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Developmental Psychology/Personality

Terms in this set (45)

Attachment Theory
Attachment theory is a concept in developmental psychology that concerns the importance of "attachment" in regards to personal development. Specifically, it makes the claim that the ability for an individual to form an emotional and physical "attachment" to another person gives a sense of stability and security necessary to take risks, branch out, and grow and develop as a personality. Naturally, attachment theory is a broad idea with many expressions, and the best understanding of it can be had by looking at several of those expressions in turn.

John Bowlby
Psychologist John Bowlby was the first to coin the term. His work in the late 60s established the precedent that childhood development depended heavily upon a child's ability to form a strong relationship with "at least one primary caregiver". Generally speaking, this is one of the parents.

Bowlby's studies in childhood development and "temperament" led him to the conclusion that a strong attachment to a caregiver provides a necessary sense of security and foundation. Without such a relationship in place, Bowlby found that a great deal of developmental energy is expended in the search for stability and security. In general, those without such attachments are fearful and are less willing to seek out and learn from new experiences. By contrast, a child with a strong attachment to a parent knows that they have "back-up" so to speak, and thusly tend to be more adventurous and eager to have new experiences (which are of course vital to learning and development).
Cross-sectional studies
Method that compares people of different ages at the same point in time.

Longitudinal studies
Research method that investigates behavior as participants get older. (tracks them)

Cross-sectional study

Both the cross-sectional and the longitudinal studies are observational studies. This means that researchers record information about their subjects without manipulating the study environment. In our study, we would simply measure the cholesterol levels of daily walkers and non-walkers along with any other characteristics that might be of interest to us. We would not influence non-walkers to take up that activity, or advise daily walkers to modify their behaviour. In short, we'd try not to interfere.

The defining feature of a cross-sectional study is that it can compare different population groups at a single point in time. Think of it in terms of taking a snapshot. Findings are drawn from whatever fits into the frame.

To return to our example, we might choose to measure cholesterol levels in daily walkers across two age groups, over 40 and under 40, and compare these to cholesterol levels among non-walkers in the same age groups. We might even create subgroups for gender. However, we would not consider past or future cholesterol levels, for these would fall outside the frame. We would look only at cholesterol levels at one point in time.

The benefit of a cross-sectional study design is that it allows researchers to compare many different variables at the same time. We could, for example, look at age, gender, income and educational level in relation to walking and cholesterol levels, with little or no additional cost.

However, cross-sectional studies may not provide definite information about cause-and-effect relationships. This is because such studies offer a snapshot of a single moment in time; they do not consider what happens before or after the snapshot is taken. Therefore, we can't know for sure if our daily walkers had low cholesterol levels before taking up their exercise regimes, or if the behaviour of daily walking helped to reduce cholesterol levels that previously were high.

Longitudinal study

A longitudinal study, like a cross-sectional one, is observational. So, once again, researchers do not interfere with their subjects. However, in a longitudinal study, researchers conduct several observations of the same subjects over a period of time, sometimes lasting many years.

The benefit of a longitudinal study is that researchers are able to detect developments or changes in the characteristics of the target population at both the group and the individual level. The key here is that longitudinal studies extend beyond a single moment in time. As a result, they can establish sequences of events.

To return to our example, we might choose to look at the change in cholesterol levels among women over 40 who walk daily for a period of 20 years. The longitudinal study design would account for cholesterol levels at the onset of a walking regime and as the walking behaviour continued over time. Therefore, a longitudinal study is more likely to suggest cause-and-effect relationships than a cross-sectional study by virtue of its scope.

In general, the research should drive the design. But sometimes, the progression of the research helps determine which design is most appropriate. Cross-sectional studies can be done more quickly than longitudinal studies. That's why researchers might start with a cross-sectional study to first establish whether there are links or associations between certain variables. Then they would set up a longitudinal study to study cause and effect.

One example of this progression can be found in an Institute for Work & Health (IWH) project on the links between computer work and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) at a large newspaper. This project began with a cross-sectional study, aimed at exploring the links between injuries and different characteristics of the job (e.g. work stress) or of the worker (e.g. the social support he or she had at work). Knowing which links were strongest helped the researchers develop theories to test. In the next study, a longitudinal one, they studied changes in workers' MSD symptoms over time. That study gave the researchers a better understanding of the cause-and-effect relationship between MSD symptoms and work/worker characteristics, which in turn lay the groundwork for intervention studies down the line.
Kept mating smart with smart and dumb with dumb. Smart kept getting smarter.

A 1940s psychologist named Robert Tryon wondered if rats could be bred to complete a maze more competently, and after seven generations of selective breeding he succeeded. That classic experiment is still shaping our thinking about the age-old question of nature versus nurture when it comes to human intelligence and behavior.

Tryon's Rat Experiment

Robert Tryon wanted to look at nature in a field that, at the time, focused largely on nurture. Most psychologists assumed that behavior was nearly entirely determined by experiences, rather than genetics. Tryon came up with a way to test that assumption. He constructed a number of mazes, and had several rats run through them. Then he charted the errors they made: demonstrable mistakes, like walking down an obvious blind alley instead of through a tunnel.

Once he had identified the "maze bright" rats, he separated them out from the "maze dull" rats and started selectively breeding them. Maze bright rats mated with other maze bright rats, and maze dull rats mated with other maze dull rats. The children of each group of rats also ran mazes, and the brightest and dullest were again mated with their intellectual peers. Seven generations down the road, Tryon had the newest group of offspring run mazes. The maze bright strain made far fewer mistakes than the maze dull strain, even if they'd been raised by maze dull mothers. Some maze dulls made twenty times the number of mistakes that some maze brights did. Nature beat out nurture.
The concept of heritability plays a central role in the psychology of individual differences. Heritability has two definitions. The first is a statistical definition, and it defines heritability as the proportion of phenotypic variance attributable to genetic variance. The second definition is more common "sensical". It defines heritability as the extent to which genetic individual differences contribute to individual differences in observed behavior (or phenotypic individual differences).

Because heritability is a proportion, its numerical value will range from 0.0 (genes do not contribute at all to phenotypic individual differences) to 1.0 (genes are the only reason for individual differences). For human behavior, almost all estimates of heritability are in the moderate range of .30 to .60.

The quantity (1.0 - heritability) gives the environmentability of the trait. Environmentability has an analogous interpretation to heritability. It is the proportion of phenotypic variance attributable to environmental variance or the extent to which individual differences in the environment contribute to individual differences in behavior. If the heritability of most human behaviors is in the range of .30 to .60, then the environmentability of most human behaviors will be in the range of .40 to .70.

