1.11 Personality

Syllabus :  Definition and concept of personality; Theories of personality (psychoanalytical, sociocultural, interpersonal, developmental, humanistic, behaviouristic, trait and type approaches); Measurement of personality (projective tests, pencil-paper test); The Indian approach to personality; Training for personality development ; Latest approaches like big 5 factor theory; The notion of self in different traditions.

Previous Year Questions


Q. Are projective tests really projective in nature ? Describe Rorschach and TAT tests and comment on their reliabilities. 15 marks [2016]

Q. Describe the Indian approach to personality as evident in tri-gunas. 15 marks [2016]


Q.  Highlight the problems in assessment of personality using the pencil-paper tests. 10 marks [2015]

Q.  Describe the trait and type approaches to personality. Highlight Jung’s typology with its  weaknesses. 20 marks [2015]

Q.  State the components of Big-5 factor theory of personality. Why is it considered superior  to other factor theories of personality ? 15 marks [2015]


Q. How is self related to culture ? Discuss in the light of studies on self construal and individualism-collectivism. 20 marks [2014]

Q. Briefly discuss the evolution of psychoanalytic theory as reflected in the works of Fromm, Erikson and Sudhir Kakar. 20 marks [2014]


Q. What is the situational critique of trait psychology? 10 marks [2013] (Mischel)

Q.   Describe the Indian approach to personality as reflected in the principle of three Gunas. 15 marks [2013]


Q. What is the essence of projective technique? Critically evaluate perceptive, appreciative and productive projective tests in the measurement of personality. 30 marks [2012]


Q.  How is the information we hold about ourselves organized and interpreted ?   10 marks [2011] (not very sure whether it should be here or in memory chapter)

Q.  Compare the Indian and western constructions of ‘Self’ with reference to cross – cultural studies and bring out their implication for well – being. 30 marks [2011]


Q.  Discuss the stages of psychosexual development according to Freud. 10 marks [2010]

Q.  What are the 'big' five' personality factors? Critically examine their conceptual basis. 30 marks [2010]


No questions asked from Personality Chapter in 2009.


Q.  Give a comparative account of ‘Self’ as conceived by Adler and Rogers. 60 marks [2008]

1.11.1 Definition and concept of personality

Q. Define clearly the psychological connotations of Personality, Self, Personal Identity and Social Identity ?

Personality :   Refers to unique and  relatively stable qualities that  characterize  an individual’s behaviour across different  situations over a period of time. It refers to our "characteristic" ways of  responding to individuals and situations.

Self :  self refers to the totality of an  individual’s conscious experiences, ideas,  thoughts and feelings with regard to herself  or himself.

Personal identity refers to those  attributes of a person that make her different from others. When a person  describes herself by telling her name (e.g., I am Sanjana or Karim), or her qualities or characteristics (e.g., I am  honest or hardworking person), or her  potentialities or capabilities (e.g., I am a  singer or dancer), or her beliefs (e.g.,  I am a believer in God or destiny),  disclosing her/his personal identity.

Social  identity refers to those aspects of a person  that link her to a social or cultural  group or are derived from it. When  someone says that s/he is a Hindu or a  Muslim, a Brahmin or an adivasi or a  North Indian or a South Indian, etc., s/he is trying to  indicate her social identity.

Q. Explain how sometimes 'self' can be referred to as an object and at other times as a subject.

When Self is the "doer", i.e. an entity which does something, it is described as the subject. e.g. : "I am a dancer"

When self is the one getting effected, i.e. an entity on which something is done; it is described by individuals as the object . e.g. " I am one who gets easily hurt".

Q. What are the different types of "self"

Personal Self : Emerges since childhood while crying for milk which slowly develops into the awareness with age which says "I am hungry". Such a self emerging out of biological needs may be described as biological self.  Personal self is an orientation in which one is primarily concerned with oneself.  Emphasis comes to be laid on  those aspects of life that relate only to the  concerned person, such as personal  freedom, personal responsibility, personal  achievement, or personal comforts.

Social/Familial/Relational Self :  emerges in relation with others  and emphasises such aspects of life as  cooperation, unity, affiliation, sacrifice,  support or sharing. This self values  family and social relationships.

Q. What are 'self-concept' and 'self-esteem'   and what are the common ways of measuring them ?

Self-Concept:  The way we perceive ourselves and the  ideas we hold about our competencies and  attributes is also called self-concept. At a  very general level, this view of oneself is,  overall, either positive or negative. At a  more specific level, a person may have a  very positive view of her/his athletic  bravery, but a negative view of her/his  academic talents. At an even more specific  level, one may have a positive self-concept  about one’s reading ability but a negative  one about one’s mathematical skills.  Finding out an individual’s self-concept is  not easy. The most frequently used method  involves asking the person about herself/himself.

Self Esteem:  judgment about our own value or worth.  This value judgment of a person about  herself is called self-esteem.  In order  to assess self-esteem we present a variety  of statements to a person, and ask her to indicate the extent to which those  statements are true for her or him. e.g.  we may ask a child to indicate the  extent to which statements such as “I am  good at homework”, or “I am the one  usually chosen for the games”, or “I am  highly liked by my peers”, are true of her/him. If a child reports these statements to  be true for her, her self-esteem  will be high in comparison to someone who  says “no”.

Our capacity to view ourselves in  terms of stable dispositions permits us to  combine separate self-evaluations into a  general psychological image of ourselves.  This is known as an overall sense of self-esteem.

Q. How are the cognitive and  behavioral  aspects of "self" related ? Explain with special reference to self-esteem.

Self-esteem shows a strong relationship  with our everyday behaviour. For example  children with high academic self-esteem  perform better in schools than those with  low academic self-esteem, and children  with high social self-esteem are more liked  by their peers than those with low social  self-esteem. On the other hand, children  with low self-esteem in all areas are often  found to display anxiety, depression, and  increasing antisocial behaviour.

