Patterns of thought, feeling, and behavior that endure across situations

Structure of personality:

Organization of these patterns

Individual differences:

How patterns resemble and differ from one another across persons

Development of personality:

How and why patterns emerge and differ across people


Basic personality disposition that is heavily influenced by genes (p.473)

Individual differences in reactivity and self-regulation that are assumed to have a constitutional bias (Rothbart, p. 61)


Structure of mental processes, personality

* Will, counterwill

* Conscious, pre-conscious, unconscious

* Id, ego, superego

Universal development of personality:

* Psychosocial stages

* Oral, anal, phallic, latency, genital

Individual differences:

* Difficulties lead to fixations (prominent conflicts, issues) at different stages

Fixations can be at either extreme: extreme sloppiness and extreme neatness are seen as different manifestations of the same "issue" of cleanliness/order/control

Object relations:

* Focus on how people represent themselves & others mentally


* Encoding, personal relevance, behavioral plan, behavior, self-regulation

* Behavioral plan affected by behavior-outcome expectancy and self-efficacy

* Behavior affected by competency

Blends behaviorist (operant conditioning) and cognitive (information processing, goal setting) perspectives

Development = operant conditioning based on consequences and expected consequences of behavior

Trait theory

Traits are underlying dimensions of personality on which people vary--emotional, cognitive, and behavioral tendencies

Looks at structure of personality and individual differences

Uses factor analysis --technique for determining the structure of covariation among many variables or items

(See Minimarker scale -- via Psychology links on the web -- for a trait scale that shows factor loadings)


Extroversion, neuroticism (emotional stability/instability), psychoticism (egocentric/impulsive)

Big Five:

Extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, openness

NOTE: Trait theory is BUILT on empirical evidence of which traits "cluster together" in people, with typical data for adults being self-report (such as the mini-marker scale, or the temperament scale you completed in class).

This contrasts with Freudian psychodynamic theory, which was originally developed by Freud introspecting about his own psychic processes and also developing theories of why his patients had the problems they did. In part because of his methods, Freud emphasized the male psyche over the female psyche. Much of his theory is difficult to test empirically, although empirical data have confirmed that processes and knowledge that do not reach conscious awaremess can nevertheless have an impact on behavior.


Like psychodynamic, posits universal developmental process that is disrupted or distorted

Focus on the self-concept, and tension between the true self, the false self, and the ideal self

Note that, like psychodynamic theory, there are three aspects of self. However, they are all seen as part of the "conscious" self. Discrepancies between the true self and ideal self can inspire a person to change themselves (along the lines of goal-setting theory). Discrepancies between the true self and the false self (a public self that is shaped by others' expectations) can also cause emotional distress.

Existentialist view: Sees the search for meaning as central. Bad faith is self-deception about one's own actions, living too much according to the false self and not being "true" to one's true self (fundamental personality).

More on the Trait Model of Personality, Consistency & Heritability


Consistency varies depending on the level of measurement. Between any two behaviors, a correlation of r = .20 (6/10 correct) suggests little consistency.

However, when you observe behavior across 10 situations, deduce a score for an underlying trait and then predict a single behavior, prediction increases to about .50 (7.5/10 correct).

If you use your score to predict the score for the next 10 behaviors, prediction jumps to about .75 (almost 9/10 correct).

Note: personality influences behavior in interaction with the situation. Extraversion predicts party behavior; intelligence predicts school performance.

But most behavior is influenced by multiple traits, the situation, and the motivation of the person.

Stability and Change

In adulthood, most personality traits are relatively stable, illustrated in .60 to .80 retest reliability correlations over 1-5 years.

However, correlations indicate relative position, and don't capture changes in means for a whole group.

In childhood, change is more common than in adulthood (both individual change and group change).

Genetic and Environmental Basis of Personality

Heritability (H) can be calculatedfrom

correlation data of MZ and DZ. Assuming that MZ twins are 100% genetically similar and DZ

twins are 50% genetically similar (compared to MZ), the within-pair correlations on personality measures

tell us the strength of genetic influence.

If we assume twins have equal

environments, we can estimate H as follows:

Whatever the environmental

influence on personality similarity between MZ twins and between DZ twins, the difference between their

personality similarity must be due to their difference in genetic similarity; that difference is 50%, so doubling the difference in personality similarity gives you an index of how much the genetic factors predict personality similarity.

For example, if MZ correlate .41 and DZ correlate .24 on neuroticism, (see Table 12.5) then their difference in personality similarity is .17. That difference is, according to the assumptions, explained by

their 50% genetic difference; so doubling the difference gives you an estimate of the total genetic

contribution: H = .34.

Twin studies suggest a heritability of most personality traits of H = 40%; adoption studies suggest an H of 20%.:


Discrepancy of H estimates between twin studies (40%) and adoption studies (20%) is partly

due to an overestimation of MZ similarity in twin studies: MZ twins are treated (by parents and the environment) more similarly than are DZ twins violating the equal environment assumption discussed above. Also, pairs of DZ may differ in gender, which generates quite different environments.

MZ correlations are substantially lower if reared apart than if reared together whereas DZ twins are about equally similar when reared together or apart.

(Table 12.4)