There are five important attributes about estimates of heritability and environmentability. They are:

Heritability and environmentability are abstract concepts. No matter what the numbers are, heritability estimates tell us nothing about the specific genes that contribute to a trait. Similarly, a numerical estimate of environmentability provides no information about the important environmental variables that influence a behavior.
Heritability and environmentability are population concepts. They tell us nothing about an individual. A heritability of .40 informs us that, on average, about 40% of the individual differences that we observe in, say, shyness may in some way be attributable to genetic individual difference. It does NOT mean that 40% of any person's shyness is due to his/her genes and the other 60% is due to his/her environment.
Heritability depends on the range of typical environments in the population that is studied. If the environment of the population is fairly uniform, then heritability may be high, but if the range of environmental differences is very large, then heritability may be low. In different words, if everyone is treated the same environmentally, then any differences that we observe will largely be due to genes; heritability will be large in this case. However, if the environment treats people very differently, then heritability may be small.
Environmentability depends on the range of genotypes in the population studied. This is the converse of the point made above. However, it probably does not apply strongly to human behavior as it does to the behavior of specially bred animals. Few--if any--human populations are as genetically homogeneous as breeds of dogs, sheep, etc.
Heritability is no cause for therapeutic nihilism. Because heritability depends on the range of typical environments in the population studied, it tells us little about the extreme environmental interventions utilized in some therapies.
DeCasper and Fifer (1980) provided evidence that babies recognize their mothers' voices shortly after birth. Using a nonnutritive nipple attached to a sensing apparatus, DeCasper and Fifer showed that newborns would suck more to hear a tape of their mother's voice compared to a tape of a stranger's voice. Because they were newborns, they must have become familiar with the mother's voice while still in the womb.

In a follow-up study, DeCasper and Spence had 16 pregnant mothers read the Dr. Seuss book The Cat in the Hat to their fetuses twice a day for the last 6.5 weeks of pregnancy. Again they used the nonnutritive nipple to measure the babies' responses.

By the time the babies were born, DeCasper calculates, they had heard the story for about 5 hours. When the babies were born, DeCasper and Spence used their sucking test again. This time, the babies could suck to hear a tape recording of their mothers reading The Cat in the Hat or to hear the mothers reading another children's book, The King, the Mice, and the Cheese, which is also a poem but which has a very different meter. The babies sucked to hear The Cat in the Hat. (Kolata, 1984)

In what seems a parody of America's get-ahead culture, this research inspired educational courses for unborn babies! A California obstetrician named Rene Van de Carr founded a "Prenatal University" with a curriculum that started four months before birth. Parents used special phonelike devices strapped to the mother, to play the unborn baby sounds such as the alphabet or classical music.

There is no evidence that specially arranged stimulation helps babies more than natural stimulation. However, there is some research evidence (from Gordon Shaw and colleagues at the University of California) that suggests exposure to complex, classical music might stimulate brain development in children. In response to this finding, Governor Zell Miller of Georgia arranged for Sony Corporation to donate tapes of classical music to mothers of newborns throughout the state in 1998, along with a brochure advertising its benefits. The program was already gone by 1999, so apparently only certain people from Georgia entering college around 2016 will have this advantage.
Robert Fantz made an important discovery in 1963 that advanced the ability of researchers to investigate infants' visual perception: Infants look at different things for different lengths of time.

Fantz placed infants in a "looking chamber," which had two visual displays on the ceiling above the infant's head.

An experimenter viewed the infant's eyes by looking through a peephole.

If the infant was fixating on one of the displays, the experimenter could see the display's reflection in the infant's eyes.

This allowed the experimenter to determine how long the infant looked at each display.

antz found that infants only 2 days old look longer at patterned stimuli, such as faces and concentric circles, than at red, white, or yellow discs. Infants 2 to 3 weeks old preferred to look at patterns (a face, a piece of printed matter, or a bull's-eye) longer than at red, yellow, or white discs. The infants also preferred to look at a normal human face rather than one with scrambled features.

Further studies were performed and conclusions were made that the newborn infant actually enters the world with an idea of the human face. And that idea is considerably more detailed than simply three dots in the locations of eyes and a mouth.
This view is supported by findings that newborn infants will track face-like patterns soon after birth, they will prefer to look at attractive faces, they have been found to imitate facial gestures such as mouth opening and tongue protrusion, and they learn to recognize individual faces within hours from birth.

"It is argued that the newborn infant's representation of the human face is provided by evolution and perhaps also by prenatal learning, and constitutes some sort of prototype from which future learning will develop." - Alan Slater
Swiss biologist and psychologist Jean Piaget (1896-1980) observed his children (and their process of making sense of the world around them) and eventually developed a four-stage model of how the mind processes new information encountered[1][2][3]. He posited that children progress through 4 stages and that they all do so in the same order. These four stages are:

The infant builds an understanding of himself or herself and reality (and how things work) through interactions with the environment. It is able to differentiate between itself and other objects. Learning takes place via assimilation (the organization of information and absorbing it into existing schema) and accommodation (when an object cannot be assimilated and the schemata have to be modified to include the object.

The child is not yet able to conceptualize abstractly and needs concrete physical situations. Objects are classified in simple ways, especially by important features.

As physical experience accumulates, accommodation is increased. The child begins to think abstractly and conceptualize, creating logical structures that explain his or her physical experiences.

Cognition reaches its final form. By this stage, the person no longer requires concrete objects to make rational judgements. He or she is capable of deductive and hypothetical reasoning. His or her ability for abstract thinking is very similar to an adult.

Piaget's (1936) theory of cognitive development explains how a child constructs a mental model of the world. He disagreed with the idea that intelligence was a fixed trait, and regarded cognitive development as a process which occurs due to biological maturation and interaction with the environment.

Piaget was employed at the Binet Institute in the 1920s, where his job was to develop French versions of questions on English intelligence tests. He became intrigued with the reasons children gave for their wrong answers to the questions that required logical thinking. He believed that these incorrect answers revealed important differences between the thinking of adults and children.

What Piaget wanted to do was not to measure how well children could count, spell or solve problems as a way of grading their I.Q. What he was more interested in was the way in which fundamental concepts like the very idea of number, time, quantity, causality, justice and so on emerged.

Piaget (1936) was the first psychologist to make a systematic study of cognitive development. His contributions include a stage theory of child cognitive development, detailed observational studies of cognition in children, and a series of simple but ingenious tests to reveal different cognitive abilities.

Piaget's Theory Differs From Others In Several Ways:

▪ It is concerned with children, rather than all learners.

▪ It focuses on development, rather than learning per se, so it does not address learning of information or specific behaviors.

▪ It proposes discrete stages of development, marked by qualitative differences, rather than a gradual increase in number and complexity of behaviors, concepts, ideas, etc.

The goal of the theory is to explain the mechanisms and processes by which the infant, and then the child, develops into an individual who can reason and think using hypotheses.

To Piaget, cognitive development was a progressive reorganization of mental processes as a result of biological maturation and environmental experience. Children construct an understanding of the world around them, then experience discrepancies between what they already know and what they discover in their environment.
Support for Piaget's Theory
Piaget's focus on qualitative development had an important impact on education. While Piaget did not specifically apply his theory in this way, many educational programs are now built upon the belief that children should be taught at the level for which they are developmentally prepared.

In addition to this, a number of instructional strategies have been derived from Piaget's work. These strategies include providing a supportive environment, utilizing social interactions and peer teaching, and helping children see fallacies and inconsistencies in their thinking.

