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Theories of Personality. Modern Perspectives of Psychology . Personality development.
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Personality development • Developmental psychology studies the physical, social,and psychological changes that occur at different ages andstages over the lifespan, from conception to old age.The development of the beliefs, moods, and behaviorsthat differentiate among people.The concept of personality refers to the profile ofstable beliefs, moods, and behaviors that differentiateamong children (and adults) who live in a particular society. • The profiles that differentiate children across culturesof different historical times will not be the same becausethe most adaptive profiles vary with the values ofthe society and the historical era. An essay on personalitydevelopment written 300 years ago by a New EnglandPuritan would have listed piety as a major psychologicaltrait but that would not be regarded as an important personalitytrait in contemporary America.
Understandingof personality development • Contemporary theorists emphasize personalitytraits having to do with individualism, internalized conscience,sociability with strangers, the ability to controlstrong emotion and impulse, and personal achievement. • An important reason for the immaturity of our understandingof personality development is the heavy relianceon questionnaires that are filled out by parents ofchildren or the responses of older children to questionnaires.Because there is less use of behavioral observationsof children, our theories of personality developmentare not strong.
Hypotheses regarding theearly origins of personality: a temperamental bias • There are five different hypotheses regarding theearly origins of personality.One assumes that the child’s inherited biology, usuallycalled a temperamental bias, is an important basis for thechild’s later personality. Alexander Thomas and StellaChesssuggested there were nine temperamental dimensionsalong with three synthetic types they called thedifficult child, the easy child, and the child who is slowto warm up to unfamiliarity. • Longitudinal studies of childrensuggest that a shy and fearful style of reacting tochallenge and novelty predicts, to a modest degree, anadult personality that is passive to challenge and introvertedin mood.
Importance of family experience • A second hypothesis regarding personality developmentcomes from Sigmund Freud’s suggestion that variationin the sexual and aggressive aims of the id, whichis biological in nature, combined with family experience,leads to the development of the ego and superego. • Freud suggested that differences in parental socializationproduced variation in anxiety which, in turn, leadsto different personalities.
Role of the socialexperiences • A third set of hypotheses emphasizes direct socialexperiences with parents. After World War II, Americansand Europeans held the more benevolent idealistic conceptionof the child that described growth as motivatedby affectionate ties to others rather than by the narcissismand hostilityimplied by Freud’s writings. • JohnBowlby contributed to this new emphasis on the infant’srelationships with parents in his books on attachment.Bowlby argued that the nature of the infant’s relationshipto the caretakers and especially the mother created a profileof emotional reactions toward adults that might lastindefinitely.
Concept of self critical to the child’spersonality • Objective experiencesdevelop different personality profiles becausethey construct different conceptions about themselvesand others from the same experiences. The notion thateach child imposes a personal interpretation to their experiencesmakes the concept of self critical to the child’spersonality. • An advantage of awarding importance to a conceptof self and personality development is that the process ofidentification with parents and others gains in significance.All children wish to possess the qualities that theirculture regards as good. Some of these qualities are theproduct of identification with each parent.
Observationsof a child’s behavior • A final source of hypotheses regarding the origins ofpersonality comes from inferences based on direct observationsof a child’s behavior. This strategy, which relieson induction, focuses on different characteristics at differentages. Infants differ in irritability, three-year-oldsdiffer in shyness, and six-year-olds differ in seriousnessof mood. • A major problem with this approach is thateach class of behavior can have different historical antecedents.Children who prefer to play alone rather thanwith others do so for a variety of reasons. Some might betemperamentally shy and are uneasy with other childrenwhile others might prefer solitary activity.
