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Theories of Personality Saad Almoshawah Ph.D Health Psychology

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  • Slide 1
  • Theories of Personality Saad Almoshawah Ph.D Health Psychology
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  • Theories of Personality Everyone is different, yet we also have things in common. The model of personality which we hold is crucial for our perception of human beings - it gives us our underlying beliefs about what human beings are really like. there is no model which is able to account for everything about human beings. Rather, different theories of personality adopt different levels of explanation, and seek to explain different features of human beings.
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  • Theories of Personality There are a number of philosophical issues, too, which are raised by the various theories of personality. One of these is the question of determinism. Determinism :is all about whether human beings have free will or not. We all feel, for the most part, as if our behaviour is under our own control; but at the same time we recognise that we are influenced by other things as well. Another issue to look out for in theories of personality is the question of reductionism.
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  • Reductionist accounts of human behaviour are often very popular, because they seem attractively simple. They consist of arguments which reduce the subject matter to its constituent parts, and then assert that there is nothing more to be explained. Reductionist account of human personality might look for the basic units or factors which make up personality, and say that this is all there is.
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  • Early theories of personality Personality domains. In the second century BC, the Greek physician Galen outlined a theory of personality which stated that there were essentially three domains of the human psyche: the cognitive, or intellectual domain, the conative, or intentional domain, and the affective, or emotional, domain. The cognitive and affective domains formed the driving force of human behaviour, and the cognitive domain guided and directed how these energies were expended
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  • Early theories of personality The theory of the humours Throughout the Middle Ages, the popular model of human personality was the theory of the humours One of the earliest theories of personality, dating from the Ancient Greeks and very popular throughout mediaeval Europe, was the idea that personality depended on the balance of fluids in the body. The idea was that there were four basic body fluids: blood, phlegm, black bile and yellow bile.
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  • Psychoanalytic Theories Psychoanalytic theories of personality originated with the work of Sigmund Freud, in the later half of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth. Freud's work was followed by that of many others. Unlike most modern psychological research and theory, the psychoanalytic approach adopts different methodological criteria. Freud used what were then some very new methods of free association.
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  • As his theory developed, Freud formulated a model of the mind as being constructed a bit like an iceberg. The conscious mind represented the part of the iceberg above the surface, clearly visible and apparent to the individual. The techniques of free-association, dream analysis and the careful examination of minor slips of the tongue, in Freud's view, allowed these concerns to surface, providing material evidence of the contents of the unconscious mind.
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  • Id, ego and super-ego Freud saw the adult personality as having three basic components: the id, the ego and the super-ego. The id and the super-ego were both unconscious, but exerting pressure on the ego, which was the part of the mind in direct contact with reality. According to Freud, a young infant has only an id, the other two parts of the personality develop later. Id unrealistic, selfish and demanding, working on what Freud described as the pleasure principle the idea that every impulse should be satisfied, immediately.
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  • Id, ego and super-ego The ego, according to Freud, operates according to the reality principle, trying to balance the demands of the unconscious mind with what is practical. Freud, it is important to remember, was developing his theory in Victorian times, when strict discipline was enforced on virtually all middle-class children. the child developed a kind of internalised, unconscious 'parent', which contained strict ideas of propriety, duty, conscience and obligations. This is known as the super- ego.
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  • Id, ego and super-ego The role of the ego is, therefore, to maintain a balance between their conflicting pressures, and also to keep on an even keel with the demands of reality. In Freud's model of the mind, then, the unconscious parts of the mind are continually trying to break through to dominate the consciousness, but they are held back by the ego. The ego, therefore, experiences three sources of threat: those from the id, those from the super-ego and those from reality itself. In order to cope with these, it uses defense mechanisms.
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  • Early experience and personality Freud argued that adult personality was set by experiences which had occurred during infancy and childhood. He saw the first five years of the child's life as being crucial in determining sexual orientation and other aspects of personality. For Freud, sexual energy, or libido, was the main life affirming force in the human psyche.
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  • Early experience and personality In the young infant, Freud believed, the libido was focused on the mouth, and infants could derive great satisfaction from oral activity: at this time, the young child would automatically put anything new to its mouth. Freud called this the oral stage. the nature of the pleasure which the child experienced in the oral stage could leave a lasting effect on personality. At the age of five or so, Freud saw the young child as having to resolve its sexual identity. The male child did so, he argued, through the Oedipal conflict.
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  • Later psychoanalytic theorists added the idea of an Electra conflict, in which the young girl was supposed to see herself, unconsciously, as having been castrated. She blames her mother for this, which produces a conflict similar to that of the young boy and his father: the mother is bigger and more powerful, and therefore a threat.
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  • Freud's methodology There are other weaknesses of psychoanalytic theory. One of these concerns the methodology, in which dreams or slips of the tongue are seen as indicating unconscious wish fulfillment. Another criticism of Freudian theory concerns the very limited sample of women, and just one child, on whom Freud based his theories.
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  • Freud, undoubtedly, was a seeker after truth: he believed he had found valuable insights into human personality. But the psychological realities which he was seeking to explain may have been very much more culturally specific than he realised. That does not mean, of course, that the whole theory should be rejected out of hand. The concept of ego defence mechanisms, for instance, is a part of the theory which has been very useful in psychotherapy, and which can be applied to other models of personality as well. But it does mean that many modern psychologists (though not all) treat psychoanalytic theory with a certain amount of scepticism.
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  • Freud's colleagues developed many other forms of psychoanalytic theory. For reasons of space it would be impossible to cover them all here, Carl Gustav Jung : owing to a disagreement with Freud about the importance of sexuality, and formulated his own theory about personality. Erich Fromm differed from both Freud and Jung in the importance which he ascribed to society and social factors. Both Freud and Jung had seen personality development as happening as a result partly of maturation, and partly of interaction with members of the close family.
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  • Trait theories of personality An entirely different set of personality theories is concerned with identifying and quantifying distinctive personality traits, or characteristics, of personality. These theories are sometimes referred to as psychometric theories, because of their emphasis on measuring personality by using psychometric tests.
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  • Eysenck's theory of personality Eysenck developed a theory of personality which argued that the most distinctive aspects of human personality could be grouped into two major traits, and that these traits could be effectively measured using psychometric tests. Eysenck's approach took a largely nativist stance, seeing personality as arising for the most part from inherited physiological tendencies, and regarding environmental influences as playing a very minor part. Eysenck himself claimed to be a behaviourist, but his use of the term was rather different from most.
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  • The development of Eysenck's model Eysenck developed his theory of personality by compiling a large battery of questions about behaviour. He applied these questionnaires to 700 soldiers who were being treated for neurotic disorders at the Maudsley Hospital in London. Eysenck (1947) found that the answers to these questions seemed to link naturally with one another, suggesting that there were a number of different personality traits which were being revealed by the soldiers' answers.
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  • Eysenck then applied the statistical technique known as factor analysis

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