Criticisms of Piaget

1. Problems With Research Methods

Much of the criticism of Piaget's work is in regards to his research methods. A major source of inspiration for the theory was Piaget's observations of his own three children.

In addition to this, the other children in Piaget's small research sample were all from well-educated professionals of high socioeconomic status. Because of this unrepresentative sample, it is difficult to generalize his findings to a larger population.

2. Problems With Formal Operations

Research has disputed Piaget's argument that all children will automatically move to the next stage of development as they mature.

Some data suggests that environmental factors may play a role in the development of formal operations.

3. Underestimates Children's Abilities

Most researchers agree that children possess many of the abilities at an earlier age than Piaget suspected. Recent theory of mind research has found that 4- and 5-year-old children have a rather sophisticated understanding of their own mental processes as well as those of other people. For example, children of this age have some ability to take the perspective of another person, meaning they are far less egocentric than Piaget believed.
Within Jean Piaget's theories on cognitive development are some interesting ideas on how children process knowledge. Piaget was interested in how children organize "data," and settled on two fundamental responses stimuli: assimilation of knowledge, and accommodation of knowledge.

Assimilation of knowledge occurs when a learner encounters a new idea, and must "fit" that idea into what they already know. Think of this as filling existing containers.

Accommodation of knowledge is more substantial, requiring the learner to reshape those containers.

You can think of these containers as "schema." Schema are fluid and constantly evolving vessels students use to process what they see, read, and feel. The following from the University of Puget Sound is a simple example clarifying the difference between assimilation and accommodation of knowledge.

"When a child learns the word for dog, they start to call all four-legged animals dogs. This is assimilation. People around them will say, no, that's not a dog, it's a cat. The schema for dog then gets modified to restrict it to only certain four-legged animals. That is accommodation.

"Assimilation is like adding air into a balloon. You just keep blowing it up. It gets bigger and bigger. For example, a two year old's schema of a tree is "green and big with bark" — over time the child adds information (some trees lose their leaves, some trees have names, we use a tree at Christmas, etc.) - Your balloon just gets full of more information that fits neatly with what you know and adds onto it.

Accommodation is when you have to turn your round balloon into the shape of a poodle. This new balloon "animal" is a radical shift in your schema (or balloon shape)....Now that they are in college in the redwood forest, we have conceptualization (schema) of trees as a source of political warfare, a commodity, a source of income for some people, we know that people sit and live in trees to save them; in other words, trees are economic, political, and social vehicles. This complete change in the schema involves a lot of cognitive energy, or accommodation, a shift in our schema."
Practical (food) OR Comfort (safe)
Monkey more attached to comfort one only got food from other.

Another important psychologist, Harry Harlow, conducted experiments with monkeys that supported the attachment theories of Bowlby and Ainsworth. He noticed while experimenting with monkeys that they became very distressed when a cloth was removed from their cage to be replaced or cleaned. He theorized that the monkeys found comfort by nestling in the cloth as if they had formed a type of attachment with it. In order to investigate his observations further, he took infant monkeys and paired them with either a fake surrogate monkey constructed of wire or terry cloth.

In some experiments, Harlow attached a bottle of milk to the terry cloth monkey and in others he attached the bottle of milk to the wire monkey. Then he observed the infant monkey's reactions to ascertain which surrogate the monkey preferred. Harlow also wanted to see if the monkeys could be taught or conditioned to prefer one surrogate over the other if it was the only one that had an attached bottle of milk. He found that the monkeys always preferred the cloth surrogate mother over the wire surrogate whether it provided milk or not. In the cases where only the wire surrogate had the bottle, the monkey would temporarily feed from the wire mother and then immediately go back to the cloth mother.

Harlow also did similar trials with the monkeys by putting them in large rooms with objects for the monkeys to interact with. He also placed either the wire or cloth surrogate monkey in these rooms. In these experiments, the monkeys would show distress at the unfamiliar environment and cling to the cloth mother if available. After clinging to the cloth mother for awhile, the monkeys would let go and explore the room and objects. If the cloth mother was not in the room, however, the monkeys continually displayed distress and did not explore, even if the wire surrogate was present.

These experiments were important to developmental psychology because the findings supported that emotional comfort and physical touch through a secure attachment was extremely important for psychological and social health. No matter whether the monkeys in these experiments were fully or partially isolated, if there was no comfort or secure attachment, they all displayed psychological distress to a low or high degree. Similar effects were observed with the children in Romanian orphanages in the 1980s.
Level 1: Preconventional
Throughout the preconventional level, a child's sense of morality is externally controlled. Children accept and believe the rules of authority figures, such as parents and teachers. A child with pre-conventional morality has not yet adopted or internalized society's conventions regarding what is right or wrong, but instead focuses largely on external consequences that certain actions may bring.

Stage 1: Obedience-and-Punishment Orientation

Stage 1 focuses on the child's desire to obey rules and avoid being punished. For example, an action is perceived as morally wrong because the perpetrator is punished; the worse the punishment for the act is, the more "bad" the act is perceived to be.

Stage 2: Instrumental Orientation

Stage 2 expresses the "what's in it for me?" position, in which right behavior is defined by whatever the individual believes to be in their best interest. Stage two reasoning shows a limited interest in the needs of others, only to the point where it might further the individual's own interests. As a result, concern for others is not based on loyalty or intrinsic respect, but rather a "you scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours" mentality. An example would be when a child is asked by his parents to do a chore. The child asks "what's in it for me?" and the parents offer the child an incentive by giving him an allowance.

Level 2: Conventional

Throughout the conventional level, a child's sense of morality is tied to personal and societal relationships. Children continue to accept the rules of authority figures, but this is now due to their belief that this is necessary to ensure positive relationships and societal order. Adherence to rules and conventions is somewhat rigid during these stages, and a rule's appropriateness or fairness is seldom questioned.

Stage 3: Good Boy, Nice Girl Orientation

In stage 3, children want the approval of others and act in ways to avoid disapproval. Emphasis is placed on good behavior and people being "nice" to others.

Stage 4: Law-and-Order Orientation

In stage 4, the child blindly accepts rules and convention because of their importance in maintaining a functioning society. Rules are seen as being the same for everyone, and obeying rules by doing what one is "supposed" to do is seen as valuable and important. Moral reasoning in stage four is beyond the need for individual approval exhibited in stage three. If one person violates a law, perhaps everyone would—thus there is an obligation and a duty to uphold laws and rules. Most active members of society remain at stage four, where morality is still predominantly dictated by an outside force.

Level 3: Postconventional

Throughout the postconventional level, a person's sense of morality is defined in terms of more abstract principles and values. People now believe that some laws are unjust and should be changed or eliminated. This level is marked by a growing realization that individuals are separate entities from society and that individuals may disobey rules inconsistent with their own principles. Post-conventional moralists live by their own ethical principles—principles that typically include such basic human rights as life, liberty, and justice—and view rules as useful but changeable mechanisms, rather than absolute dictates that must be obeyed without question. Because post-conventional individuals elevate their own moral evaluation of a situation over social conventions, their behavior, especially at stage six, can sometimes be confused with that of those at the pre-conventional level. Some theorists have speculated that many people may never reach this level of abstract moral reasoning.

