Power Point Slides about Ted Bundy 2

Table of Contents

Power Point Slides about Ted Bundy
Power Point Slides about Ted Bundy

-Power Point about Ted Bundy

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– analyze from one of the theories of personality 

– The only requirement is that there must be sufficient information available about this person’s life for you to adequately complete the assignment. Also, be sure to choose someone you know and truly find interesting. Base your presentation on a published biographical or autobiographical book, in addition to the text. Be detailed in your discussion of how theoretical concepts apply. There is no need to explain the theoretical concepts (you may presume that the audience knows the theories). Instead, focus on how the theoretical concepts apply to the chosen famous personality to demonstrate that you understand the theories well enough to apply them appropriately, with insight. 

Power Point Slides about Ted Bundy

-You will analyze this person from Freudian perspective: What do you know about his or her childhood that would be of interest to a psychoanalyst? Does this person seem to be fixated at any stage? What are his or her personal relationships like? What conclusions can you draw? You do not have to believe every part of your analysis, but it must reflect the facts of the individual’s life and the theory you are using. 

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• The text has been updated to a more clear and concise version with the latest research literature and a revised list of chapters.

• New Illustrative Biographies: Sonia Sotomayor (Chapter 8) and Barack Obama (Chapter 13).

• Clearer presentation of some issues (e.g., recovered memory; hypnosis) (Chapter 2), additional references making comparisons with other religious traditions (Chapter 16), and a more concise history of Buddhism (Chapter 16).

• Expanded discussion, in the presentation of Erikson’s biography, of the current state of child analysis. Clearer presentation of identity development and moratorium, and some longitudinal research about identity development. Expanded discussion of cross-cultural research (especially regarding the stage of generativity). Mention of terrorists as examples of a foreclosed identity (Chapter 5).

• Expanded content about research on relational approaches with respect to brain functioning and mental health issues (e.g., border- line personality; narcissism) (Chapter 6) and clearer presentation of psychological types (Chapter 3).

• Updated discussion of religious orientations, including more cross-cultural material (e.g., religious orientation in Muslim populations, and in American ethnic groups) (Chapter 7).

• Expanded discussion of the Big Five, and reduced focus on Cattell’s older theory. Expanded discussion of cross-cultural studies of the Five Factor model. More studies of implications of the five factors for life outcomes (e.g., aging and retirement) (Chapter 8).

• Expanded discussion of behavioral genetics and new table on heritability of specific personality characteristics as well as cultural and cross-cultural issues as contexts (Chapter 9).

• The Behaviorism section has been updated with an abridged version of Dollard and Miller’s theory along with Skinner’s theory (also abridged) and Staats’s theory. The Illustrative Biography of Tiger Woods has been updated, discussing how behavioral approaches are specific to particular behaviors, so that a behavioral interpretation of his success at golf (emphasized in the previous edition) shows the limitations of this approach, which does not present a broader view of personality that would have predicted his marital and infidelity problems, which are discussed in this edition (Chapter 10).

• Mischel and Bandura are each discussed in a separate chapter, instead of being combined into the same chapter (in the previous edition). Expanded discussion of the Wediko Camp study (included in this edition) that was the basis of Mischel’s research on traits and situations. The CAPS model is presented as a distinct section. Discussion of the cultural learning and implications of cognitive affective units in the CAPS model (including race differences in response to the O. J. Simpson verdict, and interpersonal relation- ships in the context of prejudice). Discussion of cross-cultural studies of the CAPS model (the United States and Philippines). Discussion of the importance of measuring situations (Chapter 12).

• Expanded section on Positive Psychology, organized in terms of the “three pillars” of positive psychology, with attention to both the individual and social institutions. Also, a new discussion of why happiness is an important theoretical focus, based on an evolutionary argument (Chapter 15).

Why You Need this New Edition

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Theories of Personality UNDERSTANDING PERSONS

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Theories of Personality UNDERSTANDING PERSONS

Sixth Edition

Susan Cloninger

The Sage Colleges

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Cloninger, Susan Theories of personality: understanding persons/Susan Cloninger.—6th ed. p. cm. ISBN-13: 978-0-205-25624-2 (alk. paper) ISBN-10: 0-205-25624-4 (alk. paper) 1. Personality—Textbooks. I. Title. BF698.C543 2013 155.2—dc23


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Student Edition ISBN-10: 0-205-25624-4 ISBN-13: 978-0-205-25624-2

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Many of the designations by manufacturers and seller to distinguish their products are claimed as trademarks. Where those designations appear in this book, and the publisher was aware of a trademark claim, the designations have been printed in initial caps or all caps.

To Nigel

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Preface xvii

Chapter 1 Introduction to Personality Theory 1

PART 1 The Psychoanalytic Perspective 17 Chapter 2 Freud: Classical Psychoanalysis 19 Chapter 3 Jung: Analytical Psychology 44

PART 2 The Psychoanalytic-Social Perspective 65 Chapter 4 Adler: Individual Psychology 67 Chapter 5 Erikson: Psychosocial Development 84 Chapter 6 Horney and Relational Theory: Interpersonal Psychoanalytic

Theory 102

PART 3 The Trait Perspective 125 Chapter 7 Allport: Personological Trait Theory 126 Chapter 8 Two Factor Analytic Trait Theories: Cattell’s 16 Factors

and the Big Five 145 Chapter 9 Biological Theories: Evolution, Genetics, and Biological Factor

Theories 164

PART 4 The Behavioral Perspective 185 Chapter 10 The Challenge of Behaviorism: Dollard and Miller, Skinner,

and Staats 186 Chapter 11 Kelly: Personal Construct Theory 210 Chapter 12 Mischel: Traits in Cognitive Social Learning Theory 228 Chapter 13 Bandura: Performance in Cognitive Social Learning Theory 245

PART 5 The Humanistic Perspective 265 Chapter 14 Rogers: Person-Centered Theory 267 Chapter 15 Maslow and His Legacy: Need Hierarchy Theory

and Positive Psychology 282 Chapter 16 Buddhist Psychology: Lessons from Eastern Culture 305 Chapter 17 Conclusion 328

Glossary 333 References 342 Credits 403 Author Index 405 Subject Index 415


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Preface xvii

Chapter 1 Introduction to Personality Theory 1 Chapter Overview 1 Personality: The Study of Individuals 2 Description of Personality 2 Personality Dynamics 4 Personality Development 4 The Scientific Approach 6 Methods in Personality Research 9 One Theory or Many? Eclecticism and the Future of Personality Theory 14

Summary 15 15 Study Questions 16

PART 1 The Psychoanalytic Perspective 17

Chapter 2 Freud: Classical Psychoanalysis 19 Chapter Overview 19 Preview: Overview of Freud’s Theory 21 Freud’s Theory in His Time, and Ours 22 The Unconscious 23 Structures of the Personality 28 Intrapsychic Conflict 30 Personality Development 34 Psychoanalytic Treatment 38 Psychoanalysis as a Scientific Theory 39 Evaluating Freud’s Theory 42

Study Questions 43

Chapter 3 Jung: Analytical Psychology 44 Chapter Overview 44 Preview: Overview of Jung’s Theory 46 The Structure of Personality 48 Symbolism and the Collective Unconscious 54 Therapy 55 Synchronicity 57 Psychological Types 58 Evaluating Jung’s Theory 62

Study Questions 63


xii Contents

PART 2 The Psychoanalytic-Social Perspective 65

Chapter 4 Adler: Individual Psychology 67 Chapter Overview 67 Preview: Overview of Adler’s Theory 69 Striving from Inferiority toward Superiority 71 The Unity of Personality 73 The Development of Personality 75 Psychological Health 78 The Three Tasks of Life 79 Interventions Based on Adler’s Theory 80

Study Questions 83

Chapter 5 Erikson: Psychosocial Development 84 Chapter Overview 84 Preview: Overview of Erikson’s Theory 86 Child Analysis 88 The Epigenetic Principle 88 The Psychosocial Stages 89 The Role of Culture in Relation to the Psychosocial Stages 93 Racial and Ethnic Identity 96 Research on Development through the Psychosocial Stages 97 Toward a Psychoanalytic Social Psychology 99

Study Questions 101

Chapter 6 Horney and Relational Theory: Interpersonal Psychoanalytic Theory 102 Chapter Overview 102 Preview: Overview of Interpersonal Psychoanalytic Theory 104 Interpersonal Psychoanalysis: Horney 104 Basic Anxiety and Basic Hostility 107 Three Interpersonal Orientations 107 Four Major Adjustments to Basic Anxiety 110 Secondary Adjustment Techniques 111 Cultural Determinants of Development 112 Horney’s Approach to Therapy 114 Parental Behavior and Personality Development 115 The Relational Approach Within Psychoanalytic Theory 115 The Sense of Self in Relationships 118 Narcissism 118 Attachment in Infancy and Adulthood 119 The Relational Approach to Therapy 122

Contents xiii

PART 3 The Trait Perspective 125

Chapter 7 Allport: Personological Trait Theory 126 Chapter Overview 126 Preview: Overview of Allport’s Theory 128 Major Themes in Allport’s Work 130 Allport’s Definition of Personality 130 Personality Traits 132 Personality Development 136 Religious Orientation 138 Personality and Social Phenomena 140 Eclecticism 143

Study Questions 144

Chapter 8 Two Factor Analytic Trait Theories: Cattell’s 16 Factors and the Big Five 145 Chapter Overview 145 Preview: Overview of Factor Analytic Trait Theories 147 Factor Analysis 148 The 16 Factor Theory: Cattell 148 Personality Measurement and the Prediction of Behavior 149 Because Personality Is Complex: A Multivariate Approach 150 Psychological Adjustment 151 Three Types of Traits 151 Predicting Behavior 154 Determinants of Personality: Heredity and Environment 155 The Role of Theory in Cattell’s Empirical Approach 155 The Big Five Factor Theory 155 Extraversion 157 Agreeableness 157 Neuroticism 157 Conscientiousness 158 Openness 159 A Hierarchical Model 159 Are the Five Factors Universal? 160 Various Measures of the Big Five 161 Factors and Other Personality Constructs 162

Chapter 9 Biological Theories: Evolution, Genetics, and Biological Factor Theories 164 Chapter Overview 164 Preview: Overview of Biological Theories 166 Evolutionary Approaches 167 Aggression and Dominance 168

xiv Contents

Sexual Behavior 168 Parental Behavior 170 Altruism and Social Emotions 170 Culture 171 Genetics and Personality 172 Temperament 173 Emotional Arousal 175 Cortical Arousal 176 Biological Factor Theories: Eysenck, Gray, and Others 177 Eysenck’s “PEN” Biological Model 177 Gray’s Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory 179 Cloninger’s Tridimensional Model 181 Biological Mechanisms in Context 182

PART 4 The Behavioral Perspective 185

Chapter 10 The Challenge of Behaviorism: Dollard and Miller, Skinner, and Staats 186 Chapter Overview 186 Preview: Overview of Behavioral Theories 189 Psychoanalytic Learning Theory: Dollard and Miller 190 Learning Theory Reconceptualization of Psychoanalytic Concepts 190 Four Fundamental Concepts about Learning 190 The Learning Process 191 The Four Critical Training Periods of Childhood 192 Frustration and Aggression 193 Conflict 194 Language, Neurosis, and Psychotherapy 194 Suppression 195 Radical Behaviorism: Skinner 195 Behavior as the Data for Scientific Study 196 Learning Principles 197 Applications of Behavioral Techniques 198 Radical Behaviorism and Personality: Some Concerns 199 Psychological Behaviorism: Staats 199 Reinforcement 201 Basic Behavioral Repertoires 201 Situations 205 Psychological Adjustment 205 The Nature-Nurture Question from the Perspective of Psychological Behaviorism 206 The Act Frequency Approach to Personality Measurement 207 Contributions of Behaviorism to Personality Theory 208

Contents xv

Chapter 11 Kelly: Personal Construct Theory 210 Chapter Overview 210 Preview: Overview of Kelly’s Theory 213 Constructive Alternativism 214 The Process of Construing 216 The Structure of Construct Systems 217 The Social Embeddedness of Construing Efforts 219 The Role Construct Repertory (REP) Test 220 Cognitive Complexity 222 Personality Change 222 Therapy 224 Research Findings 225

Chapter 12 Mischel: Traits in Cognitive Social Learning Theory 228 Chapter Overview 228 Preview: Overview of Mischel’s Theory 230 Delay of Gratification 232 Personality Traits: Mischel’s Challenge 234 The CAPS Model 238 Applications of the CAPS Model of Personality 241

Study Questions 244

Chapter 13 Bandura: Performance in Cognitive Social Learning Theory 245 Chapter Overview 245 Preview: Overview of Bandura’s Theory 248 Reciprocal Determinism 250 Self-Regulation of Behavior: The Self-System 251 Self-Efficacy 252 Processes Influencing Learning 255 Observational Learning and Modeling 257 Therapy 259 The Person in the Social Environment 262

Study Questions 263

PART 5 The Humanistic Perspective 265

Chapter 14 Rogers: Person-Centered Theory 267 Chapter Overview 267 Preview: Overview of Rogers’s Theory 269 The Actualizing Tendency 271 The Self 273 Development 273 Therapy 274 Other Applications 278

xvi Contents

Criticisms of Rogers’s Theory 280

Study Questions 280

Chapter 15 Maslow and His Legacy: Need Hierarchy Theory and Positive Psychology 282 Chapter Overview 282 Preview: Overview of Maslow’s Theory 284 Need Hierarchy Theory: Maslow 285 Maslow’s Vision of Psychology 286 Hierarchy of Needs 286 Self-Actualization 289 Applications and Implications of Maslow’s Theory 293 Maslow’s Challenge to Traditional Science 294 Positive Psychology 295 Positive Subjective Experience 296 Positive Traits 299 Positive Institutions 302 The Promise of Positive Psychology 303

Chapter 16 Buddhist Psychology: Lessons from Eastern Culture 305 Chapter Overview 305 Preview: Overview of Buddhist Psychology 307 The Relevance of Buddhism for Personality Psychology 308 A Brief History of Buddhism 309 The Buddhist Worldview: The Four Noble Truths 309 Buddhism and Personality Concepts 311 Spiritual Practices 318 Buddhism and Psychotherapy 324 The Dialogue between Buddhism and Scientific Psychology 325

Chapter 17 Conclusion 328 Chapter Overview 328 Choosing or Combining Theories 328 Theories as Metaphors 329

Study Questions 332

Glossary 333

References 342 Credits 403

Author Index 405

Subject Index 415


Writing this book, with its various editions, has been roughly a two-decade process (so far), and I’ve come to a realization that it will always be a work in process. What used to feel like “completion” now feels simply like a “milestone” as each edition is sent to production. That is fitting, as the field, too, is very much in process. Over the years, some of the hot topics (like the debate over traits versus situationalism, and the controversy over repressed memory of abuse) have faded into the histori- cal past as theories have matured and research has guided reconceptualizations; and some topics have been dropped altogether, in order to make room for the new. The organization of this book has changed a bit to reflect these historical developments. Previously a full chapter, the Dollard and Miller contributions to a behavioral analy- sis of psychoanalytic theory are now part of a consolidated behavioral chapter, with Skinner and Staats. Behaviorism itself has been combined with cognitive behaviorism into one part (Part IV). Positive psychology is growing, and I have expanded its scope within the Maslow chapter, imagining that Abe Maslow would applaud psychology for finally heeding his vision, at least in part.

And while not reflected in the words I have crafted for this edition, I have frequently reminisced about the first term paper I wrote in my first personality course, where I explored all that I could find written by Gordon Allport. If there is a unitary statement, however vague and incomplete, for the field of personality, it seems—at least at this moment, to me—to be his personology. But the details are lacking in his statements, and for that, we need many other theories, ranging from the exciting findings of neuroscience to the very practical and socially important recognition of cultural contexts (e.g., challenges to the Protestant bias of Allport-inspired work on religious orientations). Researchers and theorists in personality have more contributions that deserve reporting than I can possibly report, or even (alas) read! So many things to say, it would take a whole series of books! I invite students to do as I have done, and make understanding personality a life’s work.

One of the major challenges of this edition has been to reduce the total length of the manuscript. Students, both in my classes and in those taught by others who use this book, will undoubtedly be glad for the pruning, but many of those cuts nicked this writer’s Muse as well. How can students of personality not be given more details of this, or of that, I ask myself—but then remember that there is only so much that can be absorbed on a first introduction to the field. All in all, the wisdom of my editors who requested this cutting is hopefully apparent in places that are easier to read. The choice of what to cut was only mine, though, and I apologize if I have made choices with which returning readers disagree. New editions, like nature herself, demand some clearing in order to make room for new growth.


The following is a list of new items included in this edition:

(Chapter 13), and an updated Illustrative Biography on Tiger Woods.

concept for students to comprehend, before discussing Mischel’s more complicated view of traits and the situational context of behavior.

(especially regarding the stage of generativity), child analysis in conjunction with Erikson’s biography, and the Big Five.

functioning and mental health issues (e.g., borderline personality; narcissism) (Chapter 6) and clearer presentation of psychological types (Chapter 3).


xviii Preface

specific personality characteristics as well as cultural and cross-cultural issues as contexts (Chapter 9).

Expanded discussion of cross-cultural studies of the Five Factor model. More studies of implications of the five factors for life outcomes (e.g., aging and retirement) (Chapter 8).

more cross-cultural material (e.g., religious orientation in Muslim populations, and in American ethnic groups), implications of the five factors for life outcomes (e.g., aging and retirement).

theory, along with Skinner’s theory (also abridged) and Staats’s theory.

pillars” of positive psychology, with attention to both the individual and social institutions.

evolutionary argument (Chapter 15).


The following supplements are available to qualified instructors:

PowerPoints (0205260594) The PowerPoints provide an active format for pre- senting concepts from each chapter and incorporating relevant figures and tables. The PowerPoint files can be downloaded from www.pearsonhighered.com. Instructor Resource Manual with Test Bank (0205260578) The Instructor’s Manual includes key terms, lecture ideas, teaching tips, suggested readings, chapter outlines, student projects, and research assignments. The Test Bank is page referenced to the text and is categorized by topic and skill level. The Test Bank is available to adopters in both Windows and Macintosh computerized format. MyTest Testing Software (0205260586) This Web-based test-generating software provides instructors “best in class” features in an easy-to-use program. Create tests and easily select questions with drag-and-drop or point-and-click functionality. Add or modify test questions using the built-in Question Editor and print tests in a variety of formats. The program comes with full technical support. MySearchLab with eText (www.mysearchlab.com) This learning management platform has delivered proven results in helping individual students succeed. Its automatically graded assessments and interactive eText provides engaging experiences that personalize, stimulate, and measure learning for each student.

eText lets students access their textbook anytime, anywhere, and any way they want—including listening online or downloading to iPad. Research and Writing tools help students hone their skills and produce more effective papers. These tools include access to a variety of academic journals, census data, Associated Press news feeds, discipline-specific readings, and a wide range of writing and grammar tools. Discipline-specific resources help students apply concepts to real-world situations. Assessment attached to every chapter enables both instructors and students to track progress and get immediate feedback.

I am grateful to many people who, in various ways, have contributed to this work. Obviously, those who have reviewed the current edition, with often detailed sugges- tions (some taken, some not), deserve my thanks: David King (Mount Olive College), Eric Shiraev (George Mason University), Dan Segrist (Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville), Micah Sadigh (Cedar Crest College), Richard Mangold (Illinois Valley Community College), Todd Nelson (California State University–Stanislaus), John Roop



Preface xix

(North Georgia College & State University), Heather Long (NC A&T University), L. Sidney Fox (California State University, Long Beach), and Jutta Street (Campbell University).

Their advice adds to suggestions made by others, as reviewers of previous editions, and, less formally, those who have generously offered advice: Kurt D. Baker (Emporia State University); Melinda C. R. Burgess (Southern Oklahoma State University); Nicholas Carnagey (Iowa State University); Mary Louise Cashel (Southern Illinois University at Carbondale); George Domino (University of Arizona); Bernadette Tucker Duck (Chicago State University); Jeanine Feldman (San Diego State University); Beverly Goodwin (Indiana University of Pennsylvania); Ehsha G. Klirs (George Mason University); Elissa Koplik (Bloomfield College); Maria J. Lavooy (University of Central Florida); Thomas J. Martinez, III (private practice); Spencer McWilliams (California State University, San Marcos); Carol Miller (Anne Arundel Community College); Paul Murray (Southern Oregon University); Clay Peters (Liberty University); Tom M. Randall (Rhode Island College); Eric Shiraev (George Mason University); Arthur W. Staats (University of Hawaii); Eunkook Suh (University of California, Irvine); and Julie Ann Suhr (Ohio University). Others have also helped by sending papers and books.

Closer to home, several friends and colleagues have offered advice, loaned books, and given emotional support and encouragement when I needed it. So thank you: Russell Couch, Bronna Romanoff, and others in the Psychology Department at The Sage Colleges, where they have watched me juggle (not always successfully) the demands of a full teaching load, committee work, chairing the IRB, and other faculty responsibilities with “The Book.” Special thanks to Nigel Wright, who not only appeared with a full box of books for me to read for an earlier revision (sorry, Nigel—I could not read them all!), but who also reminded me recently that I really indeed do love writing, at a time when exhaustion and an overdue manuscript led me to claim the opposite. His insatiable love of books inspires me. To my son John, thanks for all you have done by what you say and how you live—and one of these days, the other book that is dedicated to you will (hopefully) be ready.

My editors at Pearson have supported this project marvelously, with plenty of advance planning and organizing reviews—and patience for my delinquencies—and so special thanks to Susan Hartmann, Alexandra Mitton, Shiny Rajesh, and others with whom I have not had so much personal contact. Over the years and editions, they are joining others from Pearson in a larger personification of “My Editor,” who makes me feel sometimes important, sometimes rushed, but always expanded to a larger project than my professorial role. Writing is, if not at every moment fun, at least always a challenge and a privilege.

Sue Cloninger Troy, New York

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Theories of Personality UNDERSTANDING PERSONS

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Introduction to Personality Theory

Writers and philosophers have reflected about personality for centuries. They describe various types of people.

The true artist will let his wife starve, his children go barefoot, his mother drudge for his living at seventy, sooner than work at anything but his art. (George Bernard Shaw, Major Barbara, act 1)

A fool uttereth all his mind. (Prov. 29:11)

They tell us about the dynamic motivations and emotions of human nature.

We would all be idle if we could. (Samuel Johnson, quoted in Boswell’s Life of Johnson)

Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it. (William Pitt, speech, House of Lords, January 9, 1770)

Sayings tell us how personality develops down various paths.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Matt. 22:6)

Spare the rod and spoil the child. (Samuel Butler, Hudibras, pt. ii, c. I, 1. 844)

With centuries of such commentary about personality, we might think that we may leave scientific investigation for other problems, perhaps to explore the mysteries of the physical universe and biological processes. Yet formal study is needed, perhaps here more than anywhere, for there are contradictions in culture’s lessons about personality.


Chapter Overview Personality: The Study of Individuals Description of Personality Personality Dynamics Personality Development The Scientific Approach Methods in Personality Research One Theory or Many? Eclecticism and the Future of Personality Theory Summary



Virtue is bold, and goodness never fearful. (Shakespeare, Measure for Measure, act 3, line 215)

Boldness is a child of ignorance and baseness. (Francis Bacon, Essays, line 12)

How can we know, given such contradictory observations, whether boldness should be admired or pitied? Perhaps when we and our friends are bold, we will agree with Shakespeare and leave Bacon’s skepticism aside until we confront a bold enemy. Such sayings, although charming, are disconcerting because there seems to be a saying to support any belief. Cultural sayings do not offer a systematic understanding of human nature. For that, we turn to psychology.


Psychology uses the methods of science to come to some clearer and less ambiguous (if, alas, less literary) understandings of human nature.

Definition of Personality

Personality may be defined as the underlying causes within the person of indi- vidual behavior and experience. Personality psychologists do not all agree about what these underlying causes are, as the many theories in this text suggest. They offer a variety of answers to three fundamental questions. First, how can personal- ity be described? Personality description considers the ways in which we should characterize an individual. How do people differ from one another, and should we describe personality traits by comparing people with one another or use some other strategy, such as studying each individual separately? Second, how can we understand personality dynamics—how people think about and adjust to their life situations, and how they are influenced by culture? Third, what can be said about personality development—how personality changes over the life span, influenced by biological factors and experience? These three questions are so fundamental that each theory considers them in some way.


The most fundamental theoretical question is this: What concepts are useful for describ- ing personality? Should we concentrate on the differences between people? Or should we avoid comparisons, instead focusing on intensive understanding of one person?

Differences between People: Groups or Gradations?

Personality researchers have devoted considerable effort to identifying the ways that individuals differ from one another—that is, of describing individual differences. Essentially, we have the choice of classifying people into a limited number of separate groups, a type approach. Or we can decide that people vary in gradations and describe people by saying how much of the basic dimensions they possess, a trait approach.

TYPES The type approach proposes that personality comes in a limited number of distinct categories (qualitative groupings). Such personality types are categories of people with similar characteristics. A small number of types suffice to describe all people. In ancient Greece, for example, Hippocrates described four basic types of temperament: sanguine (optimistic), melancholic (depressed), choleric (irrita- ble), and phlegmatic (apathetic) (Merenda, 1987). Each person belongs to only one category.

TRAITS AND FACTORS Nature often presents us with more gradual transitions (quantitative dimensions). Consider “cruelty”: Between Mother Teresa and Stalin lie many intermediate levels of cruelty. Therefore, personality researchers generally


the underlying causes within the person of individual behavior and experience


theoretical task of identifying the units of personality, with particular emphasis on the differences between people


the motivational aspect of personality


formation or change (of personality) over time

individual differences

qualities that make one person different from another


a category of people with similar characteristics


prefer quantitative measures, which give each person a score, ranging from very low to very high or somewhere in between. In contrast to types, traits are such quantitative measures. They describe a narrower scope of behavior. Traits permit a more precise description of personality than types because each trait refers to a more focused set of characteristics, and each person is a combination of many traits.

More traits than types are necessary to describe a personality. One classic study counted nearly 18,000 traits among words listed in the dictionary (Allport & Odbert, 1936). Do we really need that many? To eliminate unnecessary redundancy (e.g., by combining synonyms such as “shy” and “withdrawn”), researchers rely on statisti- cal procedures that compute correlations among trait scores, and on that basis they have proposed broad factors of personality. Factors are quantitative, like traits, but they include a broader range of behavior. Factors are often thought to derive from underlying biological variables.

Types, traits, and factors all have a role in personality theory and research. The terms are sometimes used imprecisely, but knowing their differences (summarized in Table 1.1) helps us understand the variety of ways that personality can be described and measured.

Comparing People or Studying Individuals: Nomothetic and Idiographic Approaches

Personality traits and types allow us to compare one person with another: the nomothetic approach. Most personality research is nomothetic. Despite its scientific advantages, the nomothetic method has drawbacks. It studies many people and com- pares them on only a few numerical scores, which makes it difficult to understand one whole person (Carlson, 1971). Much personality research is also limited because it often investigates college students (Carlson, 1971; Sears, 1986), who are more con- veniently available to researchers but who differ from the general adult population on many personality characteristics (Ward, 1993).

In contrast, the idiographic approach studies individuals one at a time. Strictly idiographic approaches are difficult because any description of a person (e.g., “Mary is outgoing”) implies comparison with other people. Although implicit comparisons with other people are unavoidable, we call research idiographic if it focuses on the particularities of an individual case, for example, in a case study or a psychobiographical analysis. William McKinley Runyan reminds personality psychologists of Kluckhohn and Murray’s (1953) classic assertion: “Every man is in certain respects (a) like all other men, (b) like some other men, (c) like no other man” (1988, p. 53). Personality psychology can discover truths about unique individuals, as well as typical group characteristics and universal principles.

quantitative measures

measures that permit expression of various amounts of something, such as a trait


personality characteristic that makes one person different from another and/or that describes an individual’s personality


a statistically derived, quantitative dimension of personality that is broader than most traits


involving comparisons with other individuals; research based on groups of people


focusing on one individual

Table 1.1 Types, Traits, and Factors: Three Ways of Describing Personality

Types Type membership is an all-or-nothing thing (a qualitative variable). A person belongs to one and only one category. Theoretically, a small number of types describe everyone. A person fits into only one type.

Traits Trait scores are continuous (quantitative) variables. A person is given a numeric score to indicate how much of a trait the person possesses. Theoretically, there are a great many traits to describe everyone. A person can be described on every trait.

Factors Factor scores are also continuous (quantitative) variables. A person is given a numeric score to indicate how much of a factor the person possesses. Theoretically, a small number of factors describe everyone. A person can be described on every factor.



The term personality dynamics refers to the mechanisms by which personality is expressed, often focusing on the motivations that direct behavior. Motivation provides energy and direction to behavior. If you see a person running energetically toward a door, you may ask, “Why is that person running?” What is the motivation? Theorists discuss many motives. Some theorists assume that the fundamental motivations or goals of all people are similar. Sigmund Freud suggested that sexual motivation underlies personality; Carl Rogers proposed a tendency to move toward higher levels of develop- ment. Other theorists suggest that motives or goals vary from one person to another. For example, Henry Murray (1938) listed dozens of motives that are of varying importance to different people, including achievement motivation, power motivation, and nurturance.

Personality dynamics include individuals’ adaptation or adjustment to the demands of life and so have implications for psychological health. Modern personal- ity theory considers cognitive processes as a major aspect of personality dynamics. How we think is an important determinant of our choices and adaptation. In addition, culture influences us through its opportunities and expectations.

Adaptation and Adjustment

Personality encompasses an individual’s way of coping with the world, of adjusting to demands and opportunities in the environment—that is, adaptation. Many theories of personality have historical roots in the clinical treatment of patients. Observations of their symptoms, and of increasing adjustment with treatment, suggested more general ideas about personality that have been applied broadly to nonclinical populations; conversely, studies of nonclinical populations have implications for therapy.

Cognitive Processes

What role does thinking play? Theories vary considerably on this question. Based on clinical experience, Sigmund Freud proposed that conscious thought plays only a limited role in personality dynamics; unconscious dynamics are more important in his psychoanalytic theory. Other approaches disagree, emphasizing conscious experi- ence and investigating various thought patterns that predict behavior and coping. The ways that we label experience and the ideas we have about ourselves have substantial effects on our personality dynamics.


Historically, personality theories focused on the individual, leaving culture and soci- ety in the background. This left an incomplete picture of personality and prevented theories from adequately explaining gender, ethnic, and cultural differences. Influenced by greater awareness of cultural change, researchers have increasingly considered the role of culture in personality. Individualistic cultures, like the United States, emphasize individual differences in personality traits more than do collectivist cultures (Heine & Buchtel, 2009). There is also a difference in the personalities that are encouraged in various cultures. The individualism of U.S. culture encourages extraverted and asser- tive behavior that would be frowned on in more interdependent collectivist societies (Triandis, 2001). Personality traits also change from one generation to the next; for example, based on test scores, U.S. students have been increasing not only in self-esteem and extraversion but also in anxiety and neuroticism (Twenge, 2000, 2001; Twenge & Campbell, 2001). Much remains to be done to understand adequately the role of social influences on personality, but we can be sure that some of the motivations that direct people are shaped by their culture.


Another major issue in personality theory concerns the formation and change of personality. To what extent is personality influenced by biological factors, such as heredity? To what extent can personality change as a result of learning? How critical


coping with the external world


are the childhood years for personality development, and how much change can occur in adulthood? How do we change personality in the direction we would like, to turn high-risk children toward healthier paths of development or to teach ordinary folk to be creative or to be leaders?

Biological Influences

Some children seem to be quiet or energetic or whatever from the moment of birth. Could it be that personality is genetically determined? The term temperament refers to consistent styles of behavior and emotional reactions that are present from infancy onward, presumably because of biological influences. As long ago as ancient Greece, philosophers and physicians believed that inborn predispositions lead one person to be melancholic and another sanguine (Kagan, 1994). Evidence supports the claim that personality is significantly influenced by heredity. With the explosion of research in genetics and neuroscience, personality researchers are identifying biological mecha- nisms that contribute to such aspects of personality as the tendency for some people to be outgoing and others to be shy. However, we should keep in mind that biology plays out its influence in the environment, and different environments can make quite different personalities out of the same biological potential.

Experience in Childhood and Adulthood

Personality develops over time. Experience, especially in childhood, influences the way each person develops toward his or her unique personality. Many of the major personality theories described in this text make statements about the development of personality. Theorists in the psychoanalytic tradition, for example, emphasize the experience of the preschool years in forming personality. Theories in the learning tradition focus primarily on change, but even some of them (e.g., Staats, 1996) propose that early learning can significantly influence the course of personality throughout life by developing essential skills on which later experience builds. In the emotional domain, early development of bonds of attachment with the parents is receiving con- siderable attention and is widely thought to influence relationships with people into adulthood. Although people do change, considerable evidence indicates the stability of personality over a person’s lifetime (e.g., McCrae & Costa, 1984).

TO THE STUDENT At the beginning of each chapter is a preview of its theory based on several of the issues just discussed. The issues often overlap. For example, cogni- tive processes not only are dynamic but also can be considered descriptive, because individuals differ in them, and developmental, because they change over time. You might begin your study of personality by considering what you believe about these issues based on your own life experience, trying to answer the questions in Table 1.2. Then, to get a preview of the field of personality, browse through the previews at the beginning of each chapter. Do some theories match your ideas more than others do? Do you find new or puzzling ideas in these preview tables? This formal study of personality ideally will offer you new ideas and help you think critically about those you already believe.


consistent styles of behavior and emotional reactions present from early life onward, presumably caused by biological factors

Table 1.2 Major Issues Addressed by Personality Theories

Issue Examples of Approaches to These Issues

Descriptive Issues

Individual Differences What are the traits that distinguish people? How can these traits be measured? Should we look at what people say, or what they do, to describe how they are unique? Are people consistent?




Personality theorists, like psychology theorists more generally, test their assertions about people through the scientific method. The scientific method requires system- atic observations and a willingness to modify understanding based on these observa- tions. The assumption of determinism is central to the scientific method. Determinism refers to the assumption that the phenomena being studied have causes and that empirical research can discover these causes.

In the scientific method, two different levels of abstraction are important. In Figure 1.1, two abstract concepts are proposed at the theoretical level, “self-esteem” and “social responsibility.” The theoretical proposition “High self-esteem causes social responsibility” asserts that a cause–effect relationship exists between these two concepts. Abstract concepts cannot be directly observed. They do, however, correspond to observable phenomena, indicated at the observable level in Figure 1.1. At the observable level, people who score high on a self-esteem test should like

scientific method

the method of knowing based on systematic observation


the assumption that phenomena have causes that can be discovered by empirical research

Issue Examples of Approaches to These Issues

Dynamic Issues

Adaptation and Adjustment How do people adapt to life’s demands? How does a mentally healthy person act? What behaviors or thoughts are unhealthy?

Cognitive Processes Do our thoughts affect our personality? What kinds of thoughts are important for personality? Do unconscious processes influence us?

Culture How does culture influence our functioning? Does culture affect us by its expectations for men and women? For different classes and ethnicities?

Developmental Issues

Biological Influences How do biological processes affect personality? Is personality inherited?

Development How should children be treated? How does childhood experience determine adult personality? Do adults change? Or has personality been determined earlier? What experiences in adulthood influence personality?

Note: These categories are presented for purposes of an overview. In many personality theories, the topics listed under each issue also are related to other issues.

Table 1.2 (Continued)

THEORETICAL LEVEL (theoretical constructs)

OBSERVABLE LEVEL (operational definitions)

High self-esteem

Liking oneself Talking about one’s successes Dressing nicely Smiling High score on Self-Esteem Test

Social responsibility

Obeying the law Joining political groups Recycling High score on Social Responsibility Scale

operational definitions

FIGURE 1.1 Levels of Thinking in Theory


themselves, talk about their successes, smile, and dress nicely; the opposite behaviors will be observable among people who score low on a self-esteem test. Furthermore, the high self-esteem people should also be observed engaging in behaviors that are observable evidences of the abstract concept of social responsibility. They should obey laws, join political groups, recycle, and score high on a test of social responsibil- ity. People who are low in self-esteem should engage in the opposite behaviors. Clear scientific language makes explicit what we observe and what abstract theoretical ideas predict and explain those observations.


A theory is a conceptual tool for understanding certain specified phenomena. It includes concepts (theoretical constructs) and statements about how they are related (theoretical propositions). The concepts of a theory are called theoretical constructs. One kind of theoretical construct already mentioned is a personality trait. Traits are often considered to be the underlying units of personality. Examples of traits include shy, intelligent, and athletic. Because traits are assumed to remain constant and determine behavior, people are expected to behave consistently at different times and in different situations.

Traits, like all theoretical constructs, are not themselves directly observable. They are related to observable behaviors through operational definitions, statements identifying what observable phenomena are evidence of a particular trait. In Figure 1.1, the trait self-esteem is operationally defined to correspond to various observable behav- iors: talking about successes (rather than failures), dressing nicely (rather than poorly), and scoring high on a self-esteem test (rather than scoring low). Each trait or other theoretical construct can have many different operational definitions. Because they all correspond to the same trait, we would expect these observations to be positively correlated with one another.

A theory contains various theoretical propositions, which tell how the constructs are related. For example, in Figure 1.1 the theoretical proposition diagrammed hypoth- esizes that “self-esteem causes social responsibility.” Both self-esteem and social respon- sibility are theoretical constructs, and as such they are abstract conceptual tools that cannot be directly observed. Theoretical propositions are also abstract statements and are not themselves directly observable (cf. Clark & Paivio, 1989).

To test a theory, predictions about observable phenomena are logically derived from the theoretical propositions. Consider the example of a classic theoretical proposition in psychology that states, “Frustration leads to aggression.” When this proposition is stated in terms of observable phenomena (i.e., in terms of the constructs as operationally defined), we have a hypothesis, which can be tested by empirical observation (see Figure 1.2).

Research tests whether hypotheses are confirmed by actual empirical observa- tions. Does the abstract theoretical world accurately predict what actually takes place in the real world? The more reliably hypotheses derived from a theory are tested and confirmed by empirical research, the more confidence we have in the theory. When observations differ from prediction, the theory is disconfirmed. If this occurs often, the theory will be revised to make it more accurate, or it may even be abandoned.

Criteria of a Good Theory

Theories are always somewhat tentative. Elementary students of science know this when they differentiate between theories and facts, the latter being more definite and less arguable than theories. (Such elementary students commonly have the miscon- ception that when we become certain of our theories, they will be considered facts. This misunderstanding stems from ignorance of the difference between the theoretical level and the level of observables presented earlier in this chapter. Facts are always at the level of observables; theories never are.) Because theories are abstract, a certain amount of ambiguity can be expected, compared to the concrete details that come as factual observations. Not all theories are equally valuable, however. How can we decide whether a theory is worthwhile?


a conceptual tool, consisting of systematically organized constructs and propositions, for understanding certain specified phenomena


a concept used in a theory

operational definition

procedure for measuring a theoretical construct

theoretical proposition

theoretical statement about relationships among theoretical constructs


a prediction to be tested by research


based on scientific observations


Several criteria are generally accepted for evaluating scientific theories. That is not to say that individuals always base their personal theoretical preferences on these criteria. Psychology majors, for example, report that they prefer theories that help them understand themselves (Vyse, 1990). It may take effort to apply the more impersonal criteria that we discuss next, but the effort is worthwhile. These criteria guide psychol- ogy from intuitive knowledge toward a firmer scientific base.

VERIFIABILITY The most important criterion is that a theory should be verifiable, that is, testable through empirical methods. Theoretical constructs must be defined with precision so it is clear what is meant by the construct. The operational definitions must be clear and reliably measurable. Operational definitions may include written tests, clinical judgments, interpersonal ratings, observations of behavior, and other well-specified ways of making observations.

The theory must predict relationships among these measurements so clearly, in the form of hypotheses, that observations can be made to support or refute the prediction. If we specify what evidence would support a theory and what evidence would refute, or “falsify,” it, we can use science to evaluate the theory. Philosopher of science Karl Popper (1962) elaborated on this criterion, and he criticized Freud’s theory—which we will discuss in Chapter 2—as “pseudoscience” because it did not meet this criterion; however, his criticism is not without its own critics (Grünbaum, 2008). Disconfirmation is particularly important for advancing science. It is always possible to find supportive evidence for a vaguely formulated theory. The criterion of verifiability requires that we also identify evidence that would refute the theory.

COMPREHENSIVENESS Other things being equal, a good theory is characterized by comprehensiveness. That is, it explains a broad range of behavior. Most traditional personality theories are broad, comprehensive theories dealing with many phenom- ena: developmental processes in childhood, adaptation or mental health, self-image, social interactions with other people, biological influences, and so forth. In practice, however, if a theory attempts to explain too much, its concepts tend to become fuzzy


the ability of a theory to be tested by empirical procedures, resulting in confirmation or disconfirmation


evidence against a theory; observations that contradict the predictions of a hypothesis


the ability of a theory to explain a broad variety of observations




Frustration Aggression

Frustration leads to aggression.