Q. How are parenting styles related to self esteem in children ?

Studies  have shown that warm and positive  parenting helps in the development of high  self-esteem among children as it allows  them to know that they are accepted as  competent and worthwhile. Children, whose  parents help or make decisions for them  even when they do not need assistance,  often suffer from low self-esteem.

Q.   What is "self-efficacy" and how is it related to Bandura's social learning theory ?

Self Efficacy: is a part of "self"   which  refers to the cognitive belief of possessing potential to control a situation by self-efforts.  People differ in the extent to  which they believe they themselves control  their life outcomes or the outcomes are  controlled by luck or fate or other  situational factors, e.g. passing an  examination. A person who believes that  s/he has the ability or behaviours required  by a particular situation demonstrates  high self-efficacy.  A strong sense of self-efficacy allows people to select, influence, and even construct the circumstances of their own life. People with a strong sense of selfefficacy also feel less fearful.

The notion of self-efficacy is based on  Bandura’s social learning theory.  Bandura’s initial studies showed that  children and adults learned behaviour by  observing and imitating others. People’s  expectations of mastery or achievement  and their convictions about their own  effectiveness also determine the types of  behaviour in which they would engage, as  also the amount of risk they would  undertake.  

Psychologist Albert Bandura has defined self-efficacy as one's belief in one's ability to succeed in specific situations or accomplish a task. The theory of self-efficacy lies at the center of Bandura’s social cognitive theory, which emphasizes the role of observational learning and social experience in the development of personality. The main concept in social cognitive theory is that an individual’s actions and reactions, including social behaviors and cognitive processes, in almost every situation are influenced by the actions that individual has observed in others. Because self-efficacy is developed from external experiences and self-perception and is influential in determining the outcome of many events, it is an important aspect of social cognitive theory. Self-efficacy represents the personal perception of external social factors. According to Bandura's theory, people with high self-efficacy—that is, those who believe they can perform well—are more likely to view difficult tasks as something to be mastered rather than something to be avoided.

Q. Can self-efficacy be developed or is it innate. Comment.

Ans : Self Efficacy can be developed. A/c to Bandura's Social Cognitive theory, self efficacy is formed, increased or decreased by observational learning and social experience. Thus, positive social interaction, family encouragement and  own positive experiences can help in the  development of a strong sense of self-efficacy  by presenting positive models  during the formative years of children.

Q. What is Self-Regulation and Self-Control? How practices in Indian culture try to promote these. Enumerate some  psychological techniques to enhance self-control.

Self-Regulation  refers to our ability to  organise and monitor our own behaviour.  People who are able to change their  behaviour according to the demands of the  external environment, are high on self-monitoring.  

Self-Control :  Learning to  delay or defer the gratification of needs is  called self-control. Self-control plays a  key role in the fulfilment of long-term  goals.

Indian cultural tradition provides  us with certain effective mechanisms (e.g.,  fasting in vrata or roza and nonattachment  with worldly things) for  developing self-control.

Psychological  techniques for self control

  1. Observation of own behaviour:  This provides us with necessary  information that may be used to change,modify, or strengthen certain aspects of  self.
  2. Self-instruction
  3. Self-reinforcement :  involves rewarding self  behaviours that have pleasant outcomes.

Q. What are the  main  differences in the way "self" is  perceived in Indian/Asian culture and in the western cultures ? Cite research studies to support your answer.

Several aspects of self seem to be linked  to the characteristic features of the culture  in which an individual lives.

The most important distinction between  the Indian and the Western views is the  way the boundary is drawn between the  self and the other. In the Western view, this  boundary appears to be relatively fixed.  The Indian view of self, on the other hand,  is characterised by the shifting nature of  this boundary. Thus, our self at one  moment of time expands to fuse with the  cosmos or include the others. But at the  next moment, it seems to be completely  withdrawn from it and focused fully on  individual self (e.g., our personal needs or  goals). The Western view seems to hold  clear dichotomies between self and other,  man and nature, subjective and objective.  The Indian view does not make such clear  dichotomies.

In the Western culture, the self and the  group exist as two different entities with  clearly defined boundaries. Individual  members of the group maintain their  individuality. In the Indian culture, the self  is generally not separated from one’s own  group; rather both remain in a state of  harmonious co-existence. In the Western  culture, on the other hand, they often  remain at a distance. That is why many  Western cultures are characterised as  individualistic, whereas many Asian  cultures are characterised as collectivistic.

Chen, Lee, and Stevenson (1995) :  strongly agree–disagree study

These researchers examined the possibility  that persons from different cultures would react differently to one standard format  used in many personality inventories—a format in which individuals indicate  their reactions to various statements by choosing a number ranging from 1  (“strongly disagree”) to 5 (“strongly agree”). Different reactions to this questionnaire  format had already been found within the United States: African American  adolescents were shown to be more likely than white adolescents to choose the  extreme numbers. Would members of Asian cultures,  where making extreme statements is considered to be impolite, show a  similar tendency?

To find out, Chen, Lee, and Stevenson asked several thousand  high school students living in Taiwan, Japan, Canada, and two parts of the  United States (Virginia and Minnesota) to respond to questionnaires using the  “strongly agree–strongly disagree” format. Results were clear: Across a wide  range of items dealing with many different issues (e.g., the value of higher education,  the importance of having many friends, self-confidence), cultural differences  emerged. Specifically, students from the United States were more likely to  make extreme judgments than those from the other countries. Why was this the  case? Other findings indicated that U.S. students scored higher on individualism—on “doing their own thing”—than students in the other cultures.