Stage 5: Social-Contract Orientation

In stage 5, the world is viewed as holding different opinions, rights, and values. Such perspectives should be mutually respected as unique to each person or community. Laws are regarded as social contracts rather than rigid edicts. Those that do not promote the general welfare should be changed when necessary to meet the greatest good for the greatest number of people. This is achieved through majority decision and inevitable compromise. Democratic government is theoretically based on stage five reasoning.

Stage 6: Universal-Ethical-Principal Orientation

In stage 6, moral reasoning is based on abstract reasoning using universal ethical principles. Generally, the chosen principles are abstract rather than concrete and focus on ideas such as equality, dignity, or respect. Laws are valid only insofar as they are grounded in justice, and a commitment to justice carries with it an obligation to disobey unjust laws. People choose the ethical principles they want to follow, and if they violate those principles, they feel guilty. In this way, the individual acts because it is morally right to do so (and not because he or she wants to avoid punishment), it is in their best interest, it is expected, it is legal, or it is previously agreed upon. Although Kohlberg insisted that stage six exists, he found it difficult to identify individuals who consistently operated at that level.
Kohlberg has been criticized for his assertion that women seem to be deficient in their moral reasoning abilities when compared to men. Carol Gilligan (1982), a research assistant of Kohlberg, criticized her former mentor's theory because it was based so narrowly on research using white, upper-class men and boys. She argued that women are not deficient in their moral reasoning and instead proposed that males and females reason differently: girls and women focus more on staying connected and maintaining interpersonal relationships.

Kohlberg's theory has been criticized for emphasizing justice to the exclusion of other values, with the result that it may not adequately address the arguments of those who value other moral aspects of actions. Similarly, critics argue that Kohlberg's stages are culturally biased—that the highest stages in particular reflect a westernized ideal of justice based on individualistic thought. This is biased against those that live in non-Western societies that place less emphasis on individualism.

Another criticism of Kohlberg's theory is that people frequently demonstrate significant inconsistency in their moral judgements. This often occurs in moral dilemmas involving drinking and driving or business situations where participants have been shown to reason at a lower developmental stage, typically using more self-interest driven reasoning (i.e., stage two) than authority and social order obedience driven reasoning (i.e., stage four). Critics argue that Kohlberg's theory cannot account for such inconsistencies.
Trust VS Mistrust
Autonomy VS Shame and doubt
Initiative VS Guilt
Industry VS Inferiority
Identity VS role diffusion
Intimacy VS isolation
Genertivity VS Stagnation
Integrity VS Despair

Erikson's psychosocial stages of development focus on the resolution of different crises to become a successful, complete person.

Erik Erikson (1902-1994) was a stage theorist who took Freud's controversial psychosexual theory and modified it into an eight-stage psychosocial theory of development.

During each of Erikson's eight development stages, two conflicting ideas must be resolved successfully in order for a person to become a confident, contributing member of society. Failure to master these tasks leads to feelings of inadequacy.

Erikson's eight stages of psychosocial development include trust vs. mistrust, autonomy vs. shame/doubt, initiative vs. guilt, industry vs. inferiority, identity vs. role confusion, intimacy vs. isolation, generativity vs. stagnation, and integrity vs. despair.

Erikson also expanded upon Freud's stages by discussing the cultural implications of development; certain cultures may need to resolve the stages in different ways based upon their cultural and survival needs.

Trust vs. Mistrust

From birth to 12 months of age, infants must learn that adults can be trusted. This occurs when adults meet a child's basic needs for survival. Infants are dependent upon their caregivers, so caregivers who are responsive and sensitive to their infant's needs help their baby to develop a sense of trust; their baby will see the world as a safe, predictable place. Unresponsive caregivers who do not meet their baby's needs can engender feelings of anxiety, fear, and mistrust; their baby may see the world as unpredictable. If infants are treated cruelly or their needs are not met appropriately, they will likely grow up with a sense of mistrust for people in the world.

Autonomy vs. Shame/Doubt

As toddlers (ages 1-3 years) begin to explore their world, they learn that they can control their actions and act on their environment to get results. They begin to show clear preferences for certain elements of the environment, such as food, toys, and clothing. A toddler's main task is to resolve the issue of autonomy vs. shame and doubt by working to establish independence. This is the "me do it" stage. For example, we might observe a budding sense of autonomy in a 2-year-old child who wants to choose her clothes and dress herself. Although her outfits might not be appropriate for the situation, her input in such basic decisions has an effect on her sense of independence. If denied the opportunity to act on her environment, she may begin to doubt her abilities, which could lead to low self-esteem and feelings of shame.

Initiative vs. Guilt

Once children reach the preschool stage (ages 3-6 years), they are capable of initiating activities and asserting control over their world through social interactions and play. According to Erikson, preschool children must resolve the task of initiative vs. guilt. By learning to plan and achieve goals while interacting with others, preschool children can master this task. Initiative, a sense of ambition and responsibility, occurs when parents allow a child to explore within limits and then support the child's choice. These children will develop self-confidence and feel a sense of purpose. Those who are unsuccessful at this stage—with their initiative misfiring or stifled by over-controlling parents—may develop feelings of guilt.

Industry vs. Inferiority

During the elementary school stage (ages 6-12), children face the task of industry vs. inferiority. Children begin to compare themselves with their peers to see how they measure up. They either develop a sense of pride and accomplishment in their schoolwork, sports, social activities, and family life, or they feel inferior and inadequate because they feel that they don't measure up. If children do not learn to get along with others or have negative experiences at home or with peers, an inferiority complex might develop into adolescence and adulthood.

Identity vs. Role Confusion

In adolescence (ages 12-18), children face the task of identity vs. role confusion. According to Erikson, an adolescent's main task is developing a sense of self. Adolescents struggle with questions such as "Who am I?" and "What do I want to do with my life?" Along the way, most adolescents try on many different selves to see which ones fit; they explore various roles and ideas, set goals, and attempt to discover their "adult" selves. Adolescents who are successful at this stage have a strong sense of identity and are able to remain true to their beliefs and values in the face of problems and other people's perspectives. When adolescents are apathetic, do not make a conscious search for identity, or are pressured to conform to their parents' ideas for the future, they may develop a weak sense of self and experience role confusion. They will be unsure of their identity and confused about the future. Teenagers who struggle to adopt a positive role will likely struggle to "find" themselves as adults.

Intimacy vs. Isolation

People in early adulthood (20s through early 40s) are concerned with intimacy vs. isolation. After we have developed a sense of self in adolescence, we are ready to share our life with others. However, if other stages have not been successfully resolved, young adults may have trouble developing and maintaining successful relationships with others. Erikson said that we must have a strong sense of self before we can develop successful intimate relationships. Adults who do not develop a positive self-concept in adolescence may experience feelings of loneliness and emotional isolation.

