Theories of Personality (PSY 225-A01)/Chapter 7

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This page will focus on the cognitive perspective of personality. A lot of cognitive principles relate to Piaget, Vygotsky, information-processing theory, the gestalt principle, cognitive therapy, perception.

Roots of Cognitive Approach[edit | edit source]

Gestalt psychology[edit | edit source]

Gestalt psychology focuses on sensation and perception. The main idea is that we seek meaning from our environment. We will organize our sensations into meaningful perspectives. One of the principles of Gestalt psychology is that

Complex stimuli cannot be reduced to the sum of their parts. If we were to take the components of an image down, it would look unintelligible. It is meaningful because of its total image. Beyond images, this is applied to how it impacts our personality and our approaches in life.

Kurt Lewin's Field Theory[edit | edit source]

Represented by the mathematical formula, , this theory examines how a person looks at their individual "life spaces" (internal/external forces, relationship to environment [family, school, work, emotions, government, past-experiences]). This impacts the individual, which influences how the individual responds in certain situations.

Lewin examined the extent to which an individual compartmentalizes their life vs. experiencing them in an overlapping situation (home life and work life; to what extent does the individual compartmentalize this?).

Contemparious causation (something that happens in the same time period) states that any specific reaction one exerts is influenced by the "whole" [all influences on the person at the given moment]. For example, my reaction to my friend's sad stories is influenced by my past experiences (with the sad event), my relationship with the friend, my emotions at the time, etc.

Image 2 is showing a person, and a goal they have. This image shows that there are forces pushing a person toward their goal. The dotted line is everything one must go through to reach their goal, and how one must go through many different spaces. Individuals may have the same goal, but the field to get there may be different. One's field may be adjusted in order to gain the most in life. Some fields may be deleted, and some added, all depending on certain events that occur in a person's lifetime.
Field theory also includes the idea that every person holds a different experience of a situation. This is not to say that two people's experiences of an event will not be similar, but that there will be some differences. This leads to the idea that no two experiences are the same for a person either, as the dynamic field is constantly changing. This is to say that the dynamic field is like a stream, constantly flowing while changing slightly.
--derived from the WP article

Cognitive style variables[edit | edit source]

Cognitive style variables contributes to our understanding of cognitions' affects on personality. One's cognitive style is how one focuses on their tasks (attention to detail, analytic vs. intuitive).

Field-independent vs. Field-dependent[edit | edit source]

Field dependence is a cognitive style. The "field" is the context of the situation. To what extent is the person dependent on the context in a certain situation vs. how independent are they from that? In problem-solving, are they focusing on irrelevant things to solve a problem? Or can they ignore it and focus on the task? One person can't really be one or the other, to what extent is one person either or?

  • FIELD INDEPENDENT children favor solitary play vs. social play. Field-independent favor technology vs. humanitarian works.

See Rod and frame test, where field-dependent [holistical approach] depend on the frame of the box (line up the line with the frame of the box), field-independent [analytical/abstract approach] ignores the box and makes the line straight. Field dependent folks make it easier for us to predict their behavior.

Cognitive complexity[edit | edit source]

A person's ability to notice multiple elements and integrate their elements together. Low on cognitive complexity sees black-and-white, opposite is comfortable with uncertainty and accept unknowns (see gray). Increases with age (see wikiversity:candidates for custodianship/atcovi4: "As a teenager, Atcovi sees things very black and white").

Learning style[edit | edit source]

Visual vs. auditory styles. Tendencies differ in the learning styles.

Cognitive and Perceptual Mechanisms[edit | edit source]

Schema theory (from Piaget) details schemas, cognitive structures, that are created when we encounter different situations. These schemas are called up when a similar situation is called up in the future. Emphasis on adaptation. Cognitive growth takes place, according to Piaget.

Categorizations are normal. We create categories in order to learn language/concepts/aid memory, based on shared characteristics. This leads to:

  • Stereotypes - Lump similar items into one category, which share all certain characteristics. Ignore individual differences. Can be positive.
  • Confirmation bias - Tendency to notice and remember things that support our thoughts.
  • Social cognition - These stereotypes/categorization usually take place in social circumstances. Situated social cognition emphasises on the certain situation for these processes (they are not all the same, depends on the situation).

