Theories of personality
Pamela Naidoo, Loraine Townsend & Ronelle Carolissen
After studying this chapter you should be able to:
•state and compare the assumptions that underpin the eight approaches to understanding personality described in this chapter
•understand how each personality theorist attempts to answer the question of individual similarities and differences
•describe the theoretical concepts that are unique to Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Erik Erikson, Raymond Cattell, Abraham Maslow, B.F. Skinner, George Kelly and Albert Bandura
•critique mainstream approaches to personality
•describe how culture influences personality
•describe Nwoye’s Synoptic Theory of the African Personality.
Yolisa felt that she could identify at least some of her own personality characteristics. She was quite a perfectionist and rather hard working, and she was also loyal and kind. But most of what she knew about herself had come from other people’s reactions to her. Over the years, various people had told her how she came across and how they experienced her. Some of these insights were, at the time, quite surprising to her. Yolisa particularly recalled one friend telling her angrily that she was often distant and didn’t let others know how she felt. At first, Yolisa had just thought her friend was being unfair, but later realised that she must have seen Yolisa’s shyness and misinterpreted it. Perhaps it wasn’t so easy to understand what people’s personalities were like from the outside. But then again, it was equally difficult to really get to know yourself.
Like many people, Yolisa had heard about Freud before she began to study psychology. What she had heard, though, was not very promising. People often made jokes about Freud and sex and, of course, his strange ideas about penis envy made it hard to take him seriously. But as she began to learn more about psychoanalytic theories of development, Yolisa realised that to dismiss Freud’s theories completely would mean missing out on some really interesting ideas about how people came to be who they are. Perhaps the clues to understanding more about herself really were hidden away in her childhood, and if she understood more about her past, she might be able to make some sense of how she experienced things in her present life. However, when Yolisa began studying personality theories, she realised that there were many other useful theories in addition to Freud’s.
While it is true that there are many similarities between people, it is often the differences between them that are of interest to researchers and practitioners in psychology. There are various ways of defining personality, although someone’s personality is usually described by noting how different that person is from other people as well as what patterns of behaviour are characteristic of that person. For the purpose of this chapter, personality is defined as the ’psychological qualities that contribute to an individual’s enduring and distinctive patterns of feeling, thinking and behaving’ (Cervone & Pervin, 2013, p. 8).
While many theorists have attempted to explain personality development, in an introductory textbook such as this it is impossible to describe them all. Therefore, this chapter provides the dominant theory in each of the eight mainstream approaches to personality (see Figure 5.1).
Figure 5.1 A timeline showing the life span of each of the theorists who are most clearly associated with each of the eight dominant theoretical approaches to personality development
The psychoanalytic approach
The psychoanalytic approach to personality development assumes that the structures of personality are largely unconscious, which suggests that people are mostly unaware of why they behave in particular ways. Furthermore, behaviour is assumed to be strongly influenced by the ongoing conflict between instincts, unconscious motives, past experiences and social norms. The main proponent of the psychoanalytic theory of personality is Sigmund Freud (1856—1939).
Freud’s view on personality development
Life instinct and death instinct
According to Freud (1901), instincts are the basic motivational drives that provide the basis for personality. They are understood as mental representations of internal stimuli that cause a person to take certain actions. Let us take hunger as an example. A basic internal need such as this initiates a physiological reaction. This bodily need then gets translated into a mental representation of how we should behave in order to fulfil that need (e.g. looking for food to satisfy our hunger).
Freud grouped instincts into two broad categories: life instincts and death instincts. The life instincts (eros) serve the need for survival and development (an example would be hunger), and ensure the reproduction of the species (an example would be sexual desire) (Engler, 2013). The psychic energy manifested by life instincts is called libido. The death instincts (thanatos) represent the destructive force of human nature. Freud suggested that all people have an unconscious wish to die. This wish to die is transformed into an aggressive drive which individuals act out on others. This implies that we all have the potential to be destructive.
Figure 5.2 The three structures of personality can be compared to the different sections of an iceberg
The conscious, the preconscious and the unconscious levels
According to Freud, the personality has three levels: the conscious, the preconscious and the unconscious.
The term ’conscious’ refers to the sensations and experiences that we are aware of at any given moment in time. Freud thought that our conscious was a limiting aspect of our personalities because it only included a small portion of our thoughts, sensations and memories: the tip of the iceberg (see Figure 5.2).
Figure 5.3 A child develops a superego in response to the guidance of significant others
The preconscious lies between the conscious and the unconscious. It includes our thoughts, memories and the perceptions that we may be able to recall by bringing them into the state of consciousness.
The unconscious contains memories, emotions and instincts that are so threatening to the conscious mind that they remain buried in the unconscious mind. Instincts such as sex or aggression operate from the unconscious.
The structure of personality: the id, the ego and the superego
The id is entirely unconscious and includes the instincts and libido. It is a forceful component of the personality structure and provides the energy for the other components. Because instincts are contained within the id, the id is directly related to the satisfaction of bodily needs. Tension arises in the quest to fulfil bodily needs, and the id is said to operate in a way to reduce tension in order to maintain a homeostatic balance in the psyche. It operates according to the pleasure principle — to increase pleasure and to avoid pain. It seeks immediate gratification and is selfish and inconsiderate of the needs of others. The id has no awareness of reality. The only way the id can attempt to satisfy its needs is through reflex action or wish-fulfilling fantasy experiences, which Freud categorised as primary process thought.
While the id motivates very young children, these children soon learn that they cannot always act on their immediate needs. They must learn how to interact with the outside world and to develop mental functions such as perception, recognition, judgement and memory. These rational elements are contained in Freud’s second component of personality, the ego and Freud categorised them as secondary process thought.
Thus we see that the ego guides behaviour by reason. It helps to reduce the tensions that exist between the id and reality. Through the ego’s consistent contact with reality, and through its following of the reality principle, the ego allows the id’s impulses to be satisfied in socially appropriate ways at the right time and place, using acceptable objects.
While the ego makes no attempt to prevent the satisfaction of the id, the ego does control the expression of the id’s needs. For example, the ego can divert anger from aggressive behaviour into a socially acceptable activity like exercise. This means there is frequently conflict between the id and the ego. This is complicated by the fact that the id is the source of energy for both the id and the ego; hence the ego must constantly pay heed to the id’s demands.
The superego is the personality’s internal moral code; it contains the notions of right and wrong that people learn during childhood. By the age of five or six years, most children have learnt from significant others, such as their family members, which behaviours are not acceptable. This leads to the development of the conscience, which is one element of the superego. The behaviours that have been praised and rewarded lead to the development of the ego-ideal, which is another element of the superego. Both these elements of the superego are largely unconscious.
The process of internalising what is good and what is bad involves a powerful unconscious recognition of parental influence. Once the process of internalisation has happened, the rules of right and wrong are self-administered. Self-control then replaces parental control. Consequently, when we engage in behaviours that are contrary to our conscience, we suffer guilt and shame.
Freud perceived the superego as being harshly insistent on moral behaviour. Unlike the ego, the superego can obliterate certain id drives, such as sex and aggression.
The ego is therefore pressured by the id, the superego and reality, and serves as a go-between that tries to satisfy all these forces. When the ego cannot cope with the demands of the id, the superego and reality, then anxiety develops.
•The psychoanalytic approach to personality development argues that the structures of personality are largely unconscious so that people are unaware of the motivations for their behaviour.
•Behaviour is assumed to be strongly influenced by the ongoing conflict between instincts, unconscious motives, past experiences and social norms.
•Freud argued that two basic instincts drive the personality: the life instinct and the death instinct. Libido is the psychic energy derived from the life instinct.
•According to Freud, the personality has three levels: the conscious, the preconscious and the unconscious.
•Freud said that the personality has three parts: id, ego and superego.
•The id is entirely unconscious and includes the instincts and libido. It operates according to the pleasure principle and uses primary process thinking.
•The ego is more rational and is based on the demands of reality (the reality principles). It uses secondary process thought.
•The superego contains the conscience (an internalised moral code) and the ego-ideal.
•The ego is pressured by the id, the superego and reality, and serves as a go-between that tries to satisfy all these forces. When the ego cannot cope with these demands, then anxiety develops.
The psychosexual stages of personality development
Freud described four stages of personality development. He referred to these as psychosexual stages because he thought that the major factor underlying human development was the sex instinct.
According to Freud, each stage of psychosexual development is associated with an erogenous zone and each stage requires the resolution of certain developmental tasks, or conflicts, before progression to the next stage is possible. If an individual is unable to resolve the tasks at a certain stage, he/ she will remain fixated at that stage. This means that libidinal energy gets invested in that particular stage, leaving less energy for the stages that follow. Freud believed that the roots of a number of adult personality types can be traced to unsuccessfully resolved stages of psychosexual development.
Freud’s first psychosexual stage is the oral stage and it spans the period from birth to approximately 18 months. The erogenous zone associated with this stage is the mouth as the activities of sucking, biting and chewing are sources of erotic pleasure for the child. During this period, the developmental task involves being weaned from the breast and/or bottle. If a child is unable to resolve this conflict successfully, he/she may become fixated. Adults fixated at the oral stage may be excessively concerned about activities such as eating and drinking.
There are two adult personality types associated with this stage: the oral-passive type (also known as the oral-dependent type) and the oral-aggressive type (also known as the oral-sadistic type). According to Freud, if infants are excessively gratified they may become overly optimistic and dependent. Such infants become oral-passive adults who tend to be gullible and rely on others for gratification. They continually seek approval and expect mothering from all those around them. According to Freud, the oral-aggressive personality type develops during the frustrating period when a child is cutting their teeth. Adults fixated at this stage tend to be excessively pessimistic, hostile and aggressive. They tend to make biting remarks, and may be manipulative and exploitative towards others in order to dominate them.
Freud’s second psychosexual stage is the anal stage. Until this stage, adults make few demands on children. But around the age of 18 months, the need for toilet training arises, and most parents try to complete toilet training by the time their children are three years of age. The erogenous zone associated with this stage is the anus, and the retention and expulsion of faeces gives children erotic pleasure. During toilet training this source of pleasure is interfered with when parents begin to set rules about when and where the child may defecate. Resolution of the conflict that arises sees children learning self-control: they learn to differentiate between the id’s need for immediate gratification, and social constraints.
If a child does not achieve this, there is likely to be conflict with the parents, leading to the child reacting in one of two ways. One negative path the child could take is to defecate at inappropriate times and in inappropriate places, much to the disapproval of the parents. According to Freud, if a child needs to employ this reactionary response frequently, this may lead to the development of an anal-aggressive personality. Adults exhibiting an anal-aggressive personality are impulsive, disorderly, sadistic and hostile. The other negative path the child could take is to retain faeces. This can give children a sense of control over their parents, particularly if they have not defecated for a few days. According to Freud, this may lead to the development of an anal-retentive personality. As adults, these individuals are typically stubborn and stingy. They also tend to be rigid, compulsively neat and overly conscientious.