Generativity vs. Stagnation

When people reach their 40s, they enter the time known as middle adulthood, which extends to the mid-60s. The social task of middle adulthood is generativity vs. stagnation. Generativity involves finding your life's work and contributing to the development of others through activities such as volunteering, mentoring, and raising children. During this stage, middle-aged adults begin contributing to the next generation, often through childbirth and caring for others; they also engage in meaningful and productive work which contributes positively to society. Those who do not master this task may experience stagnation and feel as though they are not leaving a mark on the world in a meaningful way; they may have little connection with others and little interest in productivity and self-improvement.

Integrity vs. Despair

From the mid-60s to the end of life, we are in the period of development known as late adulthood. Erikson's task at this stage is called integrity vs. despair. He said that people in late adulthood reflect on their lives and feel either a sense of satisfaction or a sense of failure. People who feel proud of their accomplishments feel a sense of integrity, and they can look back on their lives with few regrets. However, people who are not successful at this stage may feel as if their life has been wasted. They focus on what "would have," "should have," and "could have" been. They face the end of their lives with feelings of bitterness, depression, and despair.
1 - Denial

Denial is a conscious or unconscious refusal to accept facts, information, reality, etc., relating to the situation concerned. It's a defence mechanism and perfectly natural. Some people can become locked in this stage when dealing with a traumatic change that can be ignored. Death of course is not particularly easy to avoid or evade indefinitely.

2 - Anger

Anger can manifest in different ways. People dealing with emotional upset can be angry with themselves, and/or with others, especially those close to them. Knowing this helps keep detached and non-judgemental when experiencing the anger of someone who is very upset.

3 - Bargaining

Traditionally the bargaining stage for people facing death can involve attempting to bargain with whatever God the person believes in. People facing less serious trauma can bargain or seek to negotiate a compromise. For example "Can we still be friends?.." when facing a break-up. Bargaining rarely provides a sustainable solution, especially if it's a matter of life or death.

4 - Depression

Also referred to as preparatory grieving. In a way it's the dress rehearsal or the practice run for the 'aftermath' although this stage means different things depending on whom it involves. It's a sort of acceptance with emotional attachment. It's natural to feel sadness and regret, fear, uncertainty, etc. It shows that the person has at least begun to accept the reality.

5 - Acceptance

Again this stage definitely varies according to the person's situation, although broadly it is an indication that there is some emotional detachment and objectivity. People dying can enter this stage a long time before the people they leave behind, who must necessarily pass through their own individual stages of dealing with the grief.

The study of personality is one of the major topics of interest within psychology. Numerous personality theories exist and most of the major ones fall into one of four major perspectives. Each of these perspectives on personality attempts to describe different patterns in personality, including how these patterns form and how people differ on an individual level.

The Psychoanalytic Perspective

The psychoanalytic perspective of personality emphasizes the importance of early childhood experiences and the unconscious mind. This perspective on personality was created by psychiatrist Sigmund Freud who believed that things hidden in the unconscious could be revealed in a number of different ways, including through dreams, free association, and slips of the tongue. Neo-Freudian theorists, including Erik Erikson, Carl Jung, Alfred Adler and Karen Horney, believed in the importance of the unconscious but disagreed with other aspects of Freud's theories.

Major Theorists and Their Theories

Sigmund Freud: Stressed the importance of early childhood events, the influence of the unconscious and sexual instincts in the development and formation of personality.

Erik Erikson: Emphasized the social elements of personality development, the identity crisis and how personality is shaped over the course of the entire lifespan.

Carl Jung: Focused on concepts such as the collective unconscious, archetypes, and psychological types.

Alfred Adler: Believed the core motive behind personality involves striving for superiority, or the desire to overcome challenges and move closer toward self-realization. This desire to achieve superiority stems from underlying feelings of inferiority that Adler believed were universal.

Karen Horney: Focused on the need to overcome basic anxiety, the sense of being isolated and alone in the world. She emphasized the societal and cultural factors that also play a role in personality, including the importance of the parent-child relationship.

The Humanistic Perspective

The humanistic perspective of personality focuses on psychological growth, free will, and personal awareness. It takes a more positive outlook on human nature and is centered on how each person can achieve their individual potential.

Major Theorists

Carl Rogers: Believed in the inherent goodness of people and emphasized the importance of free will and psychological growth. He suggested that the actualizing tendency is the driving force behind human behavior.

Abraham Maslow: Suggested that people are motivated by a hierarchy of needs. The most basic needs are centered on things necessary for life such as food and water, but as people move up the hierarchy these needs become centered on things such as esteem and self-actualization.

The Social Cognitive Perspective

The social cognitive perspective of personality emphasizes the importance of observational learning, self-efficacy, situational influences and cognitive processes.

Major Theorists

Albert Bandura: Emphasized the importance of social learning, or learning through observation. His theory emphasized the role of conscious thoughts including self-efficacy, or our own beliefs in our abilities.

The Trait Perspective

The trait perspective of personality is centered on identifying, describing and measuring the specific traits that make up human personality. By understanding these traits, researchers believe they can better comprehend the differences between individuals.

Major Theorists

Hans Eysenck: Suggested that there are three dimensions of personality: 1) extraversion-introversion, 2) emotional stability-neuroticism and 3) psychoticism.

Raymond Cattell: Identified 16 personality traits that he believed could be utilized to understand and measure individual differences in personality.
Robert McCrae and Paul Costa: Introduced the big five theory, which identifies five key dimensions of personality: 1) extraversion, 2) neuroticism, 3) openness to experience, 4) conscientiousness and 5) agreeableness.
Three components of personality

Clinical psychologist Don Bannister has described Freud's position on the human personality as being:

"...basically a battlefield. He is a dark-cellar in which a well-bred spinster lady (the superego) and a sex-crazed monkey (the id) are forever engaged in mortal combat, the struggle being refereed by a rather nervous bank clerk (the ego)."

Thus an individual's feelings, thoughts, and behaviors are the result of the interaction of the id, the superego, and the ego. This creates conflict, which creates anxiety, which leads to Defense Mechanisms.


The Id contains our primitive drives and operates largely according to the pleasure principle, whereby its two main goals are the seeking of pleasure and the avoidance of pain.

It has no real perception of reality and seeks to satisfy its needs through what Freud called the primary processes that dominate the existence of infants, including hunger and self-protection.

The energy for the Id's actions come from libido, which is the energy storehouse.

The id has 2 major instincts:

Eros: the life instinct that motivates people to focus on pleasure-seeking tendencies (e.g., sexual urges).
Thanatos: the death instinct that motivates people to use aggressive urges to destroy.


Unlike the Id, the Ego is aware of reality and hence operates via the reality principle, whereby it recognizes what is real and understands that behaviors have consequences. This includes the effects of social rules that are necessary in order to live and socialize with other people. It uses secondary processes (perception, recognition, judgment and memory) that are developed during childhood.

The dilemma of the Ego is that it has to somehow balance the demands of the Id and Super ego with the constraints of reality.

