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Personality includes the unique pattern of psychological and behavioral characteristics that distinguishes each of us from everyone else. Personality characteristics are relatively stable and enduring, often developed in childhood and affect the way we think, act, feel and behave. Individual personality patterns are both consistent and stable and unique and distinctive. There are five main approaches to the study of personality, each with its own basic assumptions and methods for measuring personality.

The five main approaches we will review are the PSYCHODYNAMIC, HUMANISTIC, BEHAVIORAL, TRAIT and BIOPSYCHOLOGICAL theories including their ideas on how personality, motivation and overt behavior patterns develop over time. Each theory also explores how one becomes productive and self-fulfilled or nonproductive and maladjusted and develops a theory for treatment of mental disorders.


PSYCHODYNAMIC theories emphasize the interplay of UNCONSCIOUS MENTAL PROCESSES in determining human thought, behavior and feelings. It is a CONFLICT APPROACH that assumes that opposing forces within an individual are constantly clashing.

To psychoanalysts, personality is primarily UNCONSCIOUS, beyond our normal awareness. The UNCONSCIOUS MIND is a network of stored, often repressed ideas, experiences and feelings that affect our conscious thoughts and our behaviors. One focus of psychoanalysis is to bring these awarenesses to our conscious mind through the process of PSYCHOANALYSIS so that we can gain control over our behavior.

Freud postulated three levels of awareness, the CONSCIOUS MIND, the portion of the mind of which we are presently aware, the PRECONSCIOUS MIND, the portion of the mind that contains information that is not presently conscious but may easily be brought to consciousness and the UNCONSCIOUS MIND wherein are stored primitive instinctual motives (id) and memories, ideas and experiences that have been repressed.

Freud likened the mind to an ICEBERG, the relatively small portion that we see above the water representing the CONSCIOUS MIND. Bordering the tip of the iceberg, the conscious mind, lies the larger portion partially submerged, the PRECONSCIOUS which is able to come to conscious awareness but normally lies hidden beneath the surface.

The largest part lies deeply submerged, far from the conscious mind, the reservoir of UNCONSCIOUS drives, memories and repressions. The UNCONSCIOUS is filled with early fears, memories and childhood conflicts, fears and desires of the ID and threatening material the ego chooses to repress.

As the UNCONSCIOUS is the largest part of the mind it tends to be a large factor in the causation and motivation of human behavior according to psychoanalysts. It is important to make the UNCONSCIOUS CONSCIOUS so one may control and direct ones own behavior rather than be DETERMINED by early childhood experiences and the raw animalistic nature of the ID.



SIGMUND FREUD theorized that the origin of personality lies in the PSYCHODYNAMIC INTERPLAY of three forces in the personality - the ID, EGO and SUPEREGO.


The ID is present at birth and is instinctual. The energy of the ID, the LIBIDO, operates according to the PLEASURE PRINCIPLE. The ID is driven to fulfill needs and desires and to bring pleasure and satisfaction to the organism. The id is largely UNCONSCIOUS, AMORAL AND INSTINCTUAL. The goal of the ID is to relieve tension and increase pleasure and satisfaction.

In the ID lie the polarities of LIFE DRIVES called EROS and DEATH DRIVES and instincts (THANATOS). The ID may seek pleasure through life energy (LIBIDO) in constructive ways or through the destructive aggressive death energy (MORTIDO). Children may happily seek satisfaction of their desires in seemingly constructive ways until someone denies them pleasure or satisfaction. Then children may have “temper tantrums” and release animalistic aggression, rage and destruction. As adults we also may find an inner conflict between destructive desires to drink or smoke and our instinctual desire for pleasure. Often we enjoy risk-taking or “sensation-seeking” activities that threaten our life. We may gamble with money or with challenging destructive relationships. We may become bored when our needs are satisfied.


The SUPEREGO is the JUDICIAL BRANCH of the personality, the moral arm of our personality that tells us what is right and wrong. The SUPEREGO operates by the MORALITY PRINCIPLE and contains LEARNED prescriptions for behavior. It includes values we have INTROJECTED from our parents because we loved and IDENTIFIED with them or because we feared EXTERNAL PUNISHMENT.