The current categories of child psychopathology • The current categories of child psychopathologyinfluenced the behaviors that are chosen by scientistsfor study. Fearfulness and conduct disorder predominatein clinical referrals to psychiatrists and psychologists. • A cluster of behaviors that includes avoidance ofunfamiliar events and places, fear of dangerous animals,shyness with strangers, sensitivity to punishment,and extreme guilt is called the internalizing profile. • The cluster that includes disobedience toward parentand teachers, aggression to peers, excessive dominanceof other children, and impulsive decisions iscalled the externalizing profile. These children are mostlikely to be at risk for later juvenile delinquency. Theassociation between inability of a three-year-old to inhibitsocially inappropriate behavior and later antisocialbehavior is the most reliable predictive relationbetween a characteristic scene in the young child andlater personality trait.
Influences on personality development • The influence comes from a variety of temperamentbut especially ease of arousal, irritability, fearfulness,sociability, and activity level. • The experiential contributionsto personality include early attachment relations,parental socialization, identification with parents,class, and ethnic groups, experiences with other children,ordinal position in the family, physical attractiveness,and school success or failure, along with a number of unpredictableexperiences like divorce, early parentaldeath, mental illness in the family, and supporting relationshipswith relatives or teachers.
The most important personality profiles The most important personality profiles in a particularculture stem from the challenges to which the childrenof that culture must accommodate. Most childrenmust deal with three classes of external challenges: • unfamiliarity, especially unfamiliar people, tasks, andsituations; • request by legitimate authority or conformityto and acceptance of their standards, and • dominationby or attack by other children. In addition, allchildren must learn to control two important families ofemotions: anxiety, fear, and guilt, on the one hand, andon the other, anger, jealousy, and resentment.
Four important influences on personality • Of the four important influences on personality—identification, ordinal position, social class, and parentalsocialization—identification is the most important. Bysix years of age, children assume that some of the characteristicsof their parents belong to them and they experiencevicariously the emotion that is appropriate to theparent’s experience. • A six-year-old girl identified withher mother will experience pride should mother win aprize or be praised by a friend. However, she will experienceshame or anxiety if her mother is criticized or is rejectedby friends. The process of identification has greatrelevance to personalty development.
Personality inventory • Personality inventory is a method of personality assessment based on aquestionnaire asking a person to report feelings orreactions in certain situations.Personality inventories, also called objective tests,are standardized and can be administered to a number ofpeople at the same time. • A psychologist need not be presentwhen the test is given, and the answers can usuallybe scored by a computer. Scores are obtained by comparisonwith norms for each category on the test. A personalityinventory may measure one factor, such as anxietylevel, or it may measure a number of different personalitytraits at the same time, such as the Sixteen PersonalityFactor Questionnaire (16 PF).
Minnesota MultiphasicPersonality Inventory • The personality inventory used most often for diagnosingpsychological disorders is the Minnesota MultiphasicPersonality Inventory, generally referred to asthe MMPI. It consists of 550 statements that the test takerhas to mark as “true,” “false,” or “cannot say.” • Answersare scored according to how they correspond with thosegiven by persons with various psychological disorders,including depression, hysteria, paranoia, psychopathicdeviancy, and schizophrenia. The MMPI was originallydeveloped (and is still used) for the diagnosis of these andother serious psychological problems. However enoughresponses have been collected from people with less severeproblems to allow for reliable scoring of responsesfrom these persons as well. • Many people with no severedisorder are now given the MMPI as an assessment toolwhen they begin psychotherapy, with scoring geared towardpersonality attributes rather than clinical disorders.
The California Psychological Inventory • The California Psychological Inventory (CPI), basedon less extreme measures of personality than the MMPI,assesses traits, including dominance, responsibility, selfacceptance,and socialization. In addition, some parts ofthe test specifically measure traits relevant to academicachievement. Another inventory designed to measure aspectrum of personality variables in normal populationsis the Personality Research Form (PRF), whose measurementscales include affiliation, autonomy, change,endurance, and exhibition. • The Neuroticism ExtroversionOpenness Personality Inventory and Revised (NEO-PIR)also measures common dimensions of personalitysuch as sensitivity and extroversion, but it differs fromother tests in its inclusion of both “private” and “public” versions. The questions in the private version are answeredlike those in other personality inventories, but thepublic version consists of having another person acquaintedwith the test taker answer questions about himor her. Significant discrepancies between the two versionscan be an important source of information for thoseinterpreting the test.