  Triandis : 1985 : Egypt-Germany study
Triandis in 1985,   assessed in two groups of male and female students, in Egypt and Germany. The results confirm that cultural background affects individualist vs collectivist orientations in both of these cultures for male and female students. Men and women scored higher on individualism in Germany than in Egypt, whereas collectivism scores were higher in Egypt than in Germany

Q. What are the major features of Personality ?

1. It has both physical and psychological  components.
2. Its expression in terms of behaviour is  fairly unique in a given individual.
3. Its main features do NOT easily change  with time.
4. It is dynamic in the sense that some of  its features may change due to internal  or external situational demands. Thus,  personality is adaptive to situations.

Q. Clearly define the terms : temperament, trait, disposition, character, habit and values - terms which often get confused with Personality.

Temperament: Biologically based characteristic way of reacting.
Trait: Stable, persistent and specific way of behaving.
Disposition: Tendency of a person to react to a given situation in a particular way.
Character: The overall pattern of regularly occurring behaviour.
Habit: Over learned modes of behaving.
Values: Goals and ideals that are considered important and worthwhile to achieve.

Q. Is personality a real and measurable quantity or is it just a vague notion ?  Does consistency in behaviour of individuals really exist as expected by the definition of personality ? Support your answer with research evidences.

Some psychologists  have argued that personality is NOT real and that behavior is largely determined  by external factors rather than by stable traits (Mischel, 1985). According to  these critics, the very concept personality is misleading, because the kind of  stability it implies does not really exist. Rather, individuals behave  very differently in different situations; our perception that people possess  specific traits and behave in accordance with those traits much of the time is  largely an illusion, stemming from our desire to simplify the task of understanding  others.

While these arguments are intriguing ones, the weight of existing evidence  seems to be against them: Personality, defined in terms of stable behavior  tendencies, is indeed real. Many studies indicate that people do show at  least a moderate degree of consistency with respect to  many aspects of behavior. Some of these research projects  have continued for more than fifty years, studying the  same people from early childhood to old age; and in  general they have reported an impressive amount of  consistency in at least some traits (e.g., Heatherton &  Weinberger, 1994).
Moreover, a growing body of  evidence suggests that some aspects of personality are  influenced by genetic factors, as well as life experiences  and the environment. Indeed,  recent findings suggest that genetic factors may account  for as much as 50 % of individual variability  in the tendency to behave aggressively (Miles &  Carey, 1997).

However, such consistency over long periods of time does not exist for  all traits or in all persons. In fact, the extent  to which people show such consistency across time and  situations may itself be an important aspect of personality. Some  people are more consistent than others!

Also, the existence  of stable traits in no way implies that situational  factors are not important. On the contrary, most psychologists  agree that both traits and situations shape behavior. If situations  permit, then traits and dispositions may well be expressed in overt behavior.  If situations make it very costly or difficult for these characteristics to appear,  they may not.

1.11.2   Theories of personality

Q. Distinguish b/w type, trait and interactional approaches to personality ?

The  type approaches attempts to comprehend  human personality by examining certain  broad patterns in the observed behavioural  characteristics of individuals. Each  behavioural pattern refers to one type in  which individuals are placed in terms of  the similarity of their behavioural  characteristics with that pattern.

In  contrast, the trait approach focuses on  the specific psychological attributes along  which individuals tend to differ in  consistent and stable ways. For example,  one person may be less shy, whereas  another may be more. Here “shyness”  represents traits along which individuals  can be rated in terms of the degree of  presence or absence of the concerned  behavioural quality or a trait.

The  interactional approach holds that  situational characteristics play an  important role in determining our  behaviour. People may behave as  dependent or independent not because of  their internal personality trait, but because  of external rewards or threats available in  a particular situation. The cross-situational  consistency of traits is found to  be quite low. The compelling influence of  situations can be noted by observing  people’s behaviour in places like a market,  a courtroom, or a place of worship.

Q. Discuss various kinds of "type-approaches" to personality since ancient to modern times.

A.) Greek physician  Hippocrates had proposed a typology of  personality based on fluid or humour. He  classified people into four "types"
  1. sanguine (optimistic or positive, especially in an apparently bad or difficult situation)
  2. phlegmatic (having an unemotional and stolidly calm disposition  "MS Dhoni")
  3. melancholic (feeling or expressing pensive sadness.)
  4. choleric (bad-tempered or irritable)
each characterised by specific behavioural features.

B.) Charak Samhita, a  famous treatise on Ayurveda, classifies  people into the categories of
  1. vatta
  2. pitta
  3. kapha
on the basis of three humoural  elements called tridosha. Each refers to a  type of temperament, called prakriti (basic  nature) of a person.

C.) Apart from this, there  is also a typology of personality based on  the trigunas, i.e.
  1. sattva :  includes attributes like  cleanliness, truthfulness, dutifulness,  detachment, discipline
  2. rajas :  includes intensive activity, desire for sense  gratification, dissatisfaction, envy for  others, and a materialistic mentality
  3. tamas :  characterises anger,  arrogance, depression, laziness, feeling of  helplessness, etc.

All the three gunas are  present in each and every person in  different degrees. The dominance of one or  the other guna may lead to a particular  type of behaviour.

D.) Another classification popular within psychology was given by Sheldon. He made body build and temperament  as the main basis and proposed the typology :
  1. Endomorphic :  fat, soft and round.  By temperament  they are relaxed and sociable.
  2. Mesomorphic :  strong musculature, are  rectangular with a strong body build. They  are energetic and courageous.
  3. Ectomorphic : thin, long and fragile in  body build. They are brainy, artistic and  introvert.

E.) Jung has proposed another important  typology by grouping people into
  1. introverts :people who prefer to be alone, tend to avoid  others, withdraw themselves in the face of  emotional conflicts, and are shy.
  2. extraverts :sociable,outgoing, drawn to occupations that allow  dealing directly with people, and react to  stress by trying to lose themselves among  people and social activity.