The SUPEREGO also includes an internalized punisher, the CONSCIENCE, developed in early childhood. The CONSCIENCE controls through GUILT about real or imagined acts. The EGO-IDEAL, an image of what we should be, derived from the expectations of others learned at home, church, school or from social standards expressed in media such as movies and television, also lies in the SUPEREGO.

The SUPEREGO is generally in INTRAPSYCHIC CONFLICT with the ID. The SUPEREGO chastises the ID, questioning motives creating "moral anxiety" and trying to rein in the lustful, selfish, wild impulsive desires of the ID. The SUPEREGO is incessantly talking to us in our mind and is sometimes called the INTERNALIZED PARENT as it tells us what to do, judges our guilt and administers punishment for our transgressions.

Some persons have an overdeveloped restrictive SUPEREGO that controls the personality. If dominated by the SUPEREGO the person may become rigid, moralistic, neurotic, repressed and depressed leading a robot-like controlled existence. Since the SUPEREGO is LEARNED, some persons may not develop a CONSCIENCE and may become cold, uncaring, selfish, aggressive ANTISOCIAL PERSONALITIES.


The EGO is the only part of the personality that can ACT and must deal with REALITY and attempt to MAXIMIZE PLEASURE for the ID while AVOIDING PUNISHMENT AND GUILT from the SUPEREGO. The EGO experiences NEUROTIC ANXIETY from the ID that insists upon satisfaction and pleasure and MORAL ANXIETY from the SUPEREGO that demands that we be good, do what is right and noble and strive for perfection. The ego responds to the REALITY PRINCIPLE, attempting to decide what you will do. The EGO may try to ACTIVELY COPE with the anxiety and formulate a conscious plan or DEFENSIVELY COPE by using unconscious DEFENSE MECHANISMS to deny or distort reality to reduce tension and anxiety in the psyche.


1. A distinct and relatively consistent and enduring pattern of perceiving, thinking, feeling and behaving unique to the individual.

2. A theory of personality describing how personality develops that explains how underlying processes interact to determine human behavior. This theory emphasizes the importance of unconscious internal forces such as motives, drives and impulses as being in conflict with moral learned drives and motives.

3. CONFLICT in the personality between the three parts of the psyche, the id, ego and superego.

4. Freud's portion of the mind containing information that is not presently conscious but may be brought to awareness fairly easily.

5. A portion of the mind including information one is currently aware of or is actively remembering.

6. Mental thoughts, feelings and desires that one is not aware of but may affect our current behavior.

7. Desires and forces which guide and direct our behavior of which we are unaware. 8. An inborn, species-specific automatic disposition to respond to a specific stimulus

that occurs without learning.

9. The source of instinctual energy, an unconscious bundle of sexual and aggressive drives that operates according to the PLEASURE PRINCIPLE.

10. The name for LIFE INSTINCTS IS ; the name for DEATH INSTINCTS IS .

11. The aspect of personality that is present at birth and desires immediate gratification.

12. The principle guiding the ID that seeks to reduce tension, avoid pain and satisfy desires.

13. In psychodynamic theory the part of the mind that IDENTIFIES with parents and INTERNALIZES their beliefs, values and moral restrictions.


14. _____________________ To Freud an aspect of the SUPEREGO that includes "should nots" for which we have been punished in the past and for which we now punish ourselves through feeling "guilt".

15. Another component of Freud's superego that includes what we "should" do and standards of perfection.

16. The part of the mind that opposes the desires of the ID by giving ethical standards or rules for behavior creating intrapsychic "MORAL ANXIETY".

17. Freud's "LIFE FORCE", basic instinctual sexual energy that seeks pleasure of related desires like being warm, well fed, secure and happy.

18. The part of the mind that attempts to adapt to REALITY, mediating between the id and superego.

19. The operating principle for the EGO which seeks to find realistic ways to meet the demands of the id without offending the moral principles of the superego.