Rorschach technique • A projective personality assessment based on thesubject’s reactions to a series of ten inkblot pictures.Popularly known as the “Inkblot” test, the Rorschachtechnique, or Rorschach Psychodiagnostic Test isthe most widely used projective psychological test. TheRorschach is used to help assess personality structureand identify emotional problems. Like other projectivetechniques, it is based on the principle that subjectsviewing neutral, ambiguous stimuli will project theirown personalities onto them, thereby revealing a varietyof unconscious conflicts and motivations. • Administeredto both adolescents and adults, the Rorschach can also beused with children as young as three years old. The testprovides information about a person’s thought processes,perceptions, motivations, and attitude toward his or herenvironment, and it can detect internal and externalpressures and conflicts as well as illogical or psychoticthought patterns.
Thematic Apperception Test • The Thematic Apperception Test is an untimed, individuallyadministered psychological test used for personalityassessment. Suitable for ages 14-40, it is used toidentify dominant drives, emotions, and conflicts, aswell as levels of emotional maturity, observational skills,imagination, and creativity. The subject is shown a seriesof pictures, one at a time, and asked to make up astory about each one, and his or her responses are evaluatedby a trained psychologist. • The test is usually givenin two sessions, with 10 pictures shown in each one. Sessionsare untimed but generally last about an hour. Forchildren ages 3-10, see Children’s Apperception Test.
Major Perspectives in Psychology • Any given topic in contemporary psychology can be approached from a variety ofperspectives. Each perspective discussed here represents a different emphasis orpoint of view that can be taken in studying a particular behavior, topic, or issue. • The influence of the early schools of psychology is apparentin the first four perspectives that characterize contemporary psychology.
The Biological Perspective • The biological perspective emphasizesstudying the physical bases of human and animal behavior, includingthe nervous system, endocrine system, immune system, and genetics.Interest in the biological perspective has grown in the last few decades,partly because of advances in technology and medicine. For example, in the late1950s and early 1960s, medications were developed that helped control the symptomsof serious psychological disorders, such as schizophrenia and depression. • The relative success of these new drugs sparked new questionsabout the interaction among biological factors and human behavior,emotions, and thought processes.Equally important were technological advances that have allowedpsychologists and other researchers to explore the humanbrain as never before. The development of the PET scan, MRI scan,and functional MRI (fMRI) scan has allowed scientists to study thestructure and activity of the intact brain. These and other advanceshave produced new insights into the biological bases of memory,learning, mental disorders, and other behaviors.
Demonstration of Cortical Activities During SpeechThe figures show the pathway for reading and naming something that is seen, such as reading aloud. PET scans show the areas of the brain that are most activeduring various phases of speech. Red indicates the most active areas; blue indicates the least active areas.
The Psychodynamic Perspective • The key ideas and themes of Freud’s landmark theory of psychoanalysiscontinue to be important among many psychologists, especiallythose working in the mental health field. • Today,psychologists who take the psychodynamic perspectiveemphasize the importance of unconscious influences,early life experiences, and interpersonal relationshipsin explaining the underlying dynamics of behavior orin treating people with psychological problems.
The Behavioral Perspective • Watson and Skinner’s contention that psychologyshould focus on observable behaviors and the fundamentallaws of learning is evident today in the behavioralperspective. Contemporary psychologists whotake the behavioral perspective continue to study howbehavior is acquired or modified by environmentalcauses. • Many psychologists who work in the area ofmental health also emphasize the behavioral perspectivein explaining and treating psychological disorders.
The Humanistic Perspective • The influence of the work of Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow continues to beseen among contemporary psychologists who take the humanistic perspective.The humanistic perspective focuses on the motivation of people to grow psychologically,the influence of interpersonal relationships on a person’s self-concept,and the importance of choice and self-direction in striving to reach one’s potential. • Like the psychodynamic perspective, the humanistic perspective is oftenemphasized among psychologists working in the mental health field.