Freud’s third psychosexual stage is the phallic stage. This stage occurs approximately between the ages of three and six years, when the focus of development moves to the genital region. The developmental task confronting children during this stage is the need to identify with the same-sex parent. This requires resolution of what Freud termed the Oedipus complex (in the case of boys) and the Electra complex (in the case of girls).
The Oedipus complex refers to a boy’s unconscious desire to possess the opposite-sex parent and at the same time to dispose of the same-sex parent. From birth to this point, mothers have been the sole source of gratification, and are seen as the initial love object. Boys have an unconscious wish to possess their mother, which manifests as the boy’s unconscious sexual attraction to his mother. Fathers, on the other hand, are viewed as rivals for the mother’s affections and are unconsciously perceived as the enemy. However, boys realise that their father is unlikely to tolerate his son’s affections for the mother. Freud believed that this results in boys fearing that their father may retaliate by cutting off their penis. The resultant castration anxiety forces boys to renounce their unconscious desire to have sex with their mother. Eventually, at around five or six years of age, boys repress their sexual desire for their mother, and begin to identify with their father.
For girls, the Electra complex needs to be overcome in order to be able to identify with the same-sex parent. According to Freud, mothers have been the sole source of gratification for girls and thus their initial love object since birth, yet girls begin to realise that they lack a penis. Girls then display penis envy and blame their mother for their lack of a penis. They become openly hostile towards their mother and wish to possess their father. Freud was less able to explain how girls resolve this conflict, other than to suggest that this state of affairs is slowly modified as girls increasingly identify with their mother.
According to Freud, men fixated at the phallic stage are usually boastful, vain and ambitious, while women fixated at this stage are usually flirtatious, seductive and naïve.
Between six years of age and the onset of puberty, the libido is sublimated (channelled into non-sexual activities). This period is referred to as latency, and it does not qualify as a psychosexual stage as no new erogenous zone is identified and sexual instincts are seen as dormant.
Freud’s fourth psychosexual stage is the genital stage. This begins with the onset of puberty when many hormonal changes occur. In this stage, the genitals are the erogenous zone providing adolescents with gratification. The genital stage is a time when sexual and aggressive impulses resurface, with a corresponding increase in an individual’s awareness of, and interest in, the opposite sex. Developmental tasks requiring resolution during this stage revolve around establishing intimate relationships, learning to work, learning to postpone gratification and becoming responsible. The successful resolution of this stage results in the ideal type of personality. Such a person will have developed mature and responsible social-sexual relationships.
Evaluating Freud’s theory
The concept of the unconscious is considered to be Freud’s most important and valuable contribution. The assumption that our conscious thoughts and behaviour are directed by repressed thoughts revolutionised theoretical formulations about human behaviour. Freud also highlighted the influence of early childhood on later development.
The most controversial aspects of Freud’s theory centre on his emphasis on the sexual drive as a primary motivating force for human behaviour. This was largely the result of his historical context; he lived in the Victorian era which was highly sexually repressed. His theory is thus now seen as overly deterministic. In the African context, Freud’s emphasis on sexuality is also problematic in that discussion around sexuality is taboo in many African cultures. In addition, many children in rural African families grow up in an extended family context, whereas Freud’s theory is firmly based in a nuclear understanding of family. Van IJzendoorn, Bakermans-Kranenburg, and Sagi-Schwartz (2005) note that it is unwise to think that patterns of parent—child attachment are universal.
His perception of women has also received criticism. Freud argued that women are anatomically inferior because they do not have penises, psychologically inferior because they do not experience the Oedipal conflict or castration anxiety, morally inferior because they do not develop as strong a superego as men do (owing to not having had the aforementioned conflict) (Dumont, 2010).
Freudian theory has also been criticised for being limited because it considers psychological development to be complete by puberty. Humanists criticised Freudian theory for not acknowledging human agency and choice. Lastly, Freud’s theory has been criticised because it cannot be scientifically validated.
•Freud described four psychosexual stages of personality development; he felt that the sex instinct was the major factor underlying human development.
•Each of Freud’s stages is associated with an erogenous zone and requires the resolution of certain developmental tasks, or conflicts, before progression to the next stage is possible. Fixation at a stage occurs if the individual is unable to resolve the task.
•The four stages are oral, anal, phallic and genital. A period of latency occurs between the phallic and genital stages. Failure to resolve the oral stage may result in an oral-passive or an oral-aggressive personality. Failure to resolve the anal stage may result in an anal-aggressive or an anal-retentive personality.
•The phallic stage involves the Oedipus and the Electra complexes. Failure to resolve the phallic stage results in men who are usually boastful, vain and ambitious, while women fixated at this stage are usually flirtatious, seductive and naïve.
•Successful resolution of the genital stage results in an adult who has developed mature and responsible social and sexual relationships.
•Freud’s theory has been respected for its contribution of the concept of the unconscious and the role of early childhood on later development. It has been criticised for its emphasis on the sexual drive as a primary motivating force for human behaviour, for being overly deterministic, for his perception of women and the lack of life span developmental approach.
The neopsychoanalytic approach
The neopsychoanalytic approach to personality development uses the psychoanalytic approach as a major frame of reference. There are a number of neopsychoanalysts including Carl Jung, Alfred Adler, Karen Horney and Erick Fromm, but this section focuses on Jung’s ideas regarding personality.
Jung’s view on personality development
Jung differed from Freud in one important way. He rejected the idea that sexuality was a major determinant of behaviour; instead he believed that behaviour is largely purpose driven. He also thought that people’s personalities developed throughout their lives. Jung went on to develop his own school of thought, known as analytical psychology, which was also informed by Eastern religions, mythology and alchemy (Engler, 2013).
Jung viewed libido as a generalised life force, which he saw from two different perspectives (Schultz & Schultz, 2001). The first perspective was that libido is a general life energy that referred not only to sexuality, but also to other human strivings and desires. The second perspective was that libido is focused psychic energy that facilitated how the personality functions.
Figure 5.4 Carl Jung
The structure of the psyche: the ego, the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious
Jung placed a great deal of emphasis on the psyche. He believed that the psyche is the centre of both the mind (our thoughts and emotions) and the soul (our spirituality), and where all experience and meaning are organised and combined in a uniquely human way. Jung thought the psyche operates at three levels: the ego (or conscious), the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious. (His use of the terms ’conscious’ and ’ unconscious’ shows how he was influenced by Freud. However, Jung’s concept of the collective unconscious expanded upon an aspect of personality that Freud largely ignored.)
According to Jung (Meyer, Moore & Viljoen, 2008), the ego is the level of personality that contains all the experiences of which we are aware at any particular time. It is from the combination of these experiences that we gain our sense of stability in time and place: our sense of ’I’. The ’I’ is therefore the centre of consciousness.
The personal unconscious is the level of the psyche where all our forgotten or repressed experiences collect. Because our conscious can only contain a few items at a time, the personal unconscious also contains all those memories, feelings and perceptions that have been momentarily set aside.
The collective unconscious is the inherited part of our psyche, which is shared by all human beings. Jung conceived of this level in an attempt to explain the remarkable similarities of human behaviour and experiences we see across all cultures of the world.
According to Jung, archetypes or primordial images lie within the collective unconscious. Archetypes are universal, shared forms of thinking that predispose humans to behave in certain ways. They represent different possible ways in which people across cultures and societies express their humanness (Engler, 2013). Jung believed there were an infinite number of archetypes, some of the most common being the persona, the shadow, the anima and the animus, and the self.
The persona refers to the social roles that people assume in society. These social roles are often assigned to people, and may be contrary to those they may have chosen for themselves. The persona represents a compromise between people’s true identity and their social identity. The persona is the socially acceptable face or mask we present to the world. If people neglect to develop their persona, they may become asocial. On the other hand, an over-focus on persona can result in a neglect of one’s true self, stifling the development of other parts of one’s personality (Engler, 2013).
Figure 5.5 The persona is the socially acceptable face or mask we present to the world
The shadow refers to those thoughts, feelings and behaviours that people possess, but which are unacceptable to society or to the individual. Whereas the persona reflects the compromise between people’s ideal self and social demands, the shadow reflects those social desires and emotions that are incompatible with the persona. The shadow is therefore the opposite side of the persona. Jung believed that the shadow cannot be denied or avoided. He suggested that people need to get to know their shadow and recognise their unacceptable impulses as this adds breadth and integrity to personality.
The animus and anima refer to the masculine and feminine parts of a person’s personality. This is because, while each person is classified as either male or female according to their biological sexual characteristics, none of us is only male or only female. As a result of centuries of living together and internalising aspects of the opposite sex, each of us has some biological and psychological qualities of the opposite sex within us. According to Jung, every man has a feminine part, an anima, and every woman has a masculine part, an animus. Jung contended that it is essential that a man express his feminine side and a woman her masculine side, in order to reach optimal growth as a human being.
The self represents our attempt to unify all the aspects of our personality. It controls the allocation of psychic energy so that different parts of the personality are expressed appropriately. Depending on the context and personal needs, the self can allow us to be socially acceptable among our friends (using a persona), or it can let us to do something we would never do under normal circumstances (releasing our shadow), or it can allow us to behave in a way that is thought to be typical of the opposite gender (revealing our anima/animus) (for a discussion of the difference between sex and gender, see Chapter 19). In developing our personalities, we are constantly trying to find the balance between opposing forces to achieve a fully realised self. Jung believed that the self only emerges once the other personality systems like the persona and the shadow have developed. He considered the development of the self as the ultimate life goal: one that is constantly aspired to, but which is rarely achieved.
A major contribution that Jung made to the psychology of the conscious psyche was his explanation and description of psychological types (Engler, 2013). He contended that psychological types arise out of combinations of two attitudes (extraversion and introversion), and four functions (sensing, intuition, thinking and feeling).
According to Jung, extraversion is an attitude where the psyche is oriented outwards towards the objective world. Introversion is an attitude where the psyche is oriented inwards towards the subjective world. Jung proposed that a person’s attitude was either predominantly extraverted or introverted, and that in both cases, the other attitude was also present, although underdeveloped or largely unconscious (Engler, 2013).
The four functions are grouped into two pairs of opposites. For example, when gathering information from the environment, the sensor uses all five senses, and tends to deal with logic and facts, whereas the intuitor explores relationships and meanings from past or future events. Similarly, when coming to conclusions or making judgements, the thinker uses logic and impersonal examination, whereas the feeler tends to focus on personal attributes, beliefs and attitudes. According to Jung, one function of each pair tends to be dominant in each individual. The function’s opposite is submerged but may surface, while the other functions have a supplementary role.
The two attitudes and four functions combine to form eight psychological types. These types seldom exist in a pure form, and wide variation within each type may be evident. As a person’s personal unconscious and collective unconscious change during their lifespan, so does the relative contribution of that person’s attitudes and functions.
