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GHUM 1087: Week 6 Lecture

Personality Theory & Social Psychology

Neetu Dheri

on 9 October 2018

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Transcript of GHUM 1087: Week 6 Lecture

GHUM 1087: Successful Social Relations
I. Personality Theory
"Part 2: Psychology" - continued
Personality Theory
Social Psychology
Work on C2

Week 6 ~ Fall 2018
S.N. Dheri
George Brown College

Recap from last week...
Examined how humans learn behavior:

According to
Social Learning Theory
by rewards/punishments and by observing others.

According to
Moral Development Theory
we develop a sense of morality and ethics
(i.e. doing the right thing)
gradually, in a series of stages through interaction with other people
Let’s consider two different, but complementary, areas in psychology:

I. Personality Theory
Psychodynamic Theories
Trait Theories
Cognitive-Social Theories

II. Social Psychology
Social Influence
Social Action
[From Collin et al pp. 216-217; McManus & Butler Chapter 9; Morris and Maisto Chapter 14]
[From Collin et al pp. 302-303; Morris and Maisto 345-348; Butler and McManus 92-99]
What is "Personality"?
(in psychology) is defined as:
an individual’s unique pattern of thoughts, feelings, and behaviours;
distinct from other people;
with unique stability and endurance;
that characteristic a person's adaptation to life.

Clearly, in a course that’s interested in understanding and using
best practices in our interpersonal interactions with other people
, it makes sense to understand whether our
personality is something learned
(as last week’s theorists as well as others would argue)
or whether it’s innate
(i.e. part of our genetic make-up), as some other theorists, that we’ll discuss today, would argue.
In personality theory, there are three main explanations for why we have the personalities we do:

THREE Personality Theories

Psychodynamic Theories

Trait Theories

Cognitive-Social Theories
Psychodynamic Theories
Trait Theories
Cognitive-Social Theories
Psychodynamic Theory: Freud
Psychodynamic theories of personality consider behaviour to be:
Already contained “within the individual” and
sometimes in our "unconscious";
In other words,
personality is innate

Best known of the psychodynamic personality theories is the one developed in the early 1900s by Austrian psychologist
Sigmund Freud
Freud theorized that our personality is a mix of
, or
pleasure, reality and conscience
This 3-part personality is constantly at war (
in conflict
) with itself:
Part of it seeks pleasure, while other parts seek to “tame” the pleasure instinct by helping us function in society.
Our "id" (
physiological, unconscious drives like sex, aggression
, etc.)
with our "ego" and/or "superego" (
what we grow to understand our reality to be - self-awareness, delaying gratification, and then laws, social rules, moral codes
A healthy personality is one that has found ways to gratify most of the id’s demands without seriously offending the superego.
3-part personality:
Psychodynamic Theory: Jung
Other theories that tried to rewrite Freud’s ideas include Swiss psychiatrist
Carl Jung’s notion of the
Collective Unconscious

He theorized that
"we not only have a personal unconscious that contains repressed memories and impulses, but also a collective unconscious containing primitive images, or archetypes, that reflect the history of our species."
Our personality is made up of an “unconscious… river of memories and behaviour patterns flowing to us from previous generations”
Archetypes - mental representations of universal figures and relationships, i.e. the “hero”, the “villain”, “nurturing mother”.
Archetypes remain unconscious, but they affect our thoughts and feelings and cause us to respond to our environment.
This is what makes our "personality".
Psychodynamic Theory: Adler
Another well-known psychodynamic personality theory is
Alfred Adler’s theory of
Innate Positive Motives

He believed that people are basically motivated by a
inferiority complex
feelings of inferiority that serve as a motivating force.
These feelings of inferiority (that we all experience at some point to varying degrees) give rise to the drive for superiority.
He proposed that the
most important aspect of personality development is the individual’s attempt to strive for superiority and perfection in one’s personal and social life
We have a
"creative self"
the self-aware aspect of personality that strives to overcome obstacles and develop its full potential
"We all strive for perfection." (Adler)
"Our personalities are aspects of a collective." (Jung)
"Different parts of our mind are in conflict.
Our Personality is a reflection of this conflict." (Freud)
Psychodynamic Theory: Horney
Psychodynamic Theory: Erikson
German psychologist
Karen Horney
took Freud, Jung, and Adler and reworked their theories by arguing that:
She agreed with Freud that childhood experiences are important in psychological development, but, she argued that
unconscious sexual and aggressive impulses were less important than social relationships
She also believed that genuine and consistent love can alleviate the effects of a traumatic childhood.
She also emphasized that instead of the pleasure principle being the source of personality, in fact
we are more motivated by anxiety – our reaction to real and imagined dangers and threats
If we don’t develop coping mechanisms for life’s anxieties, we can end up as too submissive, aggressive, or detached in our social relations.
Erik Erikson
posited that:
Like Horney, he also believed that social relationships are more important than primitive drives like sex in shaping our personality.
But he argued that personality in fact is not about unconscious conflict (whether Freud’s pleasure conflict or Horney’s anxiety conflict).
our personality stems from the quality of our early relationship with our parents
We either leave childhood feeling competent and valuable and thus develop a secure sense of identity;
Or we feel incompetent and worthless and don’t build a secure identity.
Trait theories explain personality by rejecting the idea that there are only a few personality types or conflicts that inform personality; instead, they argue that:
Each of us “possesses a unique combination of fundamental personality traits”,
which can be determined from the way that we behave.

