Personality Theory Describe and Discuss the Basic Term Paper

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Personality Theory

Describe and discuss the basic characteristics, tenets and methods of investigation/research for psychodynamic and cognitive perspectives regarding personality psychology, and the benefits/strengths and limitations/weaknesses of each approach.

The challenge that the researchers and personality theorists will face is to parsimoniously capture the process-oriented and dynamic nature of personality. Dweck (1996) in an earlier study asserts that "trait theorists have addressed some of the more static, descriptive aspects of personality-how people may be concisely described in terms of a set of global characteristics" (Dweck, 1996, p. 348). We are yet at the place where we can briefly express the context-sensitive and process-driven patterns belonging to the personality. Probably one way to do this is by understanding the predominant goals of people as well as their beliefs regarding the process through which the realization of these goals can be carried out (Dweck, 1996, p. 348).

Almost all the classic theories regarding personality (e.g., Adler, 1927; Maslow, 1954 as cited in Dweck, 1996) had, at their core the motivational constructs. The question that what is it that is being strived for by the individuals has been taken as the starting point of personality by all of them. The most common problem that these theories had was that operationalizing their variables was very difficult most of the times along with observing the way they work in a demanding manner. Dweck (1996) also states that "moreover, during the behaviorist era and the cognitive revolution that followed, most psychologists ceased grappling with issues of how to study motivation in human personality" (Dweck, 1996, p. 348).

In the same manner, today more and more emphasis is being paid on the process of personality research (Larsen, 1989). In order to clarify the "having" as well as "doing" (Cantor, 1990, p. 735) sides of the personality there are 3 complementary tacks which have been taken by the theorists (Cantor, 1990). Firstly, theorists of such kind have "middle level" units that they use for analysis, these are the type of units by which individuals' dispositions of openness to experience and sociability are taken into account and concrete form is given by them to their diverse expressions (Briggs, 1989). These middle level units which are used to describe the personality are contextualized in an explicit manner and the dispositional categories such as sociability or impulsivity are defined in the if-then possibilities of particular situations (e.g., Wright & Mischel, 1987). Secondly, mechanisms have been proposed by the theorists through which the individual differences are maintained and bolstered. Lastly, increased attention has been paid by the theorists to the change process in the "normal" personality during the transitions in life and the dysfunctional behavior (e.g., Stewart & Healy, 1985 as cited in Cantor, 1990 p. 735).

Describe and discuss the status regarding the Big Five/Five Factor Model (FFM), cultural context, cross-cultural generalizablity/relevance, and the evidence that pertains to these issues, including related methodological issues for research.

Up till now it is being suggested by the evidence that a replicable illustration of the major dimensions of trait description is being provided by the Big Five structure in English. There are various kinds of samples, methodological and ratersvariations that result upon the factoring of comprehensive sets of variables, across which the five dimensions are generalized (John, Robins and Pervin, 2008, p. 121). Another important criteria for the evaluation of personality taxonomies is the generalizability across the cultures and languages. It is with an evolutionary perspective that the presence of cultural universals will have to be consistent with: In case that the most central tasks to the survival of human are universal, then most significant individual difference as well as the terms that are used by the people to label these differences must be universal too (Hogan, 1983 as cited in John, Robins and Pervin, 2008, p. 121). "Conversely, if cross- cultural research reveals a culturally specific dimension, variation on that dimension may be uniquely important within that culture's particular social context" (John, Robins and Pervin, 2008, p. 121). Although with regards to the lexical approach, the cross-language is of importance however, it is not only difficult but expensive as well to conduct this research. This research was very rare until the 1990s. English was considered to be the language of choice in the early taxonomic studies. The main reason behind this was the fact that the researchers there were
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American (as cited in John, Robins and Pervin, 2008, p. 121).