Evaluating Jung’s theory
Jung’s approach to personality has influenced a number of disciplines, such as psychiatry, history, sociology, economics, political science, philosophy and religion (Schultz & Schultz, 2001), and of course Jung has made some important contributions to psychology. The concepts of introverted versus extraverted personalities are still used with some conviction in psychology today.
However, critics of Jung note that the concept of the archetype is metaphysical. They say that there is neither proof that it exists (Glover, 1950), nor the possibility for it to be scientifically validated.
•The neopsychoanalytic approach grew out of Freud’s approach, but Jung rejected the idea that sexuality was a major determinant of behaviour; he also thought that people’s personality developed throughout their lives.
•Jung viewed libido as a generalised life force.
•For Jung, the psyche is central to both the mind and the soul. For him, there were three levels of psyche: ego (conscious), personal unconscious and collective unconscious.
•The ego contains our personal reality and gives us our sense of stability in time and place. The personal unconscious is where all our forgotten or repressed experiences collect. The collective unconscious is the inherited part of our psyche, which is shared by all human beings.
•Archetypes are primordial images within the collective unconscious. They are universal, shared forms of thinking. Jung believed there are an infinite number of archetypes, some of the most common being the persona, the shadow, the anima and the animus, and the self.
•The persona refers to the social roles that people assume in society. The shadow refers to those thoughts, feelings and behaviours that people possess, but which are unacceptable to society or to the individual. Animus and anima are the masculine and feminine parts of a person’s personality. Each biological sex contains aspects of the opposite sex. The self tries to unify all the aspects of our personality — it works like a general manager. Jung considered the development of the self as the ultimate life goal.
•Jung described several psychological types. The basic attitudes are extraversion and introversion. In addition, there are four functions in pairs of opposites (sensing— intuition; thinking—feeling). Jung believed that one function tends to be dominant in each individual. The two attitudes and four functions combine to form eight psychological types.
•Jung’s approach has had a wide influence and his concepts of introverted versus extraverted personalities are still used today. His theory has been criticised for lack of scientific proof.
The life span approach
A life span approach to personality development describes the development of personality over an individual’s entire life span, from birth until death.
Figure 5.6 Erik Erikson
Erikson’s view on personality development
The first major theory of personality to cover the entire life span was Erik Erikson’s (1902—1994) theory of psychosocial development. As we read previously in this book, Erikson proposed eight, age-graded stages of psychosocial development that occur throughout an individual’s life span. Within the time span of each stage, a developmental task or crisis needs to be adequately resolved (see Chapters 3 and 4 for a detailed description of each of the psychosocial stages and their respective crises). These crises arise from physiological development and the social demands made upon the individual at particular stages. According to Erikson, the way in which an individual resolves these crises determines their personality (Erikson, 1950).
The psychosocial stages of development
The first stage of psychosocial development is trust versus mistrust, and lasts from birth to 12 months. According to Erikson, if children have consistently good and reliable care during the first 12 months of their lives, they will successfully resolve the first crisis: trust versus mistrust. If the primary caregiver adequately attends to the dependency needs of the child, such as feeding and comforting, then a basic sense of trust develops. The child then uses this pattern of interaction in his/her life to develop relationships of trust with significant people (Erikson, 1950).
The second stage of psychosocial development is autonomy versus shame and doubt, and this stage spans one to three years of age. During this stage, children begin to explore their environments and develop language. Children also learn a degree of independence while simultaneously coming to terms with their limitations. If over-controlling parents frustrate a child’s independence, feelings of self-doubt set in and a feeling of shame develops when interacting with others. When a child is allowed to express his/her free will but can also exercise self-restraint in the face of society’s demands, then a healthy resolution of this stage has occurred.
The third stage of psychosocial development is initiative versus guilt, and this lasts from three to six years of age. During this stage, as children become more adept at dealing with themselves and the outside world, they initiate their own activities. But if a child is punished harshly for taking the initiative, then that child develops a sense of guilt in self-directed activities, which lasts throughout his/her life.
The fourth stage of psychosocial development is industry versus inferiority, and this spans from six years to puberty. During this stage, children often attend school where issues of competency arise. Children also compare themselves to their peers. Children who feel inferior to their peers develop a sense of inferiority. Those who achieve, and who develop confidence about who they are and what they can accomplish, develop a sense of industry.
The fifth stage of psychosocial development is identity versus role confusion, and this spans the period from puberty to early adulthood. According to Erikson, the most important life task during this stage of development is to establish an identity. Teenagers are faced with having to answer the question: ’Who am I?’ This period is seen to be a particularly difficult time because teenagers are faced with bodily changes in keeping with the growth spurt they experience. This stage is often marked by confusion. Young people may also have difficulty in deciding what their life goals should be (e.g. they struggle to make decisions about their future careers).
The sixth stage of psychosocial development is intimacy versus isolation, and this occurs in early adulthood. During this stage, individuals develop the capacity to form a close and intimate bond with someone special in their lives. This requires intermittent ego loss in intimate interactions because the individual must share space and feelings (such as during sex or marriage).
The seventh psychosocial stage is generativity versus stagnation, and this occurs in middle adulthood. By the time individuals reach the age of 40, they have accumulated many life experiences and are able to guide and mentor young people. People who guide and nurture their children and/or other young people and who contribute to the community in other ways are said to be engaging in the process of generativity. Stagnation, on the other hand, leads to a further decrease in creativity and productivity, which ultimately involves or leads to self-indulgence.
The eighth psychosocial stage is ego integrity versus despair, and this occurs in late adulthood. Ego integrity is achieved with the successful resolution of the previous seven crises. It means that individuals have little regret about the way they have lived their lives and are relatively content. If they are consumed with regrets about what they should have done or what they would have done differently, they experience despair because they realise that they cannot turn back the clock.
Evaluating Erikson’s theory
Erikson’s most important contribution was his consideration of development issues throughout a person’s life span. Psychologists widely agree with Erikson’s proposal that people need to resolve successfully a major developmental conflict within each important stage of growth in order to achieve mature functioning.
Erikson’s developmental theory has, however, been criticised for its male bias, and its demeaning account of female development (Hook, 2002) (e.g. see Box 5.1). The theory has also been criticised for describing psychosocial development while neglecting to explain why this development occurs. Furthermore, questions arise about whether Erikson’s theory applies to people living in adverse financial conditions, who may not be able to go through the stages in the way that Erikson theorised (Slugoski & Ginsburg, 1989).
But, despite the criticisms, Erikson’s theory has a wide influence on social and educational policies, and therapeutic approaches.
Figure 5.7 The stages of development over the life span can be seen in multigenerational families
5.1ERIKSON’S FINDINGS ON GENDER DIFFERENCES IN PLAY CONSTRUCTIONS
In the 1960s, Erikson used play therapy, which he called play constructions, to conduct research on gender differences involved in his theory. Readers should note that references to the male or female sex usually indicate the biological differences between males and females, whereas ’gender’ indicates the way males and females are assigned roles and expectations on the basis of their sex. In one study, 300 boys and girls of between 10 to 12 years of age were asked to create a scene from an imaginary movie using dolls, toy animals, toy cars and wooden blocks. Girls tended to build scenes that did not reflect movement, that were peaceful, and that contained low, enclosed structures. Intruders (males or animal figures) tried to force their way into the interior of the construction. Boys, on the other hand, focused on exteriors, action and height. Their constructions were action oriented, with tall towering structures, and cars and people in motion.
Using a psychoanalytic approach, Erikson stated that the play constructions depicted the biological, genital differences between boys and girls and that there may be major differences between boys and girls in terms of their sense of space. However, Erikson has been criticised for how he interpreted the findings of his study. Erikson was also criticised for believing that women could not find identity in work (Engler, 2013).
•A life span approach to personality development describes the development of personality over an individual’s entire life span, from birth until death.
•Erik Erikson provided the first major theory to cover the life span. He proposed eight age-related stages of psychosocial development. Within each stage, a developmental task or crisis needs to be adequately resolved. These crises arise from physiological development and the social demands made upon the individual at particular stages. How individuals resolve these crises determines their personality.
•The stages of development are: trust versus mistrust (birth to 12 months); autonomy versus shame and doubt (one to three years); initiative versus guilt (three to six years); industry versus inferiority (six years to puberty); identity versus role confusion (puberty to early adulthood); intimacy versus isolation (early adulthood); generativity versus stagnation (middle adulthood); and ego integrity versus despair (late adulthood).
•Erikson’s most important contribution was his consideration of development issues throughout a person’s life span. The theory has been criticised for its male bias and for not taking into account diverse financial circumstances of individuals.
The behaviourist approach
The basic premise of the behaviourist approach to personality development is that newborn children are born without any semblance of personality. Environmental experiences, from the moment of birth and through the entire life span, are seen to have the strongest influence on the development of personality. B.F. Skinner (see Figure 1.6) is the most notable founder of this approach.
Skinner’s view on personality development
Skinner believed that the way in which people behave depends on whether they have been rewarded or punished for a particular behaviour in the past, and whether they expect reward or punishment for that behaviour in the future. For Skinner, the study of personality therefore required a systematic and rigorous examination of the distinctive patterns of an individual’s behaviour and their reinforcing consequences. Skinner distinguished between two types of behaviour: respondent and operant.
Respondent behaviour refers to a specific response to a known stimulus. For example, shivering when it is cold, or salivating when smelling food. Although these responses are spontaneous and automatic, at a higher level, respondent behaviour may also be learned.
Ivan Pavlov, a Russian physiologist, was the first to explore how respondent behaviour could be conditioned (also known as classical conditioning). For a full explanation of respondent conditioning, see Chapter 9. While Pavlov was the first theorist to demonstrate classical conditioning, Skinner applied this phenomenon to personality development.
Skinner believed that human behaviour involves much more than simple physiological reflexes or conditioned responses. Human social behaviour appears to be spontaneous, or freely emitted, and not really elicited in response to a specific stimulus or set of stimuli. Such behaviour has a two-way relationship with the environment, both eliciting certain responses from the environment as well as influencing the environment. For example, a child with a difficult temperament may elicit irritation from her parents and her behaviour may also lead to marital difficulties between the parents. Skinner called this operant behaviour because the child is operating on her environment.
According to Skinner, operant behaviour is determined by the consequences of the behaviour. The nature of the consequences of the behaviour modifies a person’s tendency to repeat the behaviour in the future. For example, riding a bicycle is a voluntary, learned response that is not linked to any specific stimuli. For a child, a favourable consequence to riding a bicycle may be praise from a parent. This favourable consequence is likely to result in the child riding the bicycle more often in the future. In this instance, the consequence (the praise) is said to be a positive reinforcement because it increases the likelihood that the behaviour will be repeated in the future, and the operant response (riding the bicycle) has been conditioned.
