Theories of Personality (PSY 225-A01)/Chapter 10

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This page will go over the Interactionist Approaches to Personality.

Interpersonal Psychiatry[edit | edit source]

Henry S. Sullivan introduced the concept of interpersonal psychiatry.

  • Chumship = importance of peers in identity formation. Social acceptance/rejection is key and identifying with a group is a development of self-identity.

Personality is formed from our enduring relationships/the role of the situation plays a role in personality. We are dif. in dif. situations, eliciting different personalities.

Personality = individual inclinations + social situation

Problems that an individual has is blamed on individual society. Healthy relationships can fix this. Since personality is formed through interpersonal relations, it can be changed based on the same principles. Common theme in therapy that is rooted in theoritical approaches (behaviorism). Takes the same concepts those behaviorists suggested to our personality, would re-use those suggestions and apply them differently in order to fix the problem.

Objects relation theory: see our relations with other as assisting in our self-identity.

Faulty relationship --> [create] healthy relationship (chumship: tried to be a "chum" to his patients).

Kurt Lewin believed in contemporaneous causation, that behavior is caused, at one specific moment, as a function of the influences of both the person and the environment.

Motivations and Goals[edit | edit source]

Henry Murray = founder of interactionist approach

Combined unconscious motivations + role of the environment --> personalogical system. Suggested that an individual's outcome was determined by needs and motivations + environmental pressure. "Push of the situation" = peer pressure. Internal motivations & external demands.

Thema: needs and motivations + environmental pressure (TAT)

A modern approach to this notion = McAdams [narrative approaches] --> using a person's bio to set their motivations/person's narrative of their life impacts their identity or who they become. Aim is to study the story of one person's life. What about the other way around tho?

Modern Interactionist Approaches[edit | edit source]

Walter Mischel = want to keep in context of issues, but not take his criticism in isolation.

  • Traits and behaviors = low correlation (extroversion, measure behavior, .3% statistical correlation betwene the two)
  • ...assumes a relationship between the two, though? Behavior depends on the situation and involves the opposites of personality (reaction formation = person's behavior is the opposite of their impulse [impulse of greed, cover this up by behaving generous]; superiority complex = people that are inferior act superior to cover this up, sort of like covering up an insecurity).
  • Allport discussed the functional equivalence of behaviors (various behaviors = same meaning). .30 correlation sounds low, but can be important (1.00 is a perfect correlation, for reference).

Delayed gratification[edit | edit source]

...measured through the marshmallow test. Delayed gratification --> higher rates of success in life. Important component of personality.

Cognitive strategies/styles/traits: These indiivudal differences we approach situations + meaning to certain situations [knowledge, encoding strats, categorizing (schemas)], expectance of the situation (somewhat based on punishment and reinforcement) and the plans we have based on the previous variables... contribute to the cognitive styles that we have. This can be applied on a trait like generosity (consider generosity to a panhandler vs. a charity). Different schemas/expectations on homeless people vs. charities.

Who were are individually, and our thoughts [cognitive strats. about] to generosity, the situation itself are going to contribute to what I do and how I behave.

Michel suggested that it [behavior and personality] is a result of environmental constraints, the social situation and our cognitive characteristics (my internal judgement of the situation is our own personality of the situation).

Behavioral signatures: why we see consistency in personality. We develop situational behavior relationships, they contribute to behavioral signatures. They are based off of our percieved similiarities to other situations we have been in.

Validity of traits[edit | edit source]

Attribution theory = we tend to overattribute a person's behavior to their personality/we underattribute a person's behavior to the situation. We are unaware of the situation and its impact.

Power of Situations[edit | edit source]

Some situations are so powerful that it overrides the person's general tendency (a fire). Ellicits a very consistent response.

We can categorize these responses (anxiety-inducing). Different people with similar traits can be put in various situation to determine their response.

Cohorts matter! Households in the early 90s are different from households in the early 2020s. If we are interested in behavioral consistency, then we can assess their behavior in various situations and employ an "avg. rating" (ex. measure extroversion in 5 dif. situations).

From an interactionist POV, this doesn't tell us why a certain situation displays a certain trait. Why a person behaved in a particular way in a particular situation?

Mirror neurons are neurons that fire similarly whether we are engaging in a behavior or watching someone else "do it". We know that people have different levels of sensitivity and these differences are linked to different mirror neuron activity. Autism is related to inadequate use of social cues. These individuals have abnormal mirror neuron activity. How do these mirror neurons display different behaviors in different situations?

You are watching a horror movie, and you feel scared when you see the babysitter becoming increasingly scared as she searches through a dark house for a hidden intruder. What part of your brain is responsible for your experiencing fear? MIRROR NEURONS!

Field dependence = extent to which a person acts independently of the social situation/rely on the demands of the social situation. A person who is field dependent, likely to take on social demands and be influenced by the situation. If we studied them across situations, they will show less consistent personalities. A field independent person will show consistently in their personality and behave themselves (they real, basically; ain't fake).

How do we seek and create situations? We seek situations that reinforce our personality (extrovert --> extroverted situations). We tend to prefer feedback that confirms our own theories/thoughts.

Importance of the Longitudinal Study[edit | edit source]

  • Allows us to measure change over time.
  • If we study a group of people for many many years, they all have identical settings (same era, same time period). We are bound to see cohort effects, which may take place from time rather than internal factors. We find consistency in a lifecourse of personality.
  • Cumulative continuity - fairly consistent personalities due to continuities in our life (consistent life). We find ourselves in certain situations which reinforce the same traits. Genes are constant, don't change and contribute to personality. We accumulate consistencies because our traits lead us to situations which reinforce our traits.
  • Good example of longitudinal studies: Terman's study (1921). Childhood consciousness is related to longevity. People who are conscious are engaged in good behavior (avoid smoking).

Readiness[edit | edit source]

  • How "ready" an individual is to respond in a certain way. 1) impact of a new experience is influenced by the outcome of previous experience (can't say no, so you become a doormat) 2) time & lifespan makes an impact (an 8 year old is not going to respond well to romance) 3) biological component - early stress relates to early stress hormones 4) psychosocial factors

Interactions and Development[edit | edit source]

Dimensions of social interaction[edit | edit source]

  • How does a person typically behave in social interactions? look at these dimensions --> 1) affiliative [warmth, harmony, friendliness] 2) assertiveness [dominance]
  • We look at the circumplex model, which allows us to characterize reactions in between these dif. dimensions.

Development[edit | edit source]

  • Ego development (psychosocial maturity) - Maslov's self-actualization. Can adapt to various situations, accept weaknesses and strength. Opposite is like children (weak ego), impulsive.
  • Imprinting -

Unpredictability of human behavior[edit | edit source]

We are unpredictable humans. We have a lot of tools that can help us understand personality better, but it can be a grey area.