Losing 75 cents in a soda machine. Failing an exam. Losing one’s job.

Kicking the soda machine. Rating the instructor as “poor.” Beating one’s spouse.


1. Subjects who lose 75 cents in a soda machine (which is rigged by the experimenter) will kick the soda machine more often than a control group, which does not lose money.

2. Students who are told that they have failed an exam will rate their instructor lower than students who are told they have passed the exam

3. When unemployment rises, the number of reported spouse beatings will increase.



FIGURE 1.2 Hypotheses Derived from a Theoretical Proposition


and ill-defined so the theory cannot be tested adequately. Although comprehensiveness is a desirable characteristic in a theory, it is less important than empirical verifiability.

APPLIED VALUE A theory that has applied value, offering practical strategies for improving human life, has an edge over theories that are simply intellectually satis- fying. For example, personality theories may suggest therapeutic interventions, guide child care, help select the best employees for a particular job, or even predict what will happen in politics, based on the leader’s personality (Immelman, 1993). As in many fields, personality psychology has both basic and applied interests that are not always integrated. Applied research is conducted to solve practical problems. Basic research is conducted for the purpose of advancing theory and scientific knowledge.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS: PARSIMONY AND HEURISTIC VALUE Besides the three impor- tant criteria of verifiability, comprehensiveness, and applied value, theories that are parsimonious and have heuristic value are preferred. A parsimonious theory is one that does not propose an excessive number of narrow constructs or propositions if a smaller number of broad constructs could explain the phenomena under consider- ation. To do so makes the theory unnecessarily complicated. However, humans are complex creatures, so a theory with too few constructs or propositions may be too simplistic to permit detailed prediction.

The ability of a theory to suggest new ideas for further theory and research is called its heuristic value or fertility (Howard, 1985). Scientific understanding is not static. Scientists build on the work of earlier scientists, moving toward an improved understanding. Just as artists replace rough sketches with more elaborate drawings, theories are replaced by their more polished successors.

Relationship between Theory and Research

Research and theory building in personality ideally go hand in hand. At the level of theory, constructs and theoretical propositions are proposed. By a process of deductive reasoning, hypotheses are derived and, through research, tested.

Theory leads to research. The converse is also true: Research leads to theory (Gigerenzer, 1991). Unexplained observations lead scientists to think inductively. They then suggest new or revised theoretical constructs and propositions. Theory without adequate research becomes stagnant. Research without adequate theory can wander aimlessly.

Scientific development of theories must advance against the complication that people are, in their everyday lives, informal personality theorists. Everyday unscientific beliefs about personality are sometimes called implicit theories of personality. We assume that certain phenomena that we have seen are accompa- nied by other personality characteristics. Attractive people, for example, are often assumed to be warm and trustworthy. Many undergraduates base sexual decisions on implicit personality theories, believing they can assess HIV status by appearance and other irrelevant factors (Williams et al., 1992).

Implicit personality theories are not necessarily incorrect. Physical attractive- ness and interpersonal traits such as extraversion and agreeableness, for example, are correlated (Meier et al., 2010). Some researchers believe they often correspond to the formal theories that have been derived from extensive research (Sneed, McCrae, & Funder, 1998). There is no guarantee of their accuracy, though. Well-planned research studies are necessary to test, and sometimes to correct, errors emanating from implicit theories.


Throughout its history, personality research has used a variety of research methods: personality scales and questionnaires, projective techniques, observer judgments, and laboratory methods. In addition, biographical analyses and case studies permit

applied value

the ability of a theory to guide practical uses

applied research

research intended for practical use

basic research

research intended to develop theory

implicit theories of personality

ideas about personality that are held by ordinary people (not based on formal theory)


investigations of individuals, and various biological measures, such as genetic analy- sis, attest to the increasing attention to biological aspects of personality.

Personality Measurement

Measurement of personality involves operationally defining theoretical constructs by specifying how they will be assessed. The most common type of measurement is the self-report personality test, which asks many questions, often in multiple-choice format, under a standard set of instructions. It is not difficult to write personality test items; you have probably seen so-called pop psychology personality tests on the Internet. However, establishing their value is more difficult. What constitutes sound measurement?

RELIABILITY Measurement should yield consistent scores from one time to another. Such reliability is determined in several ways. Test-retest reliability is determined by testing the same subjects on two occasions and calculating the extent to which the two scores agree. Do the same people who score high on the first occasion also score high the second time? They will if the test is reliable. Could it be, though, that they simply remember how they answered the first time (even if they were guessing), which is why the scores do not change? The method of alternate forms reliability gets around this problem by giving different versions of the questionnaire on each occasion. What if subjects are tested only once? In this case, researchers can estimate reliability by calculating subscores based on two halves of the question- naire. Generally, all the odd-numbered items are added together for one score and all the even-numbered items for the other score. The correlation between these two subscores is called split-half reliability.

Problems of unreliability can result from several factors. Short tests are generally less reliable than longer tests. Tests combining unrelated items are less reliable than those composed of closely correlated items, or homogeneous items. Other factors that reduce reliability are ambiguously worded test items and uncontrolled factors in the test- taking situation that influence responses. In addition, real change can occur between the two times that the psychological characteristic is measured, although perhaps in this last case it would be better to speak of personality change rather than unreliability of measurement.

VALIDITY Someone could claim to assess your intelligence by measuring the circum- ference of your head, or your morality by examining your skull for bumps in particular locations, as phrenologists once did. Undoubtedly, except in very unusual cases, these would be quite reliable measures. Yet we would not accept them. Such measures might be reliable, but they are not valid.

Test validity is present if a test really measures what it claims to measure. Whereas reliability can be assessed straightforwardly, determining validity is more challenging. Predictive validity is established if a test predicts a behavior that the researcher accepts as a criterion for the construct being measured (e.g., if a test of assertiveness predicts the number of times a person initiates conversations). In the known groups method, a test is given to different groups of people who are known to differ in what the test measures. For example, a test of mental well-being should produce higher scores among college students than among psychiatric patients (Hattie & Cooksey, 1984). Employers use a variety of tests when they are deciding which  job applicant to hire, and researchers have studied these tests to determine which have the best validity as predictors of effective employee selection. They have found that tests do improve selec- tion over simply using employment interviews (Schmidt & Hunter, 1998). However, test validity can be reduced by several factors, including respondents’ intentional distortion of responses (Furnham, 1990), their misunderstanding of test items, and their lack of knowledge or insight about the material being asked.

Predictive validity focuses primarily on the validity of a particular test. What about the validity of the theoretical construct: construct validity? This question


consistency, as when a measurement is repeated at another time or by another observer, with similar results

test validity

desirable characteristic of a test, indicating it actually does measure what it is intended to measure

construct validity

the usefulness of a theoretical term, evidenced by an accumulation of research findings


goes beyond measurement. If a theoretical construct is valid, it will be possible to define it operationally in a variety of ways, and we would expect these vari- ous measures to be correlated. Furthermore, the relationships of the construct with other variables, which are predicted by theory, should be similar regardless which particular measure is used. Consider this imaginary example: If a researcher finds that a new form of therapy reduces patients’ anxiety when measured by a self-report but increases their anxiety when a behavioral observation is used instead, we would doubt the construct validity of anxiety. Perhaps one or both of the measures is defec- tive. Perhaps anxiety is not the one unified combination of behavior and experience that we thought. Until compelling evidence indicates that two measures are com- parable, it is best to limit our claims of validity to each measure separately, or, to use Jerome Kagan’s apt phrase, “validity is local” (1990, p. 294). However, if several research studies using a variety of measures present converging lines of evidence for the usefulness of a theoretical construct—for example, if many studies using various measurement methods find that the new therapy reduces anxiety—we can make the important and bold claim that construct validity (of anxiety) has been established (Cronbach & Meehl, 1955).

MEASUREMENT TECHNIQUES Various measurement techniques have been used in personality research. Usually, subjects are asked to provide some sorts of verbal statements that are analyzed.

Direct self-report measures ask subjects to respond to specific questions, generally in multiple-choice format. They may be either questionnaires (that measure one trait or construct) or inventories (that measure several traits or constructs, e.g., the California Personality Inventory and the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory). Self-report measures are easy to administer and often reliable, but they have disadvantages. Subjects may not have enough self-knowledge to provide accurate information. They may inten- tionally give false responses, or they may be influenced by response sets, such as the tendency to agree with items regardless of content.

Alternatively, personality can be measured through indirect methods. When p eople talk or write without having to pick a multiple-choice answer, many of the sources of distortion are reduced. Open-ended questions (e.g., “Tell me about your experiences at college”) or other materials (journals, diaries, letters, etc.) can provide data for researchers to interpret (C. P. Smith, 1992). Projective tests present subjects with ambiguous stimuli (such as pictures or inkblots) to which they respond. The indirect approach can avoid some of the shortcomings of verbal reports. (What sort of imaginative story would you make up about an inkblot to look well adjusted, for example? It’s hard to say!) The indirect approach may reveal material of which the person is unaware, and thus it avoids intentional deception and the limitations of conscious experience.

Behavioral measures are sometimes included in personality research. This type of measurement helps develop an understanding of personality in its real-world context. Observers may watch people in real life or in a laboratory, or subjects can be asked to provide information about their real-life experiences. We have to keep in mind, though, that such self-reports may not always be accurate reports of experience because of forgetting, inattention, distortion, or a variety of other reasons.

Objective measures sometimes play a role in personality research, though not generally for the measurement of personality itself. Consider the research finding  that a person’s anxiety level is correlated with self-reported allergies. Objective allergy tests, such as analysis of serum immunoglobulin E (IgE), find no relationship with anxiety. It seems that the self-reports were not accurate (Gregory et al., 2009).

Test scores are important data in personality research, but they can be misleading. Any test score may be inaccurate for a variety of reasons. Tests that are valid for adults may not be valid for children; tests that are valid for majority cultures may be biased when applied to minorities. Convergence across a variety of types of measures is more convincing than single method research.


Correlational Studies

Correlational research, which measures two or more variables to study how they are related, is common in studies of personality. Sometimes two measures are used to operationally define a single theoretical construct; in such a case, these measures should obviously be correlated. At other times, two different theoretical constructs are predicted to be correlated because theoretical propositions describe one as causing the other (e.g., “Frustration causes aggression”).

Causes and effects should be correlated; but there is no guarantee that when two variables are correlated, one is the cause and the other is the effect. Correlational research cannot provide strong proof of causation. Two observations can be correlated because one causes another, or because both are caused by a third variable. For example, suppose a correlational research study finds that two variables are associated in a study of elemen- tary school children: number of hours of television watched (variable A) and children’s aggressiveness, determined by observing behavior on the playground (variable B). What can we conclude based on this correlational research? First, it is possible that A causes B; that is, watching television increases the children’s aggressive behavior. Second, it is possible that B causes A: Friends may reject aggressive children after school, and, hav- ing no one to play with, they watch television instead. Third, it is possible that another variable, C, causes both A and B, leading to their correlation without either causing the other. What might such a third variable be? Perhaps having neglectful parents causes children to watch more television (because they are not encouraged in other activities that would place more demands on their parents) and also causes them to be aggres- sive on the playground (because they have not been taught more mature social skills). The point is that correlational research is always ambiguous about the causes underlying the associations observed. From such a study it is not clear that aggressiveness could be reduced by limiting television, by increasing parental attention, or by changing any of the other potential causes that could account for the relationship. Causal ambiguities can be resolved through another research strategy: experimentation.


In true experimental research, hypothesized cause–effect relationships are put to a direct test. An independent variable, which the researcher suspects is the cause, is manipulated by the researcher. An experimental group is exposed to the independent variable. A control group is not exposed to the independent variable. Everything else about the two groups is kept equal: their characteristics that they bring into the study, and the way they are treated during the research. The groups are formed by random assignment to make everything equal that they bring to the study, and care is taken to be sure that there are not extraneous uncontrolled variables that occur during the research, such as different expectancies based on knowing which group is expected to change. After the manipulation of the independent variable, the two groups are then compared to see whether they have different scores on the dependent variable, which is the hypothesized effect.

An experiment could be conducted for the preceding example to test whether watching a lot of television causes an increase in aggressive behavior. An experimental group would be assigned to watch a great deal of television. A control group would watch little television. Then their aggressive behavior on the playground would be observed. If watching television (the independent variable) is the cause, there will be differences between the two groups in their level of aggression (the dependent variable). If some other variable is the cause, the two groups will not differ in aggres- sion, since all other variables were made equivalent between the groups by random assignment.

Logically, it is easier to imagine situations as independent variables in an experi- ment than personality. It is fairly easy to manipulate television viewing. In contrast, how could we manipulate aggressiveness, a personality trait, if we believe the trait of aggressiveness is the cause of aggressive behavior? Most often, this is not possible because research participants bring their personalities to the research, and all the researcher can do is measure them. Indeed, few personality studies use experimental

correlational research

research method that examines the relationships among measurements

true experimental research

research strategy that manipulates a cause to determine its effect

independent variable

in an experiment, the cause that is manipulated by the researcher

experimental group

in an experiment, the group exposed to the experimental treatment

control group

in an experiment, the group not exposed to the experimental treatment

dependent variable

the effect in an experimental study


in research, a measurement of something across various people (or times or situations), which takes on different values


methods (Revelle & Oehlberg, 2008). One strategy, however, is to change person- ality for an experimental group through some kind of situational manipulation or therapy program. Mischel (1992) and Bandura (1986b) have conducted experimen- tal research in which situations or training interventions are manipulated to change aspects of personality and then effects on behavior are observed. Similarly, a program of research by McClelland and Winter (1969) changed businessmen’s trait of “need for achievement” through a training program and found that this change brought about changes in their business activities. Experimental techniques have occasionally been used by psychoanalytically oriented researchers who have experimentally aroused unconscious material to investigate psychodynamics (e.g., Shulman & Ferguson, 1988; Silverman, 1976). Nonetheless, experimental research in personality is conducted less often than correlational research, in which personality is measured rather than manipulated.

Constructs derived from experimental research are not necessarily interchange- able with those derived from correlational research (Brogden, 1972; West, 1986). For example, a generally anxious person (with a trait of anxiety) may not be comparable to a generally calm person who is temporarily anxious because of a crisis (with a temporary state of anxiety).

Studying Individuals: Case Studies and Psychobiography

When researchers study individuals instead of groups, they often describe their observations in ways that remind us of people telling their life stories. These narra- tives are often rich in detail and imagery, and they can convey emotional insights in ways that more statistical data cannot. A case study is an intensive investigation of a single individual. For example, a clinician may describe an individual client (Gedo, 1999), or an educational psychologist may describe an individual child. When the focus is on theoretical considerations, case studies are called psychobiography. In psychobiography, the researcher often works from archival data, such as letters, books, and interviews, rather than directly interacting with the person being described.

The analysis of individuals is occasionally prompted by practical, even political, considerations. For example, in 1943 U.S. government officials requested a psycho- logical analysis of Adolf Hitler (Runyan, 1982), an analysis that was later published (Langer, 1972). In the early 1960s, a similar request was made for an analysis of the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev (Mack, 1971). When a person has died and suicide is suspected, a “psychological autopsy” may be carried out to help determine whether the case was a suicide, and if so, why it occurred (Brent, 1989; Kewman & Tate, 1998; Otto et al., 1993).

Studies of individuals using nonexperimental methods lack both the statistical advantages of large correlational studies and the advantages stemming from con- trol of independent variables in the experimental method. Without these controls, alternate interpretations of the same material are possible (Runyan, 1981), making definitive analyses elusive. Despite the difficulties, case studies are invaluable if we are to be sure that our theoretical concepts do indeed help us understand individual personality dynamics.

William McKinley Runyan defines psychobiography as “the explicit use of formal or systematic psychology in biography” (1982, p. 233). Much psychobiography in the past has been based on psychoanalytic theory. The founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud (1910/1957), wrote the first psychobiography: a study of Leonardo da Vinci. Ironically, Freud did not follow the standards of sound psychobiography that he set out in the same work (Elms, 1988). Psychoanalysis warns that subjective factors (transference) can be a source of error in psychobiography (Schepeler, 1990). Psychoanalytic theory has been the predominant theory guiding psychobiographical analyses ever since Freud’s initial effort (e.g., Baron & Pletsch, 1985; Ciardiello, 1985; Erikson, 1958; Freud & Bullitt, 1966). It has shortcomings, however. For one thing, evidence about childhood experience, which is important in psychoanalytic formu- lations, is often poor (Runyan, 1982). The theory often leads to overemphasizing a

case study

an intensive investigation of a single individual


the application of a personality theory to the study of an individual’s life; different from a case study because of its theoretical emphasis


particular period, the “critical period fallacy,” or specific life events, “eventism” (Mack, 1971). Also, psychoanalytic theory does not call attention to historical and cultural factors that influence personality (L. Stone, 1981).

Other theories have also guided psychobiography. For example, Raymond Cattell’s theory has been used to analyze Martin Luther and other Reformation leaders (Wright, 1985), and Henry Murray’s theory has been applied to a psy- chobiographical study of Richard Nixon (Winter & Carlson, 1988). Researchers have developed systematic ways to analyze existing materials, such as personal documents, diaries, letters, and dream records (Alexander, 1988, 1990; Carlson, 1981, 1988; Gruber, 1989; McAdams, 1990; Ochberg, 1988; Stewart, Franz, & Layton, 1988). Computer methods for analyzing verbal materials exist, but human judges are still essential in these narrative approaches, making such research extremely labor intensive.


Most personality psychologists prefer an eclectic approach, one that combines insights from many different theories. In the language of Thomas Kuhn (1970), no single paradigm serves as a theoretical model accepted by the entire field of person- ality. There are, instead, competing perspectives, including psychoanalysis, learning theory, trait approaches, and humanistic psychology. Some attempts have been made to integrate theories. For the most part, though, theories simply coexist, each develop- ing its own theoretical and research literature. Why?

First, some of this fragmentation is related to larger divisions in psychology between what have traditionally been called the “two disciplines” (Cronbach, 1957, 1975) or “two cultures” (Kimble, 1984) of psychology. One side, which Kimble labels the scientific culture, emphasizes experimentation and studies groups of people (the nomothetic approach), often with respect to narrower aspects of personality. The other side, the humanistic culture, is more interested in individuals (the idiographic approach), especially the whole person, and is willing to compromise experimental rigor and to trust intuitive understanding. The conflict between these two cultures is illustrated by Lilienfeld’s (2010) indictment of trust in intuition as one factor imped- ing the development of psychology as a science. Gregory Kimble (1984) undoubtedly spoke for many psychologists when he expressed pessimism about the chances for achieving an integration of the two orientations (see Table 1.3).

Second, theories may have different areas of usefulness. For example, one theory may be useful for understanding people’s subjective experiences of life, another for predicting how people will behave in given situations. Some theories may help us understand the mentally ill or individuals distraught from overwhelming stress; other theories may be more useful in understanding the creative heights of those who have become highly developed. Theories developed in a middle-class North American or European context may not necessarily be valid in African or Asian cultures, nor help understand people who struggle to simply survive.


combining ideas from a variety of theories


a basic theoretical model, shared by various theorists and researchers

Table 1.3 Kimble’s Analysis of “Scientific” versus “Humanistic” Psychology

Scientific Culture Humanistic Culture

Research Setting Laboratory Field study and case study

Generality of Laws Nomothetic Idiographic

Level of Analysis Elementism Holism

Scholarly Values Scientific Humanistic

Source of Knowledge Observation Intuition

Source: Kimble, G. A. (1984). Psychology’s two cultures. American Psychologist, 39, 833–839. Copyright 1984 by the American Psychological Association. Adapted by permission.


Besides the different areas of application, theories specialize in different influ- ences on personality. Some focus on early experience; others on the impact of thought; others on biological influences; and so on. Because diverse psychological processes influence individual personality, and because influences range from the biological to the social, the field of personality may always be more comprehensive than any single theory can encompass.

To be sure, it would be easy to get lost in such theoretical debates, but the subject matter of our discipline always brings us back to people. Past and current personality theories both help and hinder progress toward new theories that explain people. They help to the extent that they provide useful and heuristic concepts. They hinder to the extent that theoretical preconceptions, like implicit personality theories, blind us to new directions. How can we remove such blinders? One suggestion, to borrow advice from the British statesman Benjamin Disraeli, is to

Read . . . biography, for that is life without theory. (Contarini Fleming, pt. i, chap. 23)


Personality is defined as the underlying causes within the person of individual behavior and experience.

description, dynamics, and development. types

or more numerous, and narrower, traits.

into personality factors. nomothetic approach describes personality by

making comparisons among people. idiographic

approach. dynamics refers to the motivational

aspect of personality. Some theorists emphasize common motivations, which influence all people, whereas others focus on individual differences.

adaptation to the world and may be studied in terms of adjustment or mental health.

development in childhood and adulthood is also described by the various theories, recognizing biological and social influences on development.

determinism and makes systematic observations to test and revise theories.

constructs and propositions are made test- able through operational definitions and hypotheses.

verifiability, comprehensiveness, and applied value.

reli- able and valid, uses various techniques, including self-report measures, projective measures, measures of life experiences, and behavioral measures.

correlational research, in which associations are examined among vari- ous measures, and experimental research, in which cause–effect relationships are tested by manipulat- ing an independent variable to examine its effect on a dependent variable.

case studies and psychobiography, study one individual intensively. Psychobiography, in which theory is systematically used to under- stand one individual, can offer suggestions for theory development.

implicit theories of personal- ity with which they try to understand others.

paradigms for understanding personality. Many adopt an eclectic approach, whereas others seek to integrate compet- ing theories.

Thinking about Personality Theory

1. Look again at the literary sayings at the beginning of the chapter. Discuss them in terms of the concerns of person- ality theory. For example, do they relate to description, dynamics, or development? Can they be verified? Can you think of any sayings about personality in addition to those quoted at the beginning of the chapter?

2. How important do you think it is for personality theory to be evaluated according to scientific criteria? Is the scientific method too limiting?

3. What implicit ideas about personality, besides those men- tioned in the text, might produce bias when we think about personality?

4. Look at the preview tables for the coming chapters. Which of these theories most appeal to you? Why?


1. Define personality. 2. List and explain the three issues that personality theory

studies. 3. Contrast types, traits, and factors as units of description in

personality. 4. Explain the difference between idiographic and nomothetic

approaches. 5. Explain what is meant by personality dynamics. 6. Explain the term adaptation. 7. Describe how cognitive processes and culture are related

to personality dynamics. 8. What are some important influences on personality

development? 9. Explain what is meant by temperament. 10. Describe the scientific approach to personality. Include in

your answer theoretical constructs, propositions, opera- tional definitions, and hypotheses.

11. List and explain the criteria of a good theory. 12. Discuss the relationship between theory and research. 13. Describe some ways in which personality can be measured. 14. Explain reliability and validity of measurement. 15. Explain the difference between correlational studies and

experimental studies. 16. What is psychobiography? Discuss the strengths and weak-

nesses of this approach to understanding personality. 17. What is an implicit theory of personality? How is it different

from a formal personality theory? 18. What is eclecticism? Why might someone prefer to have

more than one theory?

Study Questions


The psychoanalytic perspective on personality is one of the most widely known outside of psychology. Within psychology, it has steadfast adherents and forceful critics. The central idea of the psychoanalytic perspective is the unconscious. Simply put, this concept says that people are not aware of the most important determinants of their behavior. Self-understanding is limited and often incorrect. This concept of an unconscious gives us a way of think- ing about behavior, moods, or other symptoms that seem out of touch with conscious intentions; thus it has been a valuable concept in the therapeutic setting (Piers, 1998).

All psychoanalytic approaches maintain the concept of a dynamic unconscious—that is, one that has motivations or energies and so can influence behavior and experience. Various psychoanalytic theories describe the unconscious differently. Sigmund Freud (see Chapter 2) proposed that the unconscious consists of sexual and aggressive wishes that are unacceptable to the conscious personality. For Carl Jung (see Chapter 3), the unconscious consists of more general motivations, which have spiritual content. Other theorists, including Melanie Klein (1946) and Harry Stack Sullivan (1953), have described the unconscious in terms of the self and relationships with other people, especially the mother as the first “other” the infant encounters—ideas that have influenced neoanalytic theories in Part II of this book.

Despite these variations, psychoanalysts share characteristic assumptions:

1. Personality is strongly influenced by unconscious determinants. 2. The unconscious is dynamic, or motivational, and is in conflict with other aspects of the unconscious and with

consciousness. 3. Early experience is an important determinant of personality.

Psychoanalysis originated in the context of psychotherapy and clinical observation. It did not emphasize the scientific tradition of empirical research, but in recent years more effort has been made to test psychoanalytic ideas, such as repression and defense mechanisms, in controlled studies. The primary data for psychoanalysts consist of reports by patients in therapy. The fact that these inferences are not generally checked for historical accuracy with outside evidence has been the focus of considerable controversy. Psychoanalysts generally doubt that the com- plexities of personality, especially unconscious processes, can be measured by objective instruments. When formal measurement is used, psychoanalysts often employ projective techniques that present ambiguous stimuli, such as inkblots in the well-known Rorschach test, and ask the patients (or research subjects) to say what they see in them. Such techniques are generally less reliable than questionnaires, but their advocates claim that they provide access to deeper levels of motivation not available to conscious awareness.

Another objection is that psychoanalytic theorists have not clearly specified the types of evidence that would refute psychoanalytic theory. The theories often describe conflict between one kind of conscious motivation (e.g., self- control) and an opposite unconscious motivation (e.g., sexual freedom). Any observed behavior is consistent with the theory, simply by interpreting the observation flexibly. If a person behaves with self-control, the conscious is presumed to be the cause; if promiscuity is observed, the unconscious is said to determine this behavior. In poten- tially explaining every observation, psychoanalysis has weakened its scientific status. Scientifically, a theory cannot be tested if no observation is inconsistent with it. It is not verifiable, as explained in Chapter 1. Because its operational definitions are vague, empirical observations are not linked to theoretical constructs in a way that can be clearly specified in advance. Instead, intuition (“clinical insight”) makes these links. Metaphorical thinking occurs where the hard-nosed scientist would prefer concrete, rigorous thinking. This criticism has been levied against psychoanalytic theory for many decades, but in recent years, research on defense mechanisms and other psychoanalytic constructs has increased, closing the gap between clinical theory and science.

Outside of psychology, psychoanalytic theory has influenced art and literature, film, and popular culture. With the decline of traditional religion and mystical thinking, psychoanalysis has, for some, become a way of contacting

The Psychoanalytic Perspective



the irrational forces within the human personality, which is sufficiently “scientific” to be permissible today. Whether this is a legitimate function and whether psychoanalysis fulfills it adequately are matters to ponder.

Study Questions

1. What are the fundamental assumptions of the psychoanalytic perspective? 2. What objections have been raised against the psychoanalytic perspective?


Freud Classical Psychoanalysis


Chapter Overview Preview: Overview of Freud’s Theory Freud’s Theory in His Time, and Ours The Unconscious Structures of the Personality Intrapsychic Conflict Personality Development Psychoanalytic Treatment Psychoanalysis as a Scientific Theory Summary

Adolf Hitler was probably the most infa- mous tyrant of the twentieth century, perhaps of all time. This charismatic dictator was responsible for the deaths of millions of Jews and others in the extermination camps of Nazi Germany during World War II. Many biographers, often using psychoanalytic theory, have attempted to understand him. One of these analyses, commissioned by the U.S. government during the war in an attempt to learn how to overthrow Hitler, remained secret for decades (Murray, 1943).

Adolf Hitler was born in 1889 in Austria, near the German border. He aspired to be an artist but failed the entrance exam for art school, although he deceived family and friends into thinking he was a student. He earned a meager existence selling small paint- ings and postcards. Later he moved to Germany, which he adopted as his homeland, and where he served in the Bavarian army in World War I, although without much success. In the period of discontent following Germany’s defeat in the war, he became active in politics and dreamed


of a restoration of German glory. Elected as chancellor of Germany in 1933, he soon invaded neighboring countries; the hostilities escalated to become World War II. Far from restor- ing German glory, the result of Hitler’s ambitions was the destruction of cities throughout Europe and the extermi- nation of millions of Jews and other prisoners in concentration camps. In the face of defeat in May 1945, Hitler; his lover, Eva Braun; and some close associates committed suicide.

DEVELOPMENT For Freud, childhood experience shapes personality. The conditions of physical drive satisfaction in early life determine character structure. A strong ego, capable of umpiring the forces of the unconscious, must

develop gradually, protected from psychic trauma and supported by nurturant and guiding parents in areas it cannot yet master. From a Freudian perspective, the parents are credited or (more often) blamed for the child’s personality. Three important stages

Adolf Hitler



before the age of 5 shape personality. If a child’s needs are met in these early years, and if there is not traumatic experience, then healthy development occurs. The third of these stages occurs from about age 3 to 5, a critical time for the development of masculinity (in boys) and a sense of morality (superego).

Hitler’s abusive father and overprotective mother failed to nurture healthy development. His mother’s overprotective- ness, in part a result of the death of her other children, con- tributed to what Freud termed “oral fixation,” an exaggerated need for oral pleasure, evidenced by Hitler’s cravings for sweets, his vegetarianism, his habit of sucking his fingers, and even his energy for public speaking, which is also an oral expression—in his case, primitive and tantrum-like, providing more evidence of its childhood basis. His father was a strict disciplinarian who frequently beat his son. When Hitler was 3 years old, he thought he saw his drunk father rape his mother, a traumatic incident because of the physical aggression and a premature exposure to adult sexuality. Hitler feared and hated his father and lacked the positive role model essential for normal development of a secure masculine identity and a moral sense (superego). Besides the abuse, Hitler’s father lived apart from the family for a year when Adolf was 5, further depriving him of a male role model. Murray (1943) concludes that Hitler’s love for his mother and hatred for his father constitutes a Freudian “Oedipus complex.”

DESCRIPTION Freud’s theory describes people in terms of their failed or successful development through the psychosexual stages. Thus we speak of “oral characters” and “anal characters” and “phallic characters” (as explained in this chapter). Additional psychiatric labels can be applied to the seriously disturbed.

Hitler’s personality is so disturbed that, although he does evidence problems at all of the first three psychosexual devel- opmental stages, he warrants a more serious label. Psychiatrist Henry Murray (1943) describes him as having all the symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia.

ADJUSTMENT For Freud, the ego is the source of mental health and the hope of civilization. A strong ego can control impulses (id) and follow the rules of morality without being overburdened by guilt (superego). Evidence of health comes from two main areas of life: the ability to love (including sexual expression) and to work.

Hitler did not have a healthy balance between impulses (id) and conscience (superego). His ego wasn’t strong enough to contain his destructive id impulses. According to the analy- sis that Henry Murray (1943) delivered to the American govern- ment, Hitler was periodically energized by impulsive outbursts from his id, whereas the superego, which in a healthy person would oppose such outbursts, was repressed. In terms of love, reports of his sexual encounters with women are replete with tales of perversity (Waite, 1977). According to Murray’s (1943) report, before he came to power, several sexual incidents got Hitler into trouble and warranted a police record as a sexual per- vert. His perversions are described as masochistic (self-punishing) and anal, but their exact nature remained a government secret. Murray describes Hitler as impotent. He buoyed up his sense of self-worth by injecting himself with bull testicles and by project- ing onto women his fear of sexuality. Even the Nazi salute, a stiff

raised hand, has been described as a symbolic erect penis. Once Hitler boasted to a female visitor, “I can hold my arm like that for two solid hours. I never feel tired . . . . I never move. My arm is like granite—rigid and unbending.…That is four times as long as Goering . . . . I marvel at my own power” (Waite, 1977, p.  49). He was, symbolically, claiming sexual potency.

COGNITION If a person is healthy, then the world is perceived accurately. Mild disturbances may cause forgetfulness or wishful thinking, whereas serious pathology can leave a person in a fantasy world that has little resemblance to reality.

Hitler’s unrealistic perception of the Jewish people is but one aspect of his distorted thought. He exhibited other delusions (false beliefs). Once, firmly believing the lottery ticket he had pur- chased would win, he responded to its failure to do so with a childish tantrum. Late in the war, he suffered delusions about the movements of fantasy troops. These false beliefs are typical of psychotics. It is possible, however, that some of his later symp- toms were caused by drugs prescribed by his doctor, reportedly made more powerful through tampering by spies. Interestingly, Henry Murray credits Hitler with skillful use of metaphor in his speeches. Metaphor, like art, can convey the primitive, nonlogical thoughts of the unconscious.

CULTURE In Freud’s theory, society restricts the individual’s impulses for satisfaction of primitive drives. Learning to cope with these restrictions, by building a healthy ego, is essential to healthy development.

Hitler, however, did not learn to cope with society but rather projected his own pathology onto the external world. For Hitler, Germany, his “Motherland,” symbolized his own mother (Murray, 1943), and his efforts to purify and defend her were motivated by his childhood perceptions of his family. Murray interprets Austria as symbolic of the father, so his military actions against that country are motivated by his hatred of his father. That he continued his delusional projections for so long without being institutionalized for mental illness is evidence that his projections resonated with the German people (Murray, 1943). Hitler echoed and amplified the anti-Semitic feelings of his era, and the Jewish people became projective targets for repressed characteristics. Some biographers have argued that Hitler’s own grandfather was Jewish and denial of this ancestry intensified his persecu- tion of the Jewish people. Loewenberg (1988) suggests that Hitler was aware “the real enemy lay within” (p. 143); perhaps Hitler’s projection of evil onto Jews was not entirely unconscious but rather a political strategy. Anti-Semitism was not unique to Hitler; it contributed to his popularity as a charismatic leader. Indeed, whenever the citizenry of a country feel frustrated (as the German people did because of the oppressive political conditions imposed on Germany after World War I), they are likely to elevate a leader who gives expression to their unresolved conflicts.

BIOLOGY Freud turned to biology as the source of human motivation, pro- viding the energy that motivates behavior. Through development, this energy is transformed from its primitive urges (oral, anal, and



phallic) to simply fulfill bodily functions, and it takes forms that are expressed in mature relationships and activities. In malad- justed people, impulses remain stuck in their primitive forms. The instinctual energy can be categorized as that which affirms life and love (eros) and that which propels toward aggression and death (thanatos).

The mass murders of the Holocaust give evidence of a greater measure of death instinct than life instinct. Hitler’s dif- ficulty with sexual love confirms this interpretation. His body was also inferior (a point that would be of even greater inter- est to one of Freud’s followers, Alfred Adler). Hitler is famous for his single testicle, which, combined with a frail and effeminate body (Murray, 1943), accentuated his conflict over masculinity. In Freud’s theory, the biological urges of an infant and toddler should

be transformed into adult sexual expressions, but Hitler’s masoch- istic anal sexual perversions are evidence that he was stuck with childish drives throughout adulthood, impotent and incapable of normal adult sexual behavior (according to Murray, 1943). His rhetoric about race and the importance of a pure Aryan gene pool stands in stark contrast to his own biological shortcomings.

FINAL THOUGHTS The topic of many psychobiographical books, Hitler’s personality is so disturbed that it shocks us even in the next millennium. We may analyze him from the perspective of personality theory, but the magnification of his pathology on the pages of history requires an historical understanding.


Table 2.1 Preview of Freud’s Theory

Individual Differences People differ in their ego defense mechanisms, which control expression of primitive forces in personality.

Adaptation and Adjustment Mental health involves the ability to love and to work. Psychoanalysis provides a method for overcoming unconscious psychological conflict.

Cognitive Processes Conscious experience often cannot be trusted because of distortions produced by unconscious defense mechanisms.

Culture All societies deal with universal human conflicts and lead to repression of individual desires. Traditional religion is challenged as a shared defense mechanism.

Biological Influences Psychiatric symptoms are explained in psychodynamic terms, instead of in biological terms. Biological drives, in particular sexual motivation, provide the basis of personality. Hereditary differences may influence level of sexual drive (libido) and phenomena such as homosexuality.

Development Experience in the first 5 years is critical for personality formation. The oral, anal, and phallic (Oedipal) psychosexual conflicts are central. Adult personality changes very little.


– –

Biography of Sigmund Freud


Sigmund Freud



Psychic Determinism


Levels of Consciousness

conscious preconscious



THE PRECONSCIOUS preconscious –



Freud’s theory and its application in therapy


aware; cognizant; mental processes of which a person is aware


mental content of which a person is currently unaware but that can readily be made conscious


mental processes of which a person is unaware


– unconscious

Unbewusst –


Effects of Unconscious Motivation


conversion hysteria – –

glove anesthesia,


posthypnotic suggestion

conversion hysteria

form of neurosis in which psychological conflicts are expressed in physical symptoms (without actual physical damage)


neodissociation theory

PSYCHOSIS psychosis –


manifest content Dream interpretation –

latent content

manifest content

the surface meaning of a dream

latent content

the hidden, unconscious meaning of a dream




Freudian slips –


Freudian slip

a psychologically motivated error in speech, hearing, behavior, and so forth (e.g., forgetting the birthday of a disliked relative)





projective tests

like a dead corpse

Origin and Nature of the Unconscious

repression –


combining of two or more images; characteristic of primary processes (e.g., in dreams)

projective test

a test that presents ambiguous stimuli such as inkblots or pictures, so responses will be determined by the test taker’s unconscious


basic defense mechanism that keeps threatening material in the unconscious, to avoid anxiety



id ego


The Id

id pleasure principle





1. Source

2. Pressure

3. Aim


the most primitive structure of personality; the source of psychic energy


the most mature structure of personality; mediates intrapsychic conflict and copes with the external world


structure of personality that is the internal voice of parental and societal restrictions

pleasure principle

the id’s motivation to seek pleasure and to avoid pain


psychic energy, derived from sexuality


the life instinct


the death instinct


pleasure principle –

– –

Tension was gone

4. Object



The Ego

reality principle –

secondary process

defense mechanisms

primary process

unconscious mental functioning in which the id predominates; characterized by illogical, symbolic thought

reality principle

the ego’s mode of functioning in which there is appropriate contact with the external world

secondary process

conscious mental functioning in which the ego predominates; characterized by logical thought


The Superego


ego ideal


– intrapsychic conflict


Energy Hypothesis


Neurotic anxiety

Moral anxiety Reality anxiety

intrapsychic conflict

conflict within the personality, as between id desires and superego restrictions


Defense Mechanisms

defense mechanisms


reaction formation

unconscious : conscious


defense mechanisms

ego strategies for coping with unconscious conflict


primitive defense mechanism in which material that produces conflict is simply repressed

reaction formation

defense mechanism in which a person thinks or behaves in a manner opposite to the unacceptable unconscious impulse


defense mechanism in which a person’s own unacceptable impulse is incorrectly thought to belong to someone else


unconscious : conscious


unconscious : conscious


identification with the aggressor





defense mechanism in which energy is transferred from one object or activity to another


defense mechanism in which a person fuses or models after another person


defense mechanism in which conflictful material is kept disconnected from other thoughts


defense mechanism in which reasonable, conscious explanations are offered rather than true unconscious motivations


defense mechanism in which a person focuses on thinking and avoids feeling


Sublimation and Creativity


Empirical Studies of Defenses



defense mechanism in which impulses are expressed in socially acceptable ways



erogenous zones

psychosexual stages

oral stage anal stage

phallic stage

oral stage

the first psychosexual stage of development, from birth to age 1

anal stage

the second psychosexual stage of development, from age 1 to 3

Table 2.2 Stages of Psychosexual Development Stage Age Conflict Outcomes

Oral Stage Birth to 12 months Weaning Optimism or pessimism Addictions to tobacco, alcohol

Anal Stage 1 to 3 years Toilet training Stubbornness Miserliness

Phallic Stage 3 to 5 years Masturbation and Oedipus/Electra conflict

Gender identification Morality (superego) vanity

Latency 5 years to puberty

Genital Stage Puberty to adulthood

phallic stage

the third psychosexual stage of development, from age 3 to 5



The Five Psychosexual Stages


oral sadism

oral character optimism passivity dependency



failure to develop normally through a particular developmental stage

oral character

personality type resulting from fixation in the first psychosexual stage; characterized by optimism, passivity, and dependency


anal character orderliness, parsimony, obstinacy,


Male Development: The Oedipus Conflict

Oedipus conflict Oedipus Rex

Castration anxiety


like –

Female Development –


– masculinity complex

anal character

personality type resulting from fixation at age 1 to 3, characterized by orderliness, parsimony, and obstinacy

Oedipus conflict

conflict that males experience from age 3 to 5 involving sexual love for the mother and aggressive rivalry with the father

castration anxiety

fear that motivates male development at age 3 to 5


Incest: Freud’s Abandonment of the Seduction Hypothesis

seduction hypothesis

– –

Effects of Fixation –


THE GENITAL STAGE genital stage

genital character

genital stage

the adult psychosexual stage

genital character

healthy personality type



Lieben und Arbeiten

Psychoanalytic Therapy Techniques

free association

insight –


transference – –

– countertransference

free association

psychoanalytic technique in which the patient says whatever comes to mind, permitting unconscious connections to be discovered


conscious recognition of one’s motivation and unconscious conflicts


therapeutic effect of a release of emotion when previously repressed material is made conscious


in therapy, the patient’s displacement onto the therapist of feelings based on earlier experiences (e.g., with the patient’s own parents)


the analyst’s reaction to the patient, as distorted by unresolved conflicts


The Recovered Memory Controversy

false memory syndrome


verifi- ability


Silverman’s Experiments

– subliminal psychodynamic activation

Nonconscious Cognition


Nonconscious Influences and the Body




psychic determinism –


repression –




oral, anal phallic

latency genital

psychoanalysis free asso-



Thinking about Freud’s Theory



3. 4.