On the other hand, an unfavourable consequence to riding a bicycle may be that the parent scolds the child every time he/she rides the bicycle in the street, which the parent considers unsafe. This unfavourable consequence may mean that the child will ride the bicycle less often in the future. In this instance, the consequence (the disapproval) operates as a punishment because it decreases the likelihood that the behaviour will be repeated in the future.
The essence of operant conditioning is reinforcement: reinforced behaviour tends to be repeated and non-reinforced or punished behaviour tends not to be repeated or is stopped altogether.
Through the complex process of operant conditioning, people learn to behave in particular ways. Each individual has a unique learning history, which accounts for why no two people behave in exactly the same way. This is why Skinner thought that the study of personality should involve the systematic examination of individuals’ unique learning histories.
Evaluating Skinner’s theory
The behavioural approach’s ability to change undesirable behaviour and reinforce desired behaviour is seen as its main contribution to understanding human behaviour. However, Skinner’s approach has been criticised for viewing human behaviour as being strongly determined by environmental stimuli, for its exclusive focus on observable behaviour at the expense of other aspects of personality, and for its disregard of human qualities based on internal self-control and conscious free will.
5.2BEHAVIOUR MODIFICATION: A CLASSIC REPORT
Source: Hawkins, Peterson, Schweid and Bijou (1966)
A woman with a four-year-old son sought treatment for him because she thought him to be unruly. Two psychologists observed the mother and child in their home to establish the nature and frequency of the child’s undesirable behaviours, when and where they occurred, and the reinforcers the child received for the behaviour.
The psychologists’ observation revealed that there were nine undesirable behaviours, including kicking and biting. It was also observed that the mother reinforced the child by giving him toys or food when he behaved badly, which, instead of stopping him from displaying bad behaviour (which was the mother’s intention), was reinforcing his behaviour.
A behaviour modification programme was designed for this mother that emphasised attention and approval as reinforcers when the child behaved in positive ways and no rewards when the child displayed any one of the nine undesirable behaviours.
•The behaviourists believed that children are born without a personality and that personality develops from their exposure to environmental experiences.
•Skinner believed that the way in which people behave depends on whether they have been rewarded or punished for a particular behaviour in the past, and whether they expect reward or punishment for that behaviour in the future.
•Respondent behaviour is a specific response to a stimulus (usually reflexive and physiological, but responses can also be learned). Pavlov used respondent behaviour in developing classical conditioning.
•In operant behaviour, the consequences of a behaviour influence a person’s tendency to repeat the behaviour in the future. If the behaviour receives a positive reinforcement, it is likely to happen again and the behaviour is said to be conditioned. Non-reinforced or punished behaviour tends not to be repeated or may stop altogether.
•Each person’s history of reinforcement (or learning) is unique.
•The behavioural approach is still used today in various contexts; however, it has been criticised for its environmental determinism, for its focus on observable behaviour, and for its disregard of human qualities like free will.
The trait approach
Trait theories are the oldest theories in personality psychology (Engler, 2013). These theories focus on people’s distinct and common characteristics or dispositions. Think about how you might describe someone: you might say Mduduzi is kind, intelligent and a caring son. These words are describing various human traits or human characteristics. Traits are personal characteristics which people have to a greater or lesser degree. Trait theorists believe that traits are consistent and enduring basic dispositions which influence our behaviour in response to the world. Gordon Allport (1897—1967) was an early trait theorist and he identified nearly 18 000 English words used to describe personal traits.
Cattell’s view on personality development
Raymond Cattell (1905—1998) built on Allport’s ideas. He was interested in how we could use traits to predict a person’s behaviour in a given situation (Engler, 2013). Cattell distinguished between surface traits and source traits. Surface traits are the overt behaviours that people show consistently. These may be grouped together in clusters of related traits. For example, a person who is quite shy is also likely to prefer being alone and to avoid social activities. Similarly, a person who likes excitement is likely to avoid staying quietly at home and may also engage in risky behaviours.
Cattell used a statistical technique called factor analysis to identify source traits. These are considered to be the underlying source of a person’s surface traits. In this way, Cattell identified 16 source traits and the resulting 16 Personality Factor Questionnaire (16PF) is still in use today.
Thus, this process of analysis identifies major dimensions of behaviour; each dimension is a continuum and people may be placed at any point along the continuum or scale. The example above describes people who are at either end of the introversion—extraversion scale.
The five-factor model of personality
Further research into personality traits has led to the development of the five-factor model of personality by Robert McCrae and Paul Costa, junior (McCrae & Costa, 2003; McCrae & Costa, 2013). This model identifies five higher-order factors which can be used to describe someone’s personality. One can see this as the logical end point of reducing Allport’s 18 000 trait words into a system that is most useful. These factors, known as the Big Five, are openness to experience; conscientiousness; extraversion; agreeableness and neuroticism (see Table 5.1). An easy way to remember them is the acronym: OCEAN.
Trait theory says our behaviour should be stable across different situations. However, personality traits can also change to some degree over time. What does the research say about this? It shows that some traits (e.g. extraversion/introversion) tend to be fairly stable across a person’s life span. However, other traits may change as we go through developmental changes and also experience significant life events like bereavements or psychotherapy.
At the beginning of this section, we said that traits are consistent and enduring. However, there are a number of factors that influence this:
•Consistency will depend on how central the trait is to our self-concept (e.g. honesty).
•Personality traits interact with other traits (e.g. intelligence and diligence), as well as the factors in a given situation.
•Some people are more sensitive to situational cues and will match their behaviour to what they perceive the situation is calling for.
•Some research shows that people can be remarkably inconsistent in their behaviour. For example, we may be honest in our relationships, but lie on our tax returns.
Evaluating trait theory
One problem with trait theory is that, although it describes people very well, it is not able to say how these traits develop or emerge in people. The later versions of this approach (e.g. the five-factor model of personality) have also been criticised for summarising descriptions of people too much. If you think about the incredible complexity and diversity of human behaviour, you will readily see how some important information may be lost if only five scales are used. In response to this critique, the NEO Personality Inventory (see Chapter 6) was revised into the NEO-PI-R. This test measures the five factors, but includes six subcategories for each (e.g. warmth as a facet of extraversion; hostility as a facet of neuroticism; trust as a facet of agreeableness, etc.), thus providing a fuller description of a person.
•Trait theories are the oldest theories in personality psychology. Traits are the characteristics which people have to a greater or lesser degree and which influence their behaviour in response to the world. In this way, we can use traits to predict a person’s behaviour in a given situation.
•Allport identified nearly 18 000 English words used to describe personal traits.
•Cattell built on Allport’s ideas. He distinguished between surface traits (overt characteristics) and source traits. Cattell used factor analysis to identify source traits; these underlie a person’s surface traits.
•Cattell identified 16 source traits leading to the 16 Personality Factor Questionnaire (16PF).
•McCrae and Costa developed the five-factor model; this identified five higher-order factors: openness to experience; conscientiousness; extraversion; agreeableness and neuroticism (OCEAN).
•Trait theory says our behaviour should be stable through our life span and across different situations. Research shows that some traits are quite stable over time while others may change.
•One problem with trait theory is that it does not explain how traits develop or emerge. The five-factor model may also be summarising descriptions of people too much.
Table 5.1 The five-factor model of personality (Widiger & Costa, 2013)
The five-factor model of personality
openness (curious; interested) vs closedness to experience (avoids new experiences)
conscientiousness (works hard; responsible) vs lack of direction (lazy; disorganised)
extraversion (outgoing; sociable) vs introversion (withdrawn; a loner)
agreeableness (warm; good-natured; cooperative) vs antagonism (difficult; stubborn)
neuroticism (moody; anxious; unreliable) vs emotional stability (calm; even-tempered)
The humanistic approach
Humanistic psychology focuses on internal motivators of behaviour and has an optimistic view of human nature, believing that all humans have a positive nature. Humanists emphasise that people should be ’free to express themselves and be themselves’ (Cervone & Pervin, 2013, p. 207); that is, they have self-determination and free will. The humanistic approach to personality development stresses the importance of people’s unique experiences and the role of their capacity for creativity, generosity and joy (Cervone & Pervin, 2013).
Figure 5.8 Abraham Maslow
Maslow’s view on personality development
Maslow studied creative, high-functioning individuals, and then drew conclusions about healthy personality development. He focused on positive aspects of human nature such as joy, enthusiasm, love and well-being. He did not go into any detail about negative aspects such as conflict, shame, hostility and unhappiness (Maslow, 1968, 1970, 1987).
Hierarchy of needs
Human motivation, according to Maslow, rests on a hierarchy of five innate needs. He differentiated between two types of needs: deficiency needs (primary needs) and growth needs (secondary needs). Deficiency needs are further divided into physiological needs, safety needs, belongingness and love needs, and esteem needs. Growth needs entail the need for self-actualisation. As depicted in Figure 5.9, these needs can be arranged in levels, suggesting how lower needs, such as basic survival, must to some extent be satisfied before higher needs can be considered. However, it is the fulfilment of higher-level needs that provides the most intense kinds of spiritual and psychic gratification. According to Maslow, only one need will dominate our personality, and which need this is depends on which of the other needs have been satisfied.
Let us consider how Maslow perceived these needs to operate hierarchically. From birth, infants strive to satisfy their physiological needs such as hunger and sleep. Their behaviour is predominantly directed to satisfying these needs — they will cry loudly when hungry and sleep peacefully when satisfied. Once this physiological need is satisfied consistently, their behaviour will be directed towards satisfying their need for safety and security. They may cry when separated from their caregiver and smile when securely held in their caregiver’s arms. Once they are satisfied that they are safe and secure (even when their caregiver is absent), their behaviour becomes directed towards satisfying their social needs, such as their need for belonging and love. They begin to interact more meaningfully with people around them, thus developing their feelings of self-worth and earning respect and recognition from others. This is not to say that children who have satisfied their social needs do not continue to have physiological and safety needs, merely that they are no longer overwhelmed by these more basic needs. On the other hand, children who are constantly hungry and/or insecure may not be able to pay attention to satisfying their social needs.
Figure 5.9 Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
According to Maslow, the self-actualisation need is the highest level of need. Self-actualisation refers to the complete development of the self and becoming the best person one can be. Conditions necessary to satisfy this need include not being distracted by lower-level needs, being able to love and be loved, being free of self-imposed and societal constraints, and being able to acknowledge one’s own strengths and weaknesses (Maslow, 1970, 1987). Maslow considered Albert Einstein, among others, to be a self-actualiser.
Evaluating Maslow’s theory
Maslow has been acknowledged for highlighting the characteristics of a healthy personality. He deserves credit for having initiated the humanistic approach to human development, and for having provided an alternative for those who were disillusioned with behaviourism and psychoanalysis. However, his theory has been criticised on four main counts:
1.It lacks scientific rigour.
2.It is vague about how the concept of self-actualisation is derived.
3.It has been challenged for its rigid structuring of higher-level needs. Critics have pointed out that people tend to differ in the value they place on some of the levels of need. For example, some people may consider that developing a relationship (a love need) has priority over high academic achievement (an esteem need).