Key Considerations:
Trait theories do not explain
we behave like we do;
These are classifying theories;
they try to name the main types of personality
These theories are less interested in early childhood development than are psychodynamic theories.
For example: If a person is constantly throwing parties, making new friends, and traveling in groups, then we can infer that this person scores high in the trait known as “sociability”. But trait theories do not look at "why" the person does these things.
Trait Theories: "The Big 5"
Different trait theorists have offered different catalogs of the main personality traits, but the most commonly accepted one is known as the “Big Five” personality dimensions, or the “Five-Factor Model”.
Developed by many personality theorists.
Big-5 personality dimensions do have real-world applications:
Extroversion and conscientiousness are reliable predictors of performance in sales jobs.
Agreeableness, conscientiousness and emotional stability can predict employee burnout.
The Big-Five Theory has also been useful in predicting the job performance of police officers.
Workplace absenteeism is related to the conscientiousness, extroversion and emotional stability traits.
Essentially, Big-Five personality dimensions found to be reliable predictors of both job performance and job satisfaction
Trait Theories: Genetics
Researchers have also recently found that
genetic factors play a significant role in “shaping abnormal and dysfunctional personality traits”
It’s “nature not nurture”
This recent genetic work means that unlike what theorists used to think, the Big-Five personality traits may indeed be hardwired to a large degree into the human species, instead of being culturally-produced.

Study of 1000 twins in Germany and Canada found that genetic effects (i.e. heredity) accounted for a substantial portion of the differences between people’s scores on 26/30 of the personality aspect scales.
Some psychologists were not comfortable with psychodynamic and trait explanations:
Consistency in human behaviour is not well-explained by either of the first two theories.
Behavioural theories presume that behaviours are learned (nurtured, not from nature).
Cognitive social theorists argue that our personality is not necessarily consistent; instead, it’s a response to situations we find ourselves in because;
We learn (via reinforcement such as rewards) to behave in ways that are appropriate to various situations.
For Example:

Individuals have a tendency to behave in certain ways

E.g. The respectful commuter vs. the gum-chewing, music-listening, seat-hogging commuter.

But that these tendencies might change depending on the situation

E.g. The respectful commuter may become quite loud and obnoxious at a sports match because that’s what he or she’s been raised to see as appropriate behaviour for that situation.
In small groups, discuss at least TWO situations in which your behaviour is different from how you "normally" behave.
Let's Compare and Contrast:
believe that human behaviour is relatively consistent across situations
E.g. Agreeable people tend to be agreeable in most situations most of the time.

Cognitive Social-learning
psychologists (Bandura) believe that
our actions are influenced by the people around us and by the way we think we are supposed to behave in a given situation
So, if behaviour is relatively inconsistent across situations, why does it appear to be consistent? In other words, why is the trait approach to personality so compelling?

One explanation:
We see a person in situations that tend to elicit the same behaviour, and thus,
We tend to assume their behaviour is similar across a variety of situations.
And, there’s evidence showing that people need to find consistency and stability even in the face of inconsistency and unpredictability.
We therefore tend to see consistency in other peoples’ behaviour, even when there is none.
In Conclusion:
Cognitive-Social Learning
approach is seen as
the most productive personality theory
Emphasize the importance of environmental conditions or situational variables as determinants of behaviour.
Understanding behaviour as partly based on situations has led to “useful therapies that help people recognize and change a negative sense of themselves.”
These “theories have helped people overcome depression… and have been embraced by management theorists because of their practical implications for work performance."
For instance,
- the term used to describe personalities who expect their efforts in any given situation to be successful.
II. Social Psychology
Psychology in early 20th century was limited to studying the mind and the behaviour of individuals in their environment, but it became increasingly clear to psychologists that
the environment has to include other people

Social psychology
(1930s) - way of exploring interactions between individuals in groups and in society as a whole;
defined as the
scientific study of how the thoughts, feelings, and behaviour of one individual are influenced by the real, imagined or inferred behaviour of other people
In other words, now that we understand personality theory, it makes sense to look at how these various “personalities” interact with each other.

