Figure 11.1What renders two individuals have various personalities? (credit: change of work by Nicolas Alejandro)

Three months prior to William Jefferson Blythe III to be born, his father died in a automobile accident. The was elevated by his mother, Virginia Dell, and grandparents, in Hope, Arkansas. When he turn 4, his mom married roger Clinton, Jr., one alcoholic who was physically abusive to William’s mother. Six years later, Virginia gave birth to an additional son, Roger. William, who later took the last surname Clinton from his stepfather, ended up being the 42nd chairman of the joined States. While invoice Clinton to be making his political ascendance, his half-brother, i get it Clinton, to be arrested numerous times for drug charges, including possession, conspiracy to distribution cocaine, and driving under the influence, offer time in jail. 2 brothers, elevated by the exact same people, take it radically different paths in their lives. Why walk they make the selections they did? What internal pressures shaped your decisions? Personality psychology can help us answer these questions and also more.

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MCCCD food Competencies


Define personality and identify some of the fundamental debates in the research of personality, including the person-situation debate.Critically evaluate info to aid make evidence-based decisions.Apply biopsychosocial values to real-world situations.Use psychological principles to describe the diversity and complexity that the human experience.

Learning Objectives


By the end of this section, you will certainly be maybe to:

Define personalityDescribe early on theories around personality development

Personality refers come the long-standing traits and patterns the propel individuals to repetitively think, feel, and also behave in certain ways. Ours personality is what provides us distinct individuals. Each person has actually an idiosyncratic sample of enduring, permanent characteristics and also a path in which the or she interacts with other individuals and the world approximately them. Our characters are assumed to be long term, stable, and also not quickly changed. The word personality comes from the Latin word persona. In the old world, a persona was a mask worn by one actor. If we have tendency to think the a mask as being worn to conceal one’s identity, the theatrical mask was originally supplied to either represent or job a certain personality characteristics of a character (Figure 11.2).


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Figure 11.3The pseudoscience of measure up the areas of a person’s skull is recognized as phrenology. (a) Gall arisen a chart that portrayed which areas of the skull corresponded to certain personality traits or features (Hothersall, 1995). (b) one 1825 lithograph depicts Gall analyzing the skull of a young woman. (credit b: change of job-related by Wellcome Library, London)

In the century after Galen, various other researchers contributed to the advance of his 4 primary temperament types, most prominently Immanuel Kant (in the 18th century) and also psychologist Wilhelm Wundt (in the 19th century) (Eysenck, 2009; Stelmack & Stalikas, 1991; Wundt, 1874/1886) (Figure 11.4). Kant agreed v Galen the everyone might be sorted right into one the the four temperaments and that there to be no overlap between the four categories (Eysenck, 2009). He developed a perform of traits that could be provided to describe the personality the a human being from every of the 4 temperaments. However, Wundt argued that a far better description of personality might be completed using two significant axes: emotional/nonemotional and changeable/unchangeable. The very first axis separated strong from weak emotions (the melancholic and also choleric temperaments from the phlegmatic and sanguine). The 2nd axis divided the changeable temperaments (choleric and also sanguine) indigenous the unchangeable ones (melancholic and also phlegmatic) (Eysenck, 2009).


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Figure 11.5Freud thought that we space only aware of a tiny amount of our mind’s activities and that most of the remains concealed from united state in our unconscious. The details in our unconscious affects our behavior, back we room unaware that it.

According to Freud, our personality develops from a conflict in between two forces: our biological aggressive and also pleasure-seeking drives versus our interior (socialized) control over this drives. Our personality is the an outcome of our initiatives to balance these two competing forces. Freud suggested that we have the right to understand this by imagining three connecting systems within our minds. He called them the id, ego, and superego (Figure 11.6).


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Figure 11.6The project of the ego, or self, is to balance the aggressive/pleasure-seeking drives of the id through the moral regulate of the superego.

The unconscious id contains our many primitive drives or urges, and is present from birth. The directs impulses because that hunger, thirst, and also sex. Freud believed that the i would operates on what he referred to as the “pleasure principle,” in which the identifier seeks prompt gratification. V social interactions through parents and also others in a child’s environment, the ego and superego build to assist control the id. The superego develops together a son interacts through others, learning the social rules because that right and wrong. The superego acts together our conscience; the is our ethical compass the tells us just how we have to behave. The strives for perfection and also judges our behavior, causing feelings of pride or—when we fall brief of the ideal—feelings that guilt. In contrast to the instinctual id and also the rule-based superego, the ego is the rational component of ours personality. The what Freud considered to it is in the self, and also it is the component of our personality that is watched by others. Its project is come balance the requirements of the id and also superego in the context of reality; thus, the operates ~ above what Freud referred to as the “reality principle.” The ego helps the id satisfy its desires in a reality way.