20. UNCONSCIOUS MECHANISMS used by the ego to reduce anxiety and intrapsychic tension by denying or distorting reality.

21. _____________________ Neo-Freudian who focused on birth order and “striving for superiority” as prime human motivators

22. _____________________ Neo-Freudian who thought that Introversion and Extroversion were important personality “types”

23. _____________________ Neo-Freudian who focused on psycho”social” crises as major determinants of personality


BEHAVIORISTS believe that personality is shaped by operant conditioning principles. When we receive positive reinforcement such as attention or praise for a behavior, we are likely to repeat that behavior. We will avoid negative situations becoming negatively reinforced for avoiding, reducing or terminating the painful stimulus. Over time these responses become HABIT PATTERNS OR RESPONSE TENDENCIES, known as personality by behaviorists. Are we then only a sum of our previous experiences, a set of BEHAVIORAL TENDENCIES shaped by others? Are we "programmed puppets", determined by our ENVIRONMENTAL HISTORIES? Is our personality LEARNED, a product of our past conditioning? Is our behavior CONTROLLED by the CONSEQUENCES of that behavior rather than by our own FREE WILL?

B.F. SKINNER, the father of operant conditioning, believes all these propositions are correct and he believes we can explain any behavior if we have sufficient knowledge of environmental histories of reinforcement. He proposed a SCIENCE OF HUMAN BEHAVIOR that would apply the LAWS OF HUMAN BEHAVIOR to predict and control human behavior.

If, he argued, we are all controlled by the world in which we live, we can use ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING to reinforce values, beliefs and behaviors that would benefit the individual as well as society. He proposed that we use BEHAVIORAL SCIENCE in schools, homes, hospitals and relationships to "shape" well-adjusted, happy, productive persons through proper rewards and reinforcement of desired behaviors.

Skinner and other behaviorists believe all behavior is LEARNED, DETERMINED by what we have learned from our ENVIRONMENT. They emphasize the importance of ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS. They believe that the environment may shape normal or abnormal behavior but emphasize that "There is no such thing as an abnormal person, only a normal person in an abnormal environment."

Skinner's operant approach to understanding behavior through analyzing the interactions between behavior and environmental reinforcement is known as the FUNCTIONAL ANALYSIS OF BEHAVIOR. Skinner analyzes stimuli that proceed the response and consequences following the behavior to discover the CAUSE-EFFECT RELATIONSHIP. By changing the reinforcers in the environment, Skinner believed he could change the behavior, a therapeutic process known as BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION.

The COGNITIVE-BEHAVIORAL APPROACH emphasizes classical as well as operant conditioning and focuses on the importance of learned thoughts or cognitions as important variables in shaping personality patterns. One example is JULIAN ROTTER'S theory on LOCUS OF CONTROL. He proposes that it is our belief about a situation or experience that affects behavior.We either believe we are in control of our fate (INTERNAL LOCUS OF CONTROL) or that we are controlled by external forces (EXTERNAL LOCUS OF CONTROL) that determines how successfully we will react to situations. Through our experience we LEARN a SET OF EXPECTANCIES that then determine our behavioral response.

COGNITIVE SOCIAL-LEARNING THEORISTS stress learned expectations that may in turn affect the environment. BANDURA viewed the COGNITION, the belief of SELF-EFFICACY, a learned expectation of success, as pivotal to success and happiness in life. Our EXPECTANCIES about the world learned from our previous experience begin to shape our experience of the world.

SOCIAL-LEARNING THEORISTS also believe we LEARN behavior from SIGNIFICANT OTHERS in our lives. We MODEL and IMITATE our parents, teachers or other admired persons. We incorporate their values and beliefs into our own personality. Behaviorists have given us many examples and explanations as to how our behavior is shaped and maintained by our environment and persuade us that much of our personality may be a product of our conditioning and learning.


1. An approach that assumes that nothing is gained by studying unobservable intrapsychic structures. His approach focuses on observable behavior that can be measured.