Social psychology is divided into three main areas:

Social Influence

Social Action
Social Action
Social Influence
can be defined, according to psychologists,
as an organization of beliefs, feelings, and tendencies toward something or someone
; they’re important because
they tend to influence our behaviour
- “I don’t like Rob Ford”
Psychologists have also found that it is not always a straightforward relationship because it depends on:
The strength of the attitude;
How often it comes to mind, and;
How relevant it is to the behaviour in question.
How are attitudes related to behaviour?
Psychologists have shown that the three components of an attitude tend to be consistent with each other.
That said, not all of our actions can be predicted by our attitudes
For example: "My brother hates dentists but he does go once a year and takes his kids too."
Also, studies have found that
attitudes predict behaviour for some people better than for others
For example: Prediction of behaviour based on
(tendency to observe a situation for clues on how to react):
Those who rate highly on self-monitoring are more likely to override their attitudes and behave according to others’ expectations.

I.e. Commuters can either recognize that they have to share public space and therefore act quietly and non-obtrusively, or, they don’t recognize this pro-social behaviour and instead act loudly and obtrusively.
Where do attitudes come from?
Psychologists have found that attitudes come from early, direct personal experience.

Often experiences that were either encouraged or disapproved of by parents.
Attitudes can also be formed by imitation of others’ behaviour, including parents, siblings, teachers, friends, and people on TV.
Another source of attitudes is the mass media, especially television and social media.
Can attitudes be changed?
According to psychologists, attitudes can be adapted/changed.
This requires a person to be open to two types of attitude change:

New Information
Attitudes can also be changed through a process known as
Cognitive Dissonance
- the feeling you get when a new action, belief or perception contradicts your preexisting attitude. For example, if you generally don’t like… but then one day….
Attitudes can also be changed through successful
- the communication process by which someone gets a person or group of people’s attention, then gets them to understand and accept a message.

While persuasion from a third-party (e.g. advertiser, teacher) can be effective, studies have found the most effective persuasion is
, when you convince yourself to change an attitude.
Three common situations
that demonstrate this social influence:



Social influence
refers to the psychological explanation for
how and why other people can affect our attitudes and actions

Attitude change, which we just looked at, is one form of social influence. However, psychologists have also observed that the presence or actions of others can actually control our behaviour, without regard to underlying attitudes.
Social Influence Situation:
takes place when there is a conflict between an individual and a group that’s resolved when the individual’s beliefs/attitudes yield to the expectations and norms of the larger group.

Famous experiment by Polish psychologist Solomon Asch (d. 1996) conducted in the early 1950s
“showed that when people are confronted with a majority opinion, the tendency to conform to it may be stronger than their individual commitment to what they think is true.”
Asch’s experiment was “conducted with 123 male subjects, each of whom was put… into a group of five to seven” – the other group members were “in” on the experiment, while the subject was not.
The “group was shown one card with a line on it, followed by another card with three lines labeled A, B, and C” and was asked “which one of those three lines was the same length as the line on the first card”
The room was always organized so the subject would be the last or second-last to answer. In 18 trials, the group members who were “in” on the experiment were instructed to provide correct answers the first six times, but then the an identical incorrect answer the next 12 times.
The idea “was to test whether or not the subject would answer correctly” – the answer was easy and obvious – “or whether he would match his response to that of the group members giving the same incorrect answer”
The results of the experiment were surprising and a bit disturbing:
“When surrounded by a group of people all giving the same incorrect answer, subjects gave incorrect answers on almost a third (32 percent) of the questions” and “75 percent of subjects provided an incorrect response for at least one question”
The experiment clearly demonstrated
“a high degree of conformity by the subjects”. It also demonstrated that the subjects were “highly consistent. Those who broke away from the group opinion… did not succumb to the majority even over many trials, while those who chose to comply with the majority seemed unable to break this pattern”.
While Asch’s experiment has been very influential, subsequent studies have shown, for example, that levels of conformity tend to vary among cultures.

E.g. European cultures show less conformity while Asian and African cultures show more.

Also, some psychologists have criticized Asch on the basis that he “overstated the power of the majority to influence the minority” and that
“an active minority could influence the majority and bring about change”
Social Influence Situation:
Social Influence Situation:
Takes place when an individual changes his or her behaviour in response to an explicit request from another person or group.