The Ego controls higher mental processes such as reasoning and problem-solving, which it uses to solve the Id-Super ego dilemma, creatively finding ways to safely satisfy the Id's basic urges within the constraints of the Super ego.

Super ego

The Super ego contains our values and social morals, which often come from the rules of right and wrong that we learned in childhood from our parents (this is Freud, remember) and are contained in the conscience.

The Super ego has a model of an ego ideal and which it uses as a prototype against which to compare the ego (and towards which it encourages the ego to move).

The Super ego is a counterbalance to the Id, and seeks to inhibit the Id's pleasure-seeking demands, particularly those for sex and aggression.
Oral Stage (0-1 year)

In the first stage of personality development the libido is centered in a baby's mouth. It gets much satisfaction from putting all sorts of things in its mouth to satisfy the libido, and thus its id demands. Which at this stage in life are oral, or mouth orientated, such as sucking, biting, and breastfeeding.

Freud said oral stimulation could lead to an oral fixation in later life. We see oral personalities all around us such as smokers, nail-biters, finger-chewers, and thumb suckers. Oral personalities engage in such oral behaviors, particularly when under stress.

Anal Stage (1-3 years)

The libido now becomes focused on the anus and the child derives great pleasure from defecating. The child is now fully aware that they are a person in their own right and that their wishes can bring them into conflict with the demands of the outside world (i.e. their ego has developed).

Freud believed that this type of conflict tends to come to a head in potty training, in which adults impose restrictions on when and where the child can defecate. The nature of this first conflict with authority can determine the child's future relationship with all forms of authority.

Early or harsh potty training can lead to the child becoming an anal-retentive personality who hates mess, is obsessively tidy, punctual and respectful of authority. They can be stubborn and tight-fisted with their cash and possessions. This is all related to pleasure got from holding on to their faeces when toddlers, and their mum's then insisting that they get rid of it by placing them on the potty until they perform!

Not as daft as it sounds. The anal expulsive, on the other hand, underwent a liberal toilet-training regime during the anal stage. In adulthood the anal expulsive is the person who wants to share things with you. They like giving things away. In essence, they are 'sharing their s**t'!' An anal-expulsive personality is also messy, disorganized and rebellious.

Phallic Stage (3 to 5 or 6 years)

Sensitivity now becomes concentrated in the genitals and masturbation (in both sexes) becomes a new source of pleasure. The child becomes aware of anatomical sex differences, which sets in motion the conflict between erotic attraction, resentment, rivalry, jealousy and fear which Freud called the Oedipus complex (in boys) and the Electra complex (in girls).

This is resolved through the process of identification, which involves the child adopting the characteristics of the same sex parent.

Latency Stage (5 or 6 to puberty)

No further psychosexual development takes place during this stage (latent means hidden). The libido is dormant. Freud thought that most sexual impulses are repressed during the latent stage and sexual energy can be sublimated (re: defense mechanisms) towards school work, hobbies and friendships.

Much of the child's energy is channeled into developing new skills and acquiring new knowledge and play becomes largely confined to other children of the same gender.

Genital Stage (puberty to adult)

This is the last stage of Freud's psychosexual theory of personality development and begins in puberty. It is a time of adolescent sexual experimentation, the successful resolution of which is settling down in a loving one-to-one relationship with another person in our 20's. Sexual instinct is directed to heterosexual pleasure, rather than self pleasure like during the phallic stage.

For Freud, the proper outlet of the sexual instinct in adults was through heterosexual intercourse. Fixation and conflict may prevent this with the consequence that sexual perversions may develop.

For example, fixation at the oral stage may result in a person gaining sexual pleasure primarily from kissing and oral sex, rather than sexual intercourse.
Unconditional positive regard is a term used by humanist psychologist Carl Rogers to describe a technique used in his non-directive, client-centered therapy. According to Rogers, unconditional positive regard involves showing complete support and acceptance of a person no matter what that person says or does.The therapist accepts and supports the client, no matter what they say or do, placing no conditions on this acceptance.

That means the therapist supports the client, whether they are expressing "good" behaviors and emotions or "bad" ones.

"It means caring for the client, but not in a possessive way or in such a way as simply to satisfy the therapist's own needs," explained in Rogers in a 1957 article published in the Journal of Consulting Psychology. "It means caring for the client as a separate person, with permission to have his own feelings, his own experiences."

Rogers believed that it was essential for therapists to show unconditional positive regard to their clients. He also suggested that individuals who don't have this type of acceptance from people in their life can eventually come to hold negative beliefs about themselves.

"People also nurture our growth by being accepting—by offering us what Rogers called unconditional positive regard," explains David G. Meyers in his book Psychology: Eighth Edition in Modules.

"This is an attitude of grace, an attitude that values us even knowing our ailings. It is a profound relief to drop our pretenses, confess our worst feelings, and discover that we are still accepted. In a good marriage, a close family, or an intimate friendship, we are free to be spontaneous without fearing the loss of others' esteem."

Conditional positive regard is the opposite. You are accepted when you do good and shunned when you do bad.
A projective test is a type of personality test in which an individual offers responses to ambiguous scenes, words, or images. The goal of such tests is to uncover the hidden conflicts or emotions that the individual projects onto the test with the hope that these issues can then be addressed through psychotherapy or other appropriate treatments.

This type of test emerged from the psychoanalytic school of thought, which suggested that people have unconscious thoughts or urges.

These projective tests were intended to uncover feelings, desires, and conflicts that are hidden from conscious awareness. By interpreting the responses to ambiguous cues, psychoanalysts hope to uncover these unconscious feelings that might be causing problems in a person's life.

In many projective tests, the participant is shown an ambiguous image and then asked to give the first response that comes to mind.

The key to projective tests is the ambiguity of the stimuli. According to the theory behind such tests, clearly defined questions result in answers that are carefully crafted by the conscious mind.

When asked a straightforward question about a particular topic, the respondent has to spend time consciously creating an answer.

This can introduce biases and even untruths; whether the individual is trying to deliberately or unintentionally deceive the test provider. For example, a respondent might give answers that are perceived as more socially acceptable or desirable but are perhaps not the most accurate reflection of that person's true feelings or behavior.

By providing the participant with a question or stimulus that is not clear, the underlying and unconscious motivations or attitudes are revealed. The hope is that because of the ambiguous nature of the questions, people might be less able to rely on possible hints about what they think the tester expects to see and are less tempted to "fake good" as a result.
Personality and Maslow

One of the most common models used in psychology, the Hierarchy of Needs was the result of Abraham Maslow's research on the basic motivations of animals and humans. Maslow explained the human needs in a pyramid-like figure. At the bottom of the pyramid are the physiological needs (air, food, water, etc). Next to it are the safety and security needs (shelter, protection, etc). Love and belongingness needs come next (acceptance, affection, friendship, etc). The fourth portion includes the self-esteem needs (sense of mastery, power, appreciation, etc). And at the top is self actualization, or the tendency of being your finest. These five human needs are the ones that motivate us- to go from primitive needs to the higher needs.

