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28 Cards in this Set

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Personality Processes

Mechanisms that unfold over times to produce the effects of personality traits

- Includes perception, thought, motivation, emotion

- Understanding these will help us understand someone's personality

Historical Roots of Research Into Personality Processes


Social Learning



Biological Approach

Trait Approach

Learning: But ignoring cognition is too limited

Social Learning: Focused on cognitive processes

Phenomenology: Emphasizes importance of the way an individual thinks about the world

Psychoanalysis: Levels of consciousness and the need for compromise

Biological Approach: How representations of the self may be organized in the brain

Trait Approach: People have different traits based on different thoughts, feelings, and desires

Perception: Priming & Chronic Accessibility

People are predisposed to perceive the world in different ways

Priming: Activation of a concept or idea by repeatedly perceiving it or thinking about it; usual result is that this concept or idea comes to mind more quickly and easily in new situations

Chronic Accessibility: Tendency of an idea or concept to come easily to mind for a particular individual

- Part of our personalities

- May come from evolution, temperament, or experience

- Different people have a predisposition to be primed for certain concepts

Perception: Rejection Sensitivity

- Affects interpretation of ambiguous signals

- Often creates a self-fulfilling prophecy

- Can result in seemingly inconsistent behavior

Perception: Aggression

- Can cause some people to perceive an ambiguous situation as threatening

- May come to guide a person's thoughts or actions

- Even if certain ideas come quickly to mind and cause problems, it still might be possible to avoid responding to situations in a programmed manner

Perception: Perceptual Defense

Appears to have the ability to screen out information that might make the individual anxious or uncomfortable

- Similar to psychoanalytic defense mechanisms

- People can have a psychological reaction to emotionally charged words before they are consciously aware of them

Perception: Vigilance and Defense

Why do some people tend to see exactly what they fear most?

- Possibility that defense mechanisms exist for a purpose

- Can be overused, but in general they are adaptive functions of the ego that protect the individual from feeling too much anxiety

- Also, people vary in the way which they are perceptually vigilant versus defensive of potentially threatening information


Consciousness & STM

- Determines many, but not all, actions

- Not all thinking is conscious

Conscientiousness: Whatever the individual has in mind at the moment

Short-term Memory (STM): Stage of information processing in which the person is consciously aware of a small amount of information (about 7 chunks) as long as that information continues to be actively processed

*Limited to 7 + 2 chunks

Thought: Consciousness

STM & Thinking

- Chunking can work with ideas

Funder's Fifth Law: The purpose of education is to assemble new chunks

Consciousness and psychological health

Constructs, chunks, and consciousness

Thought: Unconscious Thoughts

People can do things without knowing why, know things without knowing that they know, and have thoughts and feelings they do not understand

*Unconscious is important

- We can do so many things without thinking

- Consciousness is very small and life is more complicated than that

Thought: Two Ways of Thinking

Dual-Process Models

- Contrast the roles of conscious and unconscious thought

- Conscious thought is slower

- Freud's Theory: Rational and irrational thought

- Reflective determinants: slow and largely rational

- Impulsive determinants: fast, almost automatic, sometimes irrational

Thought: Two Ways of Thinking

Cognitive-Experiential Self-Theory (CEST)

- Seeks to explain unconscious processing and the seemingly irrational emotion-drives sectors of the mind

- Rational system: an evolutionary recent innovation, includes language, logic, systematized, factual knowledge; resembles Freud's conception of secondary process thinking

- Experiential system: evolutionarily older, tied closely to emotion, assumed to be the way other animals think; resembles Freud's conception of primary process thinking

Different systems may generate different decisions

*Systems may interact


Goals & Strategies

Implicit and Explicit Goals

What do you want?

How will you try to get it?

Goals: Ends that one desires

- Drive behavior by influencing what you attend to, think about, and do

Strategies: Means the individual uses to achieve his goals

Explicit Goals: Those that people can talk about and willingly describe

Implicit Goals: While important, people may not realize they have

Motivation: Goals

Short-term and Long-term

Idiographic Goals

Depends on what you want and how long it will take you to get there

Idiographic Goals: Those that are unique to the individuals who pursue them

Current Concerns: Ongoing motivation that persists in the mind until the goal is either attained of abandoned

Personal Projects: What people do; made up of efforts people put into such goals

Personal Strivings: Long-term goals that can organize broad ideas of a person's life

Properties of Ideographic Goals

- Conscious at least some of the time

- Describe thoughts and behaviors that are aimed at a fairly specific outcome

- Can change over time

- Goals function independently of each other


- Goals are not theoretically organized

Motivation: Goals

Nomothetic Goals

Refers to a relatively small number of essential motivations that almost everyone pursues

- Number of goals

Nomothetic Goals

McClelland's 3 Primary Motivations

Needs for achievement



Nomothetic Goals

Emmon's Five




Interpersonal success

Avoidance of negative affect

Nomothetic Goals



Social Interaction

Nomothetic Goals

Goals Circumplex

Used for seeing the similarities and differences among goals

Nomothetic Goals

Judgement Goals & Development Goals

- Can change over time and across situations

- Lead to different outcomes: mastery orientation and helplessness

- Entity theories: Belief that personal qualities such as intelligence and ability are unchangeable, leading them to respond helplessly to any indication that they do not have what it takes

- Incremental theories: Belief that intelligence and ability can change with time and experience; their goals involve not only proving their competence but increasing it

- Can be influenced by the person himself/herself or by the eternal situation

Motivation: Goals Across the Life Span

- Young: Preparation for the future

- Old (70+): Emotional well-being

Motivation: Strategies & Traits

Traits can produce characteristic adaptations, or generalized scripts

- Same strategy can result in different behavior patterns

- Different traits can lead to the same strategies

Motivation: Strategies

Defensive Pessimism (vs. Optimism)

- Coping, performance, and success are similar to optimists

- Find relief when the worst outcome doesn't happen

- Some consistency

- Advantages and disadvantages to both strategies


Type of procedural knowledge (cannot be learned or fully expressed through words, but only through action and experience)

- A set of mental and physical procedures

Emotion: Experience

Basic Stages: appraisal, physical responses, facial expressions, nonverbal behavior, motives

- Stages can happen at the same time or in a different order

- Complex mixture of thought, physical sensations and motivations

- Possible sources: immediate stimuli, classical conditioning, memories, and thoughts

Emotion: Varieties of Emotion

Core Emotions: happiness, sadness, anger, fear, surprise, disgust

- Some emotions may be universal because they were evolutionarily advantageous

- May be advantageous to be able to perceive these emotions accurately in others

- Circumplex figure

Emotion: Individual Differences in Emotional Life

- Core aspects of personality

- Emotional experience

- Affect intensity

*Risk factor for bad outcomes

- Rate of change

- Emotional intelligence

*Related to emotional expressiveness, quality of personal relationships, and level of optimism

Emotion: Happiness

Three components

1 Overall satisfaction with life

2 Satisfaction with particular life domains

3 Generally high levels of positive emotion and low levels of negative emotion

*Conception can very with age

Three sources:

1 Individual set point

2 Objective life circumstances

3 What the individual does (intentional activity)

*May also be a cause of important outcomes

Happiness may have a dark side

Related to effective functioning and broad areas