Psychologists have found there are
three main ways in which compliance between people takes place:

Foot-in-the-door Effect
Lowball Effect
Door-in-the-face Effect
Takes place when an individual says yes to a small request and as a result, is more likely to comply with a larger related one.

Example: The “Drive Carefully” experiment from 1960s.

Compliance ~ “Foot-in-the-door Effect”
In a famous psychological experiment from the 1960s, certain residents of a California city were approached and asked to place large ugly signs saying “Drive Carefully” in their front yards: over 80% said no. Other residents were asked to sign a petition calling for more safe-driving laws. When this same second group was approached a second time and asked later to place the ugly “Drive Carefully” sign in their yards, almost 60% agreed.
Compliance with the first small request (petition) more than tripled the rate of compliance with the larger request (ugly sign).
Compliance ~ “Lowball Effect”
Achieves compliance by asking an individual to do something for a relatively low cost (money, time, etc.).

Then, the influencer raises the cost of compliance.

Although the original influence was a low price,
once committed, people tend to remain committed
to the now pricier, more time-consuming, request.
Compliance ~ “Door-in-the-face Effect”
Individual is asked to make an unreasonably large commitment:
E.g. volunteering in a homeless shelter for two years.

Almost everyone declines.

Then, person is later asked to make a much smaller commitment:
E.g. volunteering one night in a food bank.

Many people quickly agree.

This effect tends to work because
“people interpret the smaller request as a concession and feel pressured to comply”
with it.
Takes place
when an individual changes his/her behaviour in response to a command from another person, such as an authority figure
Asch’s student, Stanley Milgram’s 1961 famous (and highly controversial) experiment:
Demonstrated that
“the majority of people are capable of causing extreme harm to others when told to do so by a figure of authority”
Milgram’s experiment was designed to demonstrate “how obedient a selection of ‘ordinary’ men would be when they were told by an authority figure to administer electric shocks to another person”.
Milgram concluded that the inclination is very strong to obey authority figures even in the most extreme circumstances.
And this was a controversial and uncomfortable conclusion given that many people at the time thought only Germans could be evil in this way.
In addition, Milgram theorized that
this sense of obedience comes from the fact that we are socialized from a young age to be obedient and to follow orders.
He also noted that the
internal conflict between a person’s moral/ethical conscience and the authority figure’s demands creates extreme distress

The social influences of
, and
tend to occur as often when there’s no one around (e.g. stopping at a stop sign, dressing up for a formal occasion, turning down music so that your neighbours won’t complain).

Social action
a specific form of social influence that happens when other people are around us
. Several types of actions or processes can occur between individuals :
Altruism/bystander effect
Group dynamics
Social Action: Deindividuation
Takes place when individuals are regularly immersed in a large, anonymous group
(like a city).
The process
involves a loss of a sense of personal responsibility for one’s actions
(e.g. being rude on the subway or in a car).

The process can sometimes lead to violence or other forms of irresponsible or anti-social behaviour.
For example, one acute side-effect of deindividuation is what’s known as
"mob behaviour"
In mob-like situations, the
“snowball effect”
can kick in:
one persuasive and dominant person can convince people to act in a certain way, and then they pass that on and on until the group becomes an unthinking mob
*The greater the sense of anonymity, the more the deindividuation effect occurs.
Social Action: Altruism
Of course it’s not true that when individuals get together they are always likely to become more destructive or irresponsible than they would be as individuals.
The best proof of this is another type of social action:
altruistic behaviour
Takes place when one acts in a helpful way without expecting any recognition or reward in return, except perhaps the good feeling that comes from helping someone in need.
Next Week...
- Dig deep, into our mind, looking for the origins of our personality
- A person's personality consists of the person's most striking traits
- We must also consider the influences of culture, rate and ethnicity

Our personality has a strong influence on our life.
Is our “personality” something we learn, or is it something innate (that we’re born with)?
~ Each theory originated from work of Sigmund Freud
"Concern should drive us into action, not into a depression." (Horney)
"Personality too, is destiny." (Erikson)
Trait Theory: Hans Eysenck
British psychologist,
Hans Eysenck
focused much of his research on the relationship between two personality traits: introversion - extroversion, and emotional-stability-instability.
Catalogued various personality traits according to where they are situated along these dimensions.
His scheme was similar to Hippocrates' four humors from ancient Greek times.
"People can be goaded by social influence into doing things that are not necessarily consistent with their personalities."
How you "feel" about, "think" about, and "behave towards" something or someone.
An attitude (e.g. “I don’t like Rob Ford”) has three components: your
of the object, your
about the object, and your
behavioural tendency
toward the object.
Three Components:
Example: http://study.com/academy/lesson/altruistic-behavior-definition-examples.html
Full transcript