4.In collectivist cultures, the notion of self-actualisation may make no sense at all (Dumont, 2010).
•The humanistic approach takes an optimistic view of human nature, seeing all humans in a positive light. Humanists emphasise self-determination and free will, and say that all people have the capacity for reaching their full potential.
•Maslow was interested in high-functioning individuals and the characteristics they had in common.
•Maslow believed that human motivation rests on a hierarchy of five innate needs. There are two types of needs: deficiency needs (primary needs) and growth needs (secondary needs).
•Deficiency needs are further divided into physiological needs, safety needs, belongingness and love needs, and esteem needs. Growth needs entail the need for self-actualisation.
•Lower order needs must be satisfied before higher-order needs. Maslow felt that only one need would dominate a person’s personality, depending on which of the other needs have been satisfied.
•Humanistic provides a positive alternative to behaviourism and psychoanalysis. However, it lacks scientific rigour and it has been criticised for being unclear about the concept of self-actualisation and for the rigid structuring of higher-level needs.
The cognitive approach
The cognitive approach to personality development represented a major break from the dominant theoretical approaches to personality. George Kelly, the most notable exponent of this approach, warned readers of his work that they would not encounter ids, archetypes, reinforcements or needs in his theory (Engler, 2013).
Kelly’s view on personality development
Kelly’s theory of personality emphasises that people are rational beings who make sense of their world by means of personal constructs. He believed that people are governed by internal, cognitive processes that develop as a result of external, social relationships. Furthermore, he believed that people have free will in the sense that they are able to choose between the many alternative constructs or ideas that result from their relations with others.
For Kelly, certain cognitive structures are fundamental to personality. These structures, which he called personal constructs, are representations of the world that allow people to make sense of their world and allow them to anticipate the future. A construct is usually a continuum; for example, people may be seen as being on a continuum between happy and sad.
Kelly likened the way that people make sense of their world to the way that scientists make sense of phenomena. In much the same way as scientists construct hypotheses, people develop personal constructs that act as hypotheses that help them to make sense of their worlds. For example, when we meet someone new, we will place the person somewhere on the happy—sad continuum, maybe depending on their facial expression. We will then test this hypothesis from what we get to know about the person.
No single construct is a perfect or final view of the world, and there is always an alternative construct that might provide a better view of the world and a better way of behaving in that world. People continually change and revise their personal constructs in order to understand their worlds more accurately.
Kelly’s fundamental postulate
Kelly developed his theory on the basis of a fundamental assumption or postulate. A postulate is a broad idea that acts as a starting point for a theory. It is accepted as true, and is not tested directly. Kelly’s fundamental postulate states that a person’s psychological processes are routed through various pathways by the ways in which they anticipate events (Cervone & Pervin, 2013). By psychological processes, Kelly meant people’s experiences, thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Of importance in Kelly’s postulate is the word ’anticipate’ as it infers that people make predictions about future events. For Kelly, the future, rather than the past, holds the key to behaviour.
Kelly (1955) proposed various corollaries that stem from and elaborate on his fundamental postulate. In essence, these corollaries state that people tend to expect things to happen in much the same way as these things have happened in the past. So, when confronted with a situation, people will construct what is happening in terms of what has happened in past, similar situations and anticipate a similar outcome.
If a similar outcome is not forthcoming, people will alter their personal constructs. In this way, the new experience alters their future anticipations. However, people’s personal constructs can only be changed to the degree to which new information can filter through to them, and some constructs may be more open to change than others.
Because each person’s experiences of reality are different from everyone else’s, each person’s constructs will be unique to that person. However, despite this uniqueness, if people’s systems of personal constructs are similar, they will have similar experiences, feelings and behaviours.
According to Kelly, the same person will not always behave the same way in similar situations. Because people sometimes employ different personal constructs in similar situations, they can be inconsistent in their actions.
Kelly observed that personal constructs do not exist in isolation. They can be used across a variety of situations and in combinations with other constructs in order to anticipate alternative possibilities.
A person stores their experiences in a large number of personal constructs, from which that person will choose the most useful construct or combination of constructs in any situation. No construct can be useful in every situation. For example, an age construct may be useful when encountering other people, but would most probably not be useful when encountering a spider.
Evaluating Kelly’s theory
Kelly has been described as a unique thinker who created a theory of personality that was both fresh and novel. His theory has made significant contributions to the fields of education, learning, artificial intelligence and human— computer interaction (Engler, 2013). However, he has been criticised for being too intellectual, and for concentrating too exclusively on cognition and not enough on emotions or on personality as a whole. Furthermore, some of Kelly’s ideas have not been verified by research.
•The cognitive approach was very different from the dominant theoretical approaches to personality.
•Kelly argued that people are rational beings who make sense of their world by means of a variety of personal constructs. These constructs develop through internal, cognitive processes as a result of external, social relationships. A construct is usually a continuum (e.g. happy … sad).
•Personal constructs are representations of the world that allow a person to make sense of his/her world. There are always alternative constructs available.
•Kelly developed his theory on the basis of a fundamental assumption (his postulate): people make predictions about future events on the basis of their constructs.
•Kelly’s corollaries expand on his fundamental postulate. For example, people tend to expect things to happen in the same way as they did in the past. Constructs can be altered, depending on new information.
•Each person’s constructs are unique. People choose a construct depending on the situation they have encountered.
•Kelly brought new ideas to the study of personality; however, he has been criticised for being too intellectual, and for concentrating too exclusively on cognition and not enough on emotions or on personality as a whole.
The social learning approach
The social learning approach to personality development expands on the concepts of learning theory by including cognition and social behaviour. While recognising that many aspects of human behaviour are a result of the stimulus—response formula proposed by Skinner, the social learning approach also considers people’s internal interpretations (cognitions) of the environment, and the influence of people’s social interactions in the development of personality.
Bandura’s view on personality development
According to Bandura, human behaviour is best understood in terms of continuous reciprocal interactions among personal factors (such as cognition and biological variables), behaviour and external environmental variables (Bandura, 1977). A key factor in Bandura’s theory is self-efficacy. This refers to the beliefs a person has about their ability to carry out the behaviours needed to reach their desired outcomes. A sense of self-efficacy is critical to the way people regulate their lives, as well as to their self-esteem.
Modelling and observational learning
The distinguishing feature of Bandura’s theory is the idea that most behaviours are acquired through observing others and modelling our own behaviours on theirs. Bandura terms this observational learning. This is not to say that people will reproduce behaviours in exactly the same way that they observed them. Rather, people will extract common features from a number of behaviours they have observed, and formulate their own rules of behaviour that allow them to go beyond merely repeating what they have seen or heard.
Bandura (1977) proposed four processes that govern observational learning:
1.Attentional processes (concentration). The person actively concentrates on a model performing a particular behaviour, taking in the relevant information and distinctive features of the model’s behaviour that will be used in imitating the model (e.g. when a child watches a favourite soccer player).
2.Retention processes (memorisation). The person remembers what they have seen or heard in order to imitate the appropriate aspects of the model’s behaviour when the model is no longer present. The model’s behaviour must be transformed into either a visual or verbal symbol and stored in the memory so that it can be recalled at a later stage. In our example, the child remembers the specific moves made by their hero.
3.Motor reproduction processes (action). The person reproduces a model’s behaviour, transforming the symbolically coded information into appropriate action. For example, the child tries to reproduce the moves made by the model.
4.Motivational processes (choice). The person is choosing to reproduce a particular behaviour; for example, the child chooses a particular move to practice. This requires sufficient incentives. A positively reinforced behaviour (the child scores goals from perfecting the moves) is more likely to be repeated.
Reinforcement in observational learning
While recognising the importance of direct positive reinforcements, Bandura perceived two other types of reinforcement which play crucial roles in observational learning:
1.Vicarious reinforcement. This involves observing others receiving rewards, receiving punishments or being ignored for a particular behaviour. In anticipation of receiving similar rewards or punishments for a particular behaviour, people will attend to, remember and perform (or not perform) that behaviour themselves.
2.Self-reinforcement. This involves a process where people improve or maintain their behaviour by giving themselves self-devised rewards whenever their behaviour falls within certain self-imposed standards. Bandura believed that people’s behaviours are extensively self-regulated through reinforcements that they create and apply themselves.
In other words, people also regulate their behaviour according to observed consequences, as well as those they create themselves.
In order to decide whether to reward or punish themselves for any particular behaviour, people need to evaluate that behaviour. During the process of self-evaluation, people measure their behaviour against an internalised set of standards. If their behaviour meets those standards, they are likely to evaluate themselves positively and reward themselves (positive self-reinforcement). The rewards that people give themselves may be tangible (e.g. going to a restaurant for dinner to celebrate getting excellent marks in an examination) or intrinsic (e.g. feeling pride in their achievement). If people’s behaviour falls short of the standards they have set, they evaluate themselves negatively and may punish themselves (e.g. cancelling a planned shopping spree or being critical of themselves).
According to Bandura, the processes of self-reinforcement and self-evaluation provide people with self-direction. That is, they dictate which behaviours people will maintain, which they will improve, and/or which they will discontinue. They also provide the basis for personal worth or self-esteem. People who hold themselves in low self-esteem do so because their behaviour has not lived up to the standards they have set for themselves. Conversely, those who hold themselves in high self-esteem do so because their behaviour has lived up to or exceeded the standards they have set.
Evaluating Bandura’s theory
The social learning theory has many advantages, one of which is that its concepts are amenable to laboratory investigation. Bandura’s approach, in particular, has vast appeal and many of his concepts enjoy empirical support.
Self-efficacy is the most researched of the self-regulatory mechanisms, and there is much supporting evidence for this concept. In treating a spider phobia, Bandura, Reese and Adams (1982) showed that there is a direct relationship between self-efficacy and behavioural performance after the treatment. Bandura, Barbaranelli, Caprara and Pastorelli (1996) also demonstrated the relationship between high self-efficacy and high academic achievement. There is overwhelming research support for Bandura’s social learning theory, and its applicability in many spheres of life, such as crime and health. There are no noteworthy explicit criticisms of his theory.
•The social learning approach extends the concepts of learning theory by including cognition and social behaviour.
•For Bandura, human behaviour derives from continuous reciprocal interactions between personal factors, behaviour and external environmental variables. Self-efficacy is a key factor in Bandura’s theory.
•Bandura showed that we acquire behaviours by observing others (observational learning) and modelling our behaviour accordingly.
•Observational learning depends on four processes: attention, retention, motor reproduction and motivation.
•In observational learning, reinforcement may be external (as for behavioural theory) but it may also be vicarious or carried out by the person him-/herself.
•Self-reinforcement or self-punishment depends on a positive or negative self-evaluation.
•Social learning theory has been widely supported by research, which has especially focused on self-efficacy.