F.   Friedman and  Rosenman have classified individuals into  

  1. Type-A : seem  to possess high motivation, lack patience,  feel short of time, be in a great hurry, and  feel like being always burdened with work.  Such people find it difficult to slow down  and relax. People with Type-A personality  are more susceptible to problems like  hypertension and coronary heart disease  (CHD). The risk of developing CHD with  Type-A personality is sometimes even  greater than the risks caused by high blood  pressure, high cholesterol levels, or  smoking.

  1. Type-B :  Yahan alag andaaz hai .  can be understood as  the absence of Type-A traits.

The two  researchers were trying to identify  psychosocial risk factors when they  discovered these types.

This typology  has been further extended. Morris has  suggested a
  1. Type-C  personality, which is  prone to cancer. such individuals are cooperative,  unassertive and patient. They suppress  their negative emotions (e.g., anger), and  show compliance to authority.

More  recently, a

  1. Type-D  personality has been  suggested, which is characterised by  proneness to depression.

Q. Critique "type-approaches" to personality.

Pros :  Personality typologies are usually very  appealing,
Cons : too simplistic. Human  behaviour is highly complex and variable.  Assigning people to a particular personality  type is difficult. People do not fit into such  simple categorisation schemes so neatly.

Q. What does "trait" refer to in the trait approaches to personality ? Enumerate  characteristic features of "traits".

A trait is  considered as a relatively enduring  attribute or quality on which one  individual differs from another. They  include a range of possible behaviours  that are activated according to the  demands of the situation.

Thus traits have the following features :
(a) traits are relatively  stable over time
(b) they are generally  consistent across situations
(c) their  strengths and combinations vary across  individuals leading to individual differences  in personality.

Q. Explain and  critique  Allport’s Trait Theory.

Gordon Allport is considered the pioneer of  trait approach. He proposed that traits  determine behaviour in such a manner  that an individual approaches different  situations with similar plans. The traits  integrate stimuli and responses which  otherwise look dissimilar. Allport argued  that the words people use to describe  themselves and others provide a basis for  understanding human personality. He  analysed the words of English language to  look for traits which describe a person.

Allport, based on this, categorised traits  into

  1. Cardinal :  highly generalised  dispositions. They indicate the goal around  which a person’s entire life seems to  revolve.e.g. Gandhi’s non-violence  and Hitler’s Nazism.  Such traits often get  associated with the name of the person so  strongly that they derive such identities as  the ‘Gandhian’ or ‘Hitlerian’ trait

  1. Central : Less  pervasive in effect, but still quite  generalised dispositions  e.g., warm, sincere,  diligent, etc.  These traits are often used in writing a  testimonial or job recommendation  for a person

  1. Secondary :  Traits such as ‘likes  mangoes’ or ‘prefers ethnic clothes’ are  examples of secondary traits.

While Allport acknowledged the  influence of situations on behaviour, he  held that the way a person reacts to given  situations depends on her/his traits,  although people sharing the same traits  might express them in different ways.  Allport considered traits more like  intervening variables that occur between  the stimulus situation and response of the  person. This meant that any variation in  traits would elicit a different response to  the same situation.

Pros : Simplistic ; easy to relate
Cons : no causal factors explained for the traits; which traits change, which remain stable ? ; vagueness; lack of objectivity

Q. Explain and critique Cattell’s Trait Theory.

Raymond Cattell tried to identify primary traits from a huge array of  descriptive adjectives found in language.  He applied  factor analysis, to discover the common  structures. He found

  1. 16 primary or source  traits: stable, considered building blocks of  personality.  
  2. many surface traits: result out  of the interaction of source traits.

Cattell  described the source traits in terms of  opposing tendencies. He developed a test,  called Sixteen Personality Factor  Questionnaire (16PF), for the assessment  of personality. This test is widely used by  psychologists.

Critics : same as for Allport's theory

Q. Explain and critique  Eysenck’s Theory of Personality.

H.J. Eysenck proposed that personality  could be reduced into two broad  dimensions. These are biologically and  genetically based. Each dimension  subsumes a number of specific traits.  These dimensions are:
(1) Neuroticism vs. emotional stability :  refers to the degree to which people  have control over their feelings.  
(2)  Extraversion vs. introversion : refers  to the degree to which people are  socially outgoing or socially withdrawn.

In a later work Eysenck proposed a  third dimension,
(3)  Psychoticism vs.Sociability  : considered to interact  with the other two dimensions mentioned  above. A person who scores high on  psychoticism dimension tends to be  hostile, egocentric, and antisocial.

Eysenck Personality Questionnaire is the  test which is used for studying these  dimensions of personality.

Critics : same as for Allport's theory

Q. Explain and critique Big-5 Theory of Personality.

Paul Costa and Robert McCrae have examined all possible personality  traits. The findings indicate a set of five factors   called Big Five Factors :

  1. Openness to experience : high score =  imaginative, curious,  open to new ideas, and interested in cultural pursuits; low score =low are rigid.
  2. Conscientiousness : high score =  achievement-oriented,  dependable, responsible, prudent, hardworking and self-controlled;  ; low score =impulsive
  3. Extraversion :  high score = socially active, assertive, outgoing, talkative, and fun loving; low score = shy
  4. Aggreableness :  high score=   helpful, co-operative, friendly,  caring, and nurturing;  low score = hostile and self-centered
  5. Nueroticism :  high score=  emotionally unstable, anxious,  worried, fearful, distressed, irritable and hypertensive;  low score = well adjusted.

Pros :
  1.   has been found useful in understanding the personality profile of people  across cultures.
  2.   is consistent with the analysis of personality traits found in  different languages,
  3. it is also supported by the studies of personality carried out through  different methods.
Hence, it is now considered to be the most promising empirical approach  to the study of personality

Q. What is the situational critique of trait psychology? 10 marks [2013]

Some psychologists have argued that personality is NOT real and that behavior is largely determined by external factors or situations rather than by stable traits (Mischel, 1985). According to these critics, the very concept personality is misleading, because the kind of stability it implies does not really exist. Rather, individuals behave very differently in different situations; our perception that people possess specific traits and behave in accordance with those traits much of the time is largely an illusion, stemming from our desire to simplify the task of understanding others.