The id and also superego are in consistent conflict because the i would wants immediate gratification regardless of the consequences, but the superego tells united state that we should behave in socially acceptable ways. Thus, the ego’s task is to uncover the middle ground. It helps accomplish the id’s desire in a rational means that will certainly not lead us to feel of guilt. Follow to Freud, a human being who has a strong ego, which deserve to balance the requirements of the id and also the superego, has actually a healthy and balanced personality. Freud kept that discrepancies in the system have the right to lead come neurosis (a tendency to experience negative emotions), tension disorders, or unhealthy behaviors. For example, a person who is overcame by your id might be narcissistic and impulsive. A human being with a leading superego could be controlled by feel of guilt and also deny themselves also socially acceptable pleasures; whereas if the superego is weak or absent, a human being might come to be a psychopath. An overly leading superego might be seen in one over-controlled individual who rational understand on reality is so strong that they room unaware of your emotional needs, or, in a neurotic that is overly defensive (overusing ego defense mechanisms).

Defense Mechanisms

Freud thought that feeling of anxiety result from the ego’s inability to convey the conflict in between the id and superego. As soon as this happens, Freud thought that the ego looks for to gain back balance through various protective measures recognized as defense mechanisms (Figure 11.7). When certain events, feelings, or yearnings cause an separation, personal, instance anxiety, the individual desire to mitigate that anxiety. To execute that, the individual’s unconscious mind supplies ego defense mechanisms, unconscious protective habits that aim to reduce anxiety. The ego, commonly conscious, will to unconscious strivings to defend the ego from being overwhelmed by anxiety. When we use defense mechanisms, we space unaware the we room using them. Further, they operate in various means that distort reality. Follow to Freud, we all use ego defense mechanisms.


While everyone offers defense mechanisms, Freud thought that overuse that them may be problematic. There are number of different species of defense mechanisms. For instance, in repression, anxiety-causing memories native consciousness are blocked. Together an analogy, stop say your auto is do a strange noise, but because you perform not have actually the money to obtain it fixed, you just turn increase the radio so that you no longer hear the strange noise. Eventually, friend forget around it. Similarly, in the human being psyche, if a memory is also overwhelming to deal with, it could be repressed and thus removed from aware awareness (Freud, 1920). This repressed storage might reason symptoms in various other areas.

Another defense system is reaction formation, in which someone expresses feelings, thoughts, and also behaviors the opposite to your inclinations. In regression, an separation, personal, instance acts lot younger than their age. For example, a four-year-old kid who resents the come of a child sibling may act like a baby and also revert to drinking the end of a bottle. In projection, a person refuses to acknowledge her own unconscious feelings and instead sees those feel in someone else. Other defense instrument include rationalization, displacement, and sublimation.

Stages that Psychosexual Development

Freud believed that personality establishes during early on childhood: Childhood experiences shape our personalities as well as our behavior as adults. The asserted the we build via a collection of stages during childhood. Each of us need to pass with these childhood stages, and also if we do not have actually the appropriate nurturing and parenting throughout a stage, we will be stuck, or fixated, in that stage, also as adults.

In each psychosexual stage of development, the children pleasure-seeking urges, comes from the id, are focused on a different area of the body, referred to as an erogenous zone. The stages room oral, anal, phallic, latency, and genital (Table 11.1).

Freud’s psychosexual advance theory is fairly controversial. To understand the origins of the theory, it is helpful to be familiar with the political, social, and social influences the Freud’s job in Vienna in ~ the revolve of the 20th century. During this era, a climate of sex-related repression, linked with minimal understanding and also education surrounding person sexuality, greatly influenced Freud’s perspective. Offered that sex was a taboo topic, Freud assumed that an adverse emotional claims (neuroses) stemmed native suppression the unconscious sexual and aggressive urges. Because that Freud, his very own recollections and interpretations of patients’ experiences and also dreams were adequate proof the psychosexual stages to be universal occasions in beforehand childhood.