Just as what Rogers theorized, Maslow believed that our ultimate life goal is self-actualization. Some characteristics of a self-actualized person are:

Autonomous and independent
Have accurate perceptions of reality
Is able to accept himself, others and the society
Often feels as one with nature
Democratic and Appreciative

Personality and Rogers

In his theory, Rogers stated that the organism has one basic goal: self-actualization. He expressed his extremely optimistic approach when he explained that all of us have the tendency to grow until we reach "actualization". According to him, we exist because we need to gratify this need.

Rogers described a "fully functioning person" as someone who is actively taking steps to self-actualization. In relation to personality, this individual is open-minded and trusting to their own feelings and their environment.

Rogers' theory emphasized that the chief indicator that we will reach self-actualization is our experiences during childhood. Every child needs to obtain unconditional love and acceptance from his significant others. However, today's society dictates that a child will only be loved and taken good care of if he suits the expectancies of the significant others (e.g. quiet, well-mannered, obedient). Because of this, Rogers theorized that these external conditions give an increasing level of influence to the person's behavior. When his behavior and actions are continually reinforced by such conditions, the individual develops the personality type that corresponds to the generality of his behavior.
Hans Eysenck (1916-1997) developed a very influential trait theory of personality, which has successful infiltrated the public mindset with regards to how we think about personality in day-to-day life.

Using factor analysis to devise his theory, Eysenck (1947, 1966) identified three factors of personality: extroversion, neuroticism and psychoticism.

Each of the Eysenck Theory factors is a bipolar dimension, meaning that each has a direct opposite:

-Extroversion vs. Introversion

-Neuroticism vs. Emotional Stability

-Psychoticism vs. Self-Control (added to the model in 1966)

It is worth noting that Eysenck's use of the term 'psychoticism' differs from how most clinical psychologists would use the word. Eysenck is referring to anti-social behaviours, not a mental illness.


an orientation of one's interests and energies toward the outer world of people and things rather than the inner world of subjective experience. ... Extroverts are relatively more outgoing, gregarious, sociable, and openly expressive.'


orientation toward the internal private world of one's self and one's inner thoughts and feelings, rather than toward the outer world of people and things. ... Introverts are relatively more withdrawn, retiring, reserved, quiet, and deliberate; they may tend to mute or guard expression of positive affect, adopt more skeptical views or positions, and prefer to work independently.'

Neuroticism (unstable)

characterized by a chronic level of emotional instability and proneness to psychological distress.'

Emotionally Stable

Characterised by 'predictability and consistency in emotional reactions, with absence of rapid mood changes.'


a dimension of personality ... characterized by aggression, impulsivity, aloofness, and anti-social behavior, indicating a susceptibility to psychosis and psychopathic disorders.'

Self Control

the ability to be in command of one's behavior (overt, covert, emotional, or physical) and to restrain or inhibit one's impulses.'
One of the most famous psychologists of the 20th century was Abraham Maslow.

Maslow is best remembered today for his idea that people have a hierarchy of needs.

First, there are physiological needs. Physiological needs include things like food, water, sleep, and oxygen - very fundamental needs for our survival. A person who is literally starved of these has no other interests but to have these needs satisfied. Their energy becomes devoted to having these very basic needs met.

At the next level there are needs for safety. We need relatively stable and secure environments that protect us from the elements and predators, and that will provide us with a predictable environment. When our needs for safety are fulfilled, we experience calm, security and comfort.

Next, are belonging and love needs. When our needs for love are not satisfied, we are left feeling unwanted, worthless, empty and lonely. When these needs are fulfilled, we feel a sense of warmth, renewed strength within ourselves, and a sense of being whole.

At the next level are esteem needs - our need to value ourselves. First, there is a desire for competence and individual achievement. Second, there is a need for appreciation and recognition from others. When these needs are met, we feel confident, masterful and worthy.

Maslow referred to the above as 'deficit' needs because they describe a state in which the person seeks to obtain something that is lacking. But when these needs are met people move to the next level which is self-actualization. This refers to various characteristics such as being:

• Efficient in how we perceive reality

• Accepting of ourselves and of other people

• Able to form deep relationships

• Appreciative of life

• Guided by our own inner goals and values

• Able to express emotions freely and clearly

Self-actualization is a state in which people are at their very best.

So far this may all be familiar to you, but here is the big idea behind Maslow's theory that is less well known.

Maslow's big idea was that self-actualization was the default state for human beings. He said: 'I think of the self-actualizing man not as an ordinary man with something added, but rather as the ordinary man with nothing taken away.'
Sigmund Freud: The 12 Ego Defense Mechanisms & Self-Esteem

Sigmund Freud made some useful contributions to psychology, one of which is his list of common defense mechanisms. Freud never directly applied his defense mechanisms to self-esteem or ego; therefore, what follows is not to be considered to be endorsed by psychodynamic theories.

Freud's defense mechanisms will now be applied to pride, ego, and self-esteem. That is, they will each be explained by how they serve to protect the ego from shame and ego pain. The 12 defense mechanisms are organized alphabetically.


Compensation is the process of masking perceived negative self-concepts by developing positive self-concepts to make up for and to cover perceived negative self-concepts.

For example, if you think you are an idiot, then you may work at becoming physically more fit than others to make up for this shortcoming by compensating for it in another area of human activity. The reasoning is that by having a good self-concept about being physically fit, you can then ignore, cover, or even negate your negative self-concept about your reasoning capability.


Denial is the subconscious or conscious process of blinding yourself to negative self-concepts that you believe exist in you, but that you do not want to deal with or face. It is "closing your eyes" to your negative self-concepts about people, places, or things that you find too severe to deal with.

For example, a family may pretend and act as if their father is only sick or having a hard time when it is obvious to everyone that he is an abusive alcoholic. The negative self-concept for each family member comes from identifying with the father, because he is a part of the family; the father cannot be viewed as a negative image, or everyone else in the family, too, will be viewed as a negative image.


Displacement is when you express feelings to a substitute target, because you are unwilling to express them to the real target. The feelings expressed to the substitute target are based on your negative self-concepts about the real target and yourself in relation to the real target. That is, you think poorly of someone and of yourself in relation to them.

"Crooked anger" or "dumping" on another are examples of displacement. In such examples, you let out your anger and frustration about the negative self-concepts you are feeling about someone else and yourself in relation to them onto a safer target. The safer target can be someone below you in rank or position, someone dependent upon you for financial support, or someone under your power and control. Generally, alternate targets are targets that cannot object or fight back as opposed to actual targets that might object and fight back. For example, the father comes home from work angry at his boss, so he verbally abuses his wife and children.


Identification as a defense mechanism is the identification of yourself with causes, groups, heroes, leaders, movie stars, organizations, religions, sports stars, or whatever you perceive as being good self-concepts or self-images. This is a way to think of yourself as good self-concepts or images. For example, you may identify with a crusade to help starving children so that you can incorporate into your ego some of the good self-images associated with that crusade. Worldwide sports prey upon this defense mechanism to make money. Countries also prey upon this defense mechanism to make war by using identification with the government to enlist cannon fodder, a.k.a. soldiers.