Q. Explain and critique  Psycho-dynamic (aka Psychoanalytic) approach of Personality.

Given by Freud.  According to Freud’s theory, the primary  structural elements of personality are :

  1.   id :  works  on the pleasure principle,  does not care for  moral values, society, or other individuals.
  2. ego : works by the reality principle
  3. superego  :

They  reside in the unconscious, subconscious  and  conscious as forces, and can be inferred from the ways people  behave.

The  relative strength of the id, ego and  superego determines each person’s  stability/personality.

Ex:  the id of a boy, who  wants an ice-cream cone, tells him to grab  the cone and eat it. His ego tells him that  if he grabs the cone without asking, he  may be punished. Working on the reality  principle, the boy knows that the best way  to achieve gratification is to ask for  permission to eat the cone. If the boy sees and wants an icecream  cone and asks his mother for it, his  superego will indicate that his behaviour  is morally correct. This approach towards  obtaining the ice-cream will not create  guilt, fear or anxiety in the boy.

Q. What are Life instinct (Eros) and death instinct (Thanatos) as found in Freudian Theory ?

Freud assumed that id is  energised by two instinctual forces, called  life instinct and death instinct. He paid  less attention to the death instinct and  focused more on the life (or sexual)  instinct. The instinctual life force that  energises the id is called libido. It works  on the pleasure principle, and seeks  immediate gratification.

Life Instincts (Eros)/sexual instincts
Sometimes referred to as sexual instincts, the life instincts are those that deal with basic survival, pleasure, and reproduction. These instincts are essential for sustaining the life of the individual as well as the continuation of the species. While they are often called sexual instincts, these drives also include such things as thirst, hunger and pain avoidance. The energy created by the life instincts is known as libido.  Behaviors commonly associated with the life instinct include love, cooperation and other prosocial actions.

Death Instincts (Thanatos)
The concept of the death instincts was initially described in Freud's book Beyond the Pleasure Principle, in which he proposed that “the goal of all life is death” (1920). He noted that after people experience a traumatic event (such as war), they often reenact the experience. He concluded that people hold an unconscious desire to die, but that the life instincts largely temper this wish.

Q. What are the different   Ego Defence Mechanisms  as found in Freudian Theory ? What are its criticisms.

According to Freud, much of human  behaviour reflects an attempt to deal with  or escape from anxiety and that people  avoid anxiety mainly by developing defence  mechanisms that try to defend the ego  against the awareness of the instinctual  needs.

Thus, defence mechanism  are techniques used by the ego to  keep threatening and unacceptable  material out of consciousness  and so to reduce anxiety by often distorting the reality. They are :
Defence Mechanism
“Forgetting”—or pushing from  consciousness into unconsciousness—  unacceptable thoughts or  impulses
when a person says, “I do  not know why I did that”, some repressed  feeling or desire is expressing itself.
people  attribute their own traits to others.
person who has strong aggressive  tendencies may see other people as acting  in an excessively aggressive way towards  her/him.
person totally refuses  to accept reality.
someone suffering  from HIV/AIDS may altogether deny her/  his illness.
Sublimation aka reaction formation
threatening  unconscious impulses are channeled  into socially acceptable  forms of behavior
Instead of trying to seduce the young man, as Freud would say the widow’s  id wants to do, she might “adopt” him as a son and provide financial support  to further his education.
Conjuring up socially acceptable  reasons for thoughts or actions  based on unacceptable motives
A young woman explains that  she ate an entire chocolate cake  so that it wouldn’t spoil in the  summer heat.
Redirecting an emotional  response from a dangerous  object to a safe one
A man redirects anger from his  boss to his child.

People who use defence mechanisms  are often unaware of doing so.  
Criticisms :  
  1. Role of defence  mechanisms have been questioned. For  example, his claim that projection reduces  anxiety and stress has not found support  in several studies.
  2. Difficult to verify  
  3. Lack of objectivity

Q. Describe Freud's  Stages of Personality Development aka stages of  Psycho-sexual  Development.

Freud claims that the core aspects of  personality are established early, remain  stable throughout life, and can be changed  only with great difficulty. He proposed a  five-stage theory of personality.
Psycho-sexual Stage
Result of Fixation/problems at the stage
Oral Stage  0–2
Infant achieves gratification  through oral activities  such as feeding, thumb  sucking, and babbling.

people’s  basic feelings about the world are  established
an adult who  considers the world a bitter place probably  had difficulty during the oral stage of  development
Anal Stage  2–3
The child learns to respond  to some of the demands of  society (such as bowel and  bladder control).

Process of elimination becomes the primary  focus of pleasure.
overly harsh toilet training  experiences may result in individuals who are excessively orderly  or compulsive—they can’t leave any job unfinished and strive for perfection  in everything they do.

Very relaxed toilet  training may result in undisciplined, impulsive, and excessively  generous personality
Phallic 3–7
pleasure is  centered in the genital region. It  is during this stage that the  Oedipus complex (a character in ancient Greek literature  who unknowingly killed his father and then married his mother) develops. In girls, it is Electra complex (a Greek  character, who induced her brother to kill  their mother).

critical component in  resolving the Oedipus complex is the  development of identification with the same  sex parents. In other words, boys give up  sexual feelings for their mothers and begin  to see their fathers as role models rather  than as rivals; girls give up their sexual  desires for their father and identify with  their mother.

The child learns to realize  the differences between  males and females  and becomes aware  of sexuality.
a child who  does not pass successfully through the  phallic stage fails to resolve the Oedipal  complex and may still feel hostile toward  the parent of the same sex.  