Control of attention[edit | edit source]

ADHD - Individuals are hyperactive, impulsive, inattentive. Affects our ability to socialize with everyone (the world, friends, etc.). It is also important that long-term effects can take place (because of ADHD important skills are not learned [dysfunctional relationships, ex.]).

Cognitive influences in relation to interpersonal relationships[edit | edit source]

Person perceptions, a cognitive experience, is affected by our self-img (how do people see me as? ugly? attractive? they are probably ugly too...). Categorizing our relationship (parent, friend, wife, etc.). Our goals? (want a job, want a date).

Rejection sensitivity is past rejection experiences increase the likelihood of one acting in the exact way for them to get rejected again (parents rejected me, so i might get rejected by somebody else for those exact reasons).

Scientists[edit | edit source]

George Kelly's personal construct theory[edit | edit source]

...suggests that we each actively try to understand the world + create our own world (we each create our own hypothesis and test them based off of our own experiences). Focus on individuality.

  • Individual = amateur personality theorist
  • The role construct repertory test - Individual writes down multiple, significant people (20-30ppl). Each of these people are numbered, then made into groups of 3. You take each of these triads - which 2 people are the most different/similar? Identity these characteristics. You come up with multiple continums. The goal is to evoke one’s personal construct system..

Social Intelligence[edit | edit source]

...knowledge/skills in interpersonal relationships.

  • Emotional intelligence, Daniel Goldman - the ability to manage emotions in order to get closer to attaining goals. Self-report is difficult for this. One key feature for self-report is self-awareness.
  • Multiple intelligences, Howard Gardner - focus on social interpersonal intelligence = social/emotional intelligence are important in personality!
  • Genes - foxes were bred for freindliness/lack of aggression, suggests genes play a role in social intelligence. There is evidence that emotional intel. traits that consist of traits that can be taught.

Explanatory Style as a Personality Variable[edit | edit source]

Optimists usually see the positives (more likely to exert effort and attain success), pessimists are the opposite.

  • Learned helplessness = repeatedly exposed to an unpleasant experience (restrained dogs, shocked when escaped - unrestrained dogs did not escape when they can)
  • Learned optimism = teaching a growth mindset to a fixed mindset person.

"look into defensive pessimism"

Julian Rotter’s Locus of Control[edit | edit source]

Social cognitive theory

  • Outcome expectancy - do we expect a positive outcome?
  • Reinforcement value - how valuable the expected reinforcement is
  • Generalized vs. specific expectations - I have a sense of humour. My general expectation is that everyone will laugh. Specific expectations: I'm not gonna crack jokes at a funeral house because most people don't laugh. Not a positive outcome expectancy and no reinforcement will take place.

Locus of control revolves around their ability to change their circumstances to reach into their desired goals (internal/external control). People who have internal locus of control are usually high achievers, while people that have external locus of control rely on others and are usually depressed.

Albert Bandura[edit | edit source]

Self-system - Perception of ourselves and regulation of our own behavior. Combines with expectations, expected reinforcements, individuals' goals, etc.

Behavior & learning don't just deal with stimulus-response pairings, but the anticipation of reinforcement. Reinforced behaviors are more likely to be imitated & this can be done by someone with a similar trait (race, gender, etc.). How complex is the behavior? The simpler, the better. How admired is this certain behavior? High-status behaviors are replicated (that's why you have to find good friends!). People with low self-esteem are more likely to imitate behaviors.

Latent learning is observational learning. This may done without intention earlier and come up later in life, showing that behavior isn't always reinforced. Are we paying attention to the model? Is the model attractive/similar to me/high status? Are we able to retain the memory of the behavior? Do we have the motor ability to reproduce it (dancing)? How motivated are we (outcome expectancy/locus control)?

Self-efficacy relates to our belief in a certain behavior. We are most likely to succeed if we have self-belief. Includes past achievements, observation of other people, verbal persuasion (self-talk, ec.). Self-regulation is important in behavior (largely depends on reinforcements from the environment), but here, we understand ourselves well and can change our approach to certain challenges and goals.

"look into bobo doll experiment"

Is human personality just information processing?

Can computers operate like humans?
  • An individual's personality was better matched with their FB likes and not their FB friends.
  • Turing test - Tries to convince the human judge that they are talking with a computer program (presented as a human judge). The judge passes the test by guessing which of the two is the computer program. Shows our uniqueness (but gotta give credit to computers, they are world-class chess players!).