7. –

Study Questions


2. 3. –


5. manifest content

latent content 6. 7. 8. 9.



12. 13.

14. 15.

16. 17.


19. –

20. –


Chapter Overview Preview: Overview of Jung’s Theory The Structure of Personality Symbolism and the Collective Unconscious Therapy Synchronicity Psychological Types Summary

Jung Analytical Psychology


Carl Jung’s theory portrays an uncon- scious that is shared by all humanity rather than contained solely within an individual psyche. The impact of that collective unconscious is felt through powerful archetypal sym- bols that can be projected onto indi- viduals and influence history. This is one interpretation of the larger-than- life events that surrounded the life and death of an American hero, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Born January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia, deep in the racially segregated South of the United States, M. L. (as he was called as a child) grew up the second child (first son) of a Baptist minister, Martin Luther King, Sr., a strict disciplinarian whose hard work had elevated him from poverty. His maternal grandfather, too, had been a minister, and eventually Martin, Jr., became minister in the same segregated Ebenezer Baptist church where his father and grandfather had served. His concern for civil rights was also a family legacy.

With the encouragement and support of his family, King attended Morehouse College, where he graduated with


a degree in sociology, and then studied for the ministry at Crozer Seminary in Pennsylvania, where he was valedictorian, and at Boston University, where he earned his PhD in theology. He developed from these studies an intellectual foundation for integrating social justice concerns with religious beliefs. Early in the civil rights movement, Dr. King’s potential for leadership was recognized, and in those divisive times, many thought of him as a safer alternative to those who advocated violence as a means to combat racism. His leadership role in the nonviolent civil rights movement was honored

with a Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 (Garrow, 1986), although there were people who distrusted him, tracked his movements, and ultimately murdered him. Within less than 4 years (1968), at the age of 39, King was assassinated, leaving his widow, Coretta Scott King, to raise their four young children and his fellow civil rights activists to continue the struggle for racial justice in the United States.

Martin Luther King, Jr.


DEVELOPMENT Carl Jung’s theory, unlike that of Freud, is little concerned with childhood. Instead, he focuses on the developments that occur in adulthood. During midlife, according to Jung, a person has the task of becoming a unique person whose unconscious qualities are now examined and revised. This is the individuation process, and it draws on the deep unconscious reservoir of personality that Jung called the collective unconscious, as well as on a strong ego.

Although Dr. King was still young when he died, he may have been further along in the individuation process because of his spiritual background. (For Jung, psychological and spiritual develop- ment had much in common.) During the individuation process, an adult explores aspects of his personality that were neglected earlier in life, and then integrates them into a more whole personality.

DESCRIPTION Jung’s theory describes differences between people along three dimensions: a fundamental attitude of introversion or extraver- sion, and two pairs of psychological functions. The first pair of psychological functions describe ways of making decisions: think- ing and feeling. Finally, the remaining psychological functions are alternative ways of getting information: through the details of the five senses (sensation) or more intuitively (intuition). All com- binations of these three dimensions are possible.

King, analyzing himself, claimed to be partly introvert and partly extravert: an “ambivert” in King’s words (Oates, 1982, p. 40), but his greater strength is introversion, his connection with his own inner life. Within the types listed by Jung, King could best be clas- sified as an intuitive introvert. Jung (1971, p. 400) said that intro- verted intuitive types are often prophets (see also Maidenbaum & Thomson, 1989), and many, including King himself, applied this term to his ministry. King drew richly from this symbolic realm in his sermons. He turned prayerfully inward at critical moments— for example, when deciding whether to take a leading role in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, despite the conflicting demands of his congregation and his young family. King’s most famous speech, delivered in August 1963, described his dream from the mountaintop, his vision of racial equality. King worked to make his dreams real in the world, but he described that as a future potential rather than a current reality. To be concerned with future potentialities is characteristic of intuitive types, using Jung’s psyche- type theory. On the third dimension of Jung’s descriptive model, King may have emphasized thinking somewhat more than feeling, given his intense motivation for education, which prompted him to complete a doctorate degree, despite the early disadvantage of an inferior education in segregated schools. But the emotional rich- ness of his speeches suggests that both of these poles, thinking and feeling, had been already well developed.

ADJUSTMENT The healthy person, according to Jung, has developed all four of the psychological functions (thinking and feeling, sensation and intuition). The unconscious provides wisdom and creativity, and not only the maladjustment that Freud described. Consciousness alone is not sufficient. The challenge is to find ways to tap into this unconscious without being driven to pathology in the process.

King’s success in his ministry and family are evidence of health, but along the way, there were times of great trouble. He

attempted suicide twice, a biographer relates (Oates, 1982, p. 36). Until a person can forge a new relationship with the unconscious, the limitations of conscious life may seem unbearable, and the unconscious too dangerous and destructive. Once past this stage, though, King drew from his unconscious and spiritual side and found ways to make its energies available not only to himself but to others. The unconscious into which he tapped, Jung would say, was not only his personal unconscious but the collective unconscious of humankind; and so his journey was not only to heal himself but to help humanity. All the psychological functions came into play. With the help of others in the civil rights movement, he paid attention to the details of the campaign as well as the vision of the future, thus using the sensation as well as the intuition function. Feeling as well as thinking was clearly evident in his inspiring sermons and speeches. This ability to use all of the psychological functions is a characteristic of a healthy personality in Jung’s theory.

COGNITION Jung’s theory values not only the logical, scientific way of thinking (drawing on the sensation function), but also, to a greater extent, the holistic way of thinking that derives from the intuitive function. He describes archetypes as basic cognitive units in the unconscious, on which symbols and mythology and religious imagery are built. One archetype is that of the hero, a person whose individuation process confronts the powerful forces of the unconscious and taps into their riches without being destroyed in the process.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s success in mobilizing and challenging the moral conscience of the nation was possible because he functioned for many as a concrete representation of the hero archetype. Throughout his ministry, King spoke to his congregation and to the world in symbols that mobilized the ener- gies of the unconscious, including many symbols from his Christian faith. In addition, the public’s own unconscious hero archetype was projected onto him, recognizing that his work resonated with some- thing not yet named (for many but not all of them) within their own psyche. Archetypes are powerful because of this shared nature, and they energize much human activity and history. Projection of the hero archetype onto King combined several components: a prom- ise of a better life; the expectation that the hero will fight difficult battles on behalf of others; and in many myths, the tragic finale in which the hero, once crowned as king, must die. Jung recom- mended that people stay within the symbols and mythology of their own heritage, and King did so. He borrowed the ideas of nonvi- olence from Gandhi’s teachings in India and South Africa, but he presented them within the framework of his own Baptist heritage.

CULTURE Jung, himself an introvert, was more interested in the inner world of archetypes than in external social reality, and so he tended to regard social behavior as a consequence of inner psychological experi- ence, rather than to think of social causes. He suggested that racial bigotry can occur when people project their own unacceptable unconscious qualities (their “shadow,” in his terminology) onto cultural scapegoats, which is an argument with considerable merit. But is the solution to racism, then, to psychoanalyze the bigots? What about economic and legal reforms?

King, in contrast, actively worked in society on the front lines of the civil rights movement, and he paid dearly for that



effort. Among his other speeches is a noteworthy one in 1967, when he addressed a national meeting of psychologists about their potential contributions to the civil rights movement (King, 1968). To the extent that he can be considered not just an indi- vidual but a part of the collective whole of humanity, the benefit of his prophetic leadership lives on.

BIOLOGY In contrast to Freud’s emphasis on sexuality, Jung described a more psychological and even spiritual unconscious, but one that also is inherited as part of our biological nature. The unfortunate con- sequence of this proposed genetic basis for the collective uncon- scious was a certain blindness to racial issues, and he allowed his writing to be used to support racist Nazi propaganda.

FINAL THOUGHTS From prophecy to assassination, King’s life story reads as haunt- ingly archetypal. The myth of the hero, an archetypal story shared across cultures, seems to define the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr., better than any strictly individual inter- pretation as he was cast into the role of a hero in the struggle against racial injustice in the United States. The fact that he has become world famous attests to the resonance in many people to the universal archetypal energies that he represents for us. It was Jung’s life work to explore the archetypes so they could coexist with rational consciousness rather than blindly driving human experience. As long as masses of people are uncon- scious of the archetypal realm, we will continue to act out these various tragic scripts.



– –

Table 3.1 Preview of Jung’s Theory

Individual Differences Individuals differ in their tendency to be introverts or extraverts, which is stable throughout life. They also differ in the extent to which they make use of four psychological functions (thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition).

Adaptation and Adjustment

The unconscious has an important role in healthy maturity and should be explored through symbolism. Health requires a balance between conscious and unconscious functioning.

Cognitive Processes Rational thinking, intuition, and emphasis on concrete details all provide useful information and should be developed. Unconscious images influence perceptions and may distort our perception of reality.

Culture Cultural myths and rituals provide ways of dealing with the unconscious. Important differences exist among cultures and should be preserved.

Biological Influences Mental contents (a “collective unconscious”) as well as physical characteristics are inherited.

Development Early experience was of little interest to Jung. Midlife change (individuation) involves exploration of the creative potentials of the unconscious.


Biography of Carl Jung

Carl Jung



The Psyche and The Self: The Personality as a Whole







the total integrated personality


principle of the relationship between the unconscious and consciousness, by which the unconscious provides what is missing from consciousness to make a complete whole


the process of becoming a fully developed person, with all psychic functions developed


transcendent function


ego inflation





transcendent function

the process of integrating all opposing aspects of personality into a unified whole

ego inflation

overvaluation of ego consciousness, without recognizing its limited role in the psyche


a person’s social identity


the unconscious complement to a person’s conscious identity, often experienced as dangerous and evil


egocide –

Anima and Animus

anima animus –



the femininity that is part of the unconscious of every man


the masculinity that is part of the unconscious of every woman


Collective Unconscious

personal unconscious

collective unconscious



personal unconscious

that part of the unconscious derived from an individual’s experience

collective unconscious

the inherited unconscious


a primordial image in the collective unconscious; an innate pattern that influences experience of the real world



The Great Mother

The Spiritual Father

The Hero

The Trickster


Mandala A mandala –

Transformation Transformation –



symbolic representation of the whole psyche, emphasizing circles and/or squares


modification of psychic energy to higher purposes (e.g., through ritual)

FIGURE 3.1 A Mandala, a Symbol of Psychic Wholeness In Eastern religious tradition, these monks are preparing a mandala as an aid to meditation. For Carl Jung, this image affirmed the value of unconscious processes. He was influenced by Buddhist ideas.



numinous –

Myths and Religion


experience of spiritual or transpersonal energies


Modern Myths

– Star Wars

Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Schindler’s List




Word Association Test



active imagination –


emotionally charged networks of ideas (such as those resulting from unresolved conflicts)

Word Association Test

method devised by Jung to reveal complexes by asking people to say whatever comes to mind when they hear a word


elaboration of dream images as a step toward dream interpretation

active imagination

technique for exploring the unconscious by encouraging waking fantasies


Other Symbolic Therapy Techniques


synchronicity – synchronicity the acausal principle in which events are determined by transpersonal forces instead of by causes generally understood by science


I Ching –


psychological type

fundamental attitude

psychological functions dominant function

– –

auxiliary function

I Ching

ancient Chinese method of fortune-telling

psychological type

a person’s characteristic pattern of major personality dimensions (introversion-extraversion, thinking- feeling, and sensation-intuition)

dominant function

a person’s predominant psychological function

auxiliary function

the second most developed function of an individual’s personality


Introversion and Extraversion

introvert extravert

Table 3.2 Personality Psychetypes

Introverted Thinking Interested in ideas (rather than facts); interested in inner reality; pays little attention to other people

Introverted Feeling Superficially reserved, but sympathetic and understanding of close friends or of others in need; loving, but not demonstrative

Introverted Sensation Emphasizes the experience that events trigger, rather than the events themselves (e.g., musicians and artists)

Introverted Intuition Concerned with possibilities, rather than what is currently present; in touch with the unconscious

Extraverted Thinking Interested in facts about objects external to the self; logical; represses emotion and feelings; neglects friends and relationships

Extraverted Feeling Concerned with human relationships; adjusted to the environment (especially frequent among women, according to Jung)

Extraverted Sensation Emphasizes the objects that trigger experience; concerned with facts and details; sometimes with pleasure seeking

Extraverted Intuition Concerned with possibilities for change in the external world, rather than with the familiar; an adventurer


FIGURE 3.2 The Dominant and Auxiliary Functions in Extraverts and Introverts An extraverted type uses the dominant function to deal with the external world and the auxiliary function to deal with inner reality. An introverted type uses the dominant function to deal with inner reality and the auxiliary function to deal with the external world.












The Four Functions


Star Trek


Measurement and Application


psychological function in which decisions are based on logic


psychological function in which decisions are based on the emotions they arouse


psychological function in which material is perceived concretely, in detail


psychological function in which material is perceived with a broad perspective, emphasizing future possibilities rather than current details



Indicator (MBTI)


Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)

psychological test for measuring the psychic functions in an individual





– compensation


– Self


persona the shadow anima animus

personal unconscious

collective unconscious archetypes that


Word Association Test


– –

Thinking about Jung’s Theory







Study Questions



3. 4. 5. persona 6.

7. –

8. collective unconscious

9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16.


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Freud’s psychoanalytic theory inspired many clinicians and theorists to consider personality in dynamic terms. They extended Freud’s theory, emphasizing ego functions to a greater extent than Freud did (Hartmann, 1939/1958). They stressed the capacity of the individual to delay gratification, not simply to be driven by unconscious id impulses. Freud had developed the description of the ego in the later years of his theorizing, from the 1923 publication of The Ego and the Id onward (Rapaport, 1959), so these developments follow reasonably from his theory.

Many theorists who regarded themselves as orthodox Freudians are now labeled “psychoanalytic-social theorists.” Freud’s daughter, Anna Freud, elaborated on his concept of ego defenses in her classic book The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense (Freud, 1936/1966). Heinz Hartmann (1939/1958) stressed the role of the ego in orga- nizing or integrating personality. Alfred Adler, a member of Freud’s inner circle, emphasized the striving aspects of personality and the social context of development, which are characteristic of the psychoanalytic-social perspective.

The ego’s role includes adapting to relationships with other people. Infancy is reinterpreted to emphasize the development of a relationship with the mother (Erikson, 1950; Sullivan, 1953). An infant nursing at the mother’s breast, for example, is viewed by Sigmund Freud as satisfying libidinal drives. In contrast, Alfred Adler and the ego psychologists emphasized the infant’s relationship of cooperation with the mother, each needing the other (Davis, 1986). This emphasis on relationships with people is reflected in object relations approaches, so named because people are the “objects” of instinctive desire, or the related relational approaches in psychoanalysis (discussed in Chapter 6).

Theorists in the psychoanalytic-social tradition also call our attention to cultural factors that influence individuals. Social categories such as race and gender influence personality development and well-being, and these influences were not examined in Freud’s and Jung’s theories.

Theorists presented in the next three chapters—Alfred Adler, Erik Erikson, and Karen Horney, with later relational theorists—discussed interpersonal aspects of the ego’s functioning, beginning in the family and extending to society generally. Culture, not simply biology, determines sex differences, according to Adler and Horney. Erik Erikson remained traditionally psychoanalytic in his biological explanation of sex differences, although he stressed cultural influences in other respects. Besides reinterpreting gender roles as cultural products, the social emphasis has encouraged the development of typologies of interpersonal behavioral styles. Adler (“getting,” “ruling,” and “avoiding” types) and Horney (“moving toward,” “moving against,” and “moving away” types) each offered such typologies. Thus, in addition to emphasis on the ego within personality, these theorists gave more attention to society, the context in which personality develops.

Psychoanalytic-social theorists agree with theorists in the psychoanalytic perspective on two important points: The unconscious is a useful concept for understanding personality, and childhood experience is important in determining personality. In addition, theorists in the psychoanalytic-social perspective have distinctive assumptions:

1. The ego, the adaptational force in personality, is more important than in Freud’s theory. 2. The development of a sense of self is described. 3. Interpersonal relationships, beyond the relationships with one’s parents, are important aspects of personality. 4. Social and cultural factors influence personality in important ways.

Most psychoanalytic-social theorists, like Freudian and Jungian psychoanalysts, have based their theories on clinical data. However, a research tradition in ego development has also emerged. Many studies of Erikson’s theory have been conducted by using self-report data, as we see in Chapter 5. In addition, Jane Loevinger (1966, 1976, 1979, 1985) has developed an extensive theoretical and research program that measures ego development through questionnaires, thus enabling researchers to investigate ego development in nonclinical populations.

2 The Psychoanalytic-Social Perspective



Theorists in the psychoanalytic-social tradition have presented an approach that is not so narrowly biological as classical psychoanalysis. They stress the adaptational and interpersonal aspects of per- sonality and have provided concepts for understanding the ways society shapes human development.

Study Questions

1. What assumptions does the psychoanalytic-social perspective share with the psychoanalytic perspective?

2. What are the distinctive assumptions of the psychoanalytic-social perspective?


Chapter Overview Preview: Overview of Adler’s Theory Striving from Inferiority toward Superiority The Unity of Personality The Development of Personality Psychological Health Interventions Based on Adler’s Theory Summary

Adler Individual Psychology


Adler’s theory focuses on choice and goals as more important than unconscious conflict. Oprah Winfrey’s spectacular success as a television celebrity and her inspiration to help others to achieve their dreams make her a great example of the positive healthy functioning that Adler described.

Oprah Winfrey’s own life and her role as a model for others focus on the theme of self-improvement by personal effort, a central idea in Adler’s theory. Born in 1954 to an 18-year-old unmarried mother, Oprah’s childhood environment was a mix of economic hardship, neglect, and abuse. As an adult, she is wealthy and loved by millions in her audience and by a longtime male companion. Her personal qualities were already apparent before school age—her intelligence and her strong will to succeed. The guidance that Oprah received from her father and from some of her teachers exemplifies a central lesson in Adler’s theory: the importance of interven- tion to help a child find a socially useful lifestyle. Above all, his


theory would credit her own choices and personal striving for her success.

DEVELOPMENT Adler called attention to parental behav- ior, which could influence a child to develop in either a selfish way or a healthy way that recognized other people’s inter- ests. He cautioned not only against pam- pering or giving in to the child’s wishes but also against neglecting a child. The desirable path was to set standards and teach the child responsibility. Adler also recognized that a child interacts with sis- ters and brothers, and those interactions influence the developing personality, in part because of the different experiences of those who are the oldest, middle, or youngest in a family.

The parenting that Oprah experienced was varied. In her earliest years, she was raised by her grandparents on a poor farm.

They were not demonstrative of affection and beat her frequently to punish her (as was the practice in that place and time), but they


Oprah Winfrey


encouraged her reading and church participation and so provided a solid base for her personality growth. At age 6 she went to live with her mother and a younger half sister in a one-room ghetto rooming house in Milwaukee (Mair, 1994), and she was sent back and forth a few times between that environment and her father’s more disciplined home in Nashville. Her mother’s neglect left her vul- nerable. She was raped by an older cousin when she was 9 years old (King, 1987). She fell into undisciplined and promiscuous hab- its, having sex with several men, stealing money from her mother, and running away. She became pregnant, but the baby died. Faced with an increasingly out-of-control young teenager, her mother sent her again to live with her father. Vernon Winfrey and his wife gave Oprah the discipline that she needed: a curfew, advice about dealing with boys, restrictions about clothing, and homework. She thrived, becoming popular at school and responsible enough to earn the respect of her father and to set her on course for success in life. Her achievements have included spectacular fame and wealth in radio and then television, movies, and a magazine.

DESCRIPTION In Adler’s theory, each person develops a unique style of life that is formed early and remains consistent through life, directed by goals for self-improvement. He was particularly interested in the interpersonal style of the individual; for example, was the person too dependent, too domineering, or appropriately cooperative?

Oprah’s life story attests to her intelligence and speaking abil- ity and to her warmth toward other people. Already at age 3 she was able to read and write. She skipped first grade because of her ability and later was sent to a better high school than the neighbor- hood school, again because her achievement surpassed that of her classmates. She loved to give speeches—first to the barnyard chick- ens and pigs at her grandmother’s farm and later to other children and to adults. She entered public-speaking contests. Her style of life seems to be one of getting attention, love, and admiration by speaking to a group of people—radio at first, and later the Oprah Winfrey Show on television. She talks easily with others, assertively interviewing them and expressing her opinion but with empathy.

ADJUSTMENT Adler’s theory describes compensation for previous inadequa- cies and disappointments as the motivating force behind healthy adjustments. In addition to love and work, the criteria that Freud proposed, he pointed out that social interaction is also an impor- tant component of good adjustment. A well-adjusted person does not pursue only selfish goals, but also contributes to society (“social interest”).

Adler’s criterion of social interest is fulfilled in Oprah’s life. Her television shows frequently offer support and informa- tion to help others deal with adversity. Among the topics she has explored are divorce, homosexuality, transgender parents, terminal illness, sexual abuse and incest, as well as lighter themes like beauty and exercise. She is popular in part because of the generous gifts that she bestows on her television audience. Off air, she has been present for teenage girls to help them avoid unplanned pregnancy, with the life of poverty and despair that too often follows. She is helpful to others, especially in areas that draw from her own background. For example, she advocated for legislation to register child molesters as sex offenders. Over the years she has also conquered a problem with obesity, slimming down and exercising regularly. She has won acclaim and awards

for humanitarian work. Overall, these self-improvement efforts and contributions to others constitute what Adler would call a healthy style of life.

COGNITION Although we do not always clearly think about it, each of us has an image of what would be desirable, what would make up for what is lacking (our “felt minus”). Adler called this our “fictional finalism” and suggested that it guides our efforts in life and gives a consistency to our motivation. Hints of what is felt to be lacking are often contained in a person’s early memories. Over time, we may get a clearer idea of this goal. It’s so important that once we understand a person’s unique fictional finalism we understand that person’s personality and choices.

The first descriptions of a “felt minus” that Adler proposed were based on physical features, and Oprah describes her dissatisfaction with her hair, which did not bounce like that of her white classmates; her nose, which she tried to reshape by pinching it with clothespins while she slept (Waldron, 1987); and her dark skin, especially upsetting because her lighter-skinned half sister was considered the pretty one. Later, her dissatisfaction focused on social class. She had few toys— only a doll made out of corncobs. One of her early memories is of “drawing water from the well every morning and playing with corncob dolls” (Waldron, 1987, p. 171), a clear indication that a simple and poor life was the situation from which she wished to rise. She describes seeing television images of privi- leged children, unlike her—white and not beaten—on friends’ television sets (because their family had no television). Later, she saw upper-middle-class families in person when she visited friends from high school. These experiences helped focus her fictional finalism, her goal. She says, “Somewhere in my spirit, I always knew I was going to be exactly where I am” (Waldron, 1987, p. 18). Another important part of her goal was public performance. When she visited Hollywood and admired the sidewalk stars that commemorate celebrities, she told her father that she would be famous one day.

CULTURE Adler’s theory recognizes the society and culture to a greater extent than classical psychoanalysis. Influences from society, such as schools, offer opportunities for healthy growth. In turn, a healthy individual contributes to society. Adler criticized the way that society sometimes limits personal growth, for example through restrictive gender roles.

Although racial prejudice and unequal economic opportu- nity clearly existed, there were also positive influences concerning racial issues in Oprah’s background. The small town where she lived in her early years (Kosciusko, Mississippi) had a history of supporting black opportunity. The town was, in fact, named for a Revolutionary War soldier who had left money on his death for the purpose of buying slaves to set them free (Waldron, 1987). She also lived at a time when antidiscrimination and equal oppor- tunity laws made it easier for blacks and women to succeed in America, enhancing her early job opportunities in radio and tele- vision. Her movie roles, particularly the Oscar-nominated role of Sophie in The Color Purple, contributed to public awareness of the experience of black Americans. Another positive influence in her life was the church. As a preschooler, she spoke at church. Later, she gave impromptu sermons to kids on the playground,



earning the nickname of “The Preacher.” She considered, at one point, becoming a missionary. The church as a social institution presents a vision of a better world and provides guidelines to supplement the sometimes-inadequate parental guidance of its members. Education also contributed importantly to her success, and she has encouraged reading by suggesting books on her television show.

BIOLOGY Adler’s theory does not focus on biology as a determinant of per- sonality but rather as one of the factors that creates the basis for positive striving. Feelings of inferiority about our physical bodies provide one source of motivation for self-improvement.

As just described, Oprah felt dissatisfied with her nonwhite physical features in childhood. In adulthood, she successfully, but not easily, battled obesity. These “felt minus” aspects of her body were the basis for positive striving, epitomizing a central theme in Adler’s theory.

FINAL THOUGHTS Adler’s theory and his therapeutic work challenge people to take responsibility for their lives and not to blame others for what is lacking. He stressed the value of intervention to redirect troubled youth and urged people to contribute usefully to society. All these are major themes in Oprah Winfrey’s life, which stands as a positive example of personality and an inspiration for many of her fans.


Table 4.1 Preview of Adler’s Theory

Individual Differences Individuals differ in their goals and in how they try to achieve them, their “style of life.”

Adaptation and Adjustment Health involves love, work, and social interaction and is the responsibility of each individual. Social interest, rather than selfishness, is required for health.

Cognitive Processes Conscious experience and thought are important and generally trustworthy.

Culture Society influences people through social roles, including gender roles. Schools are especially influential.

Biological Influences Organ inferiority provides the direction of personality development as the individual attempts to compensate for the inferiority.

Development Parents have an important influence on children, and better parenting techniques can be taught. Extensive guidelines for child rearing are provided, especially the caution to avoid pampering. Relationships with siblings are important; birth order affects personality. Throughout life, people create their own personalities through goal setting.


Biography of Alfred Adler

The Health of Tailors

Alfred Adler




inferiority complex


Organ Inferiority

inferiority complex

Aggressive Drive aggressive drive

aggressive drive

one of Adler’s terms for positive striving, emphasizing anger and competitiveness


Masculine Protest masculine protest

Superiority Striving superiority striving

Perfection Striving perfection striving

INFERIORITY COMPLEX inferiority complex



Fictional Finalism

creative self

fictional finalism

masculine protest

one of Adler’s terms for positive striving, emphasizing manliness

superiority striving

effort to achieve improvement in oneself

inferiority complex

stagnation of growth in which difficulties seem too immense to be overcome

superiority complex

a neurotic belief that one is better than others

creative self

the person who acts to determine his or her own life

fictional finalism

a person’s image of the goal of his or her striving



Style of Life

style of life



style of life

a person’s consistent way of striving


Mistaken and Healthy Styles of Life


Ruling Type

deprecation complex

Getting Type

Avoiding Type


deprecation complex

unhealthy way of seeking superiority by belittling others

socially useful type

a personality that is well adjusted



Parental Behavior

THE PAMPERED CHILD pampering pampering

parental behavior in which a child is overindulged or spoiled

Table 4.2 Advice for Raising Healthy Children, Derived from Adler’s Approach

Encourage the child, rather than simply punishing. Be firm, but not dominating. Show respect for the child. Maintain routine. Emphasize cooperation. Don’t give the child too much attention. Don’t become engaged in power struggles with the child. Show by your actions, not by your words. Don’t offer excessive sympathy. Be consistent.





Family Constellation

family constellation




parental behavior in which a child’s needs are not adequately met

family constellation

the configuration of family members, including the number and birth order of siblings










Social Interest

social interest




social interest

innate potential to live cooperatively with other people






individual education





creative self

felt minus felt plus inferiority complex

fictional finalism

style of life early memories

mistaken styles of life

socially useful

pampering neglecting

Family constellation


Thinking about Adler’s Theory



3. masculine protest





Study Questions




4. fictional finalism 5. 6.






12. 13. 14. 15.

Social interest

three tasks of life



Erikson Psychosocial Development


Chapter Overview Preview: Overview of Erikson’s Theory The Epigenetic Principle The Psychosocial Stages The Role of Culture in Relation to the Psychosocial Stages Racial and Ethnic Identity Research on Development through the Psychosocial Stages Toward a Psychoanalytic Social Psychology Summary

Mahatma Gandhi was a political figure in nineteenth- and twentieth-century India when it was ruled by Great Britain. His non- violent civil disobedience methods became a model for other civil rights activists, includ- ing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Erik Erikson, an influential theorist in the fields of psycho- history (Pois, 1990) and psychobiography, analyzed our chosen personality in his book, Gandhi’s Truth: On the Origins of Militant Nonviolence (1969), which won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award.

Mohandas Gandhi (later called Mahatma, or “Great Soul,” to honor his spiri- tual leadership) was born in 1869 in Porbandar, India. His father’s family had for several gen- erations served in government offices under British rule. According to the custom of his large Hindu family, Gandhi was married at age 13. Mohandas and his bride, Kasturba, lived together and conceived a child, who died shortly after birth, and later had four sons.

Gandhi went to England for his law degree. Members of his caste refused approval of this voyage. In leaving he became


an outcast, and he was socially ostracized on his return. His mother consented only when he vowed to abstain from meat, wine, and women, to honor their religious values. Gandhi promised, not confessing that he had already eaten meat with a friend. He honored this vow in England and thereafter, refusing meat, meat broth, eggs, and milk even when doctors prescribed them. There was one exception, when he took goat’s milk, legalistically reasoning that he had only promised his mother to refrain from the milk of cows and buffalo; but he regretted this action. In fact, his dietary restrictions expanded, so for the most part his diet con- sisted of fruit and nuts.

After earning his law degree, Gandhi worked for an Indian company in South Africa, where he was the victim of racial prejudice. Indians were resented for their economic threat and different liv- ing habits. Despite his British education,

he was refused hotel accommodation and first-class train travel. Once he was beaten simply for being in the wrong

Mahatma Gandhi


neighborhood. Gandhi embarked on a career of public ser- vice and political activism on behalf of Indians in South Africa and, later, in India. He was influential in ending the practice of indentured labor. In India he founded an ashram (a tra- ditional communal living arrangement) and boldly admitted an Untouchable family to membership, violating traditional Indian caste practices. He organized Indian fabric workers against exploitation by their employers, and he organized a civil disobedience movement to protest the British salt tax. He went to prison for his political activities. He fasted as a politi- cal strategy. Throughout, he was guided by the principle of ahimsa, or nonviolence, which seeks to do no harm to others (Gandhi, 1957, p. 349; Teixeira, 1987). He died by assassina- tion in 1948, having lived to see India become independent from Britain.

Much in the life of this world-renowned leader invites psychoanalytic analysis. His focus on concerns of eating and sexual restraint match two of the areas of libidinal focus named by Freud. The other, anality, is also well represented in Gandhi’s autobiography, with frequent concern about unsanitary condi- tions, which were prevalent in India because of lack of indoor plumbing. To explain how his personal psychology relates to the public and political arenas, however, it is necessary to theo- rize beyond the psychosexual level, as Erikson’s psychosocial theory does. In addition, Erikson’s approach to psychohistory finds creative strengths, and not only neurotic conflicts, in the analysis of historical figures (Pietikainen & Ihanus, 2003).

DESCRIPTION Erikson’s theory is a developmental theory, so it describes people by identifying the developmental stages that a person has experienced and suggesting whether growth was healthy or left personality flaws.

Mahatma Gandhi lived a long life, and so his personality could be shaped at all the stages of development that Erikson theorized. The major legacies of this development left him with a fervent commitment to a cause (as a result of identity develop- ment) but enduring difficulties about trust or nurturance and love for women. Erikson (1969) describes a personality he admires, but he describes it as also flawed.

DEVELOPMENT Erikson’s theory describes eight stages of development that occur in sequence throughout life (with a ninth stage added later, based on his ongoing revision of his model). Each has a typical age of occurrence, and Erikson believed these stages to occur in all cultures.

The concept of identity is the central concept by which Erikson attempted to understand Gandhi. Identity is the devel- opmental issue that prevails in adolescence, according to Erikson’s theory, and it typically involves career choice and racial identity issues. Erikson interpreted Gandhi’s period of study in England as a psychosocial moratorium, a period in which he explored his identity, which is (in Erikson’s theory) a healthy pro- cess. Gandhi’s connection with his mother and with his Indian motherland was strengthened by his dietary vows, which con- tinued to remind him of that connection in a strange land. (How ironic that Gandhi’s return to India brought him the news of his mother’s death.) Deciding to study law provoked identity issues

beyond those of career choice because it required travel to another country and invoked ostracism by his caste. His minor- ity position in London made him more conscious of his identity as an Indian, which he explored by reading about vegetarian- ism and Hinduism. The greatest identity crisis, however, Erikson (1969, p. 47) suggested, occurred when Gandhi was first in South Africa. He was thrown off a train and denied the right to travel first class, despite having purchased a ticket, because of his race. His reaction was to devote himself to the political and religious cause of improving the life of poor Indians, solidifying his identity and illustrating Erikson’s view of the interconnect- edness of individual development and society.

ADJUSTMENT In Erikson’s theory, each stage of life involves a conflict between a positive pole and a negative pole, and if it is resolved in a healthy way, the ego is strengthened. His theory proposes that the identity crisis, if resolved well (as Gandhi did), enhances the ego with a stronger ability of what Erikson called “fidelity,” by which he meant being faithful to a cause. Thus Gandhi’s fidelity to the cause of nonviolent protest is a consequence of his identity development.

Although Erikson admired Gandhi, he also criticized him. Erikson suggested that Gandhi did not come to a good resolution of the next two crises, which typically occur in young adulthood (the crisis of intimacy) and middle adulthood (the crisis of genera- tivity). Gandhi gave no evidence of psychological intimacy with his wife, Kasturba. According to Erikson (1969, p. 121), “one thing is devastatingly certain: nowhere is there any suggestion of joyful intimacy.” On the contrary, Gandhi deplored his sexual- ity and treated Kasturba and other women as temptresses who aroused regrettable desires. He decided to give up a sexual rela- tionship with her to devote himself to “higher” purposes (and, incidentally, to prevent conceiving another child) without consult- ing her. Erikson says that Gandhi retained “some vindictiveness, especially toward woman as the temptress” (p. 122) and even sadism (p. 234).

COGNITION Like Freud, Erikson believed the major determinants of personal- ity are not conscious. They are the result of conflict through the various stages of development.

In Gandhi’s personality, the development of his identity as a lawyer and an Indian obviously had some conscious compo- nents. He could answer the question “Who am I?” appropriately and in ways that others would accept. The unconscious legacy of this stage, though, was the energy for his political efforts on behalf of Indians, and later of other oppressed people. His failure to resolve the young adult stage of intimacy adequately left more harmful unconscious tendencies to blame women for problems. Erikson relates one incident on Gandhi’s commune as an example. Gandhi directed young boys and girls to bathe together, which to his naive surprise led to difficulties, with some boys making fun of the girls. (The details are not given in Gandhi’s autobiography.) Gandhi’s solution was to cut the girls’ beautiful long hair, thus making them less tempting to the boys, a solution Erikson criticizes (1969, p. 237–242). Had Gandhi been able to confront his own sexuality more honestly, rather than denying it, he would not have, in essence, punished the girls for their sexual attractiveness.



CULTURE Erikson (1958, 1975) proposed that the conflicts of the person studied in psychobiography are not simply individual conflicts but represent the conflicts of the society in which the per- son lived. Thus the study of individuals can enlighten histori- cal understanding. Erikson (1969) honored Gandhi immensely for his work toward a more inclusive identity for humankind. Gandhi worked to rise above the divisions that mark what Erikson called pseudospeciation by envisioning a more inclusive identity. Pseudospeciation is inherent in colonialism, causing individuals to experience “guilt and rage which prevent true development” (p. 433). At this particular historical moment, then, Gandhi’s solu- tion to the problem of identity moved history forward toward greater peace and mutual acceptance.

Erikson (1969, p. 251) expressed disappointment that Gandhi’s sexual renunciation would be unacceptable to the West, limiting the extent to which we could learn from his nonviolent political activism. We must ask whether Erikson’s stages can be used, without modification, as universal developmental standards against which to evaluate someone from such a different culture. To criticize Gandhi for failing to develop all the strengths that Erikson outlined presumes that the strengths described in this Western theory apply in all cultures. Is intimacy, as described in the context of a tradition of Western love and marriage, to be expected in a culture where child marriage, arranged by parents, is accepted? Or would such a psychological interpretation be parallel to the economic colonialism against which Gandhi and other leaders of his country struggled so courageously?

BIOLOGY Erikson’s theory builds on that of Freud, presuming that biology provides the motivation for personality through the psychosexual stages that Freud outlined. However, biological sexual energy is not the only consideration. He also describes psychosocial issues.

The linking of biological and social issues is evident in Gandhi’s life in issues around eating and his mother. Gandhi sought throughout his life for a relationship to take the place of the disrupted relationships with his mother and father (cf. Muslin & Desai, 1984, who interpret this in terms of Kohut’s psychoana- lytic theory). Erikson (e.g., 1969, p. 110), noted that Gandhi did not acknowledge the extent of his dependency on his mother, even refusing to cry openly when he learned of her death. His dietary restrictions served as a ritual to preserve hope, the ego strength that develops in the first developmental stage, in which there is a conflict between trust and mistrust (p. 154). This stage

corresponds to Freud’s psychosexual oral stage. The extremity of his dietary control suggests unacknowledged mistrust. His dietary restrictions can be considered obsessive (p. 152), though Erikson observes that “it is always difficult to say where, exactly, obsessive symptomatology ends and creative ritualization begins” (p. 157). Surely the physicians who urged Gandhi unsuccessfully to drink milk or eat meat for his health would have agreed with the more negative clinical label.

FINAL THOUGHTS Erikson’s approach to psychobiography emphasizes the immediacy of the person’s experience, rather than reducing the person to an object to be studied with distancing and judgmental categories (Schnell, 1980). His theory calls attention to the cultural context in which an individual develops, and it acknowledges the potential of an individual, through a highly developed ego, to have an impact on culture (Nichtern, 1985), as Mahatma Gandhi did.

Erikson’s (1969) respect for Gandhi and openness to learn from him is clear in his book. He even addressed a long section to Gandhi in conversational terms, as “I” to “you” (pp. 229–254). Erikson described his task in his analysis of Gandhi: “to confront the spiritual truth as you have formulated and lived it with the psycho- logical truth which I [Erikson] have learned and practiced” (p. 231). Erikson suggested that psychoanalysis is the counterpart of Gandhi’s philosophy of Satyagraha (roughly meaning “passive resistance” or “militant nonviolence”) “because it confronts the inner enemy non- violently” (p. 244). Lorimer (1976) suggested that Erikson’s objectiv- ity was compromised in this analysis. Erikson (1975), though, did not claim objectivity, instead characterizing his method as “disci- plined subjectivity” (p. 25). It requires undistorted self-knowledge, which can be achieved by undergoing psychoanalysis.

Besides Gandhi, Erikson wrote brief analyses of George Bernard Shaw (1968), and of Hitler and Gorky (1963). His 1958 book, Young Man Luther, analyzed the Protestant theolo- gian Martin Luther and triggered renewed interest in applying psychological theory to historical figures, becoming a model for psychohistorians (Coles, 1970; Hutton, 1983; Schnell, 1980). It helped move psychohistory beyond a stage in which it documented the impact of great people on history and toward a stage that recognizes the mutual influences of psychological and historical forces (Fitzpatrick, 1976). Erikson was a key figure in a research project devoted to psychohistory, the Wellfleet group, beginning in 1965 (Pietikainen & Ihanus, 2003). Thus we can credit him with helping to widen the intellectual impact of psychoanalysis beyond clinical settings.





Biography of Erik Erikson

Explorations in Personality.


Erikson’s approach to development, offered as an alternative to Freud’s psychosexual approach

Table 5.1 Preview of Erikson’s Theory

Individual Differences Individuals differ in their ego strengths. Males and females differ in personality because of biological differences.