Such a boy may come to  consider that men are generally hostile,  and may wish to relate to females in a  dependable relationship.
Latency  7–11
The child continues his  or her development but  sexual urges are  relatively quiet or at a minimum.

Much of a child’s energy is  channelled into social or achievement related  activities

Genital 11–adult
The growing adolescent  shakes off old  dependencies and  learns to deal  maturely with the  opposite sex; becomes capable of adult love.
progression to this final stage is possible only if serious fixation has  not occurred at earlier stages. If such fixation exists, development is blocked  and various disorders result.

Regression is also common in which, people display behaviours typical  of a less mature stage of development.

Neo-Freudian Approaches to Personality  

Q. Explain and critique key features of Carl Jung's Neo-Freudian approach to personality which he termed as Analytical Psychology.

Carl Jung worked earlier with Freud but later founded his own Analytical Psychology.   Major features are :

Jung believed that in looking for a mate, we  search for the person onto whom we can best project these hidden sides of  our personality. When there is a good match between such projections and another person, attraction occurs.

Pros of Jung :  

dimension of introversion–extroversion appears to be one of major importance;  it is included in several trait theories (although in these modern theories the term is spelled extraversion)

Cons of Jung :  

many aspects including and especially  the idea of the collective unconscious  in  Jung’s theory have been  rejected by psychologists.

Difficult to verify ; vague ; lacks objectivity

Q. Explain key features of Karen Horney's Neo-Freudian approach.

Karen Horney : Optimism

Horney adopted a more  optimistic view of human life with  emphasis on human growth and self-actualisation.

Challenged Freud’s treatment of women  as inferior and said that each sex has  attributes to be admired by the other, and  neither sex can be viewed as superior or  inferior.

She countered that women were  more likely to be affected by social and  cultural factors than by biological factors and rejected Freudian idea of penis envy.

She argued that psychological disorders  were caused by disturbed interpersonal  relationships during childhood rather than from fixation of psychic  energy as contended by Freud.  When  parents’ behaviour toward a child is  indifferent, discouraging, and erratic, the  child feels insecure and a feeling called  basic anxiety results.  Deep resentment  toward parents or basic hostility occurs  due to this anxiety.  By showing excessive  dominance or indifference, or by providing  too much or too little approval, parents can  generate among children feelings of  isolation and helplessness which interfere  with their healthy development.

Pros :  she emphasized the importance of  social factors in shaping personality—a view echoed by modern psychology.

Cons : Lack of objectivity with terms such as "self-actualisation"

Q. Explain key features of Alfred Adler's Neo-Freudian approach which is also termed as Individual Psychology.

Alfred Adler : Lifestyle and Social Interest

Basic assumption :  human behaviour is purposeful and goal-directed.  Each one of us has the capacity  to choose and create.

Our personal goals  are the sources of our motivation. The  goals that provide us with security and  help us in overcoming the feelings of  inadequacy are important in our  personality development.

In Adler’s view,  every individual suffers from the feelings  of inadequacy and guilt, i.e. inferiority  complex, which arise from childhood because as children we feel inferior due to our small  size and physical weakness. Overcoming this complex is essential for  optimal personality development.  

He viewed personality development as a process of overcoming this inferiority complex by overcome such feelings through compensation i.e.  striving for  superiority.

Like Horney and other neo-  Freudians, Adler also emphasized the importance of social factors in personality;  for instance, he emphasised birth order. He suggested tha Only  children are spoiled by too much parental attention, while firstborns  are “dethroned” by a second child. Second-borns, in contrast, are competitive,  because they have to struggle to catch up with an older sibling.

Q. Explain key features of Erich Fromm's Neo-Freudian approach.

Erich Fromm : The Human Concerns

Fromm  focused  more on social orientation than biological orientation as suggested by Freud.

viewed human  beings as basically social beings who  could be understood in terms of their  relationship with others.
argued that  psychological qualities such as growth and  realisation of potentials resulted from a  desire for freedom, and striving for  justice and truth.

held that character traits  (personality) develop from our experiences  with other individuals.

While culture is  shaped by the mode of existence of a given  society, people’s dominant character traits  in a given society work as forces in shaping  the social processes and the culture itself.

His work recognises the value of positive  qualities, such as tenderness and love in  personality development

Q. Explain key features of Erik Erikson 's Neo-Freudian approach.

Erik Erikson : Search for Identity  (details in human dev. chapter)

Erikson’s theory lays stress on rational,  conscious ego processes in personality  development.
In his theory, development is  viewed as a lifelong process, and ego  identity is granted a central place in this  process.
His concept of identity crisis of  adolescent age has drawn considerable  attention. Erikson argues that young  people must generate for themselves a  central perspective and a direction that can  give them a meaningful sense of unity and  purpose.

Q. Explain key features of  Sudhir Kakar's Neo-Freudian approach to Psychoanalysis.

Q. How are  Neo-Freudian approaches are an improvement over Freud's theory ?

Neo-Freudians,  while accepting many of Freud’s basic ideas, did not agree  with his emphasis on innate patterns of development.
On the  contrary, they perceived personality as stemming from a complex  interplay between social factors and the experiences we  have during childhood, primarily in our own families.

While  the theories proposed by neo-Freudians are not widely accepted  by psychologists today, they did serve as a kind of  bridge between the provocative views offered by Freud and  more modern conceptions of personality. Neo-Freudians like Karen Horney tried to promote female perspective of personality development which was overlooked in Freud's theory.

Q. What are the major criticisms of  Psycho-dynamic/Psychoanalytic  theories of personality ?

(1) The theories are largely based on case  studies; they lack a rigorous scientific  basis.

(2) They use small and atypical individuals  as samples for advancing generalisations.

(3) The concepts are not properly defined,  and it is difficult to submit them to  scientific testing.

(4) Freud has used males as the prototype  of all human personality development.  He overlooked female experiences and  perspectives.