5.3ONE PROBLEM, MANY PERSPECTIVES
In considering the variety of mainstream theories of personality, it is clear that these personality psychologists are or were committed to their particular theoretical approach in attempting to understand human behaviour. This means, therefore, that there can be many possible explanations for the same behavioural scenario.
Consider the following example. John is said to have his father’s personality. He is dominating, intelligent, arrogant and inconsiderate. He also happens to resemble his father physically. What explanations can be offered for why John is the way he is, given the fact that he was raised in a nuclear family with both his biological parents and two younger siblings?
Psychoanalysts would interpret John’s behaviour within the context of his developmental history. John’s early childhood influences would be seen to have impacted on his personality development. In the process of resolving the Oedipus complex, John would have internalised his father’s behaviour to obtain the emotional and physical bond he so desired with his mother.
Of course, behaviourists would totally reject such an explanation for John’s behaviour, because the process of internalisation cannot be empirically validated. The behaviourists would say that John is the way he is because he has observed and copied his father’s modelled behaviour, and certain environmental conditions (including human interactions) helped to reinforce these behaviours.
A life span theorist who was concerned with personality development would argue that during the crucial years of identity formation, John’s family influences, especially those from his father, were more powerful than those of his peer group and other ideological and philosophical influences.
African and Asian social scientists might argue that none of the postulations put forward by the various Western-based theories make any sense. John’s behaviour, they might suggest, is a reflection of his sense of self, socially constructed from the various influences on his development, including familial and other outside social agents.
Personality psychology and its relevance in South Africa
The first part of this chapter has described a range of mainstream theories of personality. We will now consider the question: ’Can mainstream personality theories and methods of assessment apply to everyone?’ The final part of this chapter will examine this issue by considering alternative approaches to personality (see also Chapter 28) and the role of culture in personality.
Most of the debates relating to personality have revolved around the fact that mainstream psychological theories have developed in particular socio-historical contexts based on specific class groupings. Historically, studies of personality have reflected the typical worldviews of European or North-American, middle- to upper-middle-class societies. Thus, these studies and their resulting theories may not be fully applicable to groups that fall outside of these categories. Questions concerning the relevance of the concept of personality for non-Western populations may include: ’Can behaviour in 21st century Japan be understood in the same way that psychologists understood behaviour in 20th century Europe?’ Or ’Can behaviour in a working-class community in Khayelitsha be sufficiently explained by theoretical constructs developed in the context of middle-class America?’
Alternative approaches are seldom included in Euro-American texts on personality. Instead, mainstream approaches dominate these texts. When considering the various influences on personality, Euro-American psychology usually emphasises the centrality of the individual’s intrapsychic processes and also features the influences of interpersonal relationships and family structures. The impact of community and societal norms and values is seldom regarded as central in influencing personality.
Many theorists have questioned the relevance of this purely Euro-American psychological theory in the South African context (Anonymous, 1986; Berger & Lazarus, 1987; Dawes, 1986; Moll, 2002; Vogelman, Perkel & Strebel, 1992), highlighting the neglect of societal factors such as culture and community in the formation of personality.
5.4THE EFFECTS OF APARTHEID AND BLACK CONSCIOUSNESS ON PERSONALITY
During apartheid, the National Party divided the South African population into white, coloured, Indian and African groupings. Most social and individual privileges were accorded to white people. Coloured and Indian people were generally granted more privileges than African people in terms of access to education, job preferences, area of residence and freedom of movement. The appearances, abilities and experiences of black people were devalued in relation to those of whites.
Figure 5.10 Institutional racism was devaluing to black people in South Africa
This devaluation had a profound negative impact on black (African, coloured and Indian) self-definition and self-perception, as personality traits such as assertiveness were discouraged and suppressed by dominant social norms (Fanon, 1967). Generally, apartheid encouraged white self-belief and confidence in their intrinsic abilities and masked the social engineering of personal success.
In this context, the Black Consciousness Movement, which originated in the 1970s as a political reaction to racial discrimination, served to raise awareness about black pride. This movement aimed to counteract deep levels of shame and low self-esteem instilled in black people about themselves. For example, the use of skin lighteners and hair straighteners among black people to resemble the ideal white person was actively discouraged, and a historical emphasis was placed on the achievements of black people (Fanon, 1967; Ngcobo, 1999). Political thrusts such as the Black Consciousness Movement therefore created opportunities to reconstitute a fragmented collectivity and provided opportunities both for the construction of a positive collective identity and positive self-evaluation.
In psychology, the work of authors such as Frantz Fanon, Marcus Garvey, Steve Biko and Robert Sobukwe (among others) led to the development of a ’psychology of oppression’ and the related field of ’liberation psychology’. The psychology of oppression focuses on the subjective experiences of those who, due to their membership of a specific group, have been stereotyped, discriminated against, and thereby oppressed. These authors have provided insights into the way this oppression becomes internalised such that the person turns against him-/herself. The approach requires the oppressed person to be ’conscientised’ (i.e. helped to become aware of the role of oppression in their psychological lives).
Personality and culture
The term ’culture’ has many definitions, but for our purposes, it can be defined as a
[f]uzzy set of basic assumptions and values, orientations to life, beliefs, policies, procedures and behavioural conventions that are shared by a group of people, and that influence (but do not determine) each member’s behaviour and … interpretations of the ’meaning’ of other people’s behaviour (Spencer-Oatey, 2008, p. 3).
Based on this definition, culture is a central aspect of an individual’s identity, personality and social experience, and involves rules shared by members of a group. Cultural values and norms are internalised to become part of the individual’s psychological make-up, and therefore strongly influence his/her behaviour. Culture is an abstract concept, but is enacted and made practical through behaviours that can change over time. It is thus not static, as cultural rules change over time (Dumont, 2010; Swartz, 1998). For example, in most cultures it is the convention for women to want to be married. Now, however, women from many different cultures are delaying marriage or not intending to marry at all.
Table 5.2 Generalisations about regions, traits and cultures
North America, Europe
Independent, self-driven individuals
Interdependent, concrete definitions of self
The view of Americans as individualistic and Asians and Africans as collectivist has been challenged over the past few years (Oyserman & Lee, 2008). The debate essentially revolves around the fact that regions are viewed as homogenous entities, and research therefore assumes that all people living within a geographical boundary display either collectivist or individualistic tendencies. Oyserman and Lee (2008, p. 329) show that there is impressive research evidence for ’differences in values as predicted by individualism and collectivism’. There is also evidence from studies across different nations for ’differences in how the self is defined’ which are consistent with these concepts. This research evidence strongly supports the effect of culture on cognition.
However, what is not clear from the research is the extent to which these differences apply to all members of a culture. For example, Vandello and Cohen (1999) showed that, within the US, the more sparsely populated southern states of North America were more collectivist in nature than the northern states. Realo and Allik (2002) expanded on this view by arguing that different cultural, gender and socio-demographic groups also displayed different patterns of collectivism. Oyserman and Lee (2008) concluded that there may even be differences in individual behaviour depending on what messages concerning individualism and collectivism are salient in the individual’s context. An example of this might be a young student from a rural area. At home, she may be exposed to values of collectivism (e.g. respect for elders) and be expected by her family to behave accordingly. However, in her university class, she may be exposed to values of individualism (competing for the highest marks, for example), and be expected by her lecturers to study hard and compete with her fellow students.
How does culture influence personality?
Cultures are generally seen as being either more individualistic or more collectivist (see Box 5.5). An individualistic culture encourages individuals to think of themselves as independent, whereas in a collectivist culture, individuals tend to see themselves as intricately linked to and dependent upon others. These differences can sometimes be noted in the living arrangements (e.g. a nuclear or an extended family) of people from different cultures (Hofstede, 2001). In addition, whether one has an independent or interdependent understanding of oneself has a major impact on cognition, emotion and motivation (Hofstede, 2001).
The concept of an individualistic culture refers to ’the degree to which a culture encourages, fosters, and facilitates the needs, wishes, desires, and values of a unique self over those of a group’ (Matsumoto, 1996, p. 24). Dominant mainstream American culture tends to be highly individualistic, and individuals are deemed to be successful when they meet personal goals, are separate from others and are self-contained (see Table 5.2). In this context, personal characteristics relating to personality, individual ability and intelligence are highly prized.
In collectivist cultures, individual characteristics are less important. Interdependence among individuals, empathy and a strong sense of belonging to a supportive group are encouraged. This approach impacts on the way individual characteristics such as personality are construed (Markus & Kitayama, 2010; Ritts, 2001). Asian and African cultures have generally been thought of as having a collectivist ethos. In South Africa, black people value the concept of umuntu umuntu ngabantu which means a person is only a person among other people (Higson-Smith & Killian, 2002). This essentially means that someone has personhood only because they are able to exist and function in a complex and interconnected way with other people. Individual characteristics are less prominent, and the social context of interaction is more highly valued.
It should be noted that the construction of behaviour through social experience does not imply that individual characteristics such as personality do not exist in collectivist cultures. However, there is no word for the concept of personality in the Chinese tradition (Hofstede, 2001). On the other hand, ’not all Wester thinkers are happy with individualism … and not all Eastern thinkers are satisfied with collectivism’ (Hofstede, 2001, p. 211). As stated above, some research (see Hofstede, 2001; Matsumoto, 1996; Triandis, 2001) has conceptualised cultures as being on a continuum between individualism and collectivism, rather than seeing a culture as one or the other. Cultures or societies tend to encourage values that place individuals along different points on the continuum (see Figure 5.11). This allows for a more fluid view of the influence of culture on personality.
Figure 5.11 According to the continuum concept of cultural influence on personality, culture influences people’s personality traits, but does not determine them completely
Lastly, people often hold stereotypes about members of certain cultures, which suggests the existence of cultural traits, or specific traits which are encouraged by a culture. However, some research has not supported this (see Box 5.6), while other research has found some support for this idea (see Box 5.7).
Culture and locus of control
One aspect of personality theory that is relevant to individualistic versus collectivist cultures is the concept of locus of control (Dumont, 2010). A person’s locus of control is thought to be internal or external (Rotter in Matsumoto, 1996). If personality is determined by an internal locus of control, people view the outcome of their behaviour as being controlled by factors deemed to be intrinsic to themselves, such as intelligence or motivation. For example, if a person excels in a sports competition, they assume that this is because of their talent and that they have practised extensively. An external locus of control assumes that the outcomes of behaviour are dependent on forces outside of the individual and beyond individual control. For example, if a person excels in a sports competition, that person may believe it is because of luck or because others assisted and supported them in preparation for the competition, thus ensuring success.
Eurocentric cultures tend to have an internal locus of control, whereas collectivist cultures tend to have an external locus of control (Matsumoto, 1996; Triandis, 2001). Ritts (2001) cites studies conducted by a variety of researchers to support the existence of an internal locus of control among Americans (who have an individualistic culture) as opposed to an external locus of control among Chinese, Japanese, Zambians and Zimbabweans (who all have collectivist cultures). Dumont (2010) notes that the implicit assumption underlying much research in this area is that it is disadvantageous in life to have an external locus of control. However, this is clearly a Eurocentric view which is at odds with collectivist people who see inner-directedness as inappropriate.