Adaptation and Adjustment

A strong ego is the key to mental health. It comes from good resolution of eight stages of ego development, in which positive ego strengths predominate over the negative pole (e.g., trust over mistrust).

Cognitive Processes The unconscious is an important force in personality. Experience is influenced by biological modes, which are expressed in symbols and in play.

Culture Society shapes the way in which people develop (thus the term psychosocial development). Cultural institutions continue to support ego strengths (e.g., religion supports trust or hope).

Biological Influences Biological factors are important determinants of personality. Sex differences in personality are strongly influenced by differences in the “genital apparatus.”

Development Children develop through four psychosocial stages, each of which presents a crisis in which a particular ego strength is developed. Adolescents and adults develop through four additional psychosocial stages. Again, each involves a crisis and develops a particular ego strength.

Erik Erikson




epigenetic principle ground plan,

parts time functioning whole

epigenetic principle

the principle for psychosocial development, based on a biological model, in which parts emerge in order of increasing differentiation



Table 5.2 Stages of Psychosocial Development Compared with Psychosexual Development

Psychosocial Stage Comparable Psychosexual Stage and Mode

Freudian Stage Age

1. Trust vs. Mistrust Oral-Respiratory, Sensory- Kinesthetic (Incorporative Mode)

Oral Infancy

2. Autonomy vs. Shame, Doubt

Anal-Urethral, Muscular (Retentive-Eliminative Mode)

Anal Early childhood

3. Initiative vs. Guilt

Infantile-Genital Locomotor (Intrusive, Inclusive Mode)

Phallic Play age

4. Industry vs. Inferiority

Latency Latency School age

5. Identity vs. Identity Diffusion

Puberty Genital Adolescence

6. Intimacy vs. Isolation

Genitality Genital Young adulthood

7. Generativity vs. Self-Absorption

Procreativity Genital Adulthood

8. Integrity vs. Despair

Generalization of Sensual Modes

Genital Old age

Source The Life Cycle Completed: A Review,


Table 5.3 Strengths Developed at Each Stage of Psychosocial Development and Their Social Context

Psychosocial Stage Strength Significant People

Related Elements in Society

1. Trust vs. Mistrust Hope Maternal person Cosmic order (e.g., religion)

2. Autonomy vs. Shame, Doubt

Will Parental persons Law and order

3. Initiative vs. Guilt

Purpose Basic family Ideal prototypes (e.g., male, female, socioeconomic status)

4. Industry vs. Inferiority

Competence Neighborhood, school

Technological order

5. Identity vs. Identity Diffusion

Fidelity Peer groups and outgroups, models of leadership

Ideological worldview

6. Intimacy vs. Isolation

Love Partners in friendship and sex

Patterns of cooperation and competition

7. Generativity vs. Self-absorption

Care Divided labor and shared household

Currents of education and tradition

8. Integrity vs. Despair

Wisdom Mankind and my kind


Source The Life Cycle Completed: A Review,

Temporal Perspective vs. Time Confusion

Self-Certainty vs. Self- Consciousness

Role Experimentation vs. Role Fixation

Apprenticeship vs. Work Paralysis



Will to be Oneself vs. Self-Doubt

Task Identification vs. Sense of Futility

Anticipation of Roles vs. Role Inhibition

Mutual Recognition vs. Autistic Isolation

Sexual Polarization vs. Bisexual Confusion

Leader- and Followership vs. Authority Confusion

Ideological Commitment vs. Confusion of Values







Old Age


Young Adulthood


School Age

Early Childhood

Play Age










1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

FIGURE 5.1 The Epigenetic Chart Source: Adapted from Identity, Youth and Crisis by Erik H. Erikson, by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. Copyright © 1968 by W. W. Norton and Company, Inc.


Stage 1: Trust versus Mistrust

trust mistrust


Stage 2: Autonomy versus Shame and Doubt


holding on letting go.


Stage 3: Initiative versus Guilt

initiative guilt


the positive pole of the first psychosocial stage


the negative pole of the first psychosocial stage


the positive pole of the second psychosocial stage


the negative pole of the second psychosocial stage


the positive pole of the third psychosocial stage


the negative pole of the third psychosocial stage


Stage 4: Industry versus Inferiority

industry inferiority producing things

Stage 5: Identity versus Identity Confusion


style of one’s individuality, meaning for significant others



Identity confusion negative


identity foreclosure

Stage 6: Intimacy versus Isolation

intimacy isolation


the positive pole of the fourth psychosocial stage


the negative pole of the fourth psychosocial stage


sense of sameness between one’s meaning for oneself and one’s meaning for others in the social world; the positive pole of the fifth psychosocial stage


period provided by society when an adolescent is sufficiently free of commitments to be able to explore identity; also, a stage of identity development when such exploration is occurring, before identity achievement

identity confusion

the negative pole of the fifth psychosocial stage

negative identity

identity based on socially devalued roles

identity foreclosure

inadequate resolution of the fifth psychosocial stage, in which an identity is accepted without adequate exploration


the positive pole of the sixth psychosocial stage


the negative pole of the sixth psychosocial stage


Stage 7: Generativity versus Stagnation




Stage 8: Integrity versus Despair



A Ninth Stage: Dystonic Resurgence or Gerotranscendence

gerotranscendence gerotranscendance



the positive pole of the seventh psychosocial stage


the negative pole of the seventh psychosocial stage


the positive pole of the eighth psychosocial stage


the negative pole of the eighth psychosocial stage


the ninth stage of psychosocial development, referring to the very elderly


The First Stage: Religion


The Second Stage: Law


The Third Stage: Ideal Prototypes

purpose ideal prototypes

The Fourth Stage: Technological Elements



fundamental conviction in the trustworthiness of the world; the basic virtue developed during the first psychosocial stage


conviction that what one wants to happen can happen; the basic virtue developed during the second psychosocial stage


orientation to attain goals through striving; the basic virtue developed during the third psychosocial stage


sense of workmanship, of perfecting skills; the basic virtue developed during the fourth psychosocial stage


The Fifth Stage: Ideological Perspectives


The Sixth Stage: Patterns of Cooperation and Competition


The Seventh Stage: Currents of Education and Tradition



ability to sustain loyalties freely pledged; the basic virtue developed during the fifth psychosocial stage


ability to form an intimate mutual relationship with another person; the basic virtue developed during the sixth psychosocial stage


ability to nurture the development of the next generation; the basic virtue developed during the seventh psychosocial stage


The Eighth Stage: Wisdom



ethnic identity.


mature sense of the meaningfulness and wholeness of experience; the basic virtue developed during the eighth psychosocial stage



Ethnic identity


Identity Status

identity status paradigm

identity diffusion identity confusion

moratorium. identity achievement,

identity foreclosure,

Identity diffusion


Identity achiever


identity diffusion

the negative pole of the fifth psychosocial stage (earlier terminology)

identity achievement

status representing optimal development during the fifth (adolescent) psychosocial stage


implicit motives



congru- ent

Other Psychosocial Stages

I can usually depend on others.

I genuinely enjoy work.

Sometimes I wonder who I really am.

Life has been good to me.


Correlates of Stage Measures



Ego integrity


psychoanalytic social psychology


mutual complementation


psychosocial develop- ment

epigenetic principle,


Thinking about Erikson’s Theory







Study Questions


2. 3.


5. 6.



9. 10.


6 Horney and Relational Theory Interpersonal Psychoanalytic Theory

Chapter Overview Preview: Overview of Interpersonal Psychoanalytic Theory Interpersonal Psychoanalysis: Horney Basic Anxiety and Basic Hostility Three Interpersonal Orientations Four Major Adjustments to Basic Anxiety Secondary Adjustment Techniques Cultural Determinants of Development Horney’s Approach to Therapy Parental Behavior and Personality Development The Relational Approach within Psychoanalytic Theory The Sense of Self in Relationships Narcissism Attachment in Infancy and Adulthood The Relational Approach to Therapy Summary


Born in Los Angeles, California, in 1926, Norma Jeane Mortenson (her birth name) was not told the truth about her paternity, the product of an extramarital affair. She grew up without a father or mother. Mental illness ran in her family, and her mother and grand- mother were institutionalized (Steinem, 1986). After living in several foster homes and an orphanage and having no other stable home, Norma Jeane married at age 16 (a marriage that lasted 4 years). With her husband off to war, she worked in a factory until a photog- rapher taking pictures to boost the troops’ morale discovered her there. She quickly became a model, on her way to becoming a movie actress, under the name of Marilyn Monroe. Along the way, she posed as the first Playboy magazine centerfold, married baseball


Karen Horney’s theory is popular for its insights into gender. It confronted the male bias of the earlier generation of psychoanalysts. As an icon of femininity in twentieth-century American popular culture, Marilyn Monroe portrays a person trapped in the gender role of her time, and so she can be understood from the perspective of Horney’s interper- sonal theory and of the subsequent relational theory that further develops these ideas.

Although she has been dead since 1962, the movie actress Marilyn Monroe is a timeless embodiment of the image of femininity. She epitomizes sexual beauty; her picture on a nude calendar was admired by many men and envied by many women. She also had a tragic side, arousing sympathy for the helpless victim. Marilyn Monroe


star Joe DiMaggio (a union that lasted only 8 months), and then married playwright Arthur Miller (for 4 years). She also was the lover of President John F. Kennedy (among others). Marilyn Monroe had many lovers and three, possibly four, husbands. As much as she sought love, her longest marriage lasted only 4.5 years. She loved children but never raised her own. Many were conceived; report- edly she had over a dozen abortions. (She reported that she bore an illegitimate child as a teenager, but it is unclear whether this is fact or imagination.) When motherhood was acceptable, as Arthur Miller’s wife, she miscarried.

Throughout adulthood, Monroe took high doses of bar- biturates and attempted suicide on several occasions. It is likely that her death was either an intentional suicide or an acciden- tal overdose. Theories of murder are favored by some, who argue that the FBI, the Kennedys, and the Mafia all had reasons to be involved in her death. Whatever the circumstances, her death occurred on the fifth anniversary of her much-mourned miscarriage.

DEVELOPMENT Karen Horney’s theory emphasizes childhood parental love as essential for healthy development, whereas neglect produces a fundamental conflict that endures. Conflict is between basic anxiety (fear of not being loved or lovable) and basic hostility (anger about the lack of love).

Marilyn Monroe was neglected by her parents. She did not know her father. Her mother suffered serious depression and was institutionalized when Monroe was 7 and for most of her life thereafter. Monroe then grew up in foster homes and an orphanage, never experiencing a stable, loving family that would help her establish healthy interpersonal relationships. This insecure beginning, according to Horney’s theory, would leave her with lifelong unconscious feelings of being unloved and angry.

DESCRIPTION Horney’s interpersonal psychoanalysis and subsequent theories of object relations emphasize that the most important aspect of per- sonality is the relationships we have with other people. If they are not secure, then no amount of fame or success can replace them. Personality is described in terms of relationship styles. Some peo- ple have a style of an exaggerated need for love and acceptance (“moving toward” style). Others have exaggerated needs for com- petition or aggression (“moving against” style). A third style is an exaggerated need for isolation (“moving against” style).

Of these styles, Marilyn Monroe clearly had an exagger- ated need for love. In her case, this need took the form of seeking sexual love and admiration for her physical beauty. She had a childlike innocence in her physical appearance and also a childlike hunger for love without the stabilizing anchor of mature self-esteem. Her childlike persona elicited love and protective impulses in others. Like many “moving toward” women, she chose for her male partners powerful men (includ- ing baseball player Joe DiMaggio, playwright Arthur Miller, and President John Fitzgerald Kennedy). Gloria Steinem describes her as “the child-woman who offered pleasure without adult challenge; a lover who neither judged nor asked anything in return” (1986, p. 22).

ADJUSTMENT Mental health requires healthy interpersonal relationships, not immature relationships based on inadequate childhood experi- ences in object relations theory, and not limited in Horney’s earlier theory to only one or two of the three interpersonal styles listed above. A poorly adjusted person creates a defensive idealized self that resists awareness and does not permit flexibility. A person whose idealized self demands always being loved will not be able to move against others by appropriate assertive behavior or to move away from them to be alone when that is needed. A variety of defense mechanisms maintain this style, defending against any unconscious impulses for the repressed material to emerge—in this case, for repressed anger that could lead to competitiveness or assertiveness.

Physical beauty can be a way of ensuring love; it therefore takes on great value for those with a neurotic need for affec- tion (Horney, 1950, p. 138). Monroe’s exhibitionist tendencies trace back to childhood (Steinem, 1986). Horney (1937/1967d, pp. 256–257) suggested that a neurotic need for love can also be expressed as a series of sexual relationships, surely characteristic of Monroe, whose promiscuity was legendary.

In people who have adopted this pattern of a neurotic, compulsive need for love, hostility is repressed, to avoid anxi- ety and the risk of being unlovable. One anecdote strongly suggests how much suppressed hostility must have pervaded Monroe’s lovemaking. At a party, where a game required disclos- ing personal fantasies, “she said she imagined disguising herself in a black wig, meeting her father, seducing him, and then ask- ing vindictively, ‘How do you feel now to have a daughter that you’ve made love to?’ ” (Steinem, 1986, p. 144). How clearly this says that she thought her father’s love could only be obtained by trickery, and she was mad about it. From an object relations theory point of view, this fantasy discloses an unhealthy pat- tern of relationships, and we would expect the fantasy to also contaminate her lovemaking.

COGNITION As in other psychoanalytic theories, both object relations theories and Horney’s theory describe defense mechanisms that distort thinking and interfere with accurate self-perception. Some of these defense mechanisms (e.g., repression) are the same as those described in previous chapters, whereas others (e.g., blind spots and externalization) are first described by Horney.

Marilyn Monroe showed an exaggerated concern for the suffering of animals and even plants that can be interpreted as a defense mechanism (externalization) that distorted accurate self- perception. She externalized her own sense of being unloved and helplessness in a hostile world, not realizing it was she herself who felt the need to be rescued. For example, when she found boys trapping pigeons to sell in New York City, she bought the birds every week and set them free. Another rather bizarre exter- nalization occurred when she saw nasturtiums cut by a lawn mower. As her husband, Arthur Miller, tells it, “crying as if she were wounded,” Marilyn demanded that they stop the car as they drove past. “Then she rushed about picking up the fallen flowers, sticking the stalks back into the ground, to see if they might recover” (Summers, 1985, p. 200).



CULTURE Horney’s most important contribution to psychoanalysis was her recognition that culture contributes significantly to mental health problems by encouraging certain neurotic tendencies. By relegating women into society’s accepted gender roles, culture produces unconscious conflict and neurosis. Early psychoanalysts did not recognize this, and so their supposed expertise had the unfortunate effect of endorsing the unhealthy gender messages of society. Freud’s theory describes masochism as part of normal feminine development, whereas Horney said this trait is a product of culture. It is not inevitably part of being a normal female, and it is not healthy.

The particular style of femininity that Marilyn Monroe epito- mized, the sex goddess of her age, was a product of her culture. Marilyn Monroe paints, in bold strokes, themes that typify the femi- nine personality of her time, in her culture, suggests Gloria Steinem (1986). Her self-doubt and need to be loved, her inability to express anger appropriately, were widespread issues for women of that era. Marilyn Monroe was treated by a Freudian analyst Ralph Greenson, a psychiatrist internationally known for his scholarly publications and a former close friend of the Freud family. However, her therapist missed this opportunity to put her on a less dependent, healthier track (Steinem, 1986). Rather than challenging her need for love as neurotic, apparently he played along, at times even taking the patient into his home. He also intervened in her movie roles and other extra-therapy aspects of her life, to an extent that violated even his own teachings about proper therapy techniques (Kirsner, 2007). Of course, it is unfair to judge analysis from a distance; but if the therapy did not get beneath the neurotic need for affection, it was not addressing the core neurosis and could not hope to achieve a personality reconstruction. One suspects that Horney would even criticize the therapist for allowing “morbid dependency” in the doctor–patient relationship (cf. Horney, 1950, p. 243). Cultural assumptions can blind even the experts.

BIOLOGY Although Horney added a cultural component to psychoanalytic theory, she did not deny the underlying assumption that biol- ogy provides the energy for personality. Thus she suggested that physical as well as psychological symptoms can be produced by unresolved unconscious conflict. She also realized that some people turn to physical substances to alleviate psychological suffering.

Marilyn Monroe tried to drown her hostility and anxiety with drugs. Horney (1950, p. 152) proposed that drug use stems from the underlying problem of self-contempt. Even Monroe’s physical difficulties are consistent with Horney’s theory. Monroe suffered extreme menstrual pain. She was reportedly frigid, compulsively seeking intercourse but not experiencing orgasm. If Horney’s paper had not originally been published in 1926, we might have thought Horney had Marilyn Monroe in mind when she observed “that frigid women can be even erotically responsive and sexually demanding, an observation that warns us against equating frigidity with the rejection of sex” (Horney, 1926/1967c, p. 74). Horney reported that frigid women may con- vert their sexual functioning into a variety of menstrual disorders, including pain and miscarriage.

FINAL THOUGHTS It took a woman, Karen Horney, to see cultural bias in misun- derstanding women in the psychoanalytic theory that she oth- erwise admired and practiced. Her insights help us understand the psychological flaws of Marilyn Monroe, not simply to admire or desire her. The core conflict, in Horney’s theory, stems from inadequate parental love. We may defend against that conflict in culturally driven ways, varying from one century to the next and from one subgroup within society to another, but our basic needs are the same.





Karen Horney

Table 6.1 Preview of Horney’s Theory and Object Relations Theory

Individual Differences Individuals differ in the way they define themselves in relationships. Horney described a balance among three interpersonal orientations: moving toward, moving against, and moving away (from people). People have different idealized selves and use different ways of adjusting to anxiety.

Adaptation and Adjustment

Healthy interpersonal relationships are a key to adjustment, and they are based on acceptance of the true self instead of some defensive idealized self. Horney provides full descriptions of neurotic trends. Therapy focuses more on the present time and on interpersonal relationships than on the past and libidinal conflict (contrasting with Freud’s theory).

Cognitive Processes Blind spots and other defense mechanisms limit insight, but courageous self-examination can lead to growth. Developmental and object relations theorists are studying specific cognitions, such as those related to emotion.

Culture Culture is very important in shaping personality, especially through gender roles.

Biological Influences Biology is far less important than orthodox psychoanalysis claims.

Development Love and nurturance are key to a child’s development. In Horney’s theory, basic anxiety and hostility are the fundamental emotions of childhood. Without adequate parental love, the child develops unhealthy interpersonal modes and a defensive sense of self. Few major changes in personality occur after childhood (except through therapy).

relational approach

Biography of Karen Horney


American Journal of Psychoanalysis

real self



basic anxiety

basic hostility


move toward move against move away

self-effacing solution

expansive solution

resignation solution

basic anxiety

feeling of isolation and helplessness resulting from inadequate parenting in infancy

basic hostility

feeling of anger by the young child toward the parents, which must be repressed

moving toward

interpersonal orientation emphasizing dependency

moving against

interpersonal orientation emphasizing hostility

moving away

interpersonal orientation emphasizing separateness from others

self-effacing solution

attempting to solve neurotic conflict by seeking love; moving toward people

expansive solution

attempting to solve neurotic conflict by seeking mastery; moving against people

resignation solution

attempting to solve neurotic conflict by seeking freedom; moving away from people


Table 6.3 Horney-Coolidge Measure of Interpersonal Orientations: Facets and Sample Items

1. Compliance Scale

Altruism “I like to help others.”

Need for Relationships “I feel better when I’m in a relationship.”

Self-Abasement “I am self-sacrificing.”

2. Aggression Scale

Malevolence “Beggars make me angry.”

Power “I like to be in command.”

Strength “I test myself in fearful situations to make myself stronger.”

3. Detachment Scale

Need for Aloneness “I prefer to be alone.”

Avoidance “I avoid questions about my personal life.”

Self-Sufficiency “I don’t really need people.”


Table 6.2 Horney’s Three Neurotic Solutions

1. Self-Effacing Solution: The Appeal of Love (“The Compliant Personality”)

“Moving toward” people

Morbid dependency: the need for a partner (friend, lover, or spouse)

“Poor little me”: feeling of being weak and helpless

Self-subordination: assumption that others are superior

Martyrdom: sacrifice and suffering for others

Need for love: desire to find self-worth in a relationship

2. Expansive Solution: The Appeal of Mastery (“The Aggressive Personality”)

“Moving against” people

Narcissistic: in love with idealized self-image

Perfectionistic: high standards

Arrogant-vindictive: pride and strength

Need to be right: to win a fight or competition

Need for recognition: to be admired

3. Resignation: The Appeal of Freedom (“The Detached Personality”)

“Moving away from” people

Persistent resignation and lack of striving: the aversion to effort and change

Rebellious against constraints or influences: the desire for freedom

Shallow living: an onlooker at self and life, detached from emotional experiences and wishes

Self-sufficient and independent: uninvolved with people

Need for privacy: keeping others outside the magic circle of the self



Moving toward People: The Self-Effacing Solution

compliant types

Moving against People: The Expansive Solution

aggressive types

Moving away from People: The Resignation Solution

detached personality types

Healthy versus Neurotic Use of Interpersonal Orientations

assertiveness aggressiveness




Eclipsing the Conflict: Moving toward or against Others

Detachment: Moving away from Others

The Idealized Self: Moving away from the Real Self

idealized self real selfidealized self an image of what a person wishes to be

real self

the vital, unique center of the self, which has growth potential


tyranny of the shoulds

Externalization: Projection of Inner Conflict



tyranny of the shoulds

inner demands to live up to the idealized self


defense mechanism in which conflicts are projected outside


blind spots



Excessive self-control

Arbitrary rightness




blind spots

secondary adjustment technique in which a person is unaware of behavior inconsistent with the idealized self-image


secondary adjustment technique in which incompatible behaviors are not simultaneously recognized


secondary adjustment technique in which a person explains behaviors in socially acceptable ways

excessive self-control

secondary adjustment technique in which emotions are avoided

arbitrary rightness

secondary adjustment technique in which a person rigidly declares that his or her own view is correct


secondary adjustment technique in which a person avoids commitment to any opinion or action


secondary adjustment technique in which the moral values of society are rejected


Gender Roles

masculine feminine male female gender sex

social role theory,




womb envy

womb envy

men’s envy of women’s reproductive capacity (the complement of Freud’s penis envy)



Cross-Cultural Differences





values, predominant in many Western cultures, of individual goals and achievement (in contrast to shared group goals and cooperation)


values, predominant in some cultures, of social cooperation and group goals





relational approach relational approach

approach in modern psychoanalysis that emphasizes interpersonal relationships


object relationsobject relations term used in psychoanalysis for relationships with people, based originally on the idea that people serve as objects to satisfy libidinal drives

Table 6.4 Important Persons in the History of the Relational Approach

Theorist Theoretical Ideas

Melanie Klein Young children are very needy; they relate to “part objects” (such as the breast) instead of the whole parent; their ambivalent feelings cause guilt about their negative feelings about their parents.

W. R. D. Fairbairn People have a fundamental need for relatedness. Maternal indifference and lack of love for the child contribute to the development of child pathology. The child defensively splits the rejecting mother (which is internalized) from the hoped-for loving mother, which impedes development from immature to mature dependency.

Harry Stack Sullivan Children attempt to avoid anxiety in interpersonal relationships by constructing an understanding of self that includes a good me, a bad me, and a not me.

Otto Kernberg Borderline and psychotic patients suffer disturbed identity and interpersonal relationships. Early severe frustration leads to unmanageable aggression and narcissistic personality disorders. Especially in borderline personality disorder, narcissistic frustrations lead to a splitting of the “good” and “bad” self and object relations, which are kept isolated from one another, and a grandiose self is defensively formed.

Heinz Kohut A grandiose self is part of normal, healthy development, based on a desire for merger with omnipotent caretakers, whose admiration is sought. A healthy, integrated self structure will be formed if the adults respond empathically to the child. If less-than-optimal parenting is available, the child will construct an idealized parental imago to support the grandiose self.

Mary Ainsworth and John Bowlby

Infants develop secure attachment, in which they derive comfort from the presence of the mother (or substitute); or insecure attachment, in which they are not comforted.

Nancy Chodorow Children’s gender development is influenced by the different roles that the mother and father play in caring for children (in contrast to Freud’s proposed anatomical determinants of gender).


Table 6.5 Measurement of Object Relations from TAT Stories

Scale Description Description of Low Score

Description of High Score

Complexity Complexity, differentiation, and integration of representations of people

Poor differentiation between people

Complex, multifaceted, integrated representations of people’s subjective experience and enduring dispositions

Affect-tone of relationship paradigms

Expectation that relationships will be safe and enriching or destructive and threatening

Expectation that relationships will be destructive and threatening

Expectation that relationships will be safe and enriching

Capacity for emotional investment in relationships and moral standards

Emotional orientation that is selfish, or that unselfishly invests in people, values, and ideals

Investment in one’s own need gratification and desires

Commitment to values and relationships that acknowledge needs of self and others

Understanding of social causality

Logic, complexity, accuracy, and psychological mindedness of attributions

Absence of causal understanding

Complex understanding of the role mental events play in social causation






narcissistic personality disorder


unhealthy self-focus that impairs the ability to have healthy, empathic relationships with other people




Infant Attachment

attachment attachment bonds of affection in which an infant turns to the mother or other caretaker for comfort and security; by extension, close interpersonal styles in adulthood


Adult Attachments and Relationships

Table 6.6 Ainsworth’s Description of Infant Temperament Types Compared with Horney’s Model of Interpersonal Orientations

Infant Type Infant Behavior Horney’s Interpersonal Orientation

Type A Moving Away

Type B1 Balance of the three Interpersonal Orientations

Type B4 Moving Toward

Type C Moving Against



Longitudinal Studies of Attachment

Table 6.8 Three Adult Attachment Styles

Secure Attachment Style I find it relatively easy to get close to others and am comfortable depending on them and having them depend on me. I don’t often worry about being abandoned or about someone getting too close to me.

Avoidant Attachment Style I am somewhat uncomfortable being close to others; I find it difficult to trust them completely, difficult to allow myself to depend on them. I am nervous when anyone gets too close and often love partners who want me to be more intimate than I feel comfortable being.

Anxious-Ambivalent Attachment Style I find that others are reluctant to get as close as I would like. I often worry that my partner doesn’t love me or won’t want to stay with me. I want to merge completely with another person, and this desire sometimes scares people away.


Table 6.7 A Model of Adult Attachment Styles

High Anger Low Anger

High Dependency Resistant-ambivalent attachment style (compare to Horney’s description of conflict between achievement and love, that is, moving against and moving toward)

Dependent attachment style (compare to Horney’s moving toward orientation)

Low Dependency Hostile attachment style (compare to Horney’s moving against orientation)

Avoidant attachment style (compare to Horney’s moving away orientation)






basic anxiety

basic hostility

mov- ing toward moving against moving away

eclipsing detachment the idealized self externalization

idealized self tyranny of the shoulds

secondary adjustment mechanisms:

cultural determinants

Relational theorists

object relationships

attach- ment

Thinking about Horney’s Theory and the Relational Approach





5. 6.

Study Questions




4. self-effacing solution, expansive solution resignation solution


6. 7. 8. 9.



12. 13. 14.

15. 16. 17. 18.




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The trait perspective focuses on one of the most fundamental questions in personality: How will we describe people? Researchers begin with everyday language. People have been talking about one another, labeling one another, since before history was recorded. Raymond Cattell (1943a) asserted, “all aspects of human personality which are or have been of importance, interest, or utility have already become recorded in the substance of language” (p. 483; quoted by Borkenau, 1990). The “lexical approach” describes personality by systematically examining language, usually beginning with words in the dictionary (Allport & Odbert, 1936; Cattell, 1943b; John, Angleitner, & Ostendorf, 1988).

A trait is a theoretical construct describing a basic dimension of personality. Although they differ in many ways, trait theories agree on some basic assumptions:

1. Trait approaches emphasize individual differences in characteristics that are more or less stable across time and across situations.

2. Trait approaches emphasize the measurement of these traits through tests, often self-report questionnaires.

The attempt to find the basic, broad dimensions of personality has motivated many researchers. One popular model proposes five basic factors (the “Big Five”): extraversion, agreeableness, neuroticism, conscientiousness, and openness (Digman, 1990; McCrae & Costa, 1987). Another approach identifies 16 dimensions, rather than five (Cattell, 1979). Yet another approach proposes only three factors (Eysenck, 1990). The apparent discrepancy can be resolved by considering a hierarchical model, in which a larger number of more specific factors—not entirely uncorrelated with one another—correspond to a smaller number of more general factors (Boyle, 1989). By way of analogy, a person who claims there are only two things to study in college, liberal arts or professional training, does not really disagree with a person who says there are several dozen things to study and then lists all the departments in the university. They are simply speaking at different levels of generality. In the study of personality, the number of “basic dimensions” uncovered depends on how general or specific are the dimensions sought (Marshall, 1991).

Personality trait and factor theories have advanced considerably in recent years, seeking theoretical connections with our expanding understanding of the biological foundations of behavior. Some theories propose specific biologi- cal mechanisms that cause people to be introverted or extraverted, excitable or calm, and so on (see Chapter 9). It has been argued that a trait approach provides the basis for a coherent paradigm of personality theory in the natural science tradition because “in any science, taxonomy precedes causal analysis” (Eysenck, 1991, p. 774).

Whether trait research ultimately makes such theoretical contributions, it has great value for practical applications. For example, measurement of vocational-interest traits helps predict who is suited for particular occupations; those who enter careers that suit their personality are happier and more successful (Dawis, 1996; Hogan, Hogan, & Roberts, 1996; Holland, 1996). Using tests to screen applicants for employment, although it is a widespread and frequently beneficial practice, has sometimes resulted in lawsuits when candidates claim that tests are biased, resulting in racial or other discrimination (Tenopyr, 1995). Such lawsuits remind us of the importance of validity in testing (as described in Chapter 1), not only for abstract theoretical reasons, but also as a fundamental principle of fairness (Lubinski, 1995). Perhaps the prevalence of testing for traits indicates that, whatever theoretical debates remain unresolved, traits exist in the public’s eye, and in our talking about one another.

Study Questions

1. What are the assumptions of the trait perspective? 2. Why do some models propose as few as three traits, whereas other approaches propose many more?

3 The Trait Perspective



Chapter Overview Preview: Overview of Allport’s Theory Major Themes in Allport’s Work Allport’s Definition of Personality Personality Traits Personality Development Personality and Social Phenomena Eclecticism Summary

Allport Personological Trait Theory


Gordon Allport was interested in the healthy functioning of a whole person and particularly interested in the implications of religious attitudes for our behavior toward other people in the world. Clearly he would have found Mother Teresa an example of the positive contributions that he thought could stem from religious motivations.

Mother Teresa, born in Skopje, Serbia, on August 26, 1910 (Spink, 1997), was a world-renowned Roman Catholic nun, mourned worldwide when she died in 1997 (only a few days after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales). She was acclaimed by people of many faiths for her chari- table work among those she called the “poorest of the poor” in India and elsewhere. Mother Teresa established a new order, the Sisters of Charity, to serve the very poor, including lepers and others whose basic physical needs were not being met. Over time, missions were established in many countries, and her concern for the sick and dying of the world mobilized charitable acts by others. Despite her personal humility, the


drive to declare her a “saint” officially has proceeded at an unusual pace.

DEVELOPMENT Gordon Allport described personality development in terms of stages in the self-concept. Throughout life, he proposed, we move from lack of awareness of a self, to a primitive understanding that our body or physi- cal self is who we are, and then include ever more details to this view. Our pos- sessions (such as childhood toys) are concrete aspects of self, but as we grow to middle childhood we also “own” our intentions and goals, and by adolescence we can become reflective about a more inclusive view of self. Of course, our particular life experiences, especially in the social world, influence the content of this self-concept. We are influenced by social models, including our parents,

but we come to take responsibility for our own behavior, no matter how it originated.

As a girl, Agnes Bojaxhiu (Mother Teresa’s birth name) was the youngest of three children. She witnessed political upheavals

Mother Teresa


in Albania that led to World War I, and her father died— possibly murdered for his political views—when Agnes was only 8. Her mother was devoutly religious in the minority Roman Catholic religion of Albania, and she modeled charity to her daughter by helping those who were even poorer than they were. The future Mother Teresa reports feeling called to the life of a nun when she was 12. At 18, with her mother’s blessing, she left home and began the process of becoming a postulant and eventually a nun, learning English and traveling to India to help combat illness and poverty. She did not construe the missionary work as social work, however, but instead as a religious contemplation, in which she and the other nuns with whom she served encountered the divine and suffering Jesus through the needy persons they served. She witnessed suffering not only from poverty and illness, but also from violent conflict in Calcutta between Muslim and Hindu Indians.

DESCRIPTION Allport emphasized the uniqueness of each person’s traits as they develop ways of adjusting to the world, and he suggested that some people have such clear and cohesive styles of personality (cardinal traits) that their name conjures up a clear image of their personality. Surely that is so for Mother Teresa, world renowned for her life of charitable service toward the poor.

Allport’s personological trait theory offered a less formal, more holistic version of trait theory than the more empirically focused trait models that followed. He would use the language of everyday life to describe Mother Teresa’s traits: saintly, self-sacrificing, dedicated, well organized, and so on. Allport theorized religion can be used for self-serving reasons or it can inspire genuine love for others (and we would include Mother Teresa in this group). Allport envisioned traits within a model of humanistic development and integration of personality, and so he would emphasize the unifying vision of her religious commitment.

Allport’s theory describes consistency of personality, because of a person’s enduring traits. Throughout Mother Teresa’s life we can find evidence of salient traits. Her trait of humility is evidenced in responses to public acclaim. For example, when she was awarded the much-esteemed Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, she traveled to Norway to accept the prize but stated that the recognition was for the poor, not for herself personally. Certainly Mother Teresa was pious in subjugating selfish pleasure for service to others.

ADJUSTMENT Allport considered a healthy person to have a consistency or unity of personality (in contrast to conflicts among various parts of personality, as described by psychoanalytic theories). He sug- gests that unification is based on a person’s philosophy of life, which for many is a religious philosophy. He suggested additional characteristics of healthy personalities: having interests beyond themselves, interacting with others warmly, emotional security, realistic perceptions, insight, and a sense of humor.

Mother Teresa’s selfless concern for others is grounded on a unifying focus defined by her religious commitment and her con- viction of the importance of love. In the sick and dying, she saw the presence of the suffering Jesus of her faith, and loving them was her calling. She viewed lack of love and prayer in the family as root causes of larger social problems, including loss of world peace (Spink, 1997, p. 132). Personality, in Allport’s theory, provides a person’s unique adaptation to the world, so we cannot expect that Mother Teresa’s way of life is for everyone, but she has raised the world’s awareness of the plight of the “poorest of the poor.”

COGNITION Besides self-concept and a realistic sense of self, already mentioned, Allport’s theory includes other cognitive concepts. Social attitudes and values are often analyzed from a cognitive viewpoint. Allport developed a questionnaire to measure values on six scales: Aesthetic, Economic, Political, Religious, Social, and Theoretical.

It is clear that Mother Teresa would have scored high on the Religious scale. Despite her contributions to world social issues, she would likely have scored low on the Political scale; in fact, she avoided politics and is described by her biographer as having been uninformed about apartheid in South Africa (Spink, 1997, p. 214).

CULTURE A social psychologist as well as personality psychologist, Allport studied some topics of interest to the war effort (World War II), especially rumor transmission, but the best-known social applications of his theory concern racial prejudice. Allport realized that people who proclaim themselves to be religious are sometimes cruel, and so he explored various kinds of religious orientation to see whether he could untangle the “brotherhood and bigotry” that he found intertwined. The result has been an influential analysis of religious orientation and prejudice. He predicted, and found, that people are less racially prejudiced if their religion is one in which they have accepted the religious teachings to give selflessly to others (“intrinsic religious orientation”). In contrast, people who see religion as a utilitarian means to improve their condition (“extrinsic religious orientation”) are often racially prejudiced. Thus intrinsic religious orientation predicts love for one’s neighbor (although, as the chapter points out, there are exceptions).

Mother Teresa’s orientation is clearly the more favorable intrinsic religious orientation. Sometimes missionaries can be disrespectful of others’ traditions, and because of that, there were some angry protests against the first arrival of her nuns in India. However, despite her own firm commitment to Roman Catholicism, Mother Teresa tolerated the religious views of others, providing for their own religious practices to also be included in celebrations at her charitable institutions (Spink, 1997, p. 123).

BIOLOGY Allport taught that personality traits are physical as well as psychological, but at the time of his theorizing, he could not be more precise than that. He did suggest that an infant’s first sense of self begins with the sense of the physical body, but soon cognitive and social issues rise into focus.

Mother Teresa obviously tended to the physical needs of the very poor, feeding them and caring for their wounded bodies. Most important from her point of view, though, was the love.

FINAL THOUGHTS Allport envisioned a theory of personality that was comprehensive in scope, from the physiological to the social and even religious. In his time, he could not fill in all the details, including the physical aspect of traits. His ideas about religious orientation and prejudice, though, have inspired researchers to the present day, and we see that they help us understand Mother Teresa, who met the world as a place to act lovingly on her religious convictions, and not as a place to find converts or to punish evil others.



Personality – –


personological person

– human-

istic psychology

Table 7.1 Preview of Allport’s Theory

Individual Differences Individuals differ in the traits that predominate in their personalities. Some traits are common (shared by various people); others are unique (belonging only to one person).

Adaptation and Adjustment

Psychology errs if it looks too much for illness. Allport listed several characteristics of a healthy personality.

Cognitive Processes People’s self-statements can generally be taken at face value.

Culture Adaptation to society is of central importance. Allport made important contributions to our understanding of prejudice, rumor, and religion.

Biological Influences All behavior is influenced, in some part, by heredity, but the mechanisms are not specified.

Development The proprium (ego or self) develops through stages that are outlined but not researched in detail. Adult development consists of integrating earlier developments.


Biography of Gordon Allport

Gordon Allport



Personality Consistency

Social Influence

The Psychology of Radio

The Concept of Self

Interaction of Personality with Social Influence


personalitypersonality for Gordon Allport, “the dynamic organization within the individual of those psychophysical systems that determine his unique adjustments to the environment”


Dynamic Organization

Psychophysical Systems


= *




Adjustments to the Environment


innate emotional aspects of personality



Allport’s Definition of Trait


states –

Can We All Be Described by the Same Traits?

individual traits common traits

persons person variables –

unique traits


a characteristic of a person that makes a person unique, with a unique style of adapting to stimuli in the world

individual trait

a trait that characterizes only the one person who has it (i.e., a trait considered from the idiographic point of view)

common trait

a trait characterizing many people (i.e., a trait considered from the nomothetic point of view)

unique trait

a trait that only one person has (also called individual trait)


Inferring Traits


Webster’s New International Dictionary

1. 2.




expressive traits –


expressive traits

traits concerned with the style or tempo of a person’s behavior




– –

Table 7.2 The Allport-Vernon-Lindzey Study of Values


Description of Value

Typical Occupation

Social Helping people Social work

Theoretical Search for truth College professor

Economic Pragmatic, applied Business

Aesthetic Artistic values Artist

Political Power and influence Politics

Religious Religion, harmony Clergy



The Pervasiveness of Traits: Cardinal, Central, and Secondary Traits

CENTRAL TRAITS central trait

Secondary traits –

cardinal trait

– Calvinistic,

chauvinistic, Christlike, Dionysian, Faustian, lesbian, Machiavellian, puckish, quixotic sadistic

Levels of Integration of Personality

central trait

one of the half dozen or so traits that best describe a particular person

secondary trait

a trait that influences a limited range of behaviors

cardinal trait

a pervasive personality trait that dominates nearly everything a person does



Functional Autonomy


functional autonomy

Qualities of a Normal, Mature Adult



functional autonomy

a trait’s independence of its developmental origins

Most integrated

Least integrated







FIGURE 7.1 Levels of Integration in Personality





UNIFYING PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE unifying philosophy of life

Unity of Personality

unitas multiplex – proprium

Stages of Development


unifying philosophy of life

an attitude or set of values, often religious, that gives coherence and meaning to life

unitas multiplex

the Latin phrase indicating that a person makes a unified whole out of many diverse aspects of personality


all aspects of a person that make for unity; a person’s sense of self or ego



1. Bodily Sense.

2. Self-Identity. self-identity

3. Ego-Enhancement.

4. Ego-Extension. ego-extensions

5. Self-Image. –

6. Rational Agent. rational coper

7. Propriate Striving. Propriate striving

8. The Knower. self as knower


extrinsic religious orientation


objects or people that help define a person’s identity or sense of self

rational coper

a stage in middle childhood in which problem-solving ability is important to one’s sense of self

propriate striving

effort based on a sense of selfhood or identity

self as knower

a stage in adulthood in which a person integrates the self into a unified whole

extrinsic religious orientation

attitude in which religion is seen as a means to a person’s other goals (such as status or security)


intrinsic religious orientation –

Quest Orientation


spirituality, –

intrinsic religious orientation

attitude in which religion is accepted for its own sake rather than as a means to an end

quest orientation

religious orientation that seeks answers to existential-religious questions

Table 7.3 Concepts Associated with Intrinsic and Extrinsic Religiousness in Allport’s Writings

Intrinsic Extrinsic

Relates to all of life Compartmentalized (a, b, c, d, f, g, h, j) (a, c, d, h)

Unprejudiced; tolerant Prejudiced; exclusionary (a, b, c, h, i) (a, b, c, d, e, h)

Mature Immature; dependent; (a, d) comfort; security

(a, b, d, f, g, h, i, j)

Integrative; unifying; meaning endowed Instrumental; utilitarian; (a, c, d, f, g, h, i) self-serving

(a, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j)

Regular church attendance Irregular church attendance (e, g, h) (c, g, h, i)

Makes for mental health Defense or escape mechanism (f, g) (d, f, g)



Source Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 48





The Nature of Prejudice


Religion and Prejudice

Religious Orientation

16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0

R ac

ia l P

re ju

di ce

Nonreligious Extrinsic Intrinsic Indiscriminate

Religious Orientation

45 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0

Fu nd

am en

ta lis


Nonreligious Extrinsic Intrinsic Indiscriminate

Religious Orientation

56 54 52 50 48 46 44 42

A nt

ig ay

P re

ju di


Nonreligious Extrinsic Intrinsic Indiscriminate

Religious Orientation






32A nt

ile sb

ia n

P re

ju di


Nonreligious Extrinsic Intrinsic Indiscriminate

FIGURE 7.2 Religious Orientation as a Predictor of Religious Fundamentalism and Prejudice against Racial Minorities, Gays, and Lesbians

Note: Higher scores indicate more prejudice against racial minorities, higher religious fundamentalist ideology, and more prejudice against gay men and lesbian women. Prepared from data reported by Herek (1987).


