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Introduction to Personality Theory
Psychology of Personality
Lecture, Chapter 1

What is Personality?
“A pattern of relatively permanent traits and unique characteristics that give both consistency and individuality to a person’s behavior” (Feist & Feist, 2006, p. 4).
“A stable set of tendencies and characteristics that determine those commonalities and differences in people’s psychological behavior (thoughts, feelings, and actions) that have continuity in time and that may not be easily understood as the sole result of the social and biological pressures of the moment” (Maddi, 1996, p. 8).

Definition of Personality

Personality is the set of psychological traits and mechanisms within the individual that are organized and relatively enduring and that influence his or her interactions with, and adaptations to, the intrapsychic, physical, and social environments (Larsen & Buss, 2008).

Three Levels of Personality Analysis
Kluckhohn & Murray (1948) stated that every human being is:

  1. Like all others (the human nature level)
  2. Like some others (individual and group differences)
  3. Like no others (individual uniqueness)

What is Theory?
A scientific theory is a set of related assumptions that allows scientists to use logical deductive reasoning to formulate testable hypotheses.

Cycle of Research:
    Empirical research results in raw data.
    Repeated data leads to inductive reasoning to develop empirical generalizations.
    An organized group of empirical generalizations and assumptions leads to a theory.
    Deductive reasoning is used to formulate researchable hypotheses from the tenets of a theory.
    Theory must be testable in research.

Theory and Its Relatives

Important Aspects of Theories
Generates research
Organizes data
Guides action
Internally consistent
According to Maddi (1976), theory should be important, operational, parsimonious, precise, empirically valid, and stimulating.

Research in Personality Theory
Data comes from research AND practice, or everyday observations.
Personality instruments have been developed to systemize, or make repeatable, observations and predictions.
    Construct validity – the extent to which an instrument measures a hypothetical construct.
    Predictive validity – the extent to which an instrument predicts some future behavior.

Dimensions of Personality Theory
    Determinism vs. free choice
    Pessimism vs. optimism
    Causality vs. teleology
    Conscious vs. unconscious
    Biological vs. social
    Uniqueness vs. similarities