Behavioural Approach to Personality

Q. What are the major features of Behavioural approach to personality ?

Behavioural approach  does not give importance to  the internal dynamics of behaviour. Behaviourists believe in data, which they  feel are definable, observable, and  measurable. Thus, they focus on learning  of stimulus-response connections and their  reinforcement.

According to them,  personality can be best understood as the  response of an individual to the  environment.

They see the development  simply as a change in response  characteristics, i.e. a person learns new  behaviours in response to new  environments and stimuli.

For most behaviourists, the structural  unit of personality is the response. Each  response is a behaviour, which is emitted  to satisfy a specific need.

e.g. Many children do not like eating many of the  vegetables (e.g., spinach, pumpkin, gourds,  etc.), but gradually they learn to eat them.  Why do they do so? According to the  behavioural approach,   initially they may learn to eat such vegetables in  anticipation of appreciation (reinforcement)  from their parents. Later on they may  eventually learn to eat vegetables not only  because their parents are pleased with this  behaviour, but also because they acquire  the taste of those vegetables, and find them  good.

Principles of behaviourist theories of C.C., O.C. and observational learning (Bandura)  have been widely used in developing  personality theories.

A/c to behaviourist approach, the uniqueness in our personalities are a result of our varied experiences in life and as a result, varied responses - which essentially define us.

They explain stability of personality claiming that  individuals often find themselves in situations very similar to the  ones in which they acquired their characteristic tendencies and thus their behavior  too tends to remain quite stable.

Bandura's social learning theory is an example of the behaviourist approach to personality.  

Socio-cultural approach to personality

Q. Explain major features of socio-cultural  approach  to personality. Cite an example to show how personality development is dependent on cultural and societal structure.  

This approach attempts to understand  personality in relation to the features of  ecological and cultural environment.

Major shapers of personality are construed to be :  

Taken together these  elements constitute a child’s overall  learning environment. People’s skills,  abilities, behavioural styles, and value  priorities are viewed as strongly linked to  these features.

People develop  various personality (behavioural) qualities  in an attempt to adapt to the ecological and  cultural features of a group’s life.

e.g.    In the Birhor society of Jharkhand, children from  an early age are allowed enormous freedom  to move into forests and learn hunting and  gathering skills. Their child socialisation  practices are also aimed at making  children independent (do many things  without help from elders), autonomous  (take several decisions for themselves), and  achievement-oriented (accept risks and  challenges such as those involved in  hunting) from an early age of life.

On the contrary, in agricultural societies, children are  socialised to be obedient to elders,  nurturant to youngsters, and responsible  to their duties. Since these behavioural  qualities make people more functional in  agricultural societies, they become  dominant features of people’s personality  in contrast to independence, autonomy  and achievement, which are more  functional (and thus highly valued) in  hunting-gathering societies.

Because of  different economic pursuits and  cultural demands, children in hunting-gathering  and agricultural societies  develop and display different personality  patterns.

Humanistic  Approaches to personality

Q. Explain the  characteristic  features of Carl Roger's humanistic  approach  to personality.

Most important idea :  fully functioning  person

Rogers suggested that  fulfillment  is the  motivating force for personality  development.  People try to express their  capabilities, potentials and talents to the  fullest extent possible.  There is an in born  tendency among persons that directs them  to actualise their inherited nature.

2 basic assumptions of  Rogers regarding human behaviour

  1. Behaviour is goal-directed and worthwhile.
  2. The second is that people (who are innately  good) will almost always choose adaptive,  self-actualising behaviour.

Rogers suggests that each person also  has a concept of ideal self.

When there is a correspondence between  the real self and ideal self, a person is  generally happy. Discrepancy between the  real self and ideal self often results in  unhappiness and dissatisfaction.

Rogers recognises the role of  social influences in the development of  self-concept. When social conditions are  positive, the self-concept and self-esteem  are high and vice-versa.  People with high self-concept  and self-esteem are generally  flexible and open to new experiences, so  that they can continue to grow and selfactualise.

This situation warrants that an  atmosphere of unconditional positive  regard must be created in order to ensure  enhancement of people’s self-concept. The  client-centred therapy that Rogers  developed basically attempts to create this  condition.

Q. Explain the  characteristic  features of Maslow's humanistic  approach  to personality.

Maslow stressed on attainment of self-actualisation  by  psychologically healthy people. It is  a  state in which people have reached their  own fullest potential.

Maslow had an  optimistic and positive view of man who  has the potentialities for love, joy and to  do creative work.

Human beings are  considered to have free-will   to shape their lives and to  self-actualise. Self-actualisation becomes  possible by analysing the motivations that  govern our life.

Survival needs =biological,  security, and belongingness needs -  commonly found  among animals and human beings. Thus,  an individual’s sole concern with the  satisfaction of these needs reduces her/him to the level of animals.

Higher Needs = self-esteem and self-actualisation  needs - real journey of  human life begins.

# P S B E A : Putting Sunscreen Before Every Afternoon

1.11.3   Measurement of personality

Q. Enumerate commonly used techniques for assessment of personality.

  1. Psychometric Tests/objective personality  scales
  2. Interview
  3. Remote behavior sampling
  4. Self-Report  Measures
  5. Projective Techniques
  6. Behavioural Analysis

Psychometric tests/objective personality scales and Self report measures are forms of pencil-paper tests, in which participants provide written responses to written items. Responses can be given by marking out items on the assessment form itself or electronic forms. Typically, paper-pencil assessments include questions to answer, topics to address through paragraph responses, problems to solve, etc.

Q. Describe the origin and general methodology of self report measures of personality assessment.  

It was Allport who suggested that the best  method to assess a person is by asking  her/him about herself/himself. This led to  the use of self-report measures (SRMs).

SRMs are fairly structured measures, often based on  theory, that require subjects to give verbal  responses using some kind of rating scale.

