Introduction to Psychology/Personality

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Psychodynamic Theories

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Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theory of personality argues that human behavior is the result of the interactions among three component parts of the mind: the id, ego, and superego. This theory, known as Freud’s structural theory of personality, places great emphasis on the role of unconscious psychological conflicts in shaping behavior and personality. Dynamic interactions among these fundamental parts of the mind are thought to progress through five distinct psychosexual stages of development. Over the last century, however, Freud’s ideas have since been met with criticism, in part because of his singular focus on sexuality as the main driver of human personality development.

Humanistic Personality Theories

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According the Humanistic Psychologist Carl Rogers, the personality is composed of the Real Self and the Ideal Self. Your Real Self is who you actually are, while your Ideal Self is the person you want to be.

The Ideal Self is an idealized version of yourself created out of what you have learned from your life experiences, the demands of society, and what you admire in your role models.

For example, your parents are medical doctors who are respected and admired in the community, and experience tells you that in order to be happy, you need to be smart and have a high-paying job. Your Ideal Self might be someone who excels in science subjects, spends a lot of time studying, and does not get queasy at the sight of blood. If your Real Self is far from this idealized image, then you might feel dissatisfied with your life and consider yourself a failure.

Trait Theories

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Trait theories of personality are models developed with factor analysis that describe a personality on independent scales. The current leading trait theory is that of the big five personality traits and the development of the big five personality test.

Cognitive-Social Learning Theories

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Social cognitive theory is the view that people learn by watching others. In psychology, it explains personality in terms of how a person thinks about and responds to one's social environment. For example, in the 1960s Albert Bandura (a pioneer in social cognitive theory) argued that when people see someone else awarded for behavior, they tend to behave the same way to attain an award. People are also more likely to imitate those with whom they identify. Bandura famously illustrated social learning by showing children a video of a girl punching a doll; presented later with a doll, the children behaved in similarly aggressive ways. Not all learning is acted upon; for example, one might learn to hunt by observing others yet never actually hunt.

Personality Assessment

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Psychological Assessment refers to any type of standardized, mental testing or behavioral evaluation. Assessments are used to measure intelligence, development, personality, attitudes, and cognitive, social, or emotional functioning, and are also used by clinicians to diagnosis disorders. Psychological assessments may take the form of a questionnaire, an interview, or observational methods. The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, the Beck Depression Inventory, and the Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale are all examples of psychological assessments.

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