At the time when there was evidence being gathered in the lexical tradition by the researchers for the Big Five, there was an increase in the need for integrative framework between the researchers who were studying the personality with the questionnaire scales. "Joint factor analyses of questionnaires developed by different investigators had shown that two broad dimensions, Extraversion and Neuroticism, appear in one form or another in most personality inventories" (p. 786 as cited in John, Robins and Pervin, 2008). These dimensions were Extraversion and Neuroticism which are said to appear in many of the personality inventories either in one form or another. There weren't many signs of convergence seen in the different questionnaire-based models except for these "Big Two" (Wiggins, 1968). For example, it was observed by Eysenck (1991) that "Where we have almost hundreds of inventories which include thousands of traits, mainly overlapping but comprising of specific variance as well, every empirical finding is relevant only to a particular trait. . . . This is not how a unified scientific discipline is built" (p. 786 as cited in John, Robins and Pervin, 2008).

"In general, the NEO-questionnaires represent the best- validated Big Five measures in the questionnaire tradition" (as cited in John, Robins and Pervin, 2008, p. 130). The measures which have been used most commonly and consist of single adjectives are Goldberg's (1992) 100-item TDA as well as the abbreviated 40-item version of it (Saucier, 1994). In the research settings where there is premium when it comes to the subject time and more contexts is provided by the short- phrase item format than the Goldberg's single-adjective items, the BFI is often made use of. It is also relatively easy to understand the BFI items (as cited in John, Robins and Pervin, 2008, p. 131).

Describe and discuss the issues, research and current status regarding the Big Five/Five Factor Model (FFM) and its applicability and relationships to adjustment problems and psychopathology.

Other researchers were stimulated to inspect the dimensional structure belonging to the trait ratings due to the pioneering work done by Cattell (1990) as well as the short list of variables which was available to the researchers. There were a number of investigators that were a part of the early discovery of the dimensions of Big Five. Firstly, much simpler descriptions were made by Fiske (1949) by making use of Cattell's 22 variables; the factor structures which were derived from the ratings by peers, ratings by psychological staff members and self- ratings looked a lot like something that was later known as Big Five. Re-analyses of correlation matrices from among eight samples of the factors was done by Tupes and Christal (1961) in order to clarify them. In this reanalysis they found that five factors were very strong and kept on occurring again and again but nothing other than this of any consequence was found (Tupes and Christal, 1961, p. 14). In the lists that have been derived Cattell's 35 variables, Norman (1963) and Digman and Takemoto-Chock (1981) have replicated this five-factor structure. Initially, following Norman (1963), the factors were labeled as (I) Extraversion or Surgency (energetic, assertive, talkative);(II) Agreeableness (good- natured, trustful, cooperative); (III) Conscientiousness (orderly, dependable, responsible); (IV) Emotional Stability (not easily upset, calm, not neurotic); and (V) Culture (intellectual, independent- minded, polished) (as cited in John, Robins and Pervin, 2008, p. 119; also see John and Srivastava, 1999, p. 40-44).

The advantage of Big Five structure is that it can be understood by everybody and that words through which the disagreements regarding their meanings and factors are defined can be resolved by establishing the most common use that they have. Also, there is no bias found in the natural language regarding any present scientific conceptions (John and Srivastava, 1999, p. 44). "Moreover, the natural language is not biased in favor of any existing scientific conceptions; although the atheoretical nature of the Big Five dimensions makes them less appealing to some psychologists, it also makes them more palatable to researchers that reject dimensions cast in a theoretical mold different from their own" (as cited in John and Srivastava, 1999, p. 44).

Obviously, there is no need for a system which primarily derives from the natural language to reify terms of this kind indefinitely. It is true that many of the dimensions which are a part of the Big Five especially Extraversion and Neuroticism have been targeted by different mechanistic and physiological explanations (John and Srivastava, 1990, p. 44). In the same manner some light can be shed on the mechanisms essential to Conscientiousness and Extraversion by looking at…

Sources Used in Documents:


Adler, A. (1927). The practice and theory of individual psychology. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World.

Block, J.H., & Block, J. (1980). The role of ego-control and ego-resiliency in the organization of behavior. In W.A. Collins (Ed.), Minnesota symposia on child psychology (Vol. 13, pp. 39-101). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Bri88s, S.R. (1989). The optimal level of measurement for personality constructs. In D.M. Buss & N. Cantor (Eds.), Personality psychology: Recent trends and emerging directions (pp. 246-260). New York: Springer-Verlag.

Buss, D.M. (1987). Selection, evocation, and manipulation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53, 1214-1221.

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