Freud’s stages of Psychosexual DevelopmentStageAge (years)Erogenous ZoneMajor ConflictAdult continuous Example
Oral0–1MouthWeaning off chest or bottleSmoking, overeating
Anal1–3AnusToilet trainingNeatness, messiness
Phallic3–6GenitalsOedipus/Electra complexVanity, overambition
Latency6–12NoneNoneNone
Genital12+GenitalsNoneNone

Oral Stage

In the oral stage (birth come 1 year), pleasure is concentrated on the mouth. Eating and also the pleasure obtained from suck (nipples, pacifiers, and also thumbs) pat a huge part in a baby’s first year the life. At around 1 year of age, babies are weaned from the party or breast, and also this process can create conflict if no handled properly by caregivers. According to Freud, one adult who smokes, drinks, overeats, or bites her nails is fixated in the dental stage of her psychosexual development; she may have been weaned too early or as well late, causing these fixation tendencies, all of which seek to ease anxiety.

Anal Stage

After passing with the dental stage, children enter what Freud termed the anal stage (1–3 years). In this stage, youngsters experience pleasure in your bowel and also bladder movements, so it makes sense that the conflict in this stage is end toilet training. Throughout this phase of development, youngsters work come master control of themselves. Freud argued that success at the anal stage depended upon how parents handled toilet training. Parental who sell praise and rewards encourage optimistic results and can aid children feel competent. Parents who are harsh in toilet maintain can cause a kid to end up being so fear of soiling the they over-control and also become fixated at the anal stage, leading to the breakthrough of an anal-retentive personality. The anal-retentive personality is stingy and also stubborn, has actually a compulsive need for order and neatness, and might be taken into consideration a perfectionist. If parents space too lenient in toilet training, the child may fail to build sufficient self-control, end up being fixated at this stage, and develop one anal-expulsive personality. The anal-expulsive personality is messy, careless, disorganized, and prone to emotionally outbursts.

Phallic Stage

Freud’s third stage the psychosexual breakthrough is the phallic stage (3–6 years), corresponding to the period when children become conscious of their bodies and recognize the differences between boys and girls. The erogenous region in this stage is the genitals. Conflict arises once the kid feels a desire for the opposite-sex parent, and jealousy and hatred toward the same-sex parent. For boys, this is referred to as the Oedipus complex, including a boy’s desire because that his mother and also his advice to replace his father who is seen as a rival because that the mother’s attention. In ~ the same time, the boy is fear his father will certainly punish him for his feelings, therefore he experiences castration anxiety. The Oedipus facility is efficiently resolved as soon as the boy starts to identify with his father as an indirect method to have the mother. Failure to solve the Oedipus facility may result in continuous and breakthrough of a personality that could be described as vain and also overly ambitious.

Girls suffer a equivalent conflict in the phallic stage—the Electra complex. The Electra complex, while often attributed come Freud, was actually proposed by Freud’s protégé, Carl Jung (Jung & Kerenyi, 1963). A girl desire the fist of her father and wishes to take she mother’s place. Jung additionally said the girls room angry through the mommy for not offering them v a penis—hence the term penis envy. When Freud initially taken on the Electra complex as a parallel come the Oedipus complex, he later rejected it, however it continues to be as a cornerstone that Freudian theory, thanks in component to academics in the ar (Freud, 1931/1968; Scott, 2005).

Latency Period

Following the phallic phase of psychosexual advancement is a duration known together the latency period (6 year to puberty). This period is not considered a stage, since sexual feelings space dormant as kids focus on various other pursuits, such together school, friendships, hobbies, and also sports. Youngsters generally interact in activities with peers of the exact same sex, which serves to consolidate a children gender-role identity.

Genital Stage

The final stage is the genital stage (from puberty on). In this stage, over there is a sexual reawakening together the incestuous urges resurface. The young person redirects these urges come other, much more socially acceptable partner (who frequently resemble the other-sex parent). World in this stage have mature sexual interests, which for Freud expected a strong desire because that the the contrary sex. People who efficiently completed the vault stages, reaching the genital phase with no fixations, are claimed to be well-balanced, healthy adults.

While most of Freud’s ideas have not uncovered support in modern research, we cannot discount the contributions the Freud has made to the ar of psychology. It to be Freud who stated that a large part of our mental life is affected by the experience of early on childhood and takes place exterior of our mindful awareness; his theories paved the way for others.

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While Freud’s focus on organic drives led him come emphasize the influence of sociocultural determinants on personality development, his followers easily realized that biology alone might not account for the diversity they encountered together the practice of psychoanalysis spread throughout the time that the Nazi Holocaust. The antisemitism which was prevalent throughout this period of time may have led tendency psychoanalysts to emphasis primarily on the universality the the emotional structures of the mind.