African understandings of personality
Some work has also been done on conceptualisations of the structure of personality within collectivist cultures. For example, Berry et al. (as cited in Matsumoto, 1996) describe a three-tiered model of African personality (see Figure 5.12). The first tier represents spirituality at the person’s core; the second tier, psychological aspects; and the third tier represents physiological aspects. The body provides a casing within which these three core layers reside. Family, community and social factors affect core aspects of personality on different levels.
Figure 5.12 Berry et al. describe a three-tiered model of African personality (in Matsumoto, 1996)
Ngcobo (1999) supports the concept of an African personality. While Berry et al. and Ngcobo argue that the structure of personality is different in African people, this kind of argument needs to be evaluated critically in order to prevent a racially or culturally biased, and therefore limited, understanding of personality. As discussed in Chapter 28, there has been considerable progress in developing understanding of personality by African theorists. The following section describes one such theory developed by Nigerian academic Augustine Nwoye.
Synoptic theory of the modern African self
As suggested above, Western personality theories have been criticised for being too individualistic and therefore ’foreign to the African notion of the individual/self’ (Nwoye, 2006, p. 119). It is essential that local theories of personality take into account the spiritual essence of African people and how spiritual, mental and physical dimensions interact to determine African psychological functioning (see Chapters 1 and 28). One such theory is Nwoye’s synoptic theory of the modern African self. This theory acknowledges the multiple and complex relationships between the African person and his/her community. From this perspective, the self is seen as ’extensive’ in that, rather than acting individually in a disconnected way, it extends out towards the community in which it is embedded — and the community extends into the self. It is a synoptic theory in that it brings together a set of dimensions which are characteristic of a ’normal/full-fledged African human being’ (Nwoye, 2006, p. 120). It is important to note that some of these aspects are present in certain Western personality theories, but the synoptic theory brings these together in a balanced and holistic way. There are eight complementary dimensions:
1.The embodied self. This includes all physical aspects of the person. It also includes how the person believes he/she looks and it is open to positive or negative comments from people, which may affect a person’s emotional well-being. The embodied self has great significance in terms of respect and marriage prospects, among others, and an ’awkward embodiment’ may cause the individual significant distress.
2.The generative self. This is the enterprising aspect of the self, which has goals and ambitions. The aim of this self is to be able to provide for others; hence this aspect of the self craves status and fears failure (which means the person is unable to help others). Its goal is to gather ’distinctions of worth’ as valued in the community. That may include being a successful farmer, or having a home and family. These distinctions of worth differ for men and women.
3.The communal self. This refers to the relational and inclusive part of the African self. The self is a participant in the lives of others (and vice versa). This aspect emphasises the mutual dependence of selves, including the living and the dead (the ancestors); indeed, in one Ugandan language, the word for poverty also means not having relatives. This is a balanced relationship in which the self and the community participate equally. The communal self has multiple obligations and involves an ’economy of affection’ in which a leader is obliged to provide help and support to community members.
4.The melioristic self. This aspect can be seen as the African self’s ’resident therapist’. It copes with daily challenges and strives to maintain psychological serenity. This self is able to tolerate mystery and deal with the contradictions of life. It is an important source of ’natural hopefulness’.
5.The narratological self. Through this self, the person’s cultural memory is enshrined in stories. It provides an important way of transmitting cultural values and morals. It is through stories that people learn the ’correct’ ways to behave.
6.The structural self. This self contains the person’s thoughts, feelings and will. It provides the psychological aspects to balance the embodied self. It is located primarily in the head (hair, mouth, eyes, etc.), the heart and the liver. Hence, a person with difficulties with speech will be seen as having an affliction of the head. People who are generous and kind have a ’good heart’, while those who are envious or dishonest show a ’bad heart’. These body parts symbolise the person him-/herself and can be used to harm the person.
7.The liminal self. This refers to the idea of a person being ’in transition between’ certain states. Life consists of repeated cycles of crises and transitions which are often marked by appropriate rituals (e.g. baptism, graduation, funeral rites). In the African context, conditions of liminality can include a newborn child (not yet named) and a widow in mourning.
8.The spiritual self. This self acknowledges the exceptional religiosity of the African self. This involves belief in a Supreme Being who is actively involved in people’s daily lives and decisions. There is also a belief in other ’spiritual agencies’ which have the power to influence life to the good or bad. These include the spiritual aspects underlying the natural world, as well as ancestors and other deceased relatives. There is also an understanding that nothing happens by chance and that every event has a meaning that can be divined. Lastly, there is a belief that thoughts and words have the power to bring about the state they entail — for good or for harm.
Evaluating Nwoye’s theory
The development and description of African theories of personality are much needed as African and South African psychology seeks to become more relevant in the local context. Nwoye’s theory contains a helpful synthesis of uniquely African aspects of personality with some aspects already present in various Western theories. One critique therefore may be to consider how unique these aspects are to African people. For example, many non-African people would consider themselves to be exceptionally spiritual; similarly, liminality may be experienced in any culture worldwide. Also, in a world of cultures in transition, it seems likely that some aspects of the theory would not be found applicable to all African people.
Culture and personality — a reflection
The second part of this chapter has noted that personality constructs need to be understood from within a cultural context. Much research has been done to attempt to evaluate the applicability of Western (i.e. the mainstream) theories of personality to non-Western societies and cultures. This approach has built a large database (Cheung, Van de Vijver & Leong, 2011) and has shown good support for the stability of the five-factor model across different cultures. However, Cheung et al. (2011) note that this model was developed through the use of English personality terms and that a different profile may have emerged if personality terms meaningful in other cultures had been used.
5.6ARE IDENTIFIABLE TRAITS WITHIN CULTURES A MYTH?
Intercultural research tries to identify sets of traits specific to certain cultures. McCrae (2001) administered the NEO-PI (see Box 6.1 for information on this personality test) to 23 031 men and women of college age across 26 different cultures. He found similar levels of the Big Five personality traits across subsamples from each culture which suggests that national stereotypes based on traits are not accurate.
A different way of studying personality cross-culturally is to examine personality from within a specific cultural context (Cheung et al., 2011). This approach has arisen from the inadequacy of Western models to capture local personality constructs. According to Cheung et al. (2011), this approach can be seen as ’indigenisation’ of psychology and these authors go on to note that indigenous psychologies are at different stages of development. One problem with this approach, however, has been an emphasis on cultural uniqueness at the expense of an appreciation of universal aspects of personality (Cheung et al., 2011).
Cheung et al. (2011, p. 597) go on to argue that a combination of these two approaches ’may bridge the divide between mainstream and indigenous psychology and provide a comprehensive framework in which to understand universal and culturally variable personality dimensions’. It seems likely that this ’middle road’ will bear fruit in bringing together diverse understanding of personality.
•Mainstream psychological theories have developed in particular socio-historical contexts based on specific class groupings; therefore, we need to question how well they apply universally.
•These mainstream approaches emphasise the individual’s intrapsychic processes, as well as interpersonal relationships and family structures. The impact of community and societal norms and values are seldom regarded as central in influencing personality.
•Culture provides a set of guidelines or rules for individuals in terms of their behaviour and relationships with others. As such, culture is a central aspect of an individual’s identity, personality and social experience.
•Cultures can be seen as being either individualistic or collectivist. An individualistic culture encourages individuals to think of themselves as unique and independent selves; in a collectivist culture, interdependence among individuals, empathy and a strong sense of belonging to a supportive group are encouraged.
•It is more helpful to think of cultures as being on a continuum between individualism and collectivism.
•Commonly held stereotypes about members of certain cultures have found mixed research support.
•The concept of locus of control is central within personality theory. People either have an internal locus of control (they believe they are responsible for their outcomes) or an external locus of control (they believe responsibility is external to themselves). People from Eurocentric cultures tend to have an internal locus of control, whereas people from collectivist cultures tend to have an external locus of control.
•Nwoye’s synoptic theory takes into account essential aspects of African psychological functioning. The theory brings together eight complementary dimensions of the ’African personality’: the embodied self, the generative self, the communal self, the melioristic self, the narratological self, the structural self, the liminal self and the spiritual self.
•Nwoye’s theory provides a helpful synthesis of aspects of the African personality; however, it includes aspects that are more globally seen as part of personality. In addition, cultural transition may mean it is not applicable to all African people.
•The second part of this chapter has noted that personality constructs need to be understood from within a cultural context. This can either be done by testing Western concepts across different cultural settings or examining personality from within a specific cultural context. There are advantages and disadvantages with each approach; in the end, a combination may be most helpful.
5.7PERSONALITY IN THE NEW SOUTH AFRICA
A number of interesting studies involving personality have been done since South Africa’s transition to democracy. These include: Peltzer and Thole’s (2000) study on gender and gambling; Heuchert, Parker, Stumpf and Myburgh’s (2000) study using the NEO—PI; and Grobler’s (2014) study on the role of language in personality assessment in South Africa.
The political changes that occurred in South Africa since 1994 were accompanied by an increase in opportunities for gambling. Peltzer and Thole (2000) examined the relationship between attitudes to gambling and personality traits such as conservatism and risk taking among a sample of African university students. The results showed that men held more positive attitudes towards gambling than women. A positive attitude towards gambling was related to personality attributes such as willingness to take risks, liberalism and the course of study that students chose.
Heuchert et al. (2000) examined the five-factor personality model among a sample of white, black, Indian and coloured South African university students using the NEO-PI (see Box 6.1 for information on this test). They found that the five-factor model was well reproduced for persons of all racial backgrounds. They found significant differences between black and white students in terms of openness to experience, with black students scoring low, white students scoring high, and Indian students scoring in the intermediate range on this domain. Heuchert and colleagues speculated that these differences were primarily due to social, economic and cultural differences between the racial groups, rather than to race itself.
Grobler (2014) collected a sample of over 100 000 South Africans to investigate the role of language in the Basic Traits Inventory. This South African scale is based on the five-factor model and was developed by Taylor and De Bruin in 2006 (Grobler, 2014). Grobler showed that a person’s home language and their proficiency in English influenced their responses to the scale. However, relatively few items showed this bias and Grobler (2014: v) concluded ’that this personality instrument can be used with confidence to assess personality traits in persons speaking any of the eleven official South African languages’.