Rumor Transmission

, The Psychology of Rumor,



Jackdaw eclecticism Systematic eclecticism –

jackdaw eclecticism

considering concepts from diverse theories, without making careful selection from and evaluation of these concepts


personality –

trait idiographically

nomothetically –

Cardinal traits

Central traits –

secondary traits

functionally autonomous

unitas multiplex.


extrinsically religious individu- als intrinsically reli- gious individuals


Thinking about Allport’s Theory

1. –

2. –

3. –







Study Questions


2. –


4. – Letters from Jenny






10. –




Chapter Overview Preview: Overview of Factor Analytic Trait Theories Factor Analysis The 16 Factor Theory: Cattell Personality Measurement and the Prediction of Behavior Because Personality is Complex: A Multivariate Approach Psychological Adjustment Three Types of Traits Predicting Behavior Determinants of Personality: Heredity and Environment The Role of Theory in Cattell’s Empirical Approach The Big Five Factor Theory Extraversion Agreeableness Neuroticism Conscientiousness Openness A Hierarchical Model Are the Five Factors Universal? Various Measures of the Big Five Factors and other Personality Constructs Summary

Two Factor Analytic Trait Theories Cattell’s 16 Factors and the Big Five


A personality profile of an extraordinarily high achiever who has risen from poverty to one of the highest statuses within her eminent career has much to teach us. Such a person is Sonia Sotomayor, born and raised in a housing project in the Bronx, New York, who became a justice in the Supreme Court of the United States at age 55. In describing this appointment, President Obama emphasized not only her individual achievement but also


her importance as a role model for others. “The historic moment was not just about her. It’s about every child who will grow up thinking to him or herself, if Sonia Sotomayor can make it, then maybe I can, too” (Felix, 2010, loc. 3992–3993).

Born in 1954, Sotomayor was the child of immigrant parents from Puerto Rico, speaking Spanish as her first lan- guage and suffering the death of her father when she was nine.



She was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in childhood. Her mother, a nurse, contin- ued the family tradition of hard work and economized to purchase the Encyclopedia Britannica and to send Sonia and her brother to private schools. An outstanding student, Sonia earned many honors at Princeton University and Yale Law School, where she edited the Yale University Law Review. She married her high school sweetheart shortly after college graduation, but later divorced. Her law career included serving as a pros- ecutor at the New York District Attorney’s office (1979 to 1984) and private practice in a New York City law firm (1984 to 1992). She taught at New York University and at Columbia Law School, and lectured at various other schools. She actively advocated more opportunities for Latino students and faculty.

Nominated by President George W. Bush, she was confirmed as a federal district judge in New York in 1992, the first Hispanic in that position. Five years later, President Bill Clinton offered her an appointment to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, the highest federal court in New York. This was a path to the Supreme Court, where she was appointed in 2009 as the first Hispanic justice.

DEVELOPMENT Factor theories are primarily descriptive, saying little about personality development. Personality factors are influenced by heredity, and they are generally stable over time.

Cattell’s factor theory allows for the impact of experience (with the concept of “environmental-mold traits”). Many of an adult’s motivations have been developed over time, by chan- neling basic motivations (“ergs”) into sentiments and attitudes that influence specific behaviors. One sentiment that clearly influenced the course of Sonia Sotomayor’s life was the positive value of education, learned from her mother. Education allowed expression of at least two of the basic motivations that Cattell listed: curiosity and self-assertion. As a prosecutor, she had the opportunity to channel other ergs, anger, disgust, protection, and security, in fighting crime.

DESCRIPTION Cattell’s theory lists 16 factors, but for purposes of this illustra- tive biography, we will consider the simpler Five Factor theory, which describes Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Openness, and Neuroticism.

Sonia’s leisure time was often spent with others, family and her many friends, as is typical of extraverts. Her Extraversion (a factor important in both of the theories described in this chapter) and Agreeableness (a factor that captures ease of getting along with other people) are evidenced by people’s description of her as warm and generous, gregarious, easy to work with, and a team player (Felix, 2010).

This was not an agreeableness that stemmed from lack of self-confidence. Quite the contrary. Her brother described Sonia as “tough as nails” (Felix, 2010), and in court, she was direct and demanding toward lawyers and clerks. Any personality trait or factor is part of a broader profile, and it can be manifested in a

variety of ways. Sonia’s trait of Agreeableness influenced the way other aspects of her per- sonality would be manifested. For example, as a student who became aware of the recruit- ment practices that in effect discriminated against Latino populations, she challenged the policies but in a friendly rather than antago- nistic style, “without that personal edge that says I’ve been hurt, I need revenge” (Felix, 2010, loc. 1096). In her career as a judge, she had the confidence to rule against the Justice Department, ordering the release of a contro- versial suicide note by White House counsel Vincent Foster (Felix, 2010).

Her Conscientiousness (dedication and hard work) is evidenced by extraordinary effort

and personal sacrifice to excel as a student and as a lawyer and judge. This work ethic likely was developed from the model of her mother. When nominated to the Supreme Court by President Barack Obama, Sonia pointed out her mother in the audience, saying, “I am who I am because of her, and I am only half the woman she is” (Felix, 2010, loc. 128).

The “fierce intellectual curiosity” (Felix, 2010, loc. 626) that has been attributed to Sotomayor suggests the factor of Openness in the Five Factor model. A passion for information is clearly helpful for a judge.

These are four of the Big Five factors. The remaining one is closely related to adjustment, to which we turn.

ADJUSTMENT The Neuroticism factor in the Five Factor model assesses readiness to experience negative emotions such as anxiety or depression. Other models, including Cattell’s, have similar factors. High levels of neuroticism are marked by readiness to experience negative emotions; low levels describe emotional stability. Likely, Sotomayor would score in the moderate range on this factor. She had enough emotional stability to thrive despite growing up in an environment where she saw crime and broken lives in her neighborhood, and to cope with the stresses of her career, sending criminals to prison for drugs and other offenses. On the other hand, she experienced enough negative emotion to voice concern about the personal costs of her demanding career and to strive for more balance.

Negative emotions have some benefits; they arouse enough worry to encourage better health behaviors. One study found that moderate Neuroticism combined with high Conscientiousness predicts better outcomes for Type I diabetic patients, presumably because of healthier behavior (Brickman et al., 1996). Undoubtedly the combination of negative emotions or worry with her trait of Conscientiousness contributes to the reli- able control of Sotomayor’s blood sugar levels, by frequent self- injection with insulin, that is necessary to maintain health.

Perhaps negative emotions are responsible, too, for her humility about the positions to which she has been appointed. About taking the oath for her appointment to the Supreme Court, she said, “I don’t think any person can be assured that they are up to the task…. And so those moments are at one point incred- ibly meaningful and in a different way, incredibly frightening. It’s hard to convey the coursing of emotions that goes through one at a moment like that” (Felix, 2010, loc. 3790–3792).


Sonia Sotomayor


COGNITION Cattell’s theory describes intelligence, both innate potential (fluid intelligence) and that which has been learned (crystallized intelli- gence). Gifted by high innate intelligence, nonetheless Sotomayor had to work diligently in order to learn what was necessary to succeed as a scholar and as a lawyer. She also developed a capac- ity for deep concentration, so intense that she is reported to tune out even fire alarms while working (Felix, 2010).

Another aspect of cognition is the specific thoughts that a person has about various things. She was encouraged to think about current events and to express her views at school. Other theories would likely describe her self-affirming cognitions about herself, which theorists in the Five Factor model are now describ- ing as part of an expanded view of their model that describes how the fundamental personality factors relate to other aspects of personality (McCrae & Costa, 2008).

Attitudes toward the social issues of the day are influenced by personality. Cattell’s theory suggests that individuals learn to channel their basic motives into specific sentiments and attitudes. Sotomayor had a strong commitment to justice and to judicial institutions, which Cattell’s model would describe as an endur- ing sentiment (a type of metaerg, in his model), that directed her striving. She described the tradition and the institutional role as “bigger than us” as individuals (Felix, 2010, loc. 3968).

CULTURE For the most part, factor theorists have limited their cultural interest to comparisons across cultures, to verify that the same descriptive factors found in United States and other English- language populations are valid in other cultures. (They are, according to most research to date.) These underlying factors play out within individuals in their cultural environment, though the theories don’t (yet) provide much specific guidance. The basic factors need to be supplemented by other aspects of personality in order to capture the cultural context that is so important in the narrative of Sonia Sotomayor’s life.

Sonia Sotomayor’s biographer highlights the importance of culture by subtitling the biography The True American Dream (Felix, 2010). This cultural environment provided educational and professional opportunities for a person with her traits to thrive. Sonia grew up in public housing, in one of the projects in the Bronx. To many today, such an environment connotes shame and crime, but at that time, and in her family, “there was no stigma attached to living in the projects…to the contrary, many residents took tremendous pride in the beauty of their surroundings” (Felix,

2010, loc. 353–354). When newspapers described her as coming from humble origins, she objected, focusing not on the eco- nomic deprivations but on the wealth of her maternal support. As she rose in socioeconomic status and prestige, she remained empathic to those who were less privileged; for example, she broke precedent by insisting upon being photographed with the cooks and wait staff at a formal dinner celebrating her appoint- ment to the Supreme Court (Felix, 2010, loc. 3746).

Sonia also maintained her bicultural values, speaking of her “Latina soul.” She describes her experience at prestigious Princeton University as making her aware of her identity as a Latina woman. The factor theories in this chapter do not describe such issues (as, for example, Erikson’s identity model does), but we could interpret this identity awareness as a metaerg in Cattell’s model, or as a self-related cognition in the expanding Five Factor model (McCrae & Costa, 2008). Though the theoretical connec- tions can be outlined, in fairness we must confess that these cultural details are not detailed in factor theories. At any rate, her Latina identity motivated her to actively recruit Latino students in her work-study role, which can be labeled a sentiment in Cattell’s model.

BIOLOGY Factor theories that have developed more elaborate biological models are considered in Chapter 9. Even the factors in this chapter, though, are influenced by heredity, and so we can conclude that Sonia Sotomayor’s fundamental personality traits were influenced by heredity. Intelligence is one obvious example. In addition, she was diagnosed in childhood with Type I diabetes, a potentially life-shortening disease. Fortunately, and probably in large part due to her trait of Conscientiousness, she has kept this disease well controlled with insulin injections and lifestyle precautions, avoiding the serious complications that can result when blood sugar levels vary too widely. Thus heredity influences broad predispositions, but the specific ways that these play out in an individual’s life are not predetermined.

FINAL THOUGHTS Factor theories are still developing. The established aspects of the theory provide reliable dimensions for describing personal- ity. Although factor models can be intuitively applied to describe Sonia Sotomayor, we do not have the kind of systematic assess- ment, using tests, that factor theorists would prefer for a proper analysis. Nor do factor theories focus on the uniqueness of each person, so they can never fully capture an individual life.



Table 8.1 Preview of Factor Analytic Trait Theories

Individual Differences Individuals differ in their traits, which are measured by personality tests. The two models considered in this chapter include 16 (Cattell) or five (Big Five) major personality traits.

Adaptation and Adjustment

Neuroticism, a predisposition to negative emotions, and its opposite pole, emotional stability, predispose people to maladjustment.

Cognitive Processes Mental abilities can be measured objectively; culture-free intelligence can be measured. Specific cognitions, such as attitudes, are developed by experience.

Culture Factor structures of tests are generally universal, across different cultures.

Biological Influences Heredity affects many personality traits.

Development Some traits are influenced by early experience, interacting with biological predispositions. For the most part, adult personality is stable.


correlation coefficient

correlation matrix factor analysis


Biography of Raymond Cattell

correlation coefficient

a measure of the association between two variables, in which 0 indicates no association, and +1 or −1 a strong association (positive or negative)

correlation matrix

a chart of the correlations between all pairs of a set of variables

factor analysis

statistical procedure for determining a smaller number of dimensions in a data set from a large number of variables


– –

projective test.





that which defines what a person will do in a particular situation


data from self-report tests or questionnaires

Raymond Cattell





multivariate –

Surface Traits and Source Traits

trait surface traits


– source trait

Measurement of Source Traits: the 16PF




data collected from objective tests, such as reaction times


objective information about the life history of the individual


a research strategy that includes many variables

surface traits

traits as defined simply at the level of observable behavior

source traits

basic, underlying personality traits


Cattell’s questionnaire designed to measure the major source traits of normal personality


the pattern of a person’s scores on several parts of a personality test


3 –

Five Second-Order Factors

second-order factor analysis


3 –


second-order factor analysis

factor analysis in which the data are factor scores (rather than raw data); produces more general personality factors

Table 8.2 Cattell’s 16 Personality Factors (16PF)

A Warmth

B Reasoning

C Emotional stability

E Dominance

F Liveliness

G Rule-consciousness

H Social boldness

I Sensitivity

L Vigilance

M Abstractness

N Privateness

O Apprehension

Q1 Openness to change

Q2 Self-reliance

Q3 Perfectionism

Q4 Tension



Ability Traits

fluid intelligence

crystallized intelligence

Culture Fair Intelligence Test

Temperament Traits

Dynamic Traits





fluid intelligence

the part of intelligence that is the innate ability to learn, without including the effects of specific learning

crystallized intelligence

intelligence influenced by education, so it measures what has been learned


a constitutional dynamic source trait


environmental-mold dynamic source traits; includes sentiments and attitudes


self-sentiment master motive.

Attitudes –



THE DYNAMIC LATTICE dynamic lattice –

confluence learning


the pattern of interrelationships among ergs, metaergs, and sentiments (as diagrammed in the dynamic lattice)

dynamic lattice

Cattell’s diagram to show motivational dynamics

confluence learning

learning behaviors that satisfy more than one motivation



The Specification Equation

specification equation

Pij = S j i S j i S jT i SjTji

i j Pij. P

T T i

i S T P

specification equation

mathematical expression that shows how personality and situational variables combine to predict a specific behavior




Protection Social classsympathy

Minority advocacy

Legal opinionsEducation


FIGURE 8.1 A dynamic lattice portraying Sonia Sotomayer’s dynamics (based on the concept of a dynamic lattice described by Cattell, 1964, p. 187).


Nomothetic and Idiographic Approaches: R-Technique and P-Technique

R-technique, –



constitutional traits – environmental-mold traits

Multiple Abstract Variance Analysis (MAVA)

heritability (H)



constitutional trait

a trait influenced by heredity

environmental-mold trait

a trait influenced by learning

Multiple Abstract Variance Analysis (MAVA)

statistical technique for assessing how much of a trait is determined by heredity and how much by environment


the extent to which a trait is influenced by genetics


Big Five

lexical approach

Big Five

the Five Factor model of personality, consisting of Extraversion, Agreeableness, Neuroticism, Conscientiousness, and Openness

Table 8.3 The Big Five Factors of Personality

Factor Description of High Scorer

Description of Low Scorer

Extraversion (E) Talkative Dominant Sociable

Quiet Unfeeling Passive

Agreeableness (A) Good-natured Soft-hearted Trusting

Irritable Ruthless Suspicious

Neuroticism (N) Emotional Vulnerable Anxious

Calm Self-controlled Sense of well-being

Conscientiousness (C) Hardworking Ambitious Responsible

Negligent Lazy Irresponsible

Openness (O) Creative Imaginative Prefers variety

Uncreative Down-to-earth Prefers routine









Neuroticism –


factor of personality, typified by sociability, cheerfulness, and activity


factor of personality, typified by a friendly, compliant personality


factor of personality, typified by negative emotionality



ConscientiousnessConscientiousness factor of personality, typified by hard work, orderliness, and self-discipline


– –



artistic, curious, imaginative, insightful, original, wide interests




factor of personality, typified by artistic, imaginative, and intellectual interests


a more precisely focused aspect of any of the Big Five factors



Table 8.4 Specific Facets of the Big Five Factors of Personality

Factor Facets

Extraversion (E) Warmth Gregariousness Assertiveness Activity Excitement-seeking Positive emotions

Agreeableness (A) Trust Straightforwardness Altruism Compliance Modesty Tender-mindedness

Neuroticism (N) Anxiety Hostility Depression Self-consciousness Impulsiveness Vulnerability

Conscientiousness (C) Competence Order Dutifulness Achievement striving Self-discipline Deliberation

Openness (O) Fantasy Aesthetics Feelings Actions Ideas Values




– –






personality tests.


T-data L-data

multivariate surface traits

source traits 16PF

– profile

second-order factor analysis –

dynamic temperament ability


fluid intelligence crystallized intelligence

dynamic lattice ergs

metaergs sentiments


subsidiation. speci-

fication equation

(R-technique) P-technique

MAVA technique

Five Factor model,

Thinking about Factor Analytic Trait Theories



3. –


5. –

6. –

Study Questions

1. 2. 3.

4. 5. 6.



9. 10.





15. 16. 17.



20. –

21. 22. facets 23. 24.


Chapter Overview Preview: Overview of Biological Theories Evolutionary Approaches Aggression and Dominance Sexual Behavior Parental Behavior Altruism and Social Emotions Culture Genetics and Personality Temperament Emotional Arousal Cortical Arousal Biological Factor Theories: Eysenck, Gray, and Others Eysenck’s “PEN” Biological Model Gray’s Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory Cloninger’s Tridimensional Model Biological Mechanisms in Context Summary

Biological Theories Evolution, Genetics, and Biological Factor Theories


Although personality theorists have long acknowledged that biological factors influence personality, only recently have detailed mechanisms described the variations that we find in normal personality. Why is one person shy and another bold, one anxious and another confident? Why does one person recoil from criticism, whereas another laughs it off? Now we are coming to understand the role that biology plays (in combination with environment and upbringing) to create this diversity of human personalities.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former First Lady who subsequently was elected as senator from New York and then appointed Secretary of State, has been an active and


sometimes controversial public figure. Much in her life story speaks powerfully of the importance of upbringing and environment in determining personality. Yet these for her, as for all of us, did not act on a tabula rasa but rather on a person with a temperament, a biological potential that would interact with her experience to create a unique style of being human. Although the evidence is indirect—we have no bioassays or brain scans to offer—and the interpretations admittedly speculative, her life story illus- trates the emerging biological models of personality presented in this chapter.

Hillary Rodham was born in 1947, the first child to hardworking parents in Illinois. She and her four brothers were disciplined Hillary Clinton


with love and high standards for achievement. Impressive academic and extracurricular activities won her entrance to the prestigious Wellesley College, where she encountered liberal attitudes that contrasted with her conservative Republican upbringing. Graduating as valedictorian, she publicly criticized the conservative Republican speaker who had preceded her, receiving a 7-minute standing ovation (Brock, 1996) and nationwide attention as a voice of the liberal segment of the baby boom generation, those critical of the Nixon administration. She then attended Yale Law School, where she met her future husband, William Jefferson Clinton, whose career as Arkansas governor and then U.S. president (1993– 2001) detracted (some say) from Hillary’s own promising career as a young lawyer. Public controversy and defeat followed her ambitious proposal for national health care reform. This active role in govern- ment as an unelected First Lady was either a bonus or an intrusion, depending on the perspective of her supporters or opponents. Her husband, whose extramarital sexual activities had plagued their relationship for years, was publicly humiliated when a White House intern, Monica Lewinsky, exposed their liaison. After two terms in the White House, the couple reversed public roles; Hillary became the elected politician, winning the election to represent New York in the U.S. Senate (2001–2009). In the 2008 presidential election season, she was a major contender for the Democratic nomination, which went to Barack Obama, who won the election and recruited his former rival as Secretary of State. In that position, she traveled worldwide more than her predecessors and played an active role in world issues, including the troubled Middle East. And so the adolescent Republican was transformed into a Democrat, and the political wife into a politician in her own right.

BIOLOGY Biological theorists describe the role of physical processes in personality. Much attention has focused on emotions, both positive and negative. These activate different brain areas (more left hemisphere activation for positive emotions and also for anger; more right hemisphere for negative ones), and they are implicated in the formation of memory, so they have particular promise for understanding development. Another biological approach, the evolutionary approach, is based on the adaptive implications of personality variations for our ancestors. This approach suggests different predispositions for women and men on sexual issues: a greater tendency toward sexual promiscuity among men than women because women who are more sexually selective have a greater chance of conceiving and raising more genetically fit children. Evolutionary theory also suggests an appetite for greater sexual promiscuity in men than women and more female concern with nurturing children.

Public images more often capture Hillary Rodham Clinton in smiling or assertive/angry poses than in sad ones, suggesting a prevalence of the positive and left hemisphere emotions. The implications of this require considering personality development, as we do in a moment. The evolutionary argument about gender differences in sexual promiscuity is consistent with the evidence. In this marriage, it is the husband who was the philanderer.

DESCRIPTION Hillary Rodham Clinton, in the words of one biographer, “seems to have been born ambitious” (Olson, 1999, p. 23). Temperament refers to the innate biological predispositions of personality; some people are bold and assertive, whereas others are timid

and shy (and many others, somewhere in between). An asser- tive personality is more influenced by rewards than punishment. For other people, the pain of punishment seems greater because negative emotions, such as fear, are accentuated by their brain functioning, and so they act more cautiously.

From childhood onward, Hillary Rodham was more assertive and bold than timid, although not to an extreme. She recalls a childhood incident in which, with her mother’s encouragement, at age 4 she stood up to a neighborhood bully who teased her (Clinton, 2003). In elementary school, Hillary reports that she was considered a tomboy and had a reputation for being able to stand up to unruly male classmates (Clinton, 2003, p. 15). For a less assertive person, fear would have precluded many of the choices that Hillary made in her life: leaving her Illinois home for a distant, not-yet-seen college on the East Coast; approaching a male classmate (her future husband, as it turns out) in the Yale library to introduce herself; presenting an ambitious health care reform proposal to a skeptical audience; embarking on her own elective political career. But fear is muted in Hillary Rodham Clinton’s personality, an innate temperamental quality. This quality is also helpful in dealing with events outside her own choices. Her husband’s infidelity and the ensuing media frenzy could have produced retreat into the safety of a private life, but it did not. Her temperament also energized bold stances in the Senate and as Secretary of State.

DEVELOPMENT Understanding the development of personality from a biological perspective highlights the impact of experience on diverse temperamental beginnings. Biological theories specify genetically based variants in the brain’s functioning that predispose variations in the emotional responses that shape personality. All of us seek what feels pleasant and recoil from what is punishing, but the inner experience of these emotions is enhanced or muted, depending on our biological makeup. These subtle variations tweak personality in one direction or another.

Kagan’s model of temperament, described in this chapter, says that the outcome of a hereditary predisposition can be one of good or poor adjustment, depending on the experience of an appropriate child-rearing experience for that temperament type. For temperamentally bold children, clear guidance and discipline are important, so the lure of rewards does not lead to ill-chosen behavior. That is the sort of environment that Hillary Rodham’s loving and hardworking parents provided, according to her autobiography.

Still, it is the rewards rather than the punishments that seem to have made the greatest impression. Here is a childhood recollection that illustrates her attention to rewards. In sixth grade, Hillary was co-captain of the school safety patrol. A friend’s mother commented that she would have fixed lunch for them instead of leaving them to make their own sandwiches if she had known of Hillary’s status, which Hillary described as “my first lesson in the strange ways some people respond to electoral politics” (Clinton, 2003, p. 15). There are rewards to be gained from politics.

ADJUSTMENT Emotional reactions cause adjustment problems if they are extreme. Those people whose anxiety or depressive reactions are predisposed by heredity will be at greater risk of developing adjustment problems. The same life experience may push one



person over a threshold to dysfunction, whereas another remains stable, depending on their different biological predispositions. In contrast, positive emotions provide the incentive for assertive behavior; however, if they are extreme and untempered by negative experiences, they can lock a person into maladapted addictive patterns.

Hillary Rodham Clinton’s life attests to an ability to withstand the trials that provoke anxiety and fear and to be more strongly influenced by potential rewards and achievements. In part, the greater influence of positive than negative emotions is the product of heredity (as Gray’s Behavioral Activation System and Behavioral Inhibition System, described in this chapter, explain). Society’s judgments are influenced by role expectations, including gender roles, and there certainly was a time when Hillary’s assertive style of behavior was judged maladjusted in a woman. Such judgments still occur in some circles.

COGNITION Heredity influences cognitive as well as emotional aspects of personality. Intelligence is under genetic control (although of course it requires educational opportunity to fulfill its potential). Cognition, though, is more than simply intelligence. Researchers have even found that attitudes toward social issues, inclinations toward liberalism or conservatism, are influenced by heredity, although undoubtedly by indirect mechanisms, and in interaction with experience.

Hillary Rodham Clinton’s academic credentials attest to high intelligence. She was near the top of her high school class, missing the top spot, according to one biographer, because some of her energies were expended on extracurricular involvements. She was the valedictorian of her class at rigorous Wellesley College. Attitudes of liberalism and conservatism are influenced by both heredity and experience. In studying a single case, it is not possible to know which of these influences was more important. Did Hillary become more liberal in college because of the experiences in that environment? Or could some of the suppressed heredity from her mother, a secret liberal Democrat in a conservative Republican family and town, have been freed for expression in that more permissive environment? We can only speculate, with one case.

CULTURE Biology is expressed in a social context, and for humans, our shared biological predispositions have prepared us to play a role in a social environment. The ability to communicate with

other people, to cooperate and to compete with them, is fundamental to our nature. We also learn from one another, and these lessons are passed down from one generation to the next, changing with each generation’s experience, producing what can be called “cultural evolution.” Thus the life experience of a person must be understood within a particular society and time.

The society and time that Hillary Rodham Clinton experienced is the postwar baby boom generation of America: a time of increased opportunities for women to participate in public life, and a time of disenchantment with the nation’s political leadership that was particularly salient during Hillary’s high school and college years, over the Vietnam War. As she points out in her autobiography (Clinton, 2003), women’s colleges, such as her alma mater Wellesley College, have a track record of cultivating leadership in women. And so she emerged into young adulthood, prepared by her culture’s influence to be more flexible than previous generations of women in the style of her femininity. Traditional maternal concerns for children are an example. She could try (although unsuccessfully) to care for the nation’s children through expanded government health programs, in addition to nurturing her own daughter, Chelsea. Societal considerations can also help us to understand the intensity of anti-Hillary feeling that her critics voice. Dominance is characteristically a male trait, whether by evolutionary selection or cultural teaching or some combination of these. A woman with low levels of fear, who seizes the opportunities of this place and time to assert dominance, is thus unusual, and much psychological research indicates that people generally prefer the familiar to the new.

FINAL THOUGHTS Although this chapter focuses on biological influences, it is clear from this brief analysis of Hillary Rodham Clinton that culture, too, must be considered. Theorists no longer present debates of nature versus nurture. They seek models to integrate the two. How does the environment enhance or suppress the possibilities that each person’s biology predisposes? Thinking in these terms, the assertive, ambitious, and resilient Hillary Rodham Clinton is a product of both her biology and her familial and cultural environment. Using a phrase that is part of the curriculum in the women’s college where I teach, we may call her a “woman of influence,” as one who is not only product but also producer of our evolving culture.





evolutionary psychology

evolved psychological mechanisms

evolutionary psychology

the perspective that applies the evolutionary principles of natural selection to understanding human psychology, including personality

evolved psychological mechanisms

specific psychological processes that have evolved because they solved particular adaptive problems (e.g., sexual jealousy, dealing with the problem of paternal uncertainty)

Table 9.1 Preview of Biological Theories

Individual Differences Individuals differ in their hereditary predispositions and in the traits that develop from the interaction of these predispositions with experience. Several factor theories describe individual differences.

Adaptation and Adjustment Some biological factors, such as Neuroticism, are differences in emotional instability that predispose some people to anxiety and other adjustment problems. Differences in responses to rewards and punishments, based on biological differences, can predispose people to addiction, depression, and other problems.

Cognitive Processes Evolutionary theory points to human language and cognitive abilities as adaptations characteristic of our species because of natural selection.

Culture Society channels inherited traits and provides the cultural context for their expression through learning.

Biological Influences Biological factors are the central focus of this approach, including evolutionary selection, heredity, brain, and neurotransmitter effects.

Development Temperament is observable in infancy and later, as an early indicator of the individual’s inherited biologically based personality. Some early experiences can sensitize particular neural pathways (e.g., for stress reactions).


mirror neurons



Table 9.2 Examples of Evolved Psychological Mechanisms

Sexual jealousy Functions to help ensure men that they are the genetic fathers of their mate’s child

Sexual attraction based on physical appearance

Functions to ensure a healthy mate and one with effects of hormones (estrogen or testosterone) that indicate fertility

Sexual attraction based on man’s ability to provide resources

Functions to ensure women that their mates will be able to provide resources needed for the survival of their children

Sexual attraction based on youth

Functions to optimize the number of remaining years of fertility

Imitation Functions to enable children to learn culture and to profit from the experience of adults


parental investment

paternal uncertainty

parental investment

the expenditure of time and resources to reproduce, especially emphasizing the amount of one’s reproductive potential that is expended for each child

paternal uncertainty

evolutionary proposal that men cannot be sure they are the biological fathers of the children born to their mates





inclusive fitness

kin altruism

reciprocal altruism


cultural evolution


inclusive fitness

the evolutionary principle that traits that increase the survival of the individual and his or her genetic relatives will become more frequent by natural selection

kin altruism

the principle that natural selection favors those who risk their own lives or welfare to improve the survival and reproductive prospects of their genetic relatives

reciprocal altruism

the evolutionary principle whereby members of a group take risks to help the survival and reproductive prospects of others, even nonrelatives, with the (not necessarily conscious) expectation of being helped in return

cultural evolution

evolution through transmitted learning from one generation to another



behavioral genetic approach


behavioral genetic approach

approach that investigates the genetic and environmental contributions to behavior


the statistic that shows what proportion of the variability of a trait in a particular population is associated with genetic variability

Table 9.3 Examples of Personality Characteristics for Which Significant Heritability Has Been Found

authoritarian attitudes (McCourt et al., 1999)

coping styles (Busjahn et al., 1999)

ego development (Newman, Tellegen, & Bouchard, 1998)

happiness, or subjective well-being (Lykken & Tellegen, 1996; Weiss, Bates, & Luciano, 2008)

likelihood of marriage and divorce (Jerskey et al., 2010; McGue & Lykken, 1992)

mental toughness (Horsburgh et al., 2009)

political views (Verhulst, Hatemi, & Martin, 2010)

sense of humor (Vernon et al., 2008; Vernon et al., 2010)

social attitudes (Tesser, 1993)


genotype phenotype

emergenic traits



inhibited type –

uninhibited type


the inherited genetic profile of an individual


the developed characteristics that can be observed in an individual, based on both genetic and environmental influences

emergenic traits

phenotypic traits caused by a constellation of many genes and so may not appear to run in families


the biologically based foundation of personality, including such characteristic patterns of behavior as emotionality, activity, and sociability

inhibited type

temperament type (described by Kagan) that is shy and nonassertive around strangers, proposed to have high levels of norepinephrine and an activation of the amygdala

uninhibited type

temperament type (described by Kagan) that is outgoing and low in fear, proposed to have lower sympathetic nervous system activity




brain area involved in fear, theorized (by Kagan) to contribute to inhibited temperament

low norepinephrine; low amygdala

activation; lower sympathetic


high norepinephrine; high amygdala

activation; greater sympathetic



uninhibited temperament (less fear of punishment)

inhibited temperament (more fearful)

encouragement to explore environment

strict discipline


lax discipline

well-adapted personality

unassertive, depressed personality

well-adapted personality

agressive, antisocial personality

FIGURE 9.1 Inhibited and Uninhibited Temperament in Kagan’s Model





cortical arousal

strong nervous system

weak nervous system

strong nervous system

in Pavlov’s theory, a nervous system that forms stronger conditioned responses and tolerates higher intensities of stimulation; said by other theorists to produce extraversion

weak nervous system

in Pavlov’s theory, a nervous system that forms weaker conditioned responses and does not tolerate high intensities of stimulation; said by other theorists to produce introversion

strong nervous system

weak stimulus

CNS activating processes normal


strong stimulus

CNS activating processes override weak inhibitory


enhanced conditioning

weak nervous system

weak stimulus

CNS activating processes normal


strong stimulus

CNS inhibitory processes override activating


decreased conditioning

extraversion; sensation seeking


Personality Comparisons

FIGURE 9.2 Pavlov’s Model of the Nervous System and Implications for Personality


sensation seeking




sensation seeking

trait, proposed by Zuckerman, of seeking varied, novel, complex, and intense sensations and experiences, even if that requires risk


tolerance for high levels of stimulation because of a strong nervous system that inhibits incoming stimulation, leading to sociability in Eysenck’s theory

Hans Eysenck







tendency toward high levels of emotional arousal; the second factor in Eysenck’s factor model


in Eysenck’s model, factor related to nonconformity or social deviance



Table 9.4 Experimental Findings Relating Eysenck’s Extraversion and Neuroticism Factors to Biological and Performance Measures

high N (N+): neurotic low N (N−): emotionally stable

Autonomic nervous system (ANS) reactivity

Greater (labile) Less (stable)

Limbic system activity (hippocampus, amygdala, cingulum, septum, and hypothalamus)

High activation Low activation

Emotions (response to emotion-arousing events)

More intense (moody, anxious, worried) Less intense (calm, controlled, well adjusted)

Temporal lobe activity Greater Less

Preparation for novel stimuli Reduce focus of attention Do not reduce focus of attention

low E (E−): introverted high E (E+): extraverted

Brain’s cortical emphasis Excitation (rapid, strong response to stimuli)

Inhibition (slow, weak, brief response to stimuli)

Brainstem area responsible Ascending reticular activating system (ARAS) leads to excitation

Descending reticular activating system (DRAS) leads to inhibition

Basal level of cortical arousal Higher (leading to greater risk of overstimulation)

Lower (tolerates stronger stimuli)

Sensory response to low levels of stimulation

Greater Less

Perceptual sensitivity, assessed by brain’s event-related potentials (ERPs) to auditory and visual stimuli on vigilance tasks

Greater perceptual sensitivity; stronger ERPs; more attention; slower habituation to repeated stimuli; better performance at vigilance tasks

Less perceptual sensitivity; weaker ERPs; less attention (more lapses of attention); greater habituation to repeated stimuli; worse performance on vigilance tasks

Typical coping with incoming stimuli Avoid overstimulation; focus on narrower range of stimuli

Augment stimuli; attend to a broader range of stimuli

Involuntary rest pauses (IRPs) during massed practice

Less frequent More frequent



Behavioral Activation System (BAS)

Behavioral Inhibition System (BIS) –

– –

e_a_ed, elated erased. Other

Fight-Flight System (FFS) –

Behavioral Activation System (BAS)

in Gray’s model, tendency of personality related to the approaching of rewarding experiences

Behavioral Inhibition System (BIS)

in Gray’s model, tendency of personality related to reactions to aversive stimuli

Fight-Flight System (FFS)

biological personality factor proposed by Gray that produces rage and panic



novelty seeking

harm avoidance

novelty seeking

biological trait proposed by Cloninger that activates people to explore new things; related to dopamine levels

harm avoidance

biological dimension proposed by Cloninger that inhibits behavior; related to serotonin levels

Table 9.5 Gray’s Model of the Biological Basis of Personality

BAS: Behavioral Activation System

BIS: Behavioral Inhibition System

FFS: Fight-Flight System

Neurotransmitter Dopamine Norepinephrine

Implications for learning Sensitivity to reward Sensitivity to punishment (or nonreward)

Psychological implications Impulsivity; positive affect (in response to reward)

Anxiety; attention and arousal

Panic; rage



reward dependence

I do things spontaneously.

I get tense and worried in unfamiliar situations.

Others think I am too independent.

I often push myself to exhaustion.


reward dependence

biological dimension proposed by Cloninger that maintains behavior through seeking rewards; related to norepinephrine levels


– –



Study Questions












11. 12. 13.

1. –


3. –


5. –




Cultural evolution Heredity


PEN model

reinforcement sensitivity theory Behavioral Activation System (BAS

Behavioral Inhibition System (BIS

tridimensional model

Thinking about Biological Personality Theories


The Behavioral Perspective 4

Behaviorism has been one of the major perspectives in modern psychology for many decades. As an approach in psychology more generally, it focuses on observable behaviors as important in a scientific theory, and has stimulated personality theory to do the same. In terms of the model presented in Chapter 1, it is explicit about the observable level and offers clear operational definitions. Historically, behaviorism represented a departure from the introspec- tive methods of Titchener and the psychoanalytic method of Freud (Rilling, 2000), and it still serves as a reminder to attend to what people actually do and to the circumstances in which they do it. Early in the twentieth century, John B. Watson (1924/1970) proposed that personality is determined by the environment. He made an often-quoted claim:

Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I’ll guaran- tee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select—doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief and, yes, even beggar-man and thief—regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations, and race of his ancestors. (p. 104)

Read in context, it is clear that Watson was exaggerating to make a point of the importance of experience, which can overcome genetic predispositions. Habitual behaviors constitute personality. Personality change comes about through learning, which is more rapid early in life when habit patterns are forming. Watson believed the study of personality required extensive observation of individuals, as do other behaviorists.

Over the decades, behaviorism has remained an influential perspective in personality, including an ambitious attempt by Dollard and Miller to provide a behavioral explanation for the clinical phenomena that Freud described. Behaviorism has taken a variety of forms, ranging from the radical behaviorism of Skinner, who excluded all nonobservable phenomena such as thinking from a role as causes in his theory, to a variety of cognitive behavioral approaches that accept and elaborate upon such thoughts. Among these cognitive behavioral approaches are several theorists in the upcoming chapters, including Kelly, Staats, Mischel, and Bandura.

The behavioral perspective makes distinctive assumptions about personality:

1. Personality is formed through interaction with the environment. 2. Behavior, to a large extent, is environmentally determined and situation specific, influenced by stimuli or cues

present in a given situation and by anticipated outcomes of behavior. 3. Change can occur throughout a person’s life. It is possible to influence people for the better by changing

environmental conditions, including social changes. 4. Behaviorism does not presume that situational factors influencing one person will necessarily have similar

influences on someone else. 5. Research on animals is useful to understand basic learning processes, which can be applied to humans, with

necessary elaborations based on unique human capacities (such as language).

Behavioral theories are diverse in other ways. Some de-emphasize cognition, focusing instead only on observable behavior and situations, while others present elaborate descriptions of cognition as causes of behavior. They vary in their assumptions about what constitutes reinforcement.

The behavioral approach has little difficulty explaining individual differences. Each person experiences a somewhat different environment, with different conditions of learning. Inevitably, different behaviors and (in most theories) cognitions are learned.

Study Questions

1. What are the distinguishing assumptions of the behavioral perspective? 2. How are individual differences understood from a behavioral perspective?