2. Skinner attempted to set up an objective " of human behavior," determining the cause of human behavior through the study of

relationships of stimuli and responses.

3. The idea the human personality is but a sum total of past behaviors that have been reinforced positively or negatively applies the rules of to understand human behavior.

4. To Skinner personality traits are best understood as ___ , produced by a person's history of reinforcements.

5. Since we LEARN behavior from our environment, to change maladaptive behaviors we may use to create an environment that will shape and maintain more effective behaviors through proper reinforcement. 6. Best known for OBSERVATIONAL LEARNING, this psychologist emphasizes the

importance of learning through imitating models.

7. Social-learning theorists believe we LEARN an EXPECTANCY for success through our experience. This cognition or belief in - is important to success and psychological well being.

8. SOCIAL-LEARNING THEORY focuses on how we think about what we observe noting that we acquire a wide range of beliefs, thoughts and feelings about behavior through observing others that affect our actions and chosen behaviors.

9. Behaviorists attempt to find LAWS OF BEHAVIOR to understand the - relationships that underlie, motivate and cause human behavior.

10. Both behaviorists and social-learning theorists stress importance of the , the external setting on behavior rather than internal factors. 11. Critics say focusing on only visible, behavior minimizes the

importance of subjective feelings, desires, and motives that are a substantial part of our human experience.

12. psychologists are the most vocal critics of behaviorists. They charge that minimizing human existence to observable behaviors

dehumanizes the person



The SELF is central to personality to humanistic theorist Carl Rogers. We perceive the world and our experience through our ideas about the SELF, our SELF-CONCEPT. Rogers sees the SELF-CONCEPT as core to understanding human behavior and personality because we “ACT ACCORDING TO OUR SELF-CONCEPT”, be it positive or negative. Indeed Rogers feels we create our own “perceptual reality” and live in our own “subjective” PHENOMENOLOGICAL WORLD that we create from our experiences and feelings about our self. To understand the PERSONALITY we must enter into the SUBJECTIVE WORLD of a person and begin to EMPATHIZE or understand the person from their own subjective reality.

Humanistic psychologists believe that man is essentially GOOD AND RATIONAL. He is motivated from birth to actualize his SELF and is innately driven to SELF-ACTUALIZE his or her potential. Given a nurturing environment in which people give the child the unconditional love, respect and acceptance necessary for growth called UNCONDITIONAL POSITIVE REGARD, the child will grow toward enhancement of his unique self.

PERSONALITY to Rogers is the unique expression of each person's SELF-ACTUALIZING TENDENCY as it unfolds in the person's PERCEPTUAL REALITY. Personality reflects our feelings, beliefs and attitudes about ourselves, our SELF-CONCEPT. If a person's central motivating force, the drive for SELF-ACTUALIZATION, is unimpeded, the person will choose experiences that enhance growth and lead to actualization of potential and SELF-FULFILLMENT.

Given UNCONDITIONAL POSITIVE REGARD during development the child develops into a FULLY FUNCTIONING PERSON who is spontaneous, open, flexible, creative and loving. Fully functioning persons are CONGRUENT, freely expressing their true feelings. Their outside behaviors are CONGRUENT with their inside feelings so they are honest and genuine in their approach to the world.

Unfortunately the growth-process is often thwarted. Instead of receiving UNCONDITIONAL POSITIVE REGARD the child experiences CONDITIONAL POSITIVE REGARD. Instead of acceptance, the developing self experiences CONDITIONS OF WORTH, ways a child must behave to obtain approval. In Roger's personality theory CONDITIONAL POSITIVE REGARD is the cause of poor self-image and maladjustment.

Parental criticism and punishment thwarts the developing self and stunts natural growth. The child now must channel natural growth energies toward DEFENSIVE MECHANISMS. He learns to withdraw from, fight or accept the criticism. Any method he chooses damages his sense of self-worth. He uses elaborate defense mechanisms to defend against the hurt, anxiety and tension. Instead of being genuine the child learns to hide behind masks and play roles or to simply withhold true feelings. Rogers theorizes that the child may even in time lose his or her sense of self, conforming and adapting to the prescriptions of behaviors called CONDITIONS OF WORTH to win external acceptance.