The method requires the subject to  objectively report her/his own feelings with  respect to various items. The responses are  accepted at their face value. They are  scored in quantitative terms and  interpreted on the basis of norms  developed for the test. Some examples are :  Minnesota Multiphasic Personality  Inventory (MMPI) (dev by Hathaway and  McKinley),  Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (EPQ), Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire  (16 PF) (developed by Cattell),  NEO-PI  (measures  individual differences in the Big Five factors)

Q. Discuss salient features of  Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI).

Q. Discuss salient features of Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (EPQ).

Developed by Eysenck this test initially  assessed two dimensions of personality,
  1. introverted-extraverted
  2. emotionally stable-emotionally unstable.

These dimensions are characterised by 32  personality traits. Later on, Eysenck added  a third dimension,
  1. psychoticism. :  It  is linked to psychopathology that  represents a lack of feeling for others, a  tough manner of interacting with people,  and a tendency to defy social conventions.  A person scoring high on this dimension  tends to be hostile, egocentric, and  antisocial.

Q. Discuss salient features of  Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire  (16 PF) developed by Cattell.

On the  basis of his studies, Cattell identified a large  set of personality descriptors, which were  subjected to factor analysis to identify the  basic personality structure. The  test provides with declarative statements,  and the subject responds to a specific  situation by choosing from a set of given  alternatives. The test can be used with  high school level students as well as with  adults. It has been found extremely useful  in career guidance, vocational exploration,  and occupational testing.

Q. Critique the self report measures/pencil-paper tests of Personality assessment./Highlight the problems in assessment of personality using the pencil-paper tests. 10 marks [2015]

Pros of SRM :

  1. Easy to  administer
  2. Objectivity  
  3. Standard

Cons of SRMs :

  1. Social desirability :  It is a tendency on the part  of the respondent to endorse items in a  socially desirable manner.
  2. Acquiescence  :   a tendency of the subject  to agree with items/questions irrespective  of their contents. It often appears in the  form of saying ‘yes’ to items.

These  tendencies render the assessment of  personality less reliable.

Q. Why is there a need for projective techniques for personality measurement ?

  1. While measuring personality via direct methods such as self report measures, people generally become self-conscious and hesitate to share their  private feelings, thoughts, and motivations.  Even when they do so, they often do it in a  socially desirable manner. Thus it becomes imperative to use indirect methods to measure personality such as Projective Tests.

  1. A/c Psychoanalytic theory, a large part of human behaviour is  governed by unconscious motives. Direct  methods cannot  uncover the unconscious part of our  behaviour. Hence, they fail to provide us  with a real picture of an individual’s  personality.

Q. What is the basic assumption behind projective tests ? Enumerate different kinds of projective tests and their common features. In what way do they differ from Psychometric tests?

Basic assumption:  a less structured/unstructured stimulus or situation will  allow the individual to project her feelings, desires and needs on to that  situation; thus making it easier to uncover her  unconscious.  People are thought to project their unconscious thoughts onto the ambiguous stimuli.

Different kinds of projective tests based on various  stimulus materials and  situations for assessing personality  are :

  1. requiring reporting associations with  stimuli (e.g., words, inkblots) (perceptive)
  2. story writing around pictures (perceptive ?)
  3. sentence completions (productive ? )
  4. expression through drawings (productive ?) e.g. draw a person test
  5. requiring choice of stimuli from a large set  of stimuli (appreciative ?)

Common features

(1) The stimuli are relatively or fully  unstructured and poorly defined.
(2) The person being assessed is usually  not told about the purpose of  assessment and the method of scoring  and interpretation.
(3) The person is informed that there are  no correct or incorrect responses.
(4) Each response is considered to reveal  a significant aspect of personality.
(5) Scoring and interpretation are lengthy  and sometimes subjective.
(6) One most common feature is presenting subjects with ambiguous  stimuli and asking for some interpretation of them.

Psychometric vs Projective tests :

  1. Projective tests  cannot be scored in any objective manner.
  2. They generally require qualitative analyses  for which a rigorous training is needed.

Q. Describe Rorschach and TAT tests and comment on their reliabilities. [2016]

Rorschach Inkblot Test

Criticism and comment on Reliability of Rorscharch Test:

different examiners may interpret  the same response very differently, producing  unreliability among examiners. Although there have been attempts to achieve uniformity in the scoring system e.g.  Exner (1991) developed  a scoring system with specific coding categories  and scoring criteria; but the subjectivity still remains because of lack of  research support to these scoring methodologies.

Thematic Apperception Test (TAT)

Cricticisms of TAT and Comments on its reliability

Cons :
The TAT, like the Rorschach, typically relies  on the subjective interpretation of test responses,  which can result in different interpretations of the  same stories. Since not everyone can be right, the  possibility of erroneous interpretations is obvious.

Pros :
  1. TAT has proven to  be a useful and valid test where specific systems have been developed  to score stories (Atkinson, 1958).
  2. TAT is used by researchers to measure  achievement motivation.
  3. TAT appears to provide  a more valid measure of N-Ach and other motives,  such as power, than do objective self-report  measures of the same motives, showing stronger  relations with motivated behavior (Ferguson,2000).

Q. Discuss Rosenzweig’s Picture-Frustration Study  (P-F Study)

Q. Explain the features of "Sentence completion test" and "Draw a person test"   as projective measures of personality.

Sentence Completion Test
e.g.   1. My father——————————————.
2. My greatest fear is —————————.
3. The best thing about my mother is ——————————.
4. I am proud of ————————————  ————————.

Draw-a-Person Test
(1) Omission of facial features  suggests that the person tries to evade  a highly conflict-ridden interpersonal  relationship.
(2) Graphic emphasis on the neck suggests  lack of control over impulses.
(3) Disproportionately large head suggests  organic brain disease and preoccupation  with headaches.