Chapter Overview Preview: Overview of Behavioral Theories Psychoanalytic Learning Theory: Dollard and Miller Learning Theory Reconceptualization of Psychoanalytic Concepts Four Fundamental Concepts about Learning The Learning Process The Four Critical Training Periods of Childhood Frustration and Aggression Conflict Language, Neurosis, and Psychotherapy Suppression Radical Behaviorism: Skinner Behavior as the Data for Scientific Study Learning Principles Applications of Behavioral Techniques Radical Behaviorism and Personality: Some Concerns Psychological Behaviorism: Staats Reinforcement Basic Behavioral Repertoires Situations Psychological Adjustment The Nature-Nurture Question from the Perspective of Psychological Behaviorism The Act Frequency Approach to Personality Measurement Contributions of Behaviorism to Personality Theory Summary

The Challenge of Behaviorism Dollard and Miller, Skinner, and Staats


Tiger Woods achieved unprecedented success as a professional golfer, with fame and fortune and status as an icon of racial integration in a previously “white” sport. Then his star faded, not because of golf failures, but because of personal behavior. Can these themes be understood from a behavioral perspec- tive? His success in golf is easy enough to understand, since behavior theories propose that personality consists of well- specified learned behaviors, and athletic performance fits this


mold. More challenging are the scandalous sexual indiscretions that destroyed his marriage, disrupted his golf performance, and toppled this heroic superstar. Behavioral approaches do not, alas, give an overview of the whole scope of a human personality, and so do not predict in advance what will happen in a new area of life; lacking that, the behavioral approach has significant shortcomings. Even here, though, there are lessons to be drawn.


Tiger Woods, by his extraor- dinary youthful achievements, transformed the image of profes- sional golf. Consider these achieve- ments in his first quarter century of life: He is the youngest player (by 2 years) to have won all four of modern golf’s so-called major tournaments—the Masters, the U.S. Open, the British Open, and the PGA Championship. He is the only player in history to have won all four in succession, holding those championships simultaneously. His golf earnings have made him a multimillionaire. But golf is not all of his life story, and in 2009 the world learned that Tiger Woods had been sexually involved with many women in extramarital affairs; this led to divorce the following year from his wife of less than 7 years and the mother of his two children. In subsequent years, plagued by physical injuries as well as emotional turmoil, his golf performance plummeted.

His golf achievements made him a celebrity, and that began very early. Already he appeared swinging a golf club on television at age 2, and he was featured in a golf magazine at age 5. At age 8, Tiger won the Junior World Championship, and he repeated this feat four more times by age 14 (Owen, 2001; “Tiger Woods Profile,” 2006).

Tiger Woods was born on December 30, 1975. His ances- tors are diverse: black, white, Native American, and Asian on his father’s side and Asian on his mother’s side (Owen, 2001, pp. 187–188). This diversity added to his media appeal as the world struggled to find models of diversity. Along the way, though, he was sometimes not permitted to play on golf courses that were restricted to whites.

From the start of his life, his father, Earl, fostered interest in golf, and the family continued to support Tiger both emotionally and materially. His parents sacrificed considerably for their son, taking out tens of thousands of dollars in loans to provide him with the opportunity to play golf competitively in his childhood and adolescence.

Tiger attended high school in Southern California and college at California’s prestigious Stanford University (until he stopped to become a full-time golf professional). Woods mar- ried a former Swedish model, Elin Nordegren, in 2004. His father, who was so closely involved as a career mentor and—according to Tiger’s description—best friend, died in 2006.

DEVELOPMENT Personality develops by learning, through reinforcement and imi- tation. Repetition strengthens learning. For Tiger Woods, learn- ing began early and continued intensively throughout life, insofar as golf is concerned.

Tiger Woods’s father, Earl, directed his son’s learning. He set up a high chair for Tiger while he practiced golf swings, and soon Tiger was climbing down from the chair to imitate him with a plastic golf club (Owen, 2001, pp. 59–60). In the beginning, we would expect the reward would be his father’s approval, but

with time, as he learned to judge his own performance, reinforce- ment came from knowing he had hit well (i.e., the ball went where it was intended). In Staats’s the- ory, motor activities such as golf provide reinforcement by directly seeing the effect of the swing on the movement of the ball and also by feedback from observ- ers. Dollard and Miller’s psycho- analytic learning theory would interpret his father’s influence with the concept of imitation, a learning theory reinterpretation of Freud’s identification, which is

especially important for young boys. His father’s approval would be a powerful reinforcement.

Frequency of behavior and of reinforcement also influence the strength of learning. The intensive practice that has been a routine part of Tiger’s life provides reinforcement in the form of feedback with every swing of the club. As he puts it, “My dad always told me that there are no shortcuts,. . . and that if you want to become the best you’re going to have to be willing to pay your dues” (Owen, 2001, p. 131). In addition, the approval of a greater audience and, after several years, the fame and financial rewards of golf achievement have contributed to the persistence of Woods’s behavior in golf by increasing the reinforcement.

Staats’s theory of psychological behaviorism describes the basic behavior repertoires (BBRs), which people learn early in life, that provide the basis for later personality. What we learn early is the foundation on which later learning builds. Golf is not the only thing a child needs to learn, as Staats’s theory makes clear. While supporting his golf, Tiger’s parents also were concerned that he might be missing other important experiences. Nonetheless, they let their son follow his own motivation and supported him. Tiger’s mother, Kultida, used the time-honored method of rein- forcement to get Tiger to do his school homework. She would not permit him to practice golf until the homework was done. Such a reinforcement procedure only works because practicing golf had itself become a reward, as a result of learning.

DESCRIPTION Of the theorists in this chapter, Staats gives the most exten- sive descriptive categories for understanding personality. He proposes that personality consists of learned behaviors in three categories: behaviors that have to do with language and cogni- tion, those that have to do with emotion and motivation, and those that have to do with sensory and motor behavior. Each of these groups is called a “repertoire,” and the “Basic Behavioral Repertoires” learned early in life form the foundation for later personality.

Consider the Sensory-Motor repertoire. As a child, Tiger’s ability to watch the ball (sensory) and to hit it (motor) estab- lished the foundation of this repertoire. Over time, it expanded to include all of his diverse golf shots, designed to propel the ball toward the hole in a variety of winds and other environmental


Tiger Woods


conditions. Tiger continued to develop new shots, which can best be appreciated by those who know the sport well, like keeping the ball low in windy conditions. His golf swing became so fast, 120 miles per hour, that even a camera designed to take stop- action photographs of missiles for the U.S. government had diffi- culty capturing an image of his club hitting the ball (Owen, 2001, pp. 124–125). The basic components of the Sensory-Motor rep- ertoire were learned early. His biography is, alas, less revealing about the early foundation of language and cognition, emotion and motivation—the other basic behaviors upon which personal- ity is formed. Perhaps deficiencies in those areas, in areas other than golf, may have left him vulnerable to the sexual temptations that became his undoing.

ADJUSTMENT The behaviors that belong to Staats’s Emotional-Motivational rep- ertoire are relevant to adjustment. These include such skills as emotional control, including management of anxiety and anger. In a competitive sport such as golf, emotional self-management is essential for success. Golfers confront emotional situations when they miss a shot or when something disrupts their concentration, and learning how to manage these situations is an important behavioral skill.

To control his emotions, by adulthood Woods had developed an elaborate warm-up behavioral sequence before tournaments that he had learned made his swings more reliable. He arrived early at golf tournaments to go through a series of practice shots in a standard sequence, thus calming himself. He says this reduces his nervousness (Owen, 2001, p. 23). Skinner’s theory (at least in its original formulation) would avoid such internal subjective states as “nervousness” that cannot be verified by external observers. Staats, however, permits emotional language in his expanded learning theory. A ritual sequence of behaviors like Tiger devel- oped would produce a reliable stimulus environment for the golf shot, making the well-practiced behavior more reliably per- formed. He even learned to control his emotions and concentra- tion under distracting conditions, as his father verbally hazed him and made distracting noises by jingling coins in his pocket, so that Tiger would learn to play through such conditions. When similar situations happened in a real tournament, Tiger’s well-learned automatic self-control kept him focused.

Off the golf course, we now realize that there were inad- equacies in the emotional-motivational behaviors that would be necessary for a trusting, faithful marriage. After disclosure of his infidelities, Tiger is quoted as saying, “I stopped living by the core values that I was taught to believe in. . . . I convinced myself that normal rules didn’t apply. . . . I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me. I felt I was entitled. . . . I was wrong. . . . I don’t get to play by different rules” (ASAP Sports, 2010). Remorsefully, he recalled the values of Buddhism, his religious heritage, from which he had strayed, that he hoped would help him regain emotional stability. Behaviorism, though, teaches us that when situations change, behaviors are also likely to change. The childhood experiences that he recalled, with their stable behaviors, would not automatically generalize to adulthood with its new situation and opportunities. From a behavioral viewpoint, what is needed in situations like this is not a return to past behaviors, but rather new learning to behave in the current situation.

It is noteworthy that learning theories do not provide an overall description of personality unity. What is learned in one arena (e.g., golf) is specific to that area, and does not have impli- cations for other areas of a person’s life.

COGNITION Cognitive elements of personality are included in what Staats calls the Language-Cognitive repertoire. These include intelligence and planning. There is no doubt about Tiger Woods’s academic intelligence. He attended the highly selective Stanford University but left before graduating to turn professional.

As part of the Language-Cognitive behavioral repertoire he learned under his father’s tutelage, Tiger was gradually taught to take responsibility for travel arrangements to his golf tourna- ments. In this, he not only learned the practical arrangements required to book transportation and hotels, he also learned the confidence that comes from being self-sufficient. Incidentally, such independence training is thought by researchers to be the basis for learning achievement motivation.

CULTURE Learning is done by individuals, but the social context influences it, and a person’s learned behaviors can also have an impact on society. Cultural factors in his parents’ background undoubtedly made them better teachers of emotional self-control. Both his parents deserve credit for teaching him alternatives to aggres- sive outbursts. As described earlier, his father purposely made remarks and noises during practice sessions to give his son prac- tice in putting up with such events. His mother, raised a Buddhist, taught him the nonviolent self-control that is better developed in that tradition than in the U.S. culture in which Tiger was raised. In an interview, Tiger praised Buddhism: “It’s based on discipline and respect and personal responsibility. I like Asian culture bet- ter than ours because of that. Asians are much more disciplined than we are. Look how well behaved their children are. It’s how my mother raised me. You can question, but talk back? Never” (Owen, 2001, p. 88).

Besides the usual emotional issues in golf, his race brought additional issues. As a minority in a predominantly white neigh- borhood in Southern California, he was targeted for attacks, like being tied to a tree on the first day of kindergarten (Owen, 2001, p. 87). Later, some golf clubs refused him permission to play because of race. Because of the emotional self-control he had learned, these societal obstacles were manageable.

Individuals can affect culture, as well as the reverse. The image of golf has been changed in the public eye, less what Tiger described as “a wussy sport” (Owen, 2001, p. 175), as it was when he was a kid and now attractive to young people who in the past might have been drawn to other sports, such as basketball. Golf was historically a whites-only sport. For non- white kids, biographer David Owen describes Tiger Woods as “the fearless conqueror of a world that has never wanted any- thing to do with them” (2001, p. 195). From a learning per- spective, Tiger is a teacher as well as a learner. Since 1996, he has run the Tiger Woods Foundation, which teaches children about golf, career opportunities, and personal attributes such as courtesy and hard work that make people better off the golf course as well as on it.



BIOLOGY Learned behavior can be limited by biological factors, especially when it requires an overt behavior, such as athletic performance. A combination of genetic gifts and lifestyle choices, including exten- sive practice, has been essential to developing this world-class ath- lete. Staats describes biological factors that can potentially affect a person before, during, and after learning (as we see later in this chapter). Numerous injuries have disrupted Tiger’s golf perfor- mance after his peak in 2007. Overall, behavioral descriptions of the biological aspects of personality are incomplete. Other theories might also discuss the sexual drive and evolutionary selection for promiscuity that describe the infidelities that clash so severely with cultural norms, so central to his adult life narrative.

FINAL THOUGHTS The particular behaviors that are learned vary from one person to another, creating a diversity of personalities. The behaviors, however, are specific—for example, golf performance—and do not generalize automatically to other areas of life. Tiger’s father uttered only a partial truth when he said, “Golf is a game in which you learn about life” (Owen, 2001, p. 44). Other areas, such as developing a stable and trusting marital relationship, require a different curriculum. Tiger’s life story, his success and downfall, exemplifies the lack of a holistic vision of personality in behaviorism that would tie together these disparate themes.


Table 10.1 Preview of Behavioral Theories

Individual Differences Individuals differ in their behaviors owing to differences in reinforcement histories. In Staats’s theory, biological predispositions are also acknowledged.

Adaptation and Adjustment

Rather than considering “health” or “illness,” it is more profitable to specify which behaviors should be eliminated and which increased, and to change them through learning therapies (behavior modification).

Cognitive Processes Mental processes are difficult to study because the scientist does not have access to them. In principle, mental processes can be explained in behavioral terms. In practice, according to radical behaviorists such as Skinner, it probably is not worth the trouble; instead, the focus should be on observable behavior. According to Staats, cognitive processes can be studied by self-report measures, and thought processes are important behaviors.

Culture Society provides the conditions of learning, and therefore shapes personality. Behavioral principles suggest that some aspects of society should be improved (e.g., education). A society can be envisioned in which more effective use of reinforcement makes people happier and more productive, using rewards rather than punishments or coercion to control behavior.

Biological Influences Species differences influence response capabilities and the effectiveness of various reinforcements. According to Staats, individuals, too, have biological differences that influence but are also influenced by learning.

Development Children learn which behaviors will lead to positive reinforcement and which to punishment, and they respond accordingly. Stimulus control and schedules of reinforcement influence this learning. Childhood development provides the basis for later learning, according to Staats. Adult development builds on earlier learning.



Biographies of John Dollard and Neal Miller

Personality and Psychotherapy: An Analysis in Terms of Learning, Thinking and Culture.



John Dollard

Neal Miller


Drive: Wanting Something


Cue: Noticing Something

Cues –

Response: Doing Something


dominant response

Reward: Getting Something



learning dilemma


what a person wants, which motivates learning


what a person notices, which provides a discriminative stimulus for learning


what a person does, which can be learned

dominant response

a person’s most likely response in a given situation


what a person gets as a result of a response in the learning sequence, which strengthens responses because of its drive-reducing effect (in Dollard and Miller’s theory)

learning dilemma

a situation in which existing responses are not rewarded, which leads to change


Learning by Imitation

imitation – –

same behavior


matched dependent behavior



Cleanliness Training


learning by observing the actions of others (a basis for identification, in Dollard and Miller’s theory)

same behavior

a person’s behavior being the same as that of a model, considering the cues and reinforcements as well as the response


learning to behave in the same way as a model, but not in response to the same cues as the model, in order to be rewarded by perceived similarity to the model

matched dependent behavior

learning to make the same response as a model, in response to a cue from the model


Early Sex Training

Anger–Anxiety Conflicts




frustration-aggression hypothesis – –

frustration-aggression hypothesis

the hypothesis that frustration always leads to aggression, and aggression is always caused by frustration




approach– approach

avoidance–avoidance conflicts, –

approach–avoidance conflict.



a situation in which cues for two incompatible responses are provided


– –

stupidity-misery syndrome.

– –


Suppression –



willfully putting thoughts out of consciousness


Biography of B. F. Skinner

Walden Two


mentalism, – –

radical behaviorism

The Evolutionary Context of Operant Behavior

operant conditioning

operant conditioning

learning in which the frequency of responding is influenced by the consequences that are contingent on a response

B. F. Skinner


The Rate of Responding

operant responses –

rate of responding

Skinner box


– –

Reinforcement: Increasing the Rate of Responding

primary reinforcer secondary reinforcer

Punishment and Extinction: Decreasing the Rate of Responding


– –

operant responses

behaviors freely emitted by an organism

rate of responding

the number of responses emitted in a period of time; a change in this rate is taken as evidence of learning

Skinner box

a device that provides a controlled environment for measuring learning


a stimulus contingent on a response and that has the effect of decreasing the rate of responding


extinction –

Additional Behavioral Techniques

– discrimination learning

Schedules of Reinforcement

schedule of rein- forcement

continuous reinforcement (CR) schedule

Partial reinforcement schedules


Behavior modification


reduction in the rate of responding when reinforcement ends

discrimination learning

learning to respond differentially, depending on environmental stimuli

schedule of reinforcement

the specific contingency between a response and a reinforcement

continuous reinforcement (CR) schedule

a reinforcement schedule in which every response is reinforced

partial reinforcement schedule

a reinforcement schedule in which only some responses are reinforced

behavior modification

the application of learning principles to therapy



Walden Two

Verbal Behavior –


psychological behaviorism paradigmatic behaviorism;

psychological behaviorism

behavioral theory, proposed by Staats, that includes traditional personality concerns (e.g., emotion, testing) as well as behavior


Biography of Arthur Staats

– –

– –

Arthur Staats



time-out procedure


behavioral repertoires,

basic behavioral repertoires (BBRs)

language-cognitive, the emotional-motivational, sensory-motor

time-out procedure

a procedure or environment in which no reinforcements are given in an effort to extinguish unwanted behavior

basic behavioral repertoires (BBRs)

learned behaviors fundamental to later learning of more complex behavior, in three categories: language-cognitive, emotional- motivational, and sensory-motor


behavioral repertoire

(personality) behaviors

knowing how to make small talk; knowing table manners for high-class restaurants; knowing how much to tip a maître-d’

talking to new acquaintances; dining in high-class restaurants with ease

FIGURE 10.1 Personality as a Basic Behavioral Repertoire

Source: Adapted from Staats, 1996, p. 177.

Note: Personality consists of a person’s basic behavioral repertoire (BBR), which is produced by past environmental experiences. Together with the current environment, personality influences current behavior.

Table 10.2 Staats’s Three Basic Behavioral Repertoires (BBRs)

Basic Behavioral Repertoires Examples of Behaviors

Examples of Related Personality Tests

Language-Cognitive Speech Reading Thinking Planning Social interaction

Intelligence tests (many items) Reading readiness tests

Emotional-Motivational Responses to punishment and reward Emotional responses to social interactions with friends and family Sexual arousal Enjoying work and recreation Religious values Depression Anxiety Reinforcing or punishing self-talk Emotional responses to music and art Type-A behaviora

Interest tests (Strong Vocational Interest Blank) Values tests (Allport-Vernon- Lindzey Study of Values) Edwards Personal Preference Schedule Motivation tests Attitude tests Anxiety tests Depression tests

Sensory-Motor Feeding Toilet training Writing Aggressive behavior Active-passive behavior Behavior judged “masculine” or “feminine” Athletic activities Social skills

Intelligence tests (some items, such as Geometric Design and Mazes) Behavioral assessmentsa

Sensation-Seeking Scalea

Expressive behavior measuresa



The Emotional-Motivational Repertoire


The Language-Cognitive Repertoire













TowardAway TowardAway

Low-Religious IndividualsHigh-Religious Individuals

R es

po ns

e S

pe ed

( 1/

la te

nc y)

Key: Religious words Transportation words

Speed with which the religious and transportation words were approached or avoided by the high- and low- religious individuals, higher scores indicating a more rapid response.

≈ ≈

FIGURE 10.2 Interaction of Religious Orientation and Task Demands on Performance on an Experimental Task

Source: From A. W. Staats & G. L. Burns (1982). Emotional personality repertoire as cause of behavior: Specification of personality and interaction principles. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 43, 873–881. Copyright 1982 by the American Psychological Association. Reprinted by permission.


The Sensory-Motor Repertoire





nature-nurture question.


– –

learning environment

BBRs (stored in brain)


environment for behavior

1: 2:


1: Down syndrome; hyperactivity; neurological problems that interfere with learning 2: stroke; fever; drugs that cause loss of brain function 3: blindness, deafness, that cause insensitivity to the environment


FIGURE 10.3 Various Points at Which Biological Factors Influence Personality and Behavior from a Psychological Behaviorist Position

Source: Adapted from Staats, 1996, p. 182.

The Act Frequency Approach to Personality Measurement

act frequency approach (AFA) act frequency approach measuring personality traits by assessing the frequency of prototypical behaviors




radical behavioral theory

operant behavior

operant conditioning reinforce-

ment extinction punishment.

schedules of reinforcement.


– –



psycho- logical behaviorism

basic behavioral repertoires,

emo- tional-motivational repertoire, the language-cognitive repertoire, sensory-motor repertoire.


2. –

3. –



1. –



4. 5.





10. 11.

12. basic behavioral repertoire? 13.





Study Questions

Thinking about Behaviorism



Kelly Personal Construct Theory


Chapter Overview Preview: Overview of Kelly’s Theory Constructive Alternativism The Process of Construing The Structure of Construct Systems The Social Embeddedness of Construing Efforts The Role Construct Repertory (REP) Test Cognitive Complexity Personality Change Therapy Research Findings Summary

Richard Nixon, remembered as the U.S. president who resigned from office in 1974 in the face of almost certain impeachment, provides an inter- esting case study for personal construct theory. The ideas that drove his personality are central to understanding how he succeeded politically and why he faced a disgraceful end to a long political career. George Kelly’s personal construct theory provides a framework for understanding concepts such as these. It is distinct from many of the other analyses of this man because it focuses squarely on his thinking.

Richard Milhous Nixon, born in 1913, was elected the 37th president of the United States (1969–1974). His administration was widely praised for increasing contact with communist China, which earlier had been closed to Western visitors and business, but most Americans remember him for the disgrace that ended his presidency. He resigned under the threat of impeachment initi- ated by the Watergate scandal, a bungled act of political espio- nage, in which his Republican Party tried to steal documents from the Democratic offices at the Watergate Hotel complex and then lied in an attempt to cover up the burglary.


Richard Nixon was the second child of five boys. His older brother, Arthur, died of meningitis in 1925, and a younger brother, Harold, died of tuberculosis in 1933. Nixon was raised (after age 9) in Whittier, California, where he worked in the family store. His mother’s family was Quaker, and this background influenced his upbringing by emphasizing emotional control, modesty, and hard work. His father (not a Quaker) was more emotional and punitive, and Nixon became interested in politics because of his influence (Ambrose, 1987). At times, Nixon avoided his father when the atmosphere became too tense, often going off somewhere alone to read.

Nixon enjoyed debate. His first formal debate was in seventh grade (Ambrose, 1987, p. 39). He continued with this interest at

Whittier College. (Although he had been admitted to Harvard University and awarded a scholarship there, he could not afford to attend. His brother’s bout with tuberculosis had been costly.) After college, Nixon attended Duke University Law School on a scholarship; he was an excellent student. He later became an attorney in California. During World War II, he volunteered for

Richard Nixon


the navy, although as a Quaker he would have qualified for con- scientious objector status. (At that time in history, there was a military draft in the United States, not a volunteer military.) Nixon was popular in this structured environment. He was also very good at poker, winning enough to start a political campaign for Congress when the war ended.

Elected to public office, Nixon became nationally known for his role in the House Committee on Un-American Activities, where he forcefully investigated Alger Hiss, who had served in the State Department, for secret communist associations and espionage. Nixon served in the House and then in the Senate before becoming vice president under Dwight Eisenhower (1953–1961). He had a reputation for dirty campaign tactics and was disliked by many because of his personality, seeming to be insincere and calculating (Ambrose, 1987). In 1960 he lost a close election for the presidency to John F. Kennedy, and 2 years later he lost a bid to become governor of California. He seemed to have retired from politics. However, he garnered the Republican presidential nomination in 1968 and won the general election that November. In 1972, Nixon was reelected by one of the widest margins on record, defeating Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern.

As president, Richard Nixon grappled with the Vietnam War, but like his predecessor, Lyndon Johnson, he could not easily end it. He opened diplomatic relations with communist China and signed an historic Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty with the Soviet Union. Despite these bold initiatives in foreign policy, most Americans remember Nixon primarily for the Watergate scandal. It began as a fumbled political espionage caper, with burglars hired by the Committee to Reelect the President breaking into the Washington, D.C., headquarters of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate apartment-office complex. As the case developed, the break-in became less salient than Nixon’s involvement in a coverup of the operation, a coverup documented in his own tape recordings of conversations in the president’s Oval Office. Ultimately, threatened with impeachment, Nixon resigned from office on August 9, 1974 (Woodward & Bernstein, 1976). It is ironic that a third-rate act of domestic political espionage could bring down such a leader. During the years before his death in 1994, Nixon continued as an elder statesman and wrote about his public life and foreign policy.

DESCRIPTION Personality, in Kelly’s theory, consists of the ideas, the concepts, that a person uses to understand and predict his or her experience. He provided an elaborate description of the nature of such constructs, as we see later in this chapter. In Kelly’s approach, there is no one objective, accurate way to construe situations. It is the unique concepts that each person applies that constitute personality.

Nixon’s actions stunned many, who wondered what he could have been thinking, in the elaborate political espionage and coverup of Watergate. In foreign affairs, he thought differently about our then enemies, the communist countries of the Soviet Union and mainland China. (It was a different era then. Current students are not likely to appreciate how much distrust and fear those countries aroused.) People wondered how he could make overtures of peace and trade with these enemies. Obviously Nixon thought differently.

COGNITION Kelly’s theory offers an elaborate framework for describing a person’s cognition. The concepts, called constructs, that we use to understand and predict the world are dichotomous, consisting of two opposite poles. We may not always know both sides of these concepts, consciously.

Richard Nixon’s speeches give ample evidence of the dichotomous poles of his constructs. He described people by the construct of “we” (patriotic Americans; the working class; his supporters) versus “they” (the spoiled rich).

Hard work was a theme that resonated with the working class, especially when portrayed against the spoiled rich. Richard Nixon aimed for success, working long hours on his election campaigns and before that in law school, surviving on little sleep. Winter and Carlson (1988) concluded, from a content analysis of Nixon’s first inaugural address, that he was high in achievement motivation. How did he define success? It was not in financial terms; he regularly gave speaking fees to charity (Ambrose, 1987). He considered success to be achievable by hard work. Some of his important personal constructs, then, concerned hard work. Perhaps his expression of this work ethic was a factor in his political success among middle-class and working-class voters.

Ambrose (1987, p. 614) describes the divisiveness of Nixon’s campaign speeches: “He wanted to divide the community into ‘us’ and ‘them,’ and he succeeded.” Nixon’s construct of us versus them applied to domestic politics (Republicans versus the opposition) and to international relations (the United States versus the communists). Patriotism was an important theme, with the Vietnam war still on the nation’s mind. Nixon’s dogged investigations of communists early in his political career when he was a member of the House Committee on Un-American Activities reflects the us (patriotic Americans) versus them (communist sympathizers) construct. In his successful 1968 campaign for the presidency, Nixon defined us as “the Silent Majority, Middle America, the white, comfortable, patriotic, hawkish ‘forgotten Americans’” (Ambrose, 1989, p. 222). Them included long-haired antiwar protesters and the elite who attended Ivy League schools. At other times, the press was the enemy (p. 250). Nixon’s reputed vindictiveness also stems from an us-versus-them construct sys- tem. Ambrose described Nixon as “a vindictive man, with a long memory and a deep capacity to hate” (p. 172; cf. also p. 267). He maintained an “enemies list” of political opponents. Secretary of Defense Elliot Richardson suggested that Nixon was unable to stop thinking of others as enemies, which impeded his effective- ness as chief executive (White, 1975, p. 180). We–they may work as a construct in political campaigns (and Nixon was a dedicated campaigner), but it is a divisive construct for a sitting president.

How did he conceptualize the role of politician? Nixon’s interpersonal manner was cold toward others, including his wife, at least in public. For Nixon, loneliness was inevitable for a politician. As he said, “Politics is not a team sport” (Nixon, 1990, p. 32). Yet Ambrose (1987, p. 618) argues that other politicians, including Dwight Eisenhower, were in fact gregarious, so there is nothing universal about Nixon’s ideas. For Nixon, the construct of politician included, on the positive pole, loneliness; close interpersonal relationships belonged to the contrast pole, which for Nixon would also include the dimension of insecurity, given the death of two of his brothers and the absence of his mother during significant periods of his youth (Levey, 1986). The constructs of politician by others did not include this loneliness



component. It is noteworthy that in other conditions, in which he was not vulnerable, Nixon showed a friendly, considerate side of himself (Winter & Carlson, 1988). For example, he was especially considerate to hired help at the White House. Such fragmentation is consistent with Kelly’s Fragmentation Corollary, which says constructs are applied in only some settings, not all.

Another aspect of Nixon’s construct of a successful politician was pragmatism (Ambrose, 1989, p. 171; Nixon, 1990, chap. 32). Political realism or pragmatism could produce changes of opinion and illegal actions that others, with other construct systems, would regard as unprincipled (cf. Winter & Carlson, 1988). Nixon’s construct system facilitated his bold initiatives in foreign affairs, most notably his visit to the People’s Republic of China in 1972 and arms reduction negotiations with the Soviet Union.

The construct of privacy or secrecy was important for Richard Nixon. He seemed to regard secret activities as more effective and public ones less effective, the latter for show but not for effective action. Public behavior called for a politician to behave as an actor (Nixon, 1990). He often made executive decisions with little consultation. For example, his Secretary of State learned of his plan to visit China by reading it in the newspaper (Ambrose, 1989, p. 454). Nixon preferred to negotiate in “back- channel” communications, where fewer people were involved. He often acted through National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger rather than through the State Department. He is remembered for favoring covert operations, including wiretaps and the infamous break-in of the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C.

Kelly’s Sociality Corollary asserts that understanding another person’s construct system makes possible a relationship with that person. Nixon and Kissinger understood one another. According to Ambrose (1989), “They shared a love of eavesdropping on others (the taps and the tapes), of secrecy, of surprises, of conspiracy, of backbiting, of power plays. They were alike in their utter cynicism, and in their contempt for everyone else, including each other” (pp. 490–491).

ADJUSTMENT Constructs vary from one person to another, but some produce better adjustment than others. If we think of our constructs as ways of making predictions—what will happen, if I do thus and so—then some construct systems will produce more accurate predictions than others. A well-adjusted person has construct systems that make accurate predictions, and having a variety of construct systems (“cognitive complexity”) suggests that the person is more likely to have one to fit any particular situation.

Nixon’s greatest presidential achievements were, it is generally acknowledged, in foreign affairs. His knowledge was immense in this area. He eschewed simple tactics and criticized simplistic slogans about war and peace (Nixon, 1990, p. 346) and simplistic approaches to combating communism (Nixon, 1962, pp. 287–291). In Kelly’s language, we may conclude that Nixon’s construct system in foreign affairs was cognitively complex and served to predict accurately. In this area, he functioned commendably. In domestic affairs, his constructs did not lead to accurate predictions, or there would never have been the tragedy of Watergate. His “we–they” polarizations did not give him the flexibility needed to work with the people he needed to influence.

CULTURE In Kelly’s theory, you must understand the constructs of other people if you are to work effectively with them. It is not necessary that you have the same ideas, but you must understand the other.

The polarizing constructs of Nixon’s construct system, just described, tended to dismiss the other’s point of view, preventing effective dialogue, at least in the domestic arena. Nixon’s success in opening new relationships with communist countries implies that he could understand their concepts. His own preference for secrecy and intolerance for dissent may be key to this under- standing. Besides this theoretical point, when we are dealing with the actions of the president of the United States, it is obvious that his behavior has an impact on society both at home and abroad (e.g., the changed relationship with China).

DEVELOPMENT Kelly’s theory says relatively little about development. He does assert that constructs change with experience. If you use a construct and it makes a usable prediction (confirmation), you keep it. If the construct leads to a false prediction (disconfirmation), you abandon or modify it, although people do have ways of blinding themselves to disconfirmation.

Cognitive expectations influence our behavior, and if they are incomplete or inaccurate, adverse consequences may happen in the real world. This was the case in the infamous end of Nixon’s presidency. Behavior that he thought of little consequence—approving domestic political espionage into the secrets of the opposing Democratic party and then ordering coverup of the crime of the Watergate break-in—led to public scandal and his forced resignation from office. Clearly, his constructs had been disconfirmed, but it was too late to take back those actions.

BIOLOGY Kelly’s theory says little about biology. One idea he offers is the idea of a “preverbal construct,” which is not represented in language but rather in emotion or a physical symptom. Nixon’s reported psychosomatic symptoms in times of crisis can be explained as preverbal constructs (Volkan, Itzkowitz, & Dod, 1997). They may have begun in his conflicted childhood.

FINAL THOUGHTS In many ways, the life of Richard Nixon illustrates both the positive and the negative effects of our cognitively based personality. On the positive side, high beliefs in his potential for success inspired Nixon to climb from unremarkable origins to world fame. On the negative side, the fact that some of these cognitions were based on a shaky foundation led to his downfall. The great tragedy of Nixon’s fall from the office of president came from a cognitive error, a miscalculation. He approved a scheme to steal political secrets, and when it was discovered, he misjudged that he could lie and make the accusations go away. These errors and their resultant behavior brought severe damage to his reputation, and they placed the federal government in disarray. The constructs by which he judged behavior such as domestic spying as simply expedient were judged by others to be unethical. If we want to know what another person will do, we must know what they think.




jackass theory

Individual Psychology

Table 11.1 Preview of Kelly’s Theory

Individual Differences Individuals differ in the personal constructs (cognitions) they apply to experience. Other differences (emotions, behavior) follow from this.

Adaptation and Adjustment Constructs that can predict a broad variety of experience accurately are more adaptive than constructs that predict only limited experience. Many therapeutic techniques are presented, including fixed-role therapy.

Cognitive Processes Cognition is central to personality. Cognitive processes are elaborately described in Kelly’s theory. Behaviors and emotions follow from cognitions.

Culture Social relationships require that one person can understand the other’s personal constructs. Kelly does not consider broader social institutions.

Biological Influences Kelly does not consider biological factors explicitly. However, his concept of “preverbal constructs” and ideas about the relationship between construct change and emotions have potential implications for health and disease.

Development Although Kelly does not focus on childhood, children develop constructs for making sense of their experience, especially their experience with people. Adults continue to use the personal constructs developed earlier, changing them when they do not predict accurately.


Biography of George Kelly

The Psychology of Personal Constructs


personal constructs


constructive alternativism

personal construct

a person’s concept for predicting events


Kelly’s metaphor for human personality

constructive alternativism

the assumption that people can interpret the world in a variety of ways

George Kelly


The Fundamental Postulate

Fundamental Postulate


Fundamental Postulate

Kelly’s main assumption, which stresses the importance of psychological constructs


confirmation of an anticipation by events

1. ANTICIPATION of the event

2. INVESTMENT in the outcome

3. ENCOUNTER with the event


DISCONFIRMATION of anticipation or



of construct system

FIGURE 11.1 The Experience Cycle Source: Reprinted from “Personal constructs in clinical practice” by R. A. Neimeyer (1985b) in Advances in Cognitive Behavioral Research and Therapy, Vol. 4, pp. 275– 339, edited by P. C. Kendall. Copyright © 1985 by Academic Press, with permission from Elsevier.



The Construction Corollary

Construction Corollary


preverbal construct

The Experience Corollary

Experience Corollary

Construction Corollary

Kelly’s statement that people anticipate replications of events

preverbal construct

a construct that is not conscious

Experience Corollary

Kelly’s statement about personality development


The Choice Corollary

Choice Corollary

elaborative choice


The Modulation Corollary

Modulation Corollary

permeable construct

concrete construct.


The Dichotomy Corollary

Dichotomy Corollary

Choice Corollary

statement that people choose the pole of a construct that promises greater possibility of extending and defining the system of constructs

elaborative choice

a choice that allows a construct system to be extended; the Choice Corollary says this choice will be selected

Modulation Corollary

statement that the permeability of constructs sets limits to construction possibilities

permeable construct

a construct that can be extended to include new elements

concrete construct

a construct that cannot be extended to include new elements

Dichotomy Corollary

statement that constructs are bipolar


Christmas Carol

slot movement

ambitious lazy happy

liveliness. exhaustion suicide.

The Organization Corollary

Organization Corollary

superordinate constructs vegetables

core constructs

peripheral constructs

The Fragmentation Corollary

Fragmentation Corollary

slot movement

abrupt change from one pole of a construct to its opposite, often precipitated by stress

Organization Corollary

describes the hierarchical relationships among constructs

superordinate construct

a construct that applies broadly and subsumes lower-order constructs

core constructs

constructs central to a person’s identity and existence

peripheral constructs

constructs not central to one’s identity

Fragmentation Corollary

statement describing the inconsistency of people


The Range Corollary

Range Corollary

range of convenience


The Individuality Corollary

Individuality Corollary

The Commonality Corollary

Commonality Corollary

The Sociality Corollary

Sociality Corollary

Range Corollary

statement that a construct applies only to some events, not to all

range of convenience

the events to which a construct applies

Individuality Corollary

Kelly’s assertion that different people use different constructs

Commonality Corollary

statement describing similarity between people

Sociality Corollary

statement that describes understanding another person or being understood as a prerequisite for a social process with that person




Role Construct Repertory (REP) Test

Role Construct Repertory (REP) Test

instrument for measuring a person’s constructs

Table 11.2 Role Specifications for One Version of the REP Test

1. mother

2. father

3. brother

4. sister

5. spouse (or girlfriend/boyfriend)

6. same-sex friend

7. work partner who disliked you

8. person you feel uncomfortable with

9. someone you would like to know better

10. teacher whose viewpoint you accepted

11. teacher whose viewpoint was objectionable

12. unsuccessful person

13. successful person

14. happy person

15. unhappy person



construct likeness end


1 Someone I love

2 Lack sensitivity

3 Committed to family

4 Understanding

5 Bright

6 Very inward

7 Childlike inside

8 Have real communication

9 Easy going

10 Unaffectionate

Someone I hate




Just average

Very outspoken

Get what you see



Likes to touch











Column 2Column 1


M ot

he r

F at

he r

H ap

py P

er so


S uc

ce ss

fu l P

er so


A nd

y (s

el f)

B ria

n (s

on )

M ik

e (s

on )

S ha

ro n

(w ife


B et

h (lo

ve r)

T he

ra pi






































































































FIGURE 11.2 Example of One Client’s Personal Constructs Source: By Robert A. Neimeyer in Handbook of Constructivist Assessment, edited by G. J. Neimeyer. Copyright © 1992 by Sage Publications, Inc. Reprinted by permission of Greg Neimeyer.



cognitive complexity

Integrative complexity


Emotions Related to Change



cognitive complexity

elaborateness of a person’s construct system, reflected in a large number of different constructs


awareness of imminent comprehensive change in one’s core structures





Effective Action: The C-P-C Cycle

C-P-C Cycle circumspection



Loosening and Tightening Constructs: The Creativity Cycle

Creativity Cycle



continuing to try to validate constructs that have already been invalidated

C-P-C Cycle

the three-step process leading to effective action


the first stage in the C-P-C Cycle, in which various constructs are tentatively explored


the second stage in the C-P-C Cycle, in which a construct is selected


the third stage in the C-P-C Cycle; the way in which the person acts

Creativity Cycle

the process of changing constructs by loosening and tightening them


applying constructs in ways that seem not to make sense, such as in brainstorming and free association



time binding word binding

Fixed-Role Therapy

fixed-role therapyfixed-role therapy Kelly’s method of therapy, based on role playing


Constructs in Context: Personal Stories





constructive alternativism


Fundamental Postulate Fundamental Postulate

Construction Corollary, Experience Corollary, Choice Corollary Modulation Corollary .

Dichotomy Corollary, Organization Corollary, Fragmentation Corollary Range Corollary. Dichotomous constructs

range of convenience.

Individuality Corollary, Commonality Corollary Sociality Corollary.

C-P-C Cycle

Creativity Cycle

Role Construct Repertory REP Test Cognitive complexity

fixed-role therapy


Thinking about Kelly’s Theory








Study Questions

1. 2.








10. 11.







18. 19. 20. 21.



Chapter Overview Preview: Overview of Mischel’s Theory Delay of Gratification Personality Traits: Mischel’s Challenge The CAPS Model Applications of the CAPS Model of Personality Summary

Mischel Traits in Cognitive Social Learning Theory


The cognitive social learning perspec- tive, exemplified in this chapter by Walter Mischel, focuses on the cognitions that people have learned in their life experience. These cognitions, which may be quite nuanced in taking aspects of the environ- ment into account, determine life choices and striving (or, for others, giving up). One woman whose life could have taken many directions but whose cognitions propelled her to an original and creative artistic life is Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.

Frida Kahlo was born on July 6, 1907, in an old residential area on the outskirts of Mexico City. Her child- hood was a time of war. The Mexican Revolution broke out in 1910 when Frida was only 3 years old, and guerrilla armies led by Pascual Orozco, Pancho Villa, and Emiliano Zapata began an uprising that continued for a decade, finally leading to the inauguration of revolutionary presi- dent Alvaro Obregón.