Negative self-concepts, emotional disturbance and mental disorders are products of CONDITIONAL POSITIVE REGARD. The person becomes maladjusted and INCONGRUENT as he loses touch with the self inside. His behaviors on the outside are INCONGRUENT with his feelings on the inside. Humanistic therapies center on assisting the person's honest SELF-EXPLORATION in an atmosphere of UNCONDITIONAL POSITIVE REGARD, ACCEPTANCE, RESPECT AND EMPATHY in hopes the person can rediscover the SELF.


Rogers believes that in a climate of trust and unconditional positive regard, people can begin to drop their masks, facades and ego defenses and become increasingly real and congruent. When they begin to rediscover their real AUTHENTIC self the self-actualizing tendency will allow them to grow toward realization of their full potential, a flowering of their sacred unique self.

Rogers opposes behaviorists with their use of rewards and punishments to shape behavior. Rogers argues reinforcements may lead to CONDITIONS OF WORTH, wherein a child believe his worth depends on his displaying "right" and "proper" attitudes and behaviors. Children need the approval of others, POSITIVE REGARD, and will distort perceptions and deny real feelings to conform to outside standards of behavior. Negative evaluations lead to a NEGATIVE SELF-CONCEPT. A person begins to doubt his self, his abilities and his worth in the world, excessive "punishment" indeed.

The humanistic theory of personality development has led to the establishment of "free" schools and to courses such as "Parent Effectiveness Training" that help parents see their children as individual special growing personalities with legitimate feelings, needs and worth. Rather than using control techniques , such courses teach skills such as EMPATHY, communicating that you understand the child's feelings, and ACCEPTANCE of FEELINGS rather than evaluation and negative JUDGEMENT.

Critics say humanistic psychology is not a personality theory, but a philosophy of life. The HUMANISTIC VIEW emphasizes growth, freedom, choice, creativity other concepts that are difficult to measure, yet no one can deny the influence of humanistic psychologists in turning our focus from our animal nature to our highest human nature, from a Freudian focus on mental illness to a focus on psychological health and personality growth.


"To oversimplify the matter somewhat, it is as if Freud supplied to us the sick half of psychology and we must now fill it out with the healthy half."

To answer the critics who said that humanistic theories lacked scientific evidence, Maslow spent his life researching "SELF-ACTUALIZED" persons and identified personality and behavioral characteristics of these models of psychological health and well-being.

Maslow found his self-actualized subjects were highly driven by growth-oriented METANEEDS. They sought truth and knowledge, meaning and depth to life and beauty and growth. They actively pursued fulfillment of their potential and had the following distinctive characteristics.

In touch with their SELF, they were spontaneous, natural, autonomous and expressed themselves creatively. They possessed empathy for others and identified with mankind as a whole, often dedicating their lives to assisting others with problems. They did not distort reality but perceived reality accurately taking great pleasure in the basic experiences of life like sunsets. They were at peace with themselves, others and the world demonstrating great love, compassion and acceptance toward others.

From his studies of self-actualizing persons Maslow demonstrated that man can become a FULLY FUNCTIONING PERSONALITY and achieve his or her unique potential. Perhaps the goal of our existence is growth, happiness and SELF-FULFILLMENT; perhaps the meaning in life is the UNFOLDING OF THE SELF.



Maslow believed that SELF-ACTUALIZATION was a NEED, the highest need in a hierarchy of human needs. Self-actualization needs are METANEEDS or GROWTH-ORIENTED NEEDS including uniqueness, aliveness, playfulness, truth, beauty, perfection, creativity, joy and goodness.