The humanistic perspectivefocuses on the motivation of people to grow psychologically,the influence of interpersonal relationships on a person’s self-concept,and the importance of choice and self-direction in striving to reach one’s potential.
The Cognitive Perspective • During the 1960s, psychology experienced a return to the study of how mentalprocesses influence behavior. This movement was called “thecognitive revolution” because it represented a break from traditional behaviorism.Cognitive psychology focused once again on the important role ofmental processes in how people process and remember information, developlanguage, solve problems, and think. • The development of the first computers in the 1950s contributed to the cognitiverevolution. Computers gave psychologists a new model for conceptualizinghuman mental processes—human thinking, memory, and perception could be understoodin terms of an information-processing model.
The Cross-Cultural Perspective • More recently, psychologists have taken a closer look at how cultural factors influencepatterns of behavior—the essence of the cross-cultural perspective. • By thelate 1980s, cross-cultural psychology had emerged in full force as large numbersof psychologists began studying the diversity of human behavior in different culturalsettings and countries. • In the process,psychologists discovered that some well-established psychological findingswere not as universal as they had thought.
Social loafing • For example, one well-established psychological finding was that people exertmore effort on a task when working alone than when working as part of a group,a phenomenon called social loafing. First demonstrated in the 1970s, social loafinghas been a common finding in many psychological studies conducted withAmerican and European subjects. • But when similar studies were conducted withChinese participants during the 1980s, the opposite was found to be true. Chinese participants worked harder on a task whenthey were part of a group than when they were working alone.These findings were just the tip of the iceberg. Today, psychologists arekeenly attuned to the influence of cultural and ethnic factors on behavior.
The Evolutionary Perspective • The newest psychological perspective to gain prominence is that of evolutionarypsychology. Evolutionary psychology refers to the application of the principlesof evolution to explain psychological processes and phenomena. • Theevolutionary perspective has grown out of a renewed interest in the work of Englishnaturalist Charles Darwin. Darwin’s first book on evolution, On the Originof Species by Means of Natural Selection, was published in 1859.
Psychologicalprocesses that were adaptations to a prehistoric way of life may continue to existin the behavioral repertoire of people today. However, some of those processes maynot necessarily be adaptive in our modern world. The important point here is that a few thousand yearsis not long enough for sweeping evolutionary changes to take place.
The theory of evolution • The theory of evolution proposes that the individual members of a speciescompete for survival. Because of inherited differences, some members of a speciesare better adapted to their environment than are others. Organisms that inheritcharacteristics that increase their chances of survival in their particular habitatare more likely to survive, reproduce, and pass on their characteristics to theiroffspring. • Conversely, individuals that inherit less-useful characteristics are lesslikely to survive, reproduce, and pass on their characteristics. This process reflectsthe principle of natural selection: The most adaptive characteristics are “selected”and perpetuated to the next generation.
How is evolutionary theory applied to psychology? • Basically, psychologistswho take the evolutionary perspective assume that psychological processes arealso subject to the principle of natural selection. A given psychological process exists in the form it does because it “solved a specificproblem of individual survival or reproduction recurring over human evolutionaryhistory.” That is, those psychological processes that helped individuals adaptto their environments also helped them survive, reproduce, and pass those abilitieson to their offspring. • The role of evolution in shaping modern psychological processes,keep a couple of things in mind.We tend to take the trappings of civilization—governments, transportation systems, factories and manufacturing,education and organized medicine—for granted. But these aspects of everydaylife developed only recently in the evolutionary history of Homo sapiens. What wethink of as human history has existed for less than 10,000 years, since the earliestappearance of agriculture.In contrast, our evolutionary ancestors spent more than 2 million years ashunter-gatherers. Our lives as humans living in agricultural, industrial,and postindustrial societies make up less than 1 percent of the time that humansspent as hunter-gatherers.