy personality as the fully functioning person. Rogers wanted people to recognize the reality of perceptions and feeling, he called this the phenomenal field.

Social-Cognitive Theories

The social-cognitive theories build their ideas of personality from a solid scientific base with an emphasis on research. These theories, then, do not explain all aspects, but instead focus in on specific influences on personality and behavior as a result of their research. According to Albert Bandura's theory we are driven by our expectations of how our actions might affect other people, the environment, and ourselves. Bandura also contributed the idea of observational learning, as well as the concept of reciprocal determinism. Julian Rotter, a cognitive psychologist, came up with a theory based on how much control we feel we have at any given time. Rotter's Theory tells us that the way we act depends on our sense of personal power, also known as locus of control. A question which illustrates this would be: Do you feel you can control the grade you achieve in your psychology class? If you answered "yes" to this question, then you have an internal locus of control; it also means you work hard to get good grades. If you rarely study because you think it won't affect your grade and the teacher will give you poor marks no matter what, then you have an external locus of control. In other words, an internal locus of control focuses on an individual's personal control of the situation. An external locus of control involves putting the blame on others involvement in the situation. Locus of control, however, is not a concrete thing; just because a person currently has an external locus of control does not mean they won't or don't ever feel they have control over a situation.



What Persistent Patterns are Found in Personality?
The first theory of personality was proposed by the Greek physician Hippocrates, who hypothesized that personalities are determined by the balance of the body's four humors. For example sanguine is a cheerful person with strong warm blood. Choleric is anger, or yellow bile (choler) with flows from the liver. Melancholic is like depressed or black bile. Lastly, Phlegmatic is phlegm or mucus, cool, aloof, slow and unemotional. This theory has been proven wrong and we now know that it is biological factors that create personality. For example, if someone is considered to be depressed or psychotic it may be caused by an imbalance of neurotransmitters. In modern psychology, theorists classify peoples personality by temperaments, traits, and types. Temperaments refer to a general "theme" in a child's behavior. When we describe our friends as being outgoing or shy, we are describing their traits. By using a measuring tool called factor analysis, researchers were able to create five major factors of a person's personality, commonly known as the "Big Five" traits or The Five Factor Theory. One of the most widely used of the personality inventories is the Minnesota Multiphiasic Personality Inventory or the MMPI-2. From a scientific standpoint, the MMPI-2 is used because it has reliability and validity meaning it provides stable and consistent scores as well as actually measuring what it's supposed to measure. Cognitive theorist Walter Mischel found evidence that suggest people behave less consistently from one situation to another. He said that an extroverted person could be shy in one situation, yet perfectly normal in another. This is where Mischel brought up the Person-situation controversy, arguing that knowledge of a situation is more important than traits in predicting behavior. Type refers to especially important dimensions or clusters of traits that are found essentially the same pattern in people (misconceived as stereotypes). The most popular personality test is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), which is used to counsel students in finding a career, to help with relationships, and as a consultant in management training. Personality tests like these are available online, or are sometimes given in classes, jobs, etc.

What "Theories" do People Use to Understand Each Other?

When you think about someone, certain traits come to mind. We stereotype people the first chance we get and our judgments are normally based on the implicit personality theory. These include innate views held primarily by non-psychologists that are used to make it easier to analyze and understand others. When judging others, the fundamental attribution error also tends to occur; the person, rather than the situation, is blamed for events. In order for human beings to understand each other they go through observational learning. Hans Eysenck created a theory that examined two parts of temperament, Neuroticism and extroversion-introversion. Extroversion and introversion are descriptions of a person's tendencies during interactions with their environment; If someone is considered introverted, they are more reserved, while someone who is considered extroverted is usually very outgoing. In these theories, psychologists become eclectic, meaning they either change theories depending on the situation or they blend theories together to create a whole new one.

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