While there is little doubt that there are striking similarities between individuals from various cultures, there are also important differences. It is important, therefore, to contextualise and situate knowledge. We must take into account social, cultural and political nuances in the development of personality. The applicability or non-applicability of Western theoretical assumptions must be critically considered for use outside of Western cultures. Perhaps the most meaningful way to view personality would be to allow for both individual differences and cultural influences to coexist.
anal-aggressive: an adult personality type who is impulsive, disorderly, sadistic and hostile (suggesting fixation at Freud’s anal stage)
anal-retentive: an adult personality type who is stubborn, stingy, rigid, compulsively neat and overly conscientious (suggesting fixation at Freud’s anal stage)
anal stage: the second stage in psychosexual development that occurs from approximately 18 months to two years of age
anima: the archetype that represents the feminine part of a man’s personality
animus: the archetype that represents the masculine part of a woman’s personality
archetypes: universal, shared forms of thinking in the collective unconscious that predispose humans to behave in certain ways
attentional process: the process (one of four) within observational learning whereby an individual needs to actively pay attention to a model
behaviourist approach to personality development: an approach where environmental experiences, from the moment of birth and through the entire lifespan, are seen to have the strongest influence on the development of personality
castration anxiety: an unconscious fear experienced by boys during the phallic stage of psychosexual development, where a boy fears that his father will cut off his penis as retaliation for his unconscious desire to possess his mother
classical conditioning: learning in which stimulus-driven behaviours come to be elicited by new stimuli; in Skinner’s description of classical conditioning, a response to a conditioned stimulus
cognitive approach to personality development: an approach that emphasises that people are rational beings who make sense of their worlds by means of personal constructs, which allow them to anticipate what will happen in future
collective unconscious: according to Jung, the inherited part of our psyche, which is shared by all human beings
collectivist culture: culture characterised by interdependence among individuals, empathy and a strong sense of belonging to a supportive group
conscious: the level of personality which, according to Freud, corresponds to the sensations and experiences that we are aware of at any given moment in time
corollaries: assumptions that stem from and elaborate on a fundamental postulate
death instincts: the destructive forces of human nature
deficiency needs: a category of needs distinguished by Maslow, which includes physiological needs, safety needs, social needs and esteem needs
ego: one of Freud’s structures of personality, and the one that guides the energy of the id by using reason; one of Jung’s levels of the psyche, and the one that contains all the experiences that we are aware of at any one time
Electra complex: according to Freud, an unconscious desire of girls to possess the opposite-sex parent and at the same time to dispose of the same-sex parent
erogenous zone: a part of the body that experiences sexual pleasure, such as the mouth, anus and sex organs
external locus of control: a central concept in personality that assumes that the outcomes of behaviour are dependent on forces outside of the individual and beyond individual control
extraversion: an attitude where the psyche is oriented outwards towards the objective world
genital stage: the final stage in psychosexual development which occurs from the onset of puberty
growth needs: a category of needs distinguished by Maslow, entailing the need for self-actualisation
humanistic approach to personality development: an approach to personality that focuses on internal motivators of behaviour, and which has an optimistic view of human nature, believing that all humans have a positive nature, self-determination and free will
id: one of Freud’s structures of personality; the id is entirely unconscious and houses instincts and libido
individualistic culture: a culture that encourages, fosters and facilitates the needs, wishes, desires and values of individuals over those of a group
instincts: according to Freud, the basic motivational drives that determine the basis for personality, which are conceptualised as mental representations of the internal stimuli that drive a person to take certain actions
internalisation: the process whereby rules of right and wrong behaviour become self-administered
internal locus of control: a central concept in personality where behaviour is assumed to be controlled by factors deemed to be intrinsic to the individual, such as motivation
introversion: an attitude where the psyche is oriented inwards towards the internal subjective world
latency: the period between the phallic and genital stages of psychosexual development, during which sexual instincts are seen as dormant
libido: according to Freud, the psychic energy manifested by life instincts; according to Jung, the generalised life force that refers to human strivings and desires, and a focused psychic energy that facilitates personality dynamics
life instincts: instincts that serve people’s needs for survival, growth and development
life span approach to personality development: an approach that focuses on individuals’ entire life span, from birth until death
modelling: displaying behaviour that an individual may observe and repeat; the action of repeating behaviour an individual has seen someone else performing
motivational process: the process (one of four) within observational learning whereby an individual is motivated to repeat an observed behaviour
motor reproduction process: the process (one of four) within observational learning whereby an individual transforms symbolically represented behaviour into action
neopsychoanalytic approach to personality development: an approach that uses the psychoanalytic approach as a major frame of reference in the development of its own theories
observational learning: the process whereby individuals observe the behaviour of others, and model their own behaviour on that which is observed
Oedipus complex: according to Freud, an unconscious desire of boys to possess the opposite-sex parent and at the same time to dispose of the samesex parent
operant behaviour: according to a behaviourist approach to personality, behaviour that acts on the environment, controlling the environment and being controlled by it
operant conditioning: change in the frequency and form of behaviour in response to the consequences the behaviour produces
oral-aggressive: an adult personality type who is excessively pessimistic, hostile, aggressive, manipulative and exploitative (suggesting fixation at Freud’s oral stage)
oral-passive: an adult personality type who is gullible, cheerful, optimistic, continually seeking approval and expecting mothering from all those around him/her (suggesting fixation at Freud’s oral stage)
oral stage: the first stage in psychosexual development, which occurs from birth to approximately 18 months of age
penis envy: according to Freud, the unconscious wish experienced during the phallic stage of psychosexual development in which girls wish they had a penis
persona: the archetype that refers to the social roles that people assume in society
personal constructs: fundamental components of personality that represent ways of construing or making sense of the world so that the future can be anticipated
personality: according to Cervone and Pervin (2013, p. 8), ’psychological qualities that contribute to an individual’s enduring and distinctive patterns of feeling, thinking and behaving’
personal unconscious: according to Jung, the level of the psyche that is the collection of all our forgotten or repressed experiences, or those we are unaware of at any point in time
phallic stage: the third stage in psychosexual development that occurs between the ages of approximately three and six years
pleasure principle: the way in which the id operates to increase pleasure and avoid pain
positive reinforcement: a favourable consequence of behaviour that serves to increase the likelihood of the behaviour being repeated
postulate: a broad idea that is accepted as true and is not tested directly, and that acts as a starting point for a theory
preconscious: the level of personality that, according to Freud, houses the thoughts, memories and perceptions that we may be able to recall if we shift from the present state of consciousness to the preconscious level
primary process thought: according to Freud, the way in which the id attempts to satisfy its needs through reflex action and wish-fulfilling fantasy experiences
psyche: according to Jung, the centre of both mind and soul where all experience and meaning is combined in a uniquely human way
psychoanalytic approach to personality development: an approach that considers the structures of personality as largely unconscious, and that perceives behaviour as strongly influenced by the ongoing conflict between instincts, unconscious motives, past experiences and social norms
psychological processes: according to Kelly, people’s experiences, thoughts, feelings and behaviours
psychological types: according to Jung, psychological types arise out of combinations of two attitudes (extraversion and introversion), and four functions (thinking and feeling, sensing and intuition)
punishment: when behaviour is followed by a negative or aversive stimulus, the behaviour typically decreases in strength
reality principle: the process whereby the ego helps to satisfy id impulses in socially appropriate ways
respondent behaviour: according to the behaviourist approach to personality, a specific spontaneous response to a known stimulus where the stimulus precedes the response in time
retention process: the process (one of four) within observational learning whereby an individual remembers an observed behaviour
secondary process thought: Freud’s conception of mental functions that develop from interaction with the outside world (such as perception, recognition, judgement and memory)
self: the archetype that represents the striving towards unity among all the aspects of the personality, and controls the allocation of psychic energy so that different parts of the personality are expressed appropriately
self-actualisation need: the highest-level need distinguished by Maslow, which provides the most intense kinds of spiritual and psychic gratification
self-efficacy: the belief that one has the ability to perform the behaviours needed to achieve certain goals or to manage a situation
self-reinforcement: the process whereby individuals improve or maintain their behaviour by giving themselves self-devised rewards whenever their behaviour falls within certain self-imposed standards
shadow: the archetype that refers to those thoughts, feelings and behaviours that people possess but do not accept
social learning approach to personality development: an approach that recognises the influence of stimulus—response processes on behaviour as well as people’s internal interpretations (cognitions) of the environment, and people’s social interactions in the development of personality
source traits: the underlying source of a person’s surface traits
superego: one of Freud’s structures of personality and the one that contains the notions of right and wrong that we have learned during our childhood
surface traits: the overt behaviours and characteristics that people show consistently
traits: personal characteristics which people have to a greater or lesser degree
unconscious: the level of personality which, according to Freud, contains memories, emotions and instincts that are so threatening to the conscious mind that they remain buried in the unconscious mind
vicarious reinforcement: the process whereby an individual observes others receiving rewards or punishments or being ignored for a particular behaviour and then anticipates receiving similar consequences for a similar behaviour, resulting in that individual attending to, remembering and performing that behaviour him-/herself, or not
Multiple choice questions
1.Which theorist introduced the concept of the unconscious and highlighted the relationship of consciousness to the unconscious?
2.According to Freud, during the phallic stage of development, boys experience ________, and girls experience __________.
a)Electra complex; penis envy
b)Oedipus complex; castration anxiety
c)castration anxiety; penis envy
d)Electra complex; Oedipus complex.
3.Freud hypothesised that an anal-aggressive personality would be characterised by:
a)impulsivity and hostility
b)stubbornness and rigidity
c)vanity and naïvity
d)all of the above.
4.Which one of the following statements is correct?
a)Skinner is known to have formulated the psychosocial stages of development.
b)Erikson is known to have formulated the psychosocial stages of development.
c)Maslow is known to have formulated the psychosocial stages of development.
d)Bandura is known to have formulated the psychosocial stages of development.
5.The five-factor model of personality was developed from the work of:
6.It is a very hot day in summer and you are sweating a lot. According to Skinner, your sweating is:
7.Which of the following statements correctly orders Maslow’s hierarchy of needs from the basic needs to the higher-order needs?
a)safety, belongingness and love, self-esteem, self-actualisation and physiological
b)physiological, safety, belongingness and love, self-esteem and self-actualisation
c)self-esteem, self-actualisation, belongingness and love, physiological and safety.
d)self-actualisation, belongingness and love, physiological, safety and self-esteem.
8.Which of the following statements does not reflect the concept of self-efficacy as described by Bandura?
a)It is a characteristic possessed by one or a few persons.
b)It is one of the most powerful self-regulatory processes.
c)It is a belief that concerns one’s ability to perform behaviours producing a desirable expected outcome.
d)It differs as a function of gender and age.
b)value the self above the group
c)value the group above the self
d)none of the above.
b)value the characteristics of the individual above the group
c)value the self above the group
d)view individuals as linked to each other and interdependent.
1.Freud described the structures of personality as the id, ego and superego. Describe the id, ego and superego and explain how they are interrelated.
2.Briefly outline Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development.
3.How does Skinner explain the difference between respondent behaviour and operant behaviour?
4.Outline Maslow’s hierarchy of innate needs, and indicate how these needs operate hierarchically.
5.Briefly describe the four processes that direct what Bandura called observational learning.
6.Why do Laubscher and Klinger (1997) use the terms ’personality’ and ’the self’ interchangeably within the South African context?