When Frida was 6, she contracted the crippling disease polio, and her right leg remained very weak for the rest of her life. Self-conscious of the deformity, she wore layers of socks and later long skirts to hide it. On the advice of doctors, she remained physically active. When Frida was 18 years old, an accident further damaged her body and changed her life. Riding in a bus home from school in Mexico City, a collision


with a streetcar impaled her on a metal bar, fracturing her spine, crushing her pelvis, and breaking one foot. She nearly died. During her forced bed rest, she began to paint to relieve the boredom. For the rest of her life, she endured at least 32 surgeries, pain, and fear of infection. The accident left her unable to carry children to term successfully.

Frida left her small village in 1922 to attend the National Preparatory School in Mexico City, where she was offered an excellent education and the companionship of Mexico’s intellectual elite. She was not intimidated, but actively participated, was somewhat of a prankster, and fell passionately in love with an artist commissioned to paint murals in the auditorium. She and Diego Rivera, more than 20 years older than Frida, later married (1929) and became internationally known as

an artist couple. Frida painted colorful and symbolic images of herself and her family. Many self- portraits portrayed her physical deformities (crippled leg, injured spine) and contained symbols, including images of herself as a fetus in her mother’s body and as a cactus flower being pollinated by the wind. She also painted cultural themes of native and colonial people in Mexico.

Frida Kahlo


Frida’s artistic fame was second to that of her husband’s, whose career took him to the United States, where he was commissioned to paint murals for Henry Ford and others. And their physical appearance, petite Frida and immense Diego, conveys this discrepancy—except that Frida’s behavior was outgoing and often outrageous, enlarging her in a metaphorical sense. She also wore unusual clothes for her circle: traditional Mexican long colorful dresses.

Her one art exhibition in Mexico came in 1953. In ill health, she was brought by ambulance on a stretcher to the gallery. Her typical good humor kept her joking and drinking with the crowd, who loved Frida and her art. Soon her health declined even further. Her right leg was amputated because of infection, and she became depressed. She died at home in bed at age 47, writing in her diary, “I hope the leaving is joyful and I hope never to return.”

DEVELOPMENT Personality develops by learning. We learn behaviors, and we learn what to expect when we behave in particular ways. Mischel also emphasizes that we learn to believe we have competence in particular areas (self-efficacy).

Obviously Frida Kahlo not only learned the technical craft of her painting, but she also learned what themes to paint. For Frida Kahlo, her father was an important teacher. She was his favorite child, and they were bonded not only by temperament but also by physical problems (he was epileptic). Her father was a photographer, and from his pictures she saw images of Mexican indigenous culture, undoubtedly inspiring her own great interest, which influenced her painting and also her choice of clothing. The long skirts also hid her legs, helping avoid embarrassment from her physical deformity. Her interest in self-portraiture likely stems from the many months of bed rest, when she could see little except her own reflection in a mirror that was hung over her bed. Whatever the origins of her nonconformist and extraverted social behavior, perhaps in part from the civil unrest that prevails during a revolution, her lively pranks earned attention, reinforcing her for nonconformity.

DESCRIPTION Instead of listing traits, Mischel describes the cognitive and emotional constructs of a person, using detailed categories that are further explained in this chapter. These include beliefs about what he or she is capable of doing and expectations about what would be reinforcing.

Despite her physical suffering, Frida did not take on the role of a victim. Quite the contrary; behaviorally, she was assertive to the point of being abrasive. This strength derived in part from a feeling of connection with strong Mexican peasants and a rejection of the European-based influence. The personal construct she had of nurturance is beautifully portrayed in her 1949 painting The Love Embrace of the Universe, the Earth (Mexico), Diego, Me and Señor Xolotl. While she is being embraced by the Mexican earth mother, she in turn is embracing her husband, who seems more like an adult child. If a person does not think of herself as a victim, she is not, whatever misfortune has come to her.

Mischel’s theory describes behaviors as situationally variable because of the different constructs that people apply in various situations. Frida’s affectionate behavior toward close friends and

audiences, contrasted with her abrasive incivility toward those she construed as overly ambitious and shallow, illustrates this situational specificity.

Another important aspect of Frida’s life is her love relationship with Diego Rivera, her husband, through numerous sexual affairs by both and enduring despite a divorce and second marriage of the two. They seemed an unlikely pair, in part because of their physical differences in size (he was referred to as “The Elephant,” in contrast to Frida as “The Dove”). Mischel refers to unique combinations of the cognitive affective components of two people that can produce a distinct “personality” of a long-term interpersonal relationship (2004, p. 16), like an interpersonal chemistry that bonds the two together. These two artists had such a chemistry, in part because of shared values (for art, for politics) and in part because her admiration of his artistic eminence and tolerance of his behavioral eccentricities, combined with her own talent, triggered a fascination in Diego.

COGNITION As mentioned earlier, cognition is the central focus in this theory. A person’s competencies describe what he or she is able to do. Mischel uses the term self-efficacy to refer to a person’s confi- dence in being able to do something, asserting that without self- efficacy in a particular domain of behavior, performance will be limited. Knowing that one can do a behavior does not, in itself, ensure the behavior will occur. It also must be expected to lead to some desired outcome.

Frida Kahlo’s competencies include her artistic ability, learned undoubtedly from observing her father’s photographs and practiced in her long period of forced bed rest as she recovered from the streetcar accident that nearly took her life. The persistence of Frida’s artistic effort attests to her sense of self- efficacy for painting. Experience taught Frida to expect approval from those in her artistic circle and from those who admired it without themselves being artists, and it was especially the opinion of the artistic elite whose opinion she valued. Without the approval of these, including her husband, Diego Rivera, her art might have languished.

Because there is such a gap between the tastes of the vanguard of artists and that of most of the population, it is no surprise that artists like Frida and Diego were particularly drawn to a bohemian circle of friends. Was it, perhaps, uncertainty about the less predictable reactions of those who did not really understand art but simply consumed it, as part of their lifestyle, that led Frida to be verbally aggressive toward them? That, at least, would lead to predictable outcomes of attention and awe.

ADJUSTMENT Through elaborate learning, people develop self-regulatory systems and plans that permit them to pursue goals effectively. These enable delaying immediate gratification in the pursuit of long-term goals.

Given the severe physical limitations and pain resulting from her traumatic accident and preceding childhood disease, how could Frida Kahlo possibly sustain her pursuit of a career? As Walter Mischel (2004) puts it, “What are the . . . mechanisms and strategies that enable the individual to self-regulate and engage in proactive sus- tained goal pursuit?” (p. 13). His theory describes these mechanisms in detail, and they focus particularly on a person’s cognitions.



The self-regulatory system that organized Frida Kahlo’s striving was uniquely hers (as a cognitive social learning perspective would predict): her unique goals and values, her expectancies, her perceptions of situations. Her sexual promiscuity reflected her own values and those of her bohemian friends. Her artistic goals and self-judgments were obviously unique, as even casual examination of her paintings reveals. For despite similarities to surrealistic painters, she was obviously not trying to imitate someone else’s style but rather exploring vividly colorful and symbolically haunting images of ancestors and political celebrities, deformed bodies and fetuses, and herself in many poses and costumes. (Cognitive social learning theorists do not engage in symbolic interpretation of artistic images, unlike psychoanalysts, but some of these are obvious, such as the portrayal of her dam- aged spine with the architectural image described in the title of her 1944 painting, The Broken Column.) Rather than perceiving her damaged body in only negative terms, she perceived it as inspiration for painting, and so did not languish in despair but made a good adjustment.

CULTURE It is through behaving in a social and cultural context that a person develops and uses the cognitive constructs that are so important in Mischel’s theory. Some of these are specific to an individual. Other cognitions are shared with members of a cultural community.

Throughout her life, Frida Kahlo’s personality is intertwined with her cultural experience in Mexico. She adopted the dress of the indigenous peoples and incorporated much from their world- view, such as the connection to the earth, into her art. A child during the time of the Mexican revolution, she witnessed models of revolutionary rejection of established authority that neglected the interests of the people. Powerful established authority did not have legitimacy in these childhood lessons, and her communist and socialist sympathies later echoed this message of rebellion and the moral authority of the people at large, not the elite at the top. Participation in this circle must have provided predictable social rewards and a sense of fellowship, not to mention lovers.

Shared cultural views can bring together odd combinations of people: Frida and her husband Diego were politically active, supporting communism and liberal causes. As successful artists, they were invited to social functions by well-to-do society people,

where she acted outrageously, used obscene language, spoke disrespectfully of religion in the home of Catholics, and praised communism in the home of capitalist Henry Ford’s sister (Herrera, 1983, p. 135). Frida did not share the cultural values she saw in the United States, especially the rampant ambitiousness which was even present in the art community. She did not think of her painting from the perspective of a business, even when she became financially successful. She seemed content to have her husband Diego be the publicly more esteemed artist, although it is not clear how much of this was a gender role restriction and how much a simple expression of her personal values. She tolerated his many sexual infidelities (and responded with her own, with both men—including Trotsky—and women). Without the cultural setting, neither the couple nor Frida would have had the same personality.

BIOLOGY Mischel conceptualizes his social learning constructs as build- ing on a biological basis, but the biological underpinning is not made explicit (unlike the biological approaches in Chapter 9). Although Mischel’s theory does not focus on biological aspects of personality, he envisions a comprehensive, holistic approach to the individual as a goal of the field of personality, and notes that such an approach will include biological processes, including brain mechanisms (Mischel, 2004).

Thus we cannot say much about the biological basis of Frida’s personality from this perspective, other than to say that her temperament (which seems to have been active and emotionally arousable) was channeled through her cognitions described above. And it is likely that Frida’s efficacy expectations helped her endure physical pain and infections better than she could have done if she had adopted a victim mentality instead.

FINAL THOUGHTS This theory makes a general point that is easy to grasp: Our beliefs are powerful determinants of our behavior. The elaborate details that follow are more at home in research journals than in life narratives. However, without knowing what a person, in this case Frida Kahlo, believes about herself, expects as a result of her behavior, and values, we cannot truly grasp her personality.




Biography of Walter Mischel

Table 12.1 Preview of Mischel’s Theory

Individual Differences

Individuals differ in behaviors and in cognitive processes because of learning. The most important units of personality are cognitive affective units (CAUs).

Adaptation and Adjustment

Effective functioning requires that an individual be able to discriminate among situations, to know which behavior will be adaptive in each situation. In addition, a core adaptive skill learned early in life is the ability to delay gratification.

Cognitive Processes Cognitive processes, that is, cognitive affective units (CAUs), which include competencies, expectancies, subjective stimulus values, and self-regulatory systems and plans, are central to personality.

Culture Culture influences the formation and activation of cognitive affective units and thus affects people’s beliefs and behaviors.

Biological Influences Although the theory does not expand on biological phenomena, Mischel envisions a comprehensive view in which the cognitive aspects of personality build on a biological foundation.

Development Learning occurs throughout life, as people encounter various situations. An important early ego development is the ability to delay gratification.

Walter Mischel



delay of gratification

delay of gratification

the ability to give up immediate gratifications for larger, more distant rewards


ego control ego resiliency

Table 12.2 Examples of High School Behavior Ratings Predicted from Preschool Delay of Gratification

Is attentive and able to concentrate.

Is verbally fluent, can express ideas well.

Uses and responds to reason.

Tends to go to pieces under stress, becomes rattled. (disagree)

Reverts to more immature behavior under stress. (disagree)

Source American Psychologist, 39,



Personality and Assessment

r personality coefficient

trait-versus-situation debate

personality coefficient

the average relationship between self-report personality measures and behavior, estimated by Mischel at r = 0.30

trait-versus-situation debate

the controversy over which explains more of the variation in behavior: traits or situations (i.e., personality or the environment)



The Consistency Paradox

consistency paradox

The Situational Context of Behavior

consistency paradox

the mismatch between intuition, which says that people are consistent, and research findings, which say they are not


Behavior results from a set of conditions, rather than from a trait alone. Only under certain conditions does a trait of “aggressiveness” influence behavior.

Condition Category Behavior Category

Internal States Physical

Interpersonal Events Verbal

Feels Angry Feels Frustrated

Hits Impulsive

Threats Yells

Threatened Criticized



FIGURE 12.1 Illustration of a Dispositional Construct (Aggressive) as an If-Then Linkage between a Category of Conditions and a Category of Behaviors

Source: From J. C. Wright & W. Mischel (1987). A conditional approach to dispositional constructs: The local predictability of social behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53, 1159–1177. Copyright 1987 by the American Psychological Association. Reprinted by permission.


The Wediko Camp Study

Learned Patterns of Situation–Behavior Relationships


x y.

The Consistency Question as a Continuing Theoretical Challenge

– –


CAPS model

cognitive person variables

cognitive affective unit (CAU)

CAPS model

the Cognitive Affective Personality System model that Mischel offers as an alternative to an overly generalized trait model of personality

cognitive person variables

cognitive factors within a person, less global than traits, which influence how an individual adapts to the environment

cognitive affective unit (CAU)

cognitive factors within a person, comprising cognitive and emotional aspects, that influence how a person adapts to the environment; (later terminology than cognitive person variables, in Mischel’s theory)


Encoding Strategies and Personal Constructs

personal constructs


encoding strategies




personal constructs

trait terms that people use to describe themselves and other people

encoding strategies

person variables concerned with how a person construes reality


a typical example of an object or type of person; a “fuzzy concept” typical of the categories people use in perceiving others


person variables concerned with what a person is able to do




behavior-outcome expectancy

stimulus-outcome expectancies

self-efficacy expectancies


subjective beliefs about what will happen in a particular situation (including behavior outcomes, stimulus outcomes, and self-efficacies)

behavior-outcome expectancies

expectancies about what will happen if a person behaves in a particular way

stimulus-outcome expectancies

expectancies about how events will develop in the world, that is, what events will follow other environmental stimuli

self-efficacy expectancies (or self-efficacy)

subjective beliefs about what a person will be able to do

Table 12.3 Examples of Cognitive and Behavioral Construction Competencies

Sexual gender identity

Knowing the structure of the physical world

Social rules and conventions

Personal constructs about self and others

Rehearsal strategies for learning



Subjective Stimulus Values

subjective stimulus value

Self-Regulatory Systems and Plans

self-regulatory systems and plans


subjective stimulus value

how much an outcome is valued by an individual

self-regulatory systems and plans

ways that a person works on complicated behavior (e.g., by setting goals and by self-criticism)


if . . . then


delay gratification.

global per- sonality traits

cognitive affective units (CAUs), person variables compe- tencies, encoding strategies personal constructs.


Thinking about Mischel’s Theory







Study Questions


2. 3. personality coefficient.





8. 9.


Chapter Overview Preview: Overview of Bandura’s Theory Reciprocal Determinism Self-Regulation of Behavior: The Self-System Self-Efficacy Processes Influencing Learning Observational Learning and Modeling Therapy The Person in the Social Environment Summary

Bandura Performance in Cognitive Social Learning Theory


Albert Bandura’s cognitive social learning per- spective emphasizes a person’s thinking and the mutual impact of a person and the environment on thinking—themes that are central to under- standing the life and influence of Barack Obama.

Barack Hussein Obama Jr. was born August 4, 1961, in Honolulu, Hawaii, to a biracial couple, both college students at the time. His father, from Kenya, already had a wife and child in his native African country (though he kept that a secret) when preg- nancy precipitated his marriage to Barack’s white mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, from Kansas. (His African tradition permitted mul- tiple wives.) Though described as goat-herd- ers from Kenya, his father and grandfather were of high status and Westernized, but not entirely insulated from racial discrimination in colonial Africa (Remnick, 2010).

Barack Hussein Obama Sr. left his wife and infant son to pursue graduate education at Harvard University before returning to his native Kenya to work in government, and Ann Dunham (as she was usually called) divorced him in 1964. He visited his son only once after that, when Barack was ten. Barack’s mother portrayed his father in positive light and young


Barack—who went by the name Barry in his youth—took him for a positive role model. Only in adulthood did he learn that his father had several children by four different women, treated women abusively, and drank excessively. His father died in a drunk driv- ing accident, not his first, in 1982 at age 48, while Barack was in college (Remnick, 2010). In an autobiographical work, Dreams from My Father, Barack describes his search for his father and his black identity, and the pain of realizing that the father he had idolized was, as his father’s sister put it when he visited Kenya, “a miserable husband and a worse father” (Remnick, 2010, p. 146).

Barack spent his childhood in Indonesia with his mother and her second husband; the couple produced a half-sister for Barack, but that marriage, too, ended. Barack, his mother,

and sister Maya, returned to Hawaii when Barack was 10 years old, welcomed back by his maternal grandparents. He chose to remain with them a few years later, when his mother, along with his sister, returned to Indonesia to continue her work in public service, finding with his grandparents the stability and support that he craved and enjoying the privilege of an excellent private

Barack Obama




school education. Hawaii afforded a particularly accepting mul- ticultural environment, so that his mixed race was less an issue than it would have been in many other states. Like many ado- lescents, Obama experimented with drugs during high school, which he later regretted.

When time came for college, Barack attended selective Occidental College in southern California, where he faced the age- appropriate issue of identity, working through what it meant to be black and transitioning from his more white nickname of “Barry” to his birth name of “Barack.” After 2 years, he transferred to New York’s Columbia University, studying political science and interna- tional relations in the more diverse atmosphere that he craved. After graduation, he worked for a few years with business firms, researching international economic opportunities, but he experi- enced moral qualms in that role, which was inconsistent with his public service values (Remnick, 2010). So he turned to a better fit for him: community organizing, working with a nonprofit organi- zation on issues such as public transportation, voter registration, and recycling. He carried these interests to Chicago, working for a church-based group on job training and tenants’ rights in impov- erished and crime-laden neighborhoods, and gaining increased understanding of what it meant to be “black” in America for those whose experience of race was less inclusive and less economically advantaged than his own. In Chicago, he not only helped others but also experienced a sense of community that had been lacking in his life. Eventually, recognizing the limited potential effectiveness of the community organizer role, he decided to attend law school and aspired to elected political office.

He attended Harvard Law School (1988–1991), graduating magna cum laude and serving the prestigious elected position as editor of the Harvard Law Review—the first African American to achieve that honor. He met his future wife, Michelle Robinson, during a summer work experience in 1989 at a prestigious law firm in Chicago. Michelle had already graduated from Harvard Law and was assigned to advise him during this summer work. The relationship turned romantic, and they were married in 1992, settled in Chicago, and had two daughters, Malia (born in 1998) and Sasha (2001). Barack worked at a law firm on civil rights issues, participated in a voter registration campaign, and taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago (1992 to 2004). Beginning his elected political career, he served three terms in the Illinois state senate from 1997 to 2004 (Obama, 2004).

In 2004, then a candidate to represent Illinois in the U.S. Senate, Barack Obama catapulted to national attention by deliv- ering the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in Boston, where candidate John Kerry became the party’s presi- dential nominee, subsequently losing the election to George W. Bush. Obama won the Senate seat, a position that he served until his successful presidential campaign, defeating Republican oppo- nent John McCain in the November 2007 election. He was inau- gurated in January 2008 as the 44th president, and the first black president in the country’s history.

Early in his presidency, in 2009, Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, based on a hope for increased inter- national diplomacy under his administration (Elovitz, 2010). Internationally, he struggled to win and end the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, which he had opposed before taking office. His administration grappled with domestic issues as well, enacting controversial health care reform and economic support for the banking industry.

DESCRIPTION Instead of listing personality traits, Bandura’s theory, like Mischel’s (in Chapter 12), lists cognitions that are relevant to personality. So let’s turn to cognition.

COGNITION Beliefs about goal-seeking behaviors are central to this perspec- tive. Behavior is predicted by knowing what a person believes he can do (self-efficacy) and expects to find rewarding (outcome expectation). Without self-efficacy in a particular domain of behavior, effort will lag and performance will be limited.

“Yes, we can!” was a theme throughout Barack Obama’s presidential campaign—an assertion of competency and self- efficacy proclaimed loud and clear. Throughout his speeches, and in the title of one of his books, The Audacity of Hope (2006), Obama uses the word “hope,” conveying the belief that action toward a desirable goal can be performed. Psychologists, too, have used the term hope; consider Erikson’s description of hope as a positive outcome of the trust–mistrust crisis of infancy (see Chapter 5). But in Obama’s usage, like Bandura’s notion of efficacy, the hope is not the passive hope of a young child. This hope is accompanied by action. Furthermore, Obama’s hope is not simply for individual gain, or else he would have turned his talents toward a lucrative law practice instead of investing his talents in exhausting, poorly paid community organizing. As Rowland and Jones (2007, p. 442) put it, “Hope is Obama’s metaphor for a balance between individualism and communal responsibilities.”

In using the plural “we” in his theme “yes we can,” Obama illustrates a particular kind of efficacy expectation that Bandura calls “collective efficacy.” In contrast to individual efficacy, which focuses on what the individual alone can accomplish (e.g., I believe I can shoot this basket), collective efficacy is a team effort. People working together can achieve something—win this game, or this election, or achieve certain political purposes. As Obama phrases it in The Audacity of Hope (2006, p. 356), the hope was that “we [Americans] had some control—and there- fore responsibility—over our own fate.” He explained his decision to run for president by saying, “I’m running for president because I believe it’s possible” to bring about the changes in the economy, opportunities, and the environment that he envisioned (Obama, 2008, p. 3). Obama emphasizes belief, declaring “change is always possible if you’re willing to work for it, fight for it, and, above all, believe in it” (Obama, 2008, p 6; emphasis added).

After seeing that community organizing could achieve only limited success toward his goals, Obama turned to another route: politics. In the language of social cognitive theory, although he had high self-efficacy for community organizing (he knew he could successfully do the organizing), the outcome expectation was low (he believed the goals of achieving significant reduction in social problems would not be reached). Knowing that one can do a behavior does not, in itself, ensure the behavior will occur. It also must be expected to lead to some desired outcome.

CULTURE Bandura’s theory encompasses the cultural context of personality, including role models and the assumptions and values of society. Reflecting American values, much research focuses on what a per- son can accomplish individually—for example, self-efficacy expec- tations. But collective efficacy and shared goals are also recognized.


Although American culture is more individualistic than collectivist, the balance of these two orientations varies among cultural groups. African Americans are among those whose cultural norms are more collectivist, and researchers report that, when he is talking to African American audiences, Barack Obama’s rhetorical style increases the use of traditional cultural techniques such as call and response that emphasize the group (Howard, 2011). Perhaps it is the African American part of his multicultural heritage that contributes most to his skill in working with a community, and in listening to others’ opinions in political and legal matters, before asserting his own opinion—a style that distinguishes him from many of his peers in the legal community (Remnick, 2010).

Obama’s speeches present masterful combinations of the important American theme of individualism with the community- building theme of working together collectively. In a speech deliv- ered in Denver on August 28, 2008, he described the “American promise” in this way: “Through hard work and sacrifice, each of us can pursue our individual dreams but still come together as one American family, to ensure that the next generation can pursue their dreams as well” (quoted in Jenkins & Cos, 2010, p. 189). He frequently used the collective pronoun “we” in his speeches (Jenkins & Cos, 2010), asserting that shared goals unite us, and that “we rise or fall as one nation; as one people” (from his speech on election night, 2007).

Bandura’s concept of reciprocal determinism asserts that not only are people shaped by their environment, but they also have an impact on it. Indeed, Barack Obama was well aware of the interdependent processes that connect individual and societal change. Consider what he said about his former pastor Jeremiah Wright, whose racially divisive remarks triggered considerable criticism. “What my former pastor too often failed to understand is that embarking on a program of self-help also requires a belief that society can change” (quoted in Terrill, 2009, p. 374).

Some political differences in public discourse can be under- stood as emphasizing only part of the complex interplay between individual action and collective or societal perspectives. Political conservatives emphasize the individual, while liberals emphasize the societal (Rowland & Jones, 2007). According to Rowland and Jones (2007), Obama emphasized both the individual and the societal in his description of the American dream, which expanded his political appeal.

DEVELOPMENT One of Bandura’s most widely known concepts is that of mod- eling. His famous “Bobo doll” studies showed that exposure to aggressive or nonaggressive models influences children’s behav- ior. Models influence behaviors that children learn and their standards for what level of performance is acceptable. In addi- tion, the consequences of a model’s behavior (whether or not it leads to reward) influence the child’s own expectations of what is worth doing.

While the absence of his father while growing up did influ- ence Barack Obama and stimulated his search for his father, described in his autobiography, in fact he did have other models while a child: his mother, whose public service and educational efforts are reflected in his own later activities, and his grandpar- ents, who provided a stable and supportive family such as the one that he values in his own marriage. His grandmother, too, provided a model of persistence and hard work.

Although Obama’s father was physically absent, his mother conveyed an idealized image of his father that served as a model, though vague, of education and engagement in society’s issues (Fuchsman, 2009). When Obama later gained a more realistic understanding of his father and his human weaknesses, one biographer suggests that Obama developed contrasting posi- tive qualities of his own, becoming “cool, rooted, polite, always listening,” in order to not become like his father (Remnick, 2010, p. 52).

From his exploration of black history, Obama was exposed to dozens of role models beyond his own family, including Malcolm X, Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King Jr., and Jesse Jackson, as well as whites such as the Kennedys, whose diverse perspectives on the shared goal of equality gave him much inspi- ration (Remnick, p.160). In Obama’s own life experience as a young adult, Mayor Harold Washington of Chicago modeled a successful black elected official. Cultural models provided strong shoulders on which to stand.

ADJUSTMENT Through elaborate learning, people develop self-systems that permit them to pursue goals effectively. Bandura describes these self-regulatory systems and plans and the goals toward which they direct a person as the stuff of which effective action is made. A laudable goal, without a self-regulatory system to direct a per- son, is unlikely to be reached.

Such systems require forgoing short-term gains in favor of longer term objectives, and there is ample evidence in Obama’s life story of such a longer vision. His goals for education required hard work. His early job experience involved what he called a monk-like period of little time off and much sacrifice. He learned disciplined strategies for advancing his education and seeking his goals—though not without a period in his youth when he, like others in his generation, explored drugs and the immediate pleasure that they bring. Self-regulatory systems and plans (more briefly, the “self-system”) develop over time. Reflection facili- tates this, and Barack Obama’s autobiographical writing provides ample evidence of his self-reflection and the development of his self-system.

Failures of self-regulation can result when people are car- ried away by their emotions, but Barack Obama, according to one psychobiographer, is particularly able to contain or even repress emotions, including anger—which is often positive but also has some negative political results, including failure to echo the public’s anger about such troubling events as perceived eco- nomic abuses by businesses receiving government economic relief (Elovitz, 2010). Obama does, incidentally, credit his Indonesian step-father with modeling emotional self-management (Obama, 2004/1995, p. 38).

Self-regulatory systems include standards for perfor- mance, which affect people’s aspirations and set the standards where they regard reinforcement as deserved. Obama’s standards included not only individual standards, but also standards for the country as a whole. “Let’s be the generation that ends poverty in America” (Remnick, 2010, p. 23), he challenged. Setting a stan- dard higher than current achievement has a motivating impact, energizing activity toward an aspired goal. As Obama (2006) chal- lenged, “A gap exists between our professed ideals as a nation and the reality we witness everyday” (p. 22). In his criticism of the country’s economic recession, Obama described “a perfect



storm of irresponsibility and poor decision-making that stretched from Wall Street to Main Street” in which “short-term gains were prized over long-term prosperity, where we failed to look beyond the next payment, the next quarter, or the next election” (Fuchsman, 2009, p. 156). He called for greater fiscal discipline.

His way of framing the goal, as a reclaiming of the American dream (the subtitle of The Audacity of Hope), a “restoration rhet- oric,” presented a potentially unifying message to the American public (Harrell, 2010, p. 164), heightening the likelihood that a large number of Americans could share a collective task (though of course political differences remained and not everyone shared the collective goal).

Obama’s political activities have been described as prag- matic. In community organizing, he sought alliances with those who could help move toward his goals (Jenkins & Cos, 2010). He is described as an excellent listener who gathers consider- able information and reflects on it, before deciding upon a plan for action (Remnick, 2010, p. 137). His effective self-regulatory plan is neither impulsive nor overly rigid, and is open to input from a variety of others. His organizing in the black community was also open to considerations of fairness to whites (Remnick, 2010, p. 140). His answers to a reporter’s questions about race and the economy during the state Senate campaign in 1995, for example, pointed to the need for a detailed plan: “Any solution to our unemployment catastrophe must arise from us working creatively within a multicultural, interdependent and interna- tional economy. Any African-Americans who are only talking about racism as a barrier to our success are seriously misled if they don’t also come to grips with the larger economic forces that are creating economic insecurity for all workers—whites, Latinos, and Asians” (Remnick, 2010, p. 285). His explanatory system and plan for the future has obvious interconnections with a broad range of diverse people.

BIOLOGY No theory can deny the impact of biology on personality, and cognitive social behaviorists—though their concern with biologi- cal phenomena is quite limited—have found some positive asso- ciations between high efficacy expectations and health.

It is consistent with these findings that President Obama, a man with high self-efficacy expectations, is healthy, as physicians report, and lives a generally healthy lifestyle, with exercise and

a healthy diet. One unhealthy habit that plagued him for years was cigarette smoking—a habit that he reportedly stopped with the help of his wife, Michelle, and nicotine gum within the first 2 years of his presidency. Bandura’s theory recognizes that efficacy expectations can vary from one domain of behavior to another, so it is consistent with the theory that one unhealthy habit can coexist with others that are different.

FINAL THOUGHTS This theoretical approach is particularly suited to understanding the mutual influences of a person and the society, an issue that is salient in trying to understand a person in such a powerful role as U.S. president.

Other theories could also be used in an attempt to under- stand Barack Obama. Psychoanalytic approaches (Elovitz, 2008; Fuchsman, 2009) would emphasize such issues as coping styles and the resolution of the Oedipal conflict for a boy whose father was absent. Erikson’s notion of identity is particularly appealing for analyzing the identity resolution of a biracial youth. The election of Barack Obama as the first black president of the United States had a profound impact on the development of young African Americans, stimulating them to increased racial identity explora- tion (Fuller-Rowell, Burrow, & Ong, 2011). However, it would be an oversimplification to focus only on black identity. Although labeled “black,” Obama’s ancestry and his own personal narrative are more inclusive. He has been described as having developed a personal narrative of “cosmopolitan identity” (Hammack, 2010), helping to shift the country from polarized and separate racial identities toward a truly more inclusive viewpoint.

Although Barack Obama’s rise to the presidency is (rightly) pointed to as a boost in black Americans’ identity, the analysis of his personality from the perspective of Bandura’s theory does not focus on his identity. The key issue is the effec- tive attainment of goals: effective action in the social world. And it is about such issues that Bandura’s theory provides such useful concepts. Barack Obama’s rise to the presidency of the United States was not simply an individual achievement, but also a milestone in the country’s change toward greater inclusion and an overcoming of racial discrimination. He repre- sents a postracial period, in which previously divided racial and ethnic groups in America can unify behind a shared American dream (cf. Mastey, 2010).




Biography of Albert Bandura

Table 13.1 Preview of Bandura’s Theory Individual Differences Individuals differ in behaviors and in cognitive processes because

of learning.

Adaptation and Adjustment Social learning builds ways of adapting to situations. New therapies using modeling and other techniques to treat phobias and other disorders have been found effective, because of the effect on self-efficacy.

Cognitive Processes Cognition is central to personality. The theory describes many classes of cognitions (including expectancies and self-efficacy). Cognitions that are specific to particular situations are most predictive.

Culture Culture influences the development of behaviors and cognitions. Modeling has major implications for society, including TV violence, which promotes aggression.

Biological Influences Biology has prepared the human species for learning, rather than determining outcomes. Although the theory does not focus on biological mechanisms, Bandura found that self-efficacy improves immune functioning among phobic subjects.

Development Children learn much through modeling, as demonstrated in research using children as subjects. Learning can occur throughout life. Expectancies and other cognitive learning variables can change as a result of experience.

Albert Bandura



reciprocal determinism –

reciprocal determinism

the interacting mutual influences of the person, the environment, and the behavior

Unidirectional ReciprocalB =f(P,E )


B E Partially Bidirectional

B =f(P E )

Schematic representation of three alternative conceptions of interaction. B signifies behavior, P the cognitive and other internal events than can affect perceptions and actions, and E the external environment.

FIGURE 13.1 Reciprocal Determinism

Source: From A. Bandura (1978). The self system in reciprocal determinism. American Psychologist, 33, 344–358. Copyright 1978 by the American Psychological Association. Reprinted by permission.



human agency

self-system self-system personal constructs that people use to describe themselves; cognitive structures and subfunctions for perceiving, evaluating, and regulating behavior (not a psychic agent that controls action)


Performance Dimensions Personal Standards

Referential Performances

Valuation of Activity

Performance Attribution

Self-Evaluative Reaction

Tangible Self-Applied Consequences

quality rate quantity originality authenticity consequentialness deviancy ethicalness

modeling sources reinforcement sources

standard norms social comparison personal comparison collective comparison

regarded highly neutral devalued

personal locus external locus

positive negative

rewarding punishing

Component processes in the self-regulation of behavior by self-prescribed contingencies.

No Self-Response

FIGURE 13.2 Self-Regulation Processes

Source: From A. Bandura (1978). The self system in reciprocal determinism. American Psychologist, 33, 344–358. Copyright 1978 by the American Psychological Association. Reprinted by permission.


possible selves, –




outcome expectations outcome expectations

the belief about what desirable or undesirable things will occur if a behavior is successfully performed


Efficacy Expectations

Outcome Expectations

FIGURE 13.3 Diagrammatic Representation of the Difference between Efficacy Expectations and Outcome Expectations

Source: From A. Bandura (1977). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review, 84, 191–215. Copyright 1977 by the American Psychological Association. Reprinted by permission.


Efficacy and Striving Toward Goals

Physiological Correlates of Efficacy



Attentional Processes: Observing the Behavior

attentional processes

Retention Processes: Remembering It

retention process

attentional processes

noticing the model’s behavior (a prerequisite for learning by modeling)

retention process

remembering what a model has done


Motor Reproduction Processes: Doing It

(motor reproduction process) –

Motivational Processes: Wanting It

motivational processes –

motor reproduction process

being able to do what one has seen a model do

motivational process

deciding whether it is worthwhile to behave as a model has behaved

Table 13.2 Processes in Observational Learning 1. ATTENTIONAL PROCESSES: Noticing the Model’s Behavior.

The Model: Distinctive Affective Valence Complexity Prevalence Functional Value

The Observer: Sensory Capacities Arousal Level Motivation Perceptual Set Past Reinforcement

2. RETENTION PROCESSES: Putting the Behavior into Memory. Symbolic Coding Cognitive Organization Symbolic Rehearsal Motor Rehearsal

3. MOTOR REPRODUCTION PROCESSES: Being Able to Do It. Physical Capabilities Availability of Component Responses Self-Observation of Reproductions Accuracy Feedback

4. MOTIVATIONAL PROCESSES: Deciding It Is Worth Doing. External Reinforcement Vicarious Reinforcement Self-Reinforcement

Source Social Foundations of Thought & Action: A Social Cognitive Theory.



modeling vicarious learning

– –

controller models consumer models


learning by observing others; also called vicarious learning

vicarious learning

learning by observing others, without being directly rewarded oneself




Boys Girls Boys Girls Boys Girls

Model Rewarded

No Incentive Positive incentive

Model Punished No Consequences


Mean number of different matching responses reproduced by children as a function of positive incentives and the model’s reinforcement contingencies.

M ea

n N

um be

r o f D

iff er

en t I

m ita

tiv e

R es

po ns

es R

ep ro

du ce

d 4





FIGURE 13.4 Modeling of Aggression

Source: From A. Bandura (1965b). Influences of models’ reinforcement contingencies on the acquisition of imitative responses. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1, 589–595. Copyright 1965 by the American Psychological Association. Reprinted by permission.


nonspecific specific


participant modeling performance desensitization performance exposure self-instructed performance

live modeling symbolic modeling

suggestion exhortation self-instruction interpretive treatments

attribution relaxation, biofeedback symbolic desensitization symbolic exposure

Major sources of efficacy information and the principal sources through which different modes of treatment operate.





Source Mode of Induction

EFFICACY EXPECTATIONS FIGURE 13.5 Changing Efficacy Expectations Through Therapy

Source: From A. Bandura (1977). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review, 84, 191–215. Copyright 1977 by the American Psychological Association. Reprinted by permission.



self goals

collective efficacy

proxy efficacy,

moral disengagement

collective efficacy

the sense that a group can do what is to be done

moral disengagement

failure to regulate one’s behavior to live up to high moral standards


reciprocal determinism

attentional, retention, motor reproduction motivational processes



efficacy beliefs



Thinking about Bandura’s Theory




4. 5. –

Study Questions


2. 3. 4.

5. –


7. –


9. 10.


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The humanistic perspective in personality theory represents a “third force” (Maslow, 1968b), established to combat the deterministic and fragmenting tendencies of psychoanalysis and of behaviorism. It began as an informal network of psychologists who, organized by Abraham Maslow, exchanged mimeographed papers representing ideas not welcome in the established psychology journals (DeCarvalho, 1990b). Several of these humanists held their first meeting in 1957 and formally organized in 1961, founding the organization now known as the Association of Humanistic Psychology (Moustakas, 1986). Among the first members were Gordon Allport, Erich Fromm, George Kelly, Abraham Maslow, Rollo May, Henry Murray, and Carl Rogers (DeCarvalho, 1990b; Wertheimer, 1978). Although Gordon Allport is generally classified as a trait psychologist, he is probably the first to have used the term humanistic psychology, and he was closely involved with the movement until his death (DeCarvalho, 1990c, 1990d).

The early self-proclaimed humanistic psychologists had a close affinity with Adlerians. The two humanists we consider in the following chapters, Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers, both studied with Adler, and both acknowledged Adler’s influence on their ideas, especially Adler’s emphasis on holism, choice, and the intentions and subjective experience of the individual. Other significant influences included Karen Horney and Kurt Goldstein, who found that brain-injured patients can best be understood as striving whole organisms rather than as collections of part- brain processes. Furthermore, the early developments of humanistic psychology were closely connected with the academic developments in personality by Gordon Allport, George Kelly, Henry Murray, and others (Taylor, 2000).

The major distinguishing characteristics of the humanistic perspective derive from its commitment to the value of personal growth:

1. The humanistic perspective focuses on “higher,” more developed, and healthier aspects of human experience and their development. Among these are spirituality, creativity, and tolerance.

2. The humanistic perspective values the subjective experience of the individual, including emotional experience. This is sometimes called a phenomenological approach.

3. Humanistic psychologists emphasize the present rather than the past or the future. 4. Humanists stress that each individual is responsible for his or her own life outcomes. No past conditions prede-

termine the present. A person’s capacity for self-reflection enhances healthy choice. 5. The humanistic perspective seeks to apply its findings to the improvement of the human condition by changing

the environment. It assumes that, given appropriate conditions, individuals will develop in a desirable direction.

Humanists describe a “true self” that contains the potential for optimal growth. Alienation from this true self results from unhealthy socialization when other people define what one should do. The view of humanism that one should be guided by one’s true self, or “daimon,” is an old idea, with roots in eudaemonistic philosophy as old as Aristotle (Waterman, 1990). Humanistic psychology has sometimes served as an ideology (Geller, 1982; Smith, 1990) and has been compared with religious traditions (Smith, 1985), including Hinduism and Buddhism, although these Eastern approaches describe self-actualization as requiring considerably more effort than humanism (Das, 1989). Closer to home, humanism is compatible with the individualism and optimism of U.S. culture (Fuller, 1982). In  contrast to psychoanalysis, which regards instincts as dangerous and needing suppression for civilization to function, humanists assume human nature is inherently good and that suppression itself causes difficulties (Wallach, 2004).

Humanists have been criticized for underestimating the evil in humankind (Das, 1989). Some critics suggest the idea of self-actualization fosters selfishness or narcissism rather than promoting what Adler called “social interest” (Geller, 1982; Wallach & Wallach, 1983). Rogers (1982b) expressed dismay at this indictment, which he regarded as undeserved.

Humanistic psychologists are more interested in process and change than in measuring individual differences. In clinical settings, humanistic therapists prefer not to make a diagnosis if possible (e.g., Munter, 1975). By  emphasizing the goals of behavior rather than the mechanisms by which behavior occurs, humanists are teleological (future

The Humanistic Perspective 5PART


oriented) as opposed to deterministic. The challenge to humanism is to be able to be rigorously, scien- tifically teleological (Rychlak, 1977).