Introjection is the acceptance of the standards of others to avoid being rated as negative self-concepts by their standards. For example, you may uncritically accept the standards of your government or religion in order to be accepted as good self-concepts by them. Introjection can be considered as the extreme case of conformity, because introjection involves conforming your beliefs as well as your behaviors. So-called educational systems prey upon this defense mechanism to produce parrots to spread their dogmas as if they were factual and superior.


Projection is the attribution to others of your own negative self-concepts. This occurs when you want to avoid facing negative self-concepts about your behaviors or intentions, and you do so by seeing them, in other people, instead. For example, you are mad at your spouse and subconsciously damning them, but, you instead think or claim that they are mad at you and damning you in their mind. Or you may believe that you are inferior and therefore attack another race, ethnicity, or belief system, claiming it is inferior.


Rationalization is the process of explaining why, this time, you do not have to be judged as negative self-concepts because of your behaviors or intentions. That is, you justify and excuse your misdeeds or mistakes with reasons that are circumstantial at best and unfounded at worst.

Rationalization is sometimes referred to as the "sour grapes" response when, for example, you rationalize that you do not want something that you did not get because "It was lousy, anyway." Rationalization can also take the opposite tack or what is sometimes referred to as the "sweet lemon" response. In this case, you justify, for example, an error in purchasing by extolling some of the insignificant good points of the product. People commonly excuse their own poor behavior as being due to poor circumstances, but hold other people accountable for their poor behavior as being due to their poor character.


Reaction formation is the process of developing conscious positive self-concepts in order to cover and hide opposite, negative self-concepts. It is the making up for negative self-concepts by showing off their reverse. For example, you may hate your parents; but, instead of showing that, you go out of your way to show care and concern for them so that you can be judged to be a loving child. Another common example is someone with a speech impediment going to school to become a public announcer in order to have themselves believe through others that they are a good speaker.


Regression is the returning to an earlier time in your life when you were not so threatened with becoming negative self-concepts. You return to thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of an earlier developmental stage in order to identify yourself as you used to back then. For example, you may be being criticized as an adult and feeling horrible about it. To escape this, you revert back to acting like a little child, because you did not then own criticism as defining you as negative self-concepts, because others mostly thought of you as good images back then.


Repression is the unconscious and seemingly involuntary removal from awareness of the negative self-concepts that your ego finds too painful to tolerate. For example, you may completely block out thoughts that you have of wanting to kill one of your parents.

This is not the same as suppression, which is the conscious removal from consciousness of intolerable negative self-concepts. Unconsciousness was Freud's renaming of the spiritual concept of internal darkness. Repression is a choice, but a choice that we choose to remain unaware of as part of the defense of repression.


Ritual and undoing as a defense mechanism is the process of trying to undo negative self-concept ratings of yourself by performing rituals or behaviors designed to offset the behaviors that the negative ratings of you were based on. For example, a millionaire might give to charities for the poor to make up for profiting from the poor. Or, a parent may buy his or her children a lot of gifts to make up for not spending time with them. Classically, a person may wash his or her hands many times in order not to think of themselves as "dirty" like their mother used to call them.


Sublimation is the process of diverting your feelings about the negative self-concepts that you have of yourself or others into more socially acceptable activities. For example, if you generally hate people, then you might be an aggressive environmental activist, an aggressive political activist, or join a fighting army. This way you can get some approval for the feelings that you disapprove of. As another example, the criminally minded often become police as a way to think well of their meanness and feelings of being entitled to take advantage of others.
What Are the Big Five Dimensions of Personality?
Today, many researchers believe that they are five core personality traits. Evidence of this theory has been growing for many years, beginning with the research of D. W. Fiske (1949) and later expanded upon by other researchers including Norman (1967), Smith (1967), Goldberg (1981), and McCrae & Costa (1987).

The "big five" are broad categories of personality traits. While there is a significant body of literature supporting this five-factor model of personality, researchers don't always agree on the exact labels for each dimension.

It is important to note that each of the five personality factors represents a range between two extremes.

For example, extraversion represents a continuum between extreme extraversion and extreme introversion. In the real world, most people lie somewhere in between the two polar ends of each dimension.

These five categories are usually described as follows.

1. Extraversion

Extraversion is characterized by excitability, sociability, talkativeness, assertiveness, and high amounts of emotional expressiveness.

People who are high in extraversion are outgoing and tend to gain energy in social situations. People who are low in extraversion (or introverted) tend to be more reserved and have to expend energy in social settings.

People who rate high on extraversion tend to:

Enjoy being the center of attention
Like to start conversations
Enjoy meeting new people
Have a wide social circle of friends and acquaintances
Find it easy to make new friends
Feel energized when they are around other people
Say things before they think about them
People who rate low on extraversion tend to:

Prefer solitude
Feel exhausted when they have to socialize a lot
Find it difficult to start conversations
Dislike making small talk
Carefully think things through before they speak
Dislike being the center of attention

2. Agreeableness

This personality dimension includes attributes such as trust, altruism, kindness, affection, and other prosocial behaviors. People who are high in agreeableness tend to be more cooperative while those low in this trait tend to be more competitive and even manipulative.

People who are high in the trait of agreeableness tend to:

Have a great deal of interest in other people
Care about others
Feel empathy and concern for other people
Enjoy helping and contributing to the happiness of other people
Those who are low in this trait tend to:

Take little interest in others
Don't care about how other people feel
Have little interest in other people's problems
Insult and belittle others

3. Conscientiousness

Standard features of this dimension include high levels of thoughtfulness, with good impulse control and goal-directed behaviors. Highly conscientiousness tend to be organized and mindful of details.

Those who are high on the conscientiousness continuum also tend to:

Spend time preparing
Finish important tasks right away
Pay attention to details
Enjoy having a set schedule
People who are low in this trait tend to:

Dislike structure and schedules
Make messes and not take care of things
Fail to return things or put them back where they belong
Procrastinate important tasks
Fail to complete the things they are supposed to do

4. Neuroticism

Neuroticism is a trait characterized by sadness, moodiness, and emotional instability. Individuals who are high in this trait tend to experience mood swings, anxiety, irritability and sadness. Those low in this trait tend to be more stable and emotionally resilient.

Individuals who are high in neuroticism tend to:

Experience a lot of stress
Worry about many different things
Get upset easily
Experience dramatic shifts in mood
Feel anxious
Those who are low in this trait are typically:

Emotionally stable
Deal well with stress
Rarely feel sad or depressed
Don't worry much
Very relaxed

5. Openness

This trait features characteristics such as imagination and insight, and those high in this trait also tend to have a broad range of interests. People who are high in this trait tend to be more adventurous and creative. People low in this trait are often much more traditional and may struggle with abstract thinking.

People who are high on the openness continuum are typically:

Very creative
Open to trying new things
Focused on tackling new challenges
Happy to think about abstract concepts
Those who are low on this trait:

Dislike change
Do not enjoy new things
Resist new ideas
Not very imaginative
Dislikes abstract or theoretical concepts