However these growth-oriented metaneeds cannot be satisfied until lower needs are satisfied. The lowest most animalistic needs are PHYSIOLOGICAL NEEDS for food, water and physical satisfaction. The next level in Maslow's HIERARCHY OF NEEDS contains our needs for SAFETY AND SECURITY that must be satisfied before we can focus on higher levels. Threats to one's safety or security can trigger fear and animalistic responses of aggression. Imagined fears in places such as dark alleys can also MOTIVATE primitive escape responses.

The third level of Maslow's hierarchy includes needs we feel for LOVE AND BELONGINGNESS, human affection and friendships that give us psychological security and a feeling of connectedness and worth. The fourth level includes EGO-ESTEEM NEEDS, our needs for status, recognition, respect and admiration from others. To feel self-pride and self-esteem we try to achieve prestige, status and influence over others.

The four levels of BASIC NEEDS- physiological, safety, love, self-esteem - are DEFICIENCY NEEDS. METANEEDS, growth-oriented striving, cannot be actualized until the DEFICIENCY NEEDS are satisfied. Maslow believed that the fulfillment of growth-oriented self-actualization needs were crucial to psychological health and well being. When our metaneeds are not fulfilled we may become alienated, hostile, depressed, cynical, manipulative and maladjusted. The key to psychological health was satisfaction of lower needs so that one could SELF-ACTUALIZE one's potential and FULFILL the SELF. As Maslow stated,



TRAIT THEORISTS argue personality can best be understood through identifying personality TRAITS, enduring characteristics that organize and control behavior across situations. Traits are characteristics such as reserved, trusting, controlled, tense, serious and submissive that affect behavior.

TRAIT THEORISTS believe if we identify and measure the traits that underlie behavior we can PREDICT BEHAVIOR. They argue that this is the most scientific approach as the goal of science is prediction. Trait theorists develop tests to measure traits that may affect work behaviors, marriage relationships, abnormal behavior or any other behavior that psychologists might want to predict.

Cattell developed a list of TRAIT FACTORS that he believed were central to understanding human personality and resulting behaviors. He used a statistical technique of FACTOR ANALYSIS to reduce thousands of words used to describe personality into thirty basic SOURCE TRAITS and a test, the 16 PF, to measure the most important 16 trait factors that were the SOURCE of behavior. Although critics question whether we indeed have stable factors that predict our behavior, such trait tests are widely used to select candidates for hiring or promotion


1. An innate drive to attain one's highest potential, a process of growth and achievement of capabilities.

2. The main structural component of Roger's view of personality, the perceptions of an individual of himself and his relationship with others.

3. Our SELF-IMAGE including beliefs, feelings and attitudes about ourselves that guide and direct our behavior. Rogers believes we "Act according to our ."

4. A person's internal experiences of the world; the SUBJECTIVE WORLD of experience filtered through our experiences, feeling and self-concept. 5. A theory of personality that emphasizes man's basic goodness, rationality and free

will and his drive to be all that he can be.

6. BEHAVIOR that supports, accepts and respects another individual regardless of one's words or actions.

7. In Roger's personality theory, a state in which the parts of one another do not fit or the outside behavior is inconsistent with internal feelings.

8. A state in which different aspects of the personality "fit" such as the ideal self, perceived self and the real self: wherein behavior is consistent with self-image and inner feelings.

9. As a child seeks POSITIVE REGARD he many find it is CONDITIONAL, dependent upon his doing and acting as others want to gain approval. This is .

10. INCONGRUENCE is likely when parents lead a child to believe his worth depends on his displaying these "RIGHT" attitudes, behaviors and values; they may begin to react inconsistently with their real feelings.

11. When one is maladjusted and has distorted, denied or lost a sense of self one may enter into therapy wherein he will enter a process of self -

involving SELF-DISCLOSURE of real feelings in an attempt to rediscover the AUTHENTIC SELF.

12. This researcher developed the HIERARCHY OF NEEDS,

13. Another name for SELF-ACTUALIZATION NEEDS, growth needs of a higher order such as seeking truth, justice, goodness and the depth and meaning of life. 14. A person who is open, spontaneous, free, flexible, creative, honest and fully

functioning at optimal level.



















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