Humanists are generally uncomfortable with the constraints of the traditional scientific method. Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi (2000) criticize humanistic psychologists for failure to produce a cumulative, empirical body of research. The tension between the constraints of the scientific method, on the one hand, and interest in the whole healthy human, on the other, will be felt throughout our consideration of the humanistic perspective. Ongoing efforts to add science to the humanistic emphasis on well-being are consolidating under a movement called positive psychology (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000).

Study Questions

1. What are the fundamental assumptions of the humanistic perspective? 2. Should the humanistic perspective be considered a scientific approach, an ideology, or both? What

considerations will be relevant as you consider this question while reading the following chapters? (Chapter 1 presents criteria for a theory that may apply.)


Rogers Person-Centered Theory


Chapter Overview Preview: Overview of Rogers’s Theory The Actualizing Tendency The Self Development Therapy Other Applications Criticisms of Rogers’s Theory Summary

Maya Angelou, writer, actress, civil rights activist, and more, struggled with some of the issues that are central to Rogers’s theory: issues of self-acceptance and esteem and fulfilling her potential despite life’s chal- lenges. Her writings and teachings inspire affirmation of life and love for all beings.

Maya Angelou is a U.S. writer of prose and poetry who has published several autobiographical works (1969, 1974, 1976, 1981, 1986, 1993, 1998, 2002). Her vivid descriptions of her own experience make it rather easy for the reader to understand life from her point of view, as Rogers urges for those who would truly understand another person. She was born in 1928 to parents who soon divorced and sent her at age 3 with her 4- year-old brother, Bailey, from Southern California to live with their grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas. They grew up in the black section of this poor community, helping their grandmother in her grocery store. From her they learned pride and discipline. Although poor, they were relatively better off than the other blacks, who picked cotton. For a time, they lived with their other grand- mother and then with their mother and her boyfriend, Mr. Freeman, in St. Louis. Angelou (1969) describes being raped


by him when she was 8 years old. For this, he was convicted and sentenced to jail, but he was lynched before serving time. Afterward, Maya developed psychogenic mutism, and after a time she and Bailey were sent back to Stamps.

During her adolescence and young adulthood, Angelou lived in various places: in Stamps with her grandmother, in Los Angeles with her father, and in San Francisco with her mother (a prostitute). For a while she lived in an abandoned car in a junkyard. At 16 she had a son. She held a variety of jobs: waitress, cook, dancer, singer, prostitute, music store clerk, and San Francisco cable car operator. She worked for Martin Luther King Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). She has been an actress. Above all, she is a writer. She lived for a time in Ghana, where her

son attended college. She married and divorced a Greek, Tosh Angelos, and later an African freedom fighter, a relationship that also ended but taught her about her African heritage. After the end of another marriage, she moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to North Carolina, where she is a professor at Wake Forest University. Throughout these varied experiences, her primary career is writing.

Maya Angelou



way she rejoices in even the aspects of her life that seem like mistakes—the passions that led to failed marriages, for example.

She describes seeking therapy, in young adulthood, and finding that the white male therapist had little help to offer (Angelou, 1976). She quickly concluded that the wealth and social class of this man would make it impossible for him to understand her, and she turned instead to a friend. Rogers insisted that a therapist, to be effective, must empathically understand as well as accept the client. This is more difficult when ethnicity or other differences separate the life experience of the client and therapist.

COGNITION Accurate awareness of the true self is impeded by other people’s messages about what is acceptable, what sort of self we must be to be loved by them.

Along the way, though, Angelou did not always follow her organismic valuing process; it conflicted with her need to be loved. For example, she decided to marry Thomas Allen, a bail bondsman, despite misgivings about his presumption that he could make all the important decisions. “I ignored the twinge which tried to warn me that I should stop and do some serious thinking” (Angelou, 1981, p. 103). Soon, though, another man won her heart and prevented the practical but subjectively troublesome marriage from taking place. Another relationship, too, conflicted with her inner sense, when her African lover, Sheikhali, demanded that she become less impatient, more submissive, more traditionally female (Angelou, 1986).

Often, though, Angelou was guided by her organismic valuing process, which not only made her a nonconformist but also saved her from mishap. When the singers in the cast of Porgy and Bess had their hair straightened in Italy, Angelou insisted that the chemicals, which burned intensely, be washed out of her hair; she was the only one who did not have her hair fall out as a consequence of this overly harsh chemical treatment. The lessons of the healthy nature of that inner voice, the organismic valuing process, are usually not quite so concrete as this!

CULTURE In Rogers’s approach, society’s problems can be addressed by helping people accept their true selves. This would reduce racial prejudice and international conflict and transform educational institutions by giving students more responsibility for their intellectual explorations.

In exploring her own identity as a black American, both in the United States and in travel to Africa, Maya Angelou describes the importance of society’s messages about race. In Africa, Angelou (1986) met proud black tribal leaders and learned from these models to accept being black with pride. The power of her feelings attests to the importance of the acceptance of other people as nourishment for self-actualization. In contrast, in America she encountered blatant racism. As an active participant in the civil rights movement, she has helped change that blight. She reminds us of our history, of slavery, of continuing poverty, and also of the tremendous strength that black Americans have shown and continue to show. The brutal honesty of her own self-examination is a model for a societal honesty that can also help us discover truth and healing. She asserts, “If it is true that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, isn’t it also true a society is only as healthy as its sickest citizen and only as wealthy as its most deprived? I think so” (1998, p. 108)


DEVELOPMENT In Carl Rogers’s theory, the most important childhood experience is to be loved, wholly and unconditionally. As a young child, only 3  years old, when she and her brother were sent from their mother’s home to live with their grandmother, Maya could not have understood that this abandonment was not her fault. Experientially, it was rejection. Once in Arkansas, she experienced a loving and stable environment from a protective grandmother who loved her granddaughter with few “conditions of regard.” That is, as Rogers advocates, she was loved for who she was, providing a solid foundation for self-esteem. She returned to her grandmother’s home later, during a difficult time when she needed that love again. Throughout her varied careers and love relationships, Maya Angelou has tasted richly of life’s opportunities, exploring many facets of her own evolving self and resisting the limitations that would be imposed if she abandoned her own voice.

DESCRIPTION A person’s sense of self is key to Rogers’s theory. He describes most people as split, aware of a part of themselves that is acceptable to others but unaware of a deeper “real self” that has the potential for health and vitality. Self-esteem suffers when the real self is not affirmed by others.

Intelligent, talented as a dancer and actress as well as a writer, Maya Angelou frankly reveals her multifaceted self in autobiographical books that are also noteworthy for their artistic merit. The tension between the true self and the self that others can accept has been part of her life journey, with the real self prevailing, as Rogers would advocate. Being nonwhite in America places people at risk for alienation from the true self because of prejudice. Maya Angelou describes some of the cruelties of white children that she experienced in childhood, the sort of discrimination that assaults self-esteem. Her grandmother insisted that Angelou act courteously toward whites, even when she felt angry. Such incongruence between felt emotion and overt behav- ior is inconsistent with Rogers’s advice, but it was adaptive under the social conditions of racial prejudice in which Maya grew up because blacks who expressed their feelings openly risked attack, even lynching. As a child, when Maya met some whites who treated her as an equal, she found that “the old habits of with- drawing into righteous indignation or lashing out furiously against insults were not applicable in this circumstance” (Angelou, 1976, p. 75). Positive regard, as Rogers would say, can be transformative.

ADJUSTMENT Rogers’s concept of process proposes that at higher levels of devel- opment, people become more spontaneous in discovering and accepting aspects of themselves and their feelings. They censor less, both from others’ view and from themselves. Self-acceptance is more likely if a person has been accepted unconditionally by others (the parents, ideally; if not, then remedially in therapy). This acceptance helps a person maintain touch with the inner voice from the self, called the organismic valuing process.

Maya Angelou’s self-disclosures, rich in emotional feeling, fit the higher levels of process (as measured by the Process Scale that is described later in this chapter). They do so in a way that is not self-indulgent, as some autobiographical works can be, but that reflects on the wisdom gained from her family and African and American culture. Her self-acceptance is clear from the


BIOLOGY Rogers uses a biological metaphor when he describes self- actualization as an innate tendency to grow, to fulfill one’s potential. His theory, though, does not describe the actual biological details of this process.

Like Rogers’s therapy clients, Angelou wrestles with biological urges, particularly sexuality, in her journey toward self-actualization. She celebrates that aspect of selfhood and urges that it continue into old age (Angelou, 1998). Psychologists sometimes emphasize our intellectualization of

the self, forgetting its biological reality. The self is biological in more than a metaphorical sense.

FINAL THOUGHTS Rogers’s theory teaches us that health requires self- understanding and self-acceptance. Maya Angelou’s autobiographical self- explorations and her explicit lessons about poverty and race not only exemplify Rogers’s theory, they also extend its promise.


Biography of Carl Rogers

Table 14.1 Preview of Rogers’s Theory

Individual Differences Rogers did not focus on stable individual differences, although individuals can be said to differ in their level of development and in the conditions they perceive must be met to be approved by others. Other researchers have recently developed scales to measure aspects of his theory that may be comparable to personality traits.

Adaptation and Adjustment

Rogers describes in detail his client-centered therapeutic technique. Individual therapy and group therapy, including encounter groups, lead to progress through stages of functioning, leading to greater openness to feelings, the present, and choice.

Cognitive Processes Thought and feeling may be impeded by accepting others’ messages about what we should be.

Culture The person-centered approach has implications for the improvement of society, including education, marriage, work roles, and group conflict (including conflict among nations).

Biological Influences Rogers did not consider biological factors, though his actualizing process is based on a biological metaphor.

Development Children become alienated from the growth forces within them if they are raised with conditions of worth. Parents should raise their children with unconditional positive regard. People can change in adulthood, becoming freer.


Clinical Treatment of the Problem Child

Counseling and Psychotherapy

Client-Centered Therapy

Carl Rogers



actualizing tendency

formative tendency

The Organismic Valuing Process

organismic valuing process

The Fully Functioning Person

fully functioning

actualizing tendency

the force for growth and development that is innate in all organisms

organismic valuing process

inner sense within a person, which guides him or her in the directions of growth and health

fully functioning

Rogers’s term for a mentally healthy person


OPENNESS TO EXPERIENCE open to experience


ORGANISMIC TRUST organismic trust

EXPERIENTIAL FREEDOM experiential freedom

CREATIVITY creatively

Subjective Experience and Science



ideal self real self

ideal self real self

incon- gruence


self- actualization actualization



conditional positive regard

conditions of worth

authoritarian parents

authoritative parenting style

unconditional positive regard

ideal self

what a person feels he or she ought to be like

real self

the self that contains the actualizing tendency

conditions of worth

the expectations a person must live up to before receiving respect and love

unconditional positive regard

accepting and valuing a person without requiring particular behaviors as a prerequisite


Development of Creativity


Client-Centered Therapy


client-centered therapy

client-centered therapy

therapy based on the belief that the person seeking help is the best judge of the direction that will lead to growth


unconditional positive regard, congruence empathic understanding


unconditional positive regard


CONGRUENCE congruence


characteristic of a good therapist, which involves positively valuing the client; also called unconditional positive regard


a feeling of consistency between the real self and the ideal self

Table 14.2 Necessary and Sufficient Conditions for Therapeutic Process

1. Two persons are in psychological contact. 2. The first, whom we shall term the client, is in a state of incongruence, being vulnerable or anxious. 3. The second person, whom we shall term the therapist, is congruent or integrated in the

relationship. 4. The therapist experiences unconditional positive regard for the client. 5. The therapist experiences an empathic understanding of the client’s internal frame of reference

and endeavors to communicate this experience to the client. 6. The communication to the client of the therapist’s empathic understanding and unconditional

positive regard is to a minimal degree achieved.



EMPATHIC UNDERSTANDING empathic understanding

Research on Therapy

empathic understanding

the ability of the therapist to understand the subjective experience of the client


r ! r !


Encounter Groups

encounter groups facilitator


Humanistic Education


person centered client centered

facilitator of education


the leader of an encounter group

encounter group

growth-enhancing technique in which a group of people openly and honestly express their feelings and opinions


Rogers’s orientation to therapy and education, which focuses on the experience of the client or student rather than the therapist or teacher



Marriage and Relationships

satellite relationships


Political Conflict, War, and Peace

satellite relationships

side relationships, which supplement a person’s primary committed relationship


Study Questions

1. 2.


4. 5. 6.



actualizing tendency

fully functioning person

unconditional positive regard, congruence empathic understanding

empirically verified

Thinking about Rogers’s Theory








7. real self ideal self




11. 12.











Maslow and His Legacy Need Hierarchy Theory and Positive Psychology


Chapter Overview Preview: Overview of Maslow’s Theory Need Hierarchy Theory: Maslow Maslow’s Vision of Psychology Hierarchy of Needs Self-Actualization Applications and Implications of Maslow’s Theory Maslow’s Challenge to Traditional Science Positive Psychology Positive Subjective Experience Positive Traits Positive Institutions The Promise of Positive Psychology Summary


Abraham Maslow’s theory describes an ordered sequence of human needs. When each one is met, the person may move to a higher level of motivation, ultimately reaching the highest level (self- actualization). Deprivation of a need holds one back. Positive psychology, building on the foundation laid by Maslow and other humanists, describes being drawn toward what will bring happiness. The case of David Pelzer is an inspirational life in which the force to move upward to higher potential is shown to be extraordinary because he has endured unspeakable childhood abuses and still found the courage to move on.

David Pelzer grew up in an abusive home in Daly City, just south of San Francisco, California. His alcoholic and mentally disturbed mother singled him out, among his brothers, for abuse that was one of the most extreme in California history. Ultimately, in 1973, at the age of 12, school officials intervened


and he was removed from the home and placed in foster care. His life story after that epitomizes a heroic struggle for healthy development against immense obstacles. Dave Pelzer describes his life in four autobiographical works, describing his childhood abuse (1995), his rescue to foster care (1997), his adolescence (2004), and his young adulthood (1999).

His mother’s abuse was extreme. She forced David to sleep in the cold basement. He was commanded to get up before her in order to sweep and do other household chores. She deprived him of food, so he stole from other children’s lunch boxes at school, from a grocery store, and even ate from garbage cans and from the family dog’s dish. His clothes were ragged and dirty, causing other

children to make fun of him. His mother assaulted him physically, once in a drunken rage stabbed him with a knife, forced him to drink spoonfuls of ammonia and breathe toxic fumes from an

David Pelzer


ammonia and Clorox mixture, and pushed him down the stairs, leading to a neck injury that made it difficult for him to breathe. He was regularly at the school nurse’s office to be examined for cuts and bruises and relate fabricated explanations of accidents that his mother devised to keep the abuse secret.

Along with the physical abuse, his mother belittled him and told him he was bad and less than human. She called him “It” instead of using his name. David was the designated scapegoat; his four brothers were treated more humanely. (Once he was removed by social services from the home, however, his other brothers became targets of abuse.)

His father was a firefighter, and David admired him as a hero and cherished memories of his attention. In truth, though, such moments were rare. His father retreated to alcohol and was powerless to protect his son or to maintain semblance of a loving family. Memories of better times in his early life seem to have given Pelzer hope through the difficult times that came later, as he struggled to escape the abusive side of his mother that he refers to as “The Mother,” in contrast to the better, “Mommy” side of her (Pelzer, 1999, p. 107). Like many abused children, he fantasized both escape and rescue.

David was fortunate to spend some of his time in foster care in the home of a loving and supportive family, beginning at age 13. This was no easy time, though. He got into trouble with stealing, which he did to impress other kids, and was suspected of starting a fire at school (although he claims to have been trying to put it out). He was placed in a juvenile detention facility for a while. During high school, he worked long hours, trying to save enough money to make something of his life (because he knew that when he reached age 18, he would be done with the foster system and be on his own), which detracted from his academic efforts. After many difficulties, including a brief stay at a reform school, he dropped out of high school to work. He joined the Air Force at age 18 and served for 13 years, beginning as a cook and finally working on a flight crew to refuel the F-117 Stealth Fighter and other aircraft, serving in Desert Storm and other combat operations. He also worked assiduously on behalf of abused children in several capacities, as a counselor, lecturer, adviser, and board member. He has received several national and international awards for his activities, including one of The Outstanding Young Persons of the World.

DEVELOPMENT The fundamental idea behind Maslow’s need hierarchy theory is that satisfaction of lower-order needs leads, inevitably, to movement toward higher-order needs. It would seem that if lower-order needs are not met, the human spirit would be kept from developing, but that prediction is difficult to reconcile with the story of Dave Pelzer’s life.

His most basic needs for safety and food were chronically dissatisfied by his mentally ill, alcoholic mother. In fact, she actively impeded the satisfaction of those needs. Instead of providing adequate food, she deprived him and made him vomit what food he may have eaten at school. Instead of keeping him safe, she burned him on the gas stove, pushed him down the basement stairs, and stabbed him in a drunken accident. Instead of providing satisfaction of his need for love, she hated him. Instead of fostering his esteem needs, she mocked him and told him he was worthless. His father had little power to protect him. The force for growth posited by Maslow and positive psychologists must be strong, indeed, to endure such an environment.

DESCRIPTION Maslow’s theory does not list descriptive traits at the lower levels of the need hierarchy (although it does give descriptors of self-actualized people, which we consider later.) He does mention that, as they develop, people often must choose between safety and growth.

From the outside, the boy Dave Pelzer must have seemed wretched: disheveled, smelly, skinny, isolated, furtively seeking to steal food. He had obvious unmet needs at many levels. But another aspect of his personality must also be described: the courage, the will to live, that enabled him to use his wits to keep alive in child- hood and then, with help, to become a proud and loving adult. As he describes his childhood experience, this c ourage is apparent: “Mother can beat me all she wants, but I haven’t let her take away my will to somehow survive” (Pelzer, 1995, p. 4). In the language of positive psychology, he would be described as resilient.

ADJUSTMENT Adjustment is built on need satisfaction and motivates movement up the hierarchy to concentrate on the next sequential need. Maslow’s theory describes many characteristics of self-actualized (very healthy) individuals, including accurate perception of reality, spontaneity, creativity, and many others described in the chapter.

It was not until he was removed from his parents’ home that David Pelzer could move beyond a survival mentality. Ultimately, school officials contacted the police and judicial system and had Dave removed from his abusive home, finally protecting his most basic needs for food and safety. As Maslow’s theory predicts, this finally opened the possibility of healthy growth. He was placed with loving foster parents who, through words and deeds, gave him love and support. In adolescence, he made friends. Later, as a member of the U.S. Air Force, he describes achieving a “sense of pride and belong- ing that until then, I had never known” (1995, p. 158), reflecting movement toward satisfaction of Maslow’s third and fourth stages.

A social worker offered him safety and love, and loving foster parents provided the child and adolescent Dave with what he needed to break free from fear and self-loathing. They not only pro- vided food and shelter but love and compassion. Not uncommon for abused children, Dave’s behavior tested this love through mis- behavior, including minor theft. His foster father, even when fac- ing the accusation that Dave had been involved in setting a fire at school (which he denied), for which he was to be sent to reform school, said, “No matter what happens, I want you to know that we care for you” (Pelzer, 1995, p. 187). It takes many instances of such support, though, to heal deep wounds, and when David was old enough for marriage, his low self-esteem left him vulnerable to an unwise marriage, which depleted his savings and challenged his self-discipline. However, this experience also taught him something of love and fatherhood, which he took quite seriously as he strove to be a better father for his son Stephan than his own father had been for him, and his second marriage was more successful.

COGNITION The lower four stages of the need hierarchy can be described as cognitions: I know I have food (or not); I know I am safe (or not); I know I am loved (or not); I know I am worthwhile (or not). At the highest stage, self-actualization, Maslow describes some cognitive elements more explicitly: accurate perception, creativity, and peak experiences. Positive psychologists would point to his optimism that things could improve.




Pelzer (1997) describes his low childhood self-esteem: “I have no home. I am a member of no one’s family. I know deep inside that I do not now, nor will I ever, deserve any love, attention, or even recognition as a human being. I am a child called ‘It’ ” (p. 5). He describes “standing in front of the bedroom mirror yelling at myself, ‘I’m a bad boy! I’m a bad boy!’ over and over again” (Pelzer, 1999, p. 121). Even at age 23, with an Air Force career, he describes himself as having “the self-esteem of an ant” when dealing with women (1999, p. 143). Fortunately, as the positive psychology movement says, interventions can produce a change in these important cognitions about the self.

CULTURE Abraham Maslow envisioned a utopian society in which people’s needs would be adequately met so they would naturally move toward healthier personalities. Both Maslow and the positive psychologists who built on his theory suggest that schools and the workplace are among social institutions that can support healthy growth, and in David’s case, they helped where his family had failed.

In addition, the foster care system provided the support that Dave Pelzer needed. It was not, of course, the “system” that turned the tide but the particular loving foster parents to whom he expresses gratitude. In turn, Pelzer has contributed to many abused children through speeches and programs. He became an autobiographer and a motivational speaker, inspiring others to improve their lives. Instead of narcissistically focusing on his own needs, he serves the needs of others—of his son, with a parental protection that he had not experienced (until foster care), and

of others through his service and speeches. This giving toward others is an important contributor to life satisfaction, according to positive psychology research.

His books do not detail all of the abuses he suffered, according to his second wife (although he tells enough to bring tears), and they only hint at the help he received from therapy. The message is consistent with the perspective of Maslow and of the positive psychologists: Turn away from the forces that diminish the human spirit and toward growth and health. Pelzer (2000) emphasizes the importance of choice and of positive emotions, consistent with current themes in positive psychology and Maslow’s theory.

BIOLOGY Maslow’s theory considers biology only from the need-fulfillment viewpoint, and is most easily related to the deprivations in David’s childhood. While genetic research on the heredity of traits might have predicted a less positive outcome, the positive growth theme of this perspective stands against determinism and asserts the growth potential of everyone. Consistent with that emphasis, Dave Pelzer’s life story begins with severe deprivation of biological needs, and then moves on to the “higher-order” needs with a resiliency that inspires.

FINAL THOUGHTS Maslow’s humanistic vision and the positive psychology movement that followed emphasize the growth potential within each person. They point to forces within the person, such as resiliency and choice, that can draw a person to fulfill his unique potential. Maslow urged psychology to look to those positive examples—among which we include David Pelzer.


Table 15.1 Preview of Maslow’s Theory and Positive Psychology

Individual Differences Individuals can be said to differ in their position in the need hierarchy, that is, their level of development toward self-actualization. Individuals differ in positive traits and subjective states, such as optimism and life satisfaction.

Adaptation and Adjustment

Only a few people reach the highest developmental stage, self- actualization. Maslow describes these individuals in detail. Positive psychologists describe interventions that enhance well-being.

Cognitive Processes Self-actualized people perceive the world accurately and are creative. Thought patterns, such as optimism, influence behavior, and happiness.

Culture Changes in schools, work settings, and other institutions can be made to foster healthy development and happiness.

Biological Influences Biological motivations are the foundation of personality, but once satisfied, they become unimportant.

Development Children’s basic needs should be met. Changes in schools could facilitate growth. Few adults develop to their full potential. Transformations in the workplace and elsewhere could change this.


positive psychology


Biography of Abraham Maslow

Abraham Maslow



method centered


third force

Taoist Science


hierarchy of needs

method centered

an approach to science that emphasizes procedure over content


an approach to science that emphasizes subject matter over procedure

third force

Maslow’s term for his theory, emphasizing its opposition to psychoanalysis and behaviorism

Taoist Science

Maslow’s alternative to the traditional scientific method, emphasizing values and subjectivity (instead of objectivity)

hierarchy of needs

ordered progression of motives, from basic physical needs upward to motives of the most developed human beings







As each level of need is satisfied, the person moves up the hierarchy. If needs are not satisfied, growth stops.

Self-actualization (B-Needs)

Lower-order needs (D-Needs)

FIGURE 15.1 Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Deficiency Motivation

deficiency motivation basic need



deficiency motivation

motivation at lower levels of development

basic need

a fundamental deficiency need




Being Motivation

being motivation


Differences Between D-Motivation and B-Motivation


being motivation

higher-level motivation in which the need for self-actualization predominates


motivated by needs at the top of the hierarchy


B-love D-love


self-actualization psychological health


Characteristics of Self-Actualized People



nonpossessive love, characteristic of a self-actualized person


selfish love, characteristic of a person who is not self-actualized


development of a person’s full potential








PEAK EXPERIENCES peak experiences


peak experiences

mystical states of consciousness, characteristic of many but not all self-actualized people












a utopian society in which individual and societal needs are both met and where society supports individual development


Measurement and Research on Self-Actualization


Inner Directed Supports

Time Competence

Obstacles to Self-Actualization

Inner Directed Supports

scale of the Personal Orientation Inventory measuring a person’s tendency to obtain support from himself or herself rather than from other people

Time Competence

scale of the Personal Orientation Inventory that measures a person’s concern with the present rather than the past or future

Personal Orientation Inventory

the most popular measure of self-actualization

People must choose between safety and growth

Some people choose safety. To them, growth seems dangerous:

Other people choose growth. To them, safety seems boring:



boredom DELIGHT

FIGURE 15.2 Choice between Safety and Growth

Source: Adapted from Maslow, 1962, p. 44.



the human potential movement


transpersonal therapists


human potential movement

social trend to foster the full development of individuals, reflected in the development of growth centers and in transformation of social institutions


Religion and Spirituality





loss of a sense of the sacred or spiritual


Toward a Psychology of Being

prescriptive descriptive


positive psychology positive psychology current movement in psychology that emphasizes healthy functioning, with concern for immediate experience and positive emotions such as happiness


three pillars of positive psychology



Happiness and Satisfaction with Life

Subjective well-being

psychological well-being

subjective well-being

how happy or satisfied an individual is with his or her life

Table 15.2 Three Pillars of Positive Psychology

“Pillar” of Positive Psychology Examples of Concepts Studied Positive subjective experience Life satisfaction

Subjective well-being Happiness Positive mood Flow

Meaningful life

Positive traits Optimism Hope Positive thinking Active coping Religiosity or spirituality Resiliency

Positive institutions Workplace Schools




social flow

Intrinsic Striving

self- determination theory

intrinsic motivation


a state of deep engagement in an activity that is characteristic of creative individuals

intrinsic motivation

motivation to perform an activity for its inherent satisfaction (rather than as a means to some other goal)


Money Does Not Bring Lasting Happiness

adaptation level

A Meaningful Life


Civil courage

Culture and Happiness





Values and Strengths

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders


positive reframing.


Resiliencyresiliency the strength to survive stressful situations or those in which one is mistreated, without experiencing the usual negative consequences of such experiences


intentional change

positive psychology interventions

Table 15.3 Examples of Positive Psychology Interventions to Enhance Well-Being

Best possible self exercise Imagine yourself in the future, when everything has gone as well as it possibly could, and you have reached your full potential. Write about this and reflect on it.

Blessings exercise At the end of the day, reflect on three things that went well that day, for which you are grateful.

Gratitude visit Write a letter expressing gratitude to someone you have never properly thanked. Visit the person and read the letter to him or her.

Life summary Write a summary of your life as you would like to be remembered. Reflect on what you could change to bring this about.

Savoring exercise Take a few minutes to reflect on a pleasurable experience and enjoy the positive emotions.

Strengths exercise Identify areas of your personal strength. Find new ways to use these strengths in your life.



Behavioral activation


The Workplace

executive coaching





need hierarchy:

self-actualization being motivation

human potential movement


Thinking about Maslow’s Theory and Positive Psychology









Study Questions

1. 2.











13. 14. 15. 16.


18. 19. 20. 21.

22. 23. 24. 25. 26.

27. 28.


Buddhist Psychology Lessons from Eastern Culture


Chapter Overview Preview: Overview of Buddhist Psychology The Relevance of Buddhism for Personality Psychology A Brief History of Buddhism The Buddhist Worldview: The Four Noble Truths Buddhism and Personality Concepts Spiritual Practices Buddhism and Psychotherapy The Dialogue between Buddhism and Scientific Psychology Summary


Buddhist approaches to personality are derived from a religious tradition dating back two and a half millennia. This rich tradition has many practices and writings that are closer to personality theory than to what we in Western cultures think of as religion. Buddhism empha- sizes exploration and control of the mind, so it is a cognitive approach. It also has much to say about ethical behavior. The current leader of Tibetan Buddhism, the 14th Dalai Lama, travels widely and collaborates with psychologists and others.

In the remote and mountain- ous Asian country of Tibet, a succession of Tibetan Buddhist leaders, whose title “Dalai Lama” means “Ocean of Wisdom” (Bstan-dzin-rgya-mtsho, 1989), lived in isola- tion from the rest of the world and provided spiritual and political guidance for their peo- ple. This changed with the invasion of the country by China in the middle of the twentieth century. After many failed attempts


to keep Tibet free from Chinese rule, on May 31, 1959, the 23-year-old 14th Dalai Lama (whose personal name is Tenzin Gyatso but spelled Bstan-dzin-rgya-mtsho in conventional library usage and so in the references at the end of this book) fled his palace in Lhasa, Tibet. With a group of supporters, he established a community of refugees in neighboring India, where the city of Dharamsala has become the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile (Bstan-dzin-rgya-mtsho, 1990). Thrust into the larger world, unlike all the earlier Dalai Lamas, he has met with political and religious lead- ers throughout the world and has engaged in dialogues on political freedom, modern science, and religion, bringing the tradition of Buddhism with its insights to the problems of the modern world. Tibet, too, has lost its isolation, with the completion of a railroad

connection between Lhasa, Tibet, and Qinghai, China, in the summer of 2006 (Kahn, 2006).

Dalai Lama



DESCRIPTION Because the emphasis is not on stable personality—the very idea of which is considered an illusion (Kamilar, 2002)—but rather on spiritual progress, personality description is closely connected with ideas of development and adaptation (or spiritual progress). People who have risen to higher levels of development are calm and compassionate. Those who remain less developed have more troubled traits.

The Dalai Lama would certainly be described as highly developed, which translates into the trait term of compassionate. Those who have observed him and his effect on people give many examples of this compassion: listening to people with a variety of troubles; taking time to greet hotel staff individually instead of looking past them as invisible persons of no consequence, the way so many guests do; turning from a crowd of people to offer individual attention to a man showing the telltale physical tremors of long-term mental illness treatment. Despite his high status, he is unpretentious and lives the humble, celibate, reflective life of a Buddhist monk. He is described as approachable and practical, answering questions in thoughtful and often commonsense ways, and unafraid to say, “I don’t know” when that is the case. He fre- quently smiles and makes jokes. In his autobiographical writings, the Dalai Lama also reports aspects of his personality that would be of interest to other personality theories: an interest in mechanics that from childhood had him tinkering with mechanical things, including watches and cars, and led him to comment that if he had another career than Dalai Lama, he might be an engineer (Knight, 2004). His interest in science made him receptive to some cultural modernization trends, and he muses that this scientific interest led to Chairman Mao of China’s underestimation of spiritual dedication when the two met, before the Chinese invasion and occupation forced his exile from Tibet (Bstan-dzin-rgya-mtsho, 1990).

ADJUSTMENT Buddhism describes adaptation and adjustment in spiritual terms. Poor adjustment is reflected in ways familiar to Western psychologists: impulsive and addictive behavior, selfishness, anxiety, and other adverse emotional states. In Buddhist teaching, healthy growth requires clear and undistorted perception of reality as it is, which requires giving up the illusory notion of a separate self and recognizing the interrelationships of all people and all that exists in the natural world. Other theories have described narcissism as unhealthy self-absorption, but the Buddhist approach goes much further, teaching that the individualism generally regarded as normal and healthy in our culture is inherently unhealthy and a cause of suffering. Selfish acts are evidence of shortcomings. Happiness is the reward for spiritual growth and ethical living.

In both Buddhist teaching and Western psychotherapy, healthy functioning requires undistorted perception. Much that the Dalai Lama says reflects his openness to new information. Instead of adhering to a dogmatic viewpoint, he welcomes dialogue with modern brain researchers to explore the relationships between meditation and brain functioning (as described later in this chapter). Emotional well-being reflects adjustment, and he claims to be happy, despite a variety of adversities, including exile from his homeland and the death of many family members and friends. The Dalai Lama recounts childhood impatience and conflict with his brother, confessing that he was the aggressor, and he notes that in childhood he played with toy soldiers. As an adult, however, his patience and calmness are well known.

COGNITION Cognitive processes receive considerable emphasis in this ancient discipline. Through meditation, with disciplined examination of the contents of consciousness, centuries of insights detail people’s distorted thinking that leads them to act foolishly or unethically. The fundamental error is “our passionate desire for and attachment to things that we misapprehend as enduring entities” (Bstan-dzin-rgya-mtsho, 1989). We do not realize how transient everything is. We must become aware of suffering (the first of the Four Noble Truths), including the reality of death. Buddhist tradition urges people to meditate, to be aware of their perceptions, and to question the validity of what they think they know, to come closer to true reality.

In keeping with Buddhist practices, the Dalai Lama spends considerable time in meditation. He prays 4 hours a day (Bstan-dzin-rgya-mtsho & Cutler, 1998). He connects with suffering humanity, bringing the pain of others into his own consciousness. The Dalai Lama describes his education as rich in many ways but without exposure to modern science. His writings convey an unusual degree of intellectual curiosity and open- mindedness to new ideas. For example, earlier in his life, he saw visible shadows on the moon’s surface, and so acknowledged that the moon did not emit light as classic Buddhist texts said but rather reflected it. Now he engages in enthusiastic dialogues with modern neuroscientists about the nature of consciousness. One place that such interchange between Buddhism and science occurs is at the Mind and Life Institute in Colorado, established to promote such a dialogue (http://www.mindandlife.org).

Despite his openness to scientific analysis of Buddhist practices, the Dalai Lama rejects the Western tendency to see biology as the fundamental cause of mental processes. Instead, he argues for the Buddhist emphasis on thought as a cause and challenges the tendency of reducing it to biological or neural processes as a Western prejudice. Science and Buddhism, he argues, can each learn from the other. Scientists can learn more about consciousness by including, among their research participants, those who have developed their consciousness to high levels through Buddhist meditation. Conversely, he expresses openness to integrating the findings of modern science into his Buddhist beliefs, and he says he would change those beliefs if science can prove them wrong (Goleman, 2004).

BIOLOGY Buddhist sages and Western neuroscientists are now actively collaborating to understand consciousness. In contrast to the tendency in modern psychology to think of the body and brain as determinants or limiters of psychological functioning, Buddhism suggests a more interactive model. Mental processes can be truly causal, changing biology, in this model. This does not deny the role of biology, though. Diet and behavior are the first line of treatment for disease, and Tibetan medicine also uses organic medicines, acupuncture and heat treatments, and surgery (Bstan- dzin-rgya-mtsho, 1990, p. 219). The Buddhist worldview regards a person’s status and characteristics in this lifetime as bearing the results of past lives, so that whatever Western approaches describe as the hereditary aspects of personality would, from a Buddhist viewpoint, be the moral legacy of past lives.

According to this doctrine, the selection of Tenzin Gyatso as the next Dalai Lama recognized his entitlement to this high position. Buddhist rebirth teaching says that the previous




Dalai Lama chose to be reborn in this child. In the context of a tradition that regards the idea of a separate individual self or soul as illusory, this is a difficult idea to conceptualize. The attitude created by the doctrine, however, is clear: The Dalai Lama’s high position is an entitlement and so should not provoke envy, in the way that random genetic gifts can seem unfair. In terms of his own biology, the Dalai Lama has led a healthy life, following the Buddhist practices of healthy eating, avoiding alcohol, and practicing meditation. He confesses that his diet is not strictly vegetarian, his health having suffered when he tried (after observing a chicken being slaughtered) to give up meat (Bstan-dzin-rgya-mtsho, 1990). Tibetan people have traditionally incorporated meat in their diet, because of the harsh mountain climate that makes a purely vegetarian diet inadequate.

CULTURE Although individuals are responsible for their behavior and development, society is also important in Buddhist teaching. The individual influences others and has a responsibility to help reduce others’ suffering. Buddhists are concerned with ethics; in modern times Buddhists are involved in such humanitarian concerns as peace and environmentalism. The individual’s relationship to society goes in the reverse direction also. The society in which the individual is developing can help or hinder individual development, so it is important to put oneself in a healthy community environment (sangha).

The invasion of his homeland by the Chinese impelled the Dalai Lama to deal with larger social issues. He has voiced insights about some of the world’s most difficult problems, including war, starvation, the environment, sexuality, and abortion. His identity and loyalty for his homeland, Tibet, have prompted him to advocate that it be restored to independence, and he tries to main- tain Tibetan culture through education and cultural practices in the exile communities in India and elsewhere. He proposed a peace plan between Tibet and China in 1987 that would have (among other provisions) removed armaments from Tibet, stopping its use as a place to produce nuclear weapons and store nuclear waste. His proposal would have preserved Tibet’s cultural identity by stopping the influx of Chinese people, who now outnumber native Tibetans. Although not implemented, this proposal was influential in his nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize, awarded in 1989. His discussions of peace do not satisfy some critics because he stops short of demanding full political independence of Tibet from China, and once the United States invaded Iraq, he did not demand cessation of hostilities there either, despite having objected to the war ahead of time (Goodstein, 2003; Zupp, 2004). These positions, however, can be understood from the Buddhist principle of accepting reality as it is. Once China invaded Tibet and the United States invaded Iraq, he accepted those realities and discussed, as a realist, what should happen next.

Although embracing Buddhism for himself, the Dalai Lama recognizes the value of many religious traditions, and he does not wish for everyone to become a Buddhist. Other religions may be better suited for other people (Bstan-dzin-rgya-mtsho & Cutler, 1998). His tolerance extends to the nonreligious as well, recognizing the secularization of society, and he argues that individuals can be spiritual even if they do not identify with a formal religious tradition.

DEVELOPMENT Buddhist psychology emphasizes continued growth. The emphasis is not on external determinants, such as the influence of family or society, but rather on the individual’s own choices and actions. In the model of development that Buddhism accepts, development spans not only one lifetime but also time before birth in past lives and after death in the next rebirth. Intentional acts that are virtuous boost the individual toward higher states, according to the principle of moral causality (karma), and also have beneficial consequences for others.

Other approaches to personality development would find, in the 14th Dalai Lama, evidence of an active, assertive childhood. The Dalai Lama reports that he fought with his brother, resisted school lessons, ate what was not permitted, and only in adolescence fully appreciated the Buddhist legacy and its scholarship. (This nicely fits the stage of identity formation, in Erik Erikson’s theory.)

Beyond this normal developmental pattern, the Buddhist approach outlines a larger developmental perspective, spanning multiple lifetimes. On the issue of rebirth, the Dalai Lama describes his life from the perspective of the Buddhist tradition, telling anecdotes from childhood that seem premonitions of his high destiny. For example, as a child he insisted on sitting at the head of the table, and he fantasized a trip to the city of Lhasa, location of the palace of the Dalai Lama (Bstan-dzin-rgya-mtsho, 1990). Despite being chosen for his leadership role, he still faced many years of demanding education and examinations before officially becoming a Buddhist monk. As an adult, his continued study and service to humanity are evidence of ongoing development. In the Buddhist worldview, if that development reaches a sufficient level, after death he would be free of the cycle of rebirth.

FINAL THOUGHTS This is a unique illustrative biography, not only because of the cross-cultural focus of the subject matter, but also because the Dalai Lama is a spokesperson for the theory and so mixes teaching with his life story. An issue to consider, which will not be resolved here but only suggested, is this: Are the concepts about personality universal in their application? That is, do Buddhist insights apply to a Western audience? Conversely, could we apply our Western theories to the Dalai Lama (as in the identity suggestion earlier), or are the cultures so different that they require different theories?




Table 16.1 Preview of Buddhist Personality Theory Individual Differences Buddhist approaches emphasize the commonalities

among people. Differences occur in the specific content of consciousness, but these are transient, and the emphasis is on a common developmental progression.

Adaptation and Adjustment Buddhism explains suffering and its causes, and offers an Eightfold Path to alleviate suffering and bring happiness. It offers detailed practices for improving mental functioning, through various kinds of yoga and meditation.

Cognitive Processes Wrong thinking is a fundamental cause of suffering. Meditation improves cognitive functioning. The idea of a stable, enduring self is seen as an illusion with adverse consequences.

Culture The individual is not separate from others or the world as a whole, and individual development has positive consequences for the world. Conversely, a supportive community improves individual functioning.

Biological Influences The Buddhist worldview does not see the body and mind as separate but rather as closely related, so improved consciousness has beneficial health effects.

Development Development results from systematic and intensive spiritual practices, and is an individual responsibility. In contrast to other approaches, Buddhism does not look to external causes, such as the family or the environment, as the cause of development or developmental failures.



Siddhartha Gautama



Biography of Siddhartha Gautama



Four Noble Truths

dharma delusion

Siddhartha Gautama

the historical Buddha, whose spiritual journey provided the foundation for Buddhism; also called Sakyamuni


Awakened one; the term often refers to S

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