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Term Paper on Personality
Term Paper Contents:
- Term Paper on the Definition of Personality
- Term Paper on the Determinants of Individual Personality
- Term Paper on the Measurement of Personality
- Term Paper on the Theories of Personality
- Term Paper on Personality Traits
- Term Paper on Personality and Organisational Behaviour
Term Paper # 1. Definition of Personality:
The term personality has been derived from Latin word ‘per sonnare’, which means to speak through. Personality is traditionally refers to how people influence others through their external appearances (actions) more precisely.
The term personality can be defined as:
“Personality is a pattern of stable states and characteristics of a person that influences his behaviour towards goal achievement. Each person has a unique ways of protecting these states”.
“Personality is a broad amorphous designation relating to fundamental approaches of persons to others and themselves. To most psychologists the term refers to the study of characteristic traits of an individual, relationship between these traits and the way in which a person adjusts to other people and situations”.
“Personality is the sum total of ways in which an individual reacts and interacts with others. This is most often described in terms of measurable personality traits that a person exhibits”.
“Personality is the dynamic organisation within the individual of those psychological systems that determine his unique adjustments to his environment”. – Gorden Allport
A comprehensive definition of personality is given by Fred Luthans. In his words, personality means how a person affects others and how he understands and views himself as well as the pattern of inner and outer measurable traits, and the person situation interaction. How a person affects others depends upon his physical appearance (such as height, weight, facial features, colour etc.) Thus, personality represents the whole person concept. It includes perception, learning, motivation etc.
Term Paper # 2. Determinants of Individual Personality:
People are very complex. They have different abilities and interests. Most failures on job, however, are not attributable to a person’s amount of intelligence alone but also to certain personality characteristics.
The personality is influenced by four major factors as:
i. Cultural factors.
ii. Family and social factors.
iii. Situational factors.
iv. Biological factors.
i. Cultural Factors:
Culture largely determines what a person is and what a person will learn. The culture within a person is brought up, is very important determinant of behaviour of a person. Culture is the complex of those beliefs, values and techniques for dealing with the environment which are shared among contemporaries and transmitted by one generation to the next. Culture requires both conformity and acceptance from its members.
According to Mussen, each culture expects and trains its members to behave in the ways that are acceptable to the group inspite of the importance of the culture on personality, researchers are unable to establish linear relationship between these two concepts ‘personality and culture’.
ii. Family and Social Factors:
Family and social factors are important in shaping personality of an individual. The impact of these factors on personality can be understood by socialization process and identification process.
(i) Socialization Process:
The contribution of family and social group in combination with the culture is known as socialization. It initially starts with the contact with the mother and later on the other members of the family (father, brother, sister, co-relatives). The social group plays influential role in shaping an individual’s personality.
(ii) Identification Process:
Identification starts when a person begins to identify himself with some other members of the family. Normally child tries to behave as father or mother. He tries to emulate certain actions of his parents.
Apart from socialization and identification processes, the personality of an individual is influenced by the home environment. There is a substantial evidence to indicate that the overall environment at home is created by parents is critical to personality development.
Family background apart, social class also influences a person’s perception, perception of self and others, and selection of work, authority and money etc.
iii. Situational Factors:
The effect of environment is quite strong. Knowledge, skill and language are acquired and represent important modifications of the behaviour. Learned modifications in behaviour are not passed on to the children, they must be acquired by them through their own personal experience, through interaction with the environment. According to Milgram, Situation exerts an important press on the individual. It exercises constraints and may provide push.
iv. Biological Factors:
These can be discussed into three broad heads:
(a) Physical Features:
Physical stature is the most important factor that contributes to personality. An individual’s external appearance is proved to be having a tremendous effect on his personality. For instance, the fact that person is short or tall, fat or skinny, handsome or ugly, black or whitish will undoubtedly influence the person’s effect on others and in turn, will affect the self-concept.
It is another biological factor that influences the personality. Researches in this field have given indication that better understanding of human personality and behaviour might come from the study of the brain.
Certain characteristics primarily physical in nature are inherited from one’s parents, transmitted by genes in the chromosomes contributed by each parent. The heredity plays an important role in one’s personality. The importance of heredity varies from one personality trait to another. For instance, heredity is generally more important in determining a person’s temperament than values and ideas.
Term Paper # 3. Measurement of Personality:
Psychologists have devised a number of tests to measure the various aspects of personality, these are:
i. Projective Techniques:
These techniques are based on assumptions that responses to unstructured stimuli are likely to indicate an individual’s underlying motives, attitudes and aspirations. These include ink blots, incomplete sentences, ambiguous pictures, etc. It is called projective techniques because the individual attributes his own traits or feelings to other persons or to inanimate objects. They reveal the crucial aspects of personality.
The two widely used projective tests are:
(а) Thematic Apperception Test (TAT).
(b) Rorschach Test.
(a) Thematic Apperception Test:
It assumes that the meaning which an individual sees in a picture indicates something of his past experience, feelings, attitudes and motives.
Apperceiving relates to perception of a situation largely in terms of past experience rather than the immediate present. Here, the individual is exposed to ambiguous pictures and requested to make up a story for each. The themes in these stories may involve conflict, affection, fear, contentment or achievements.
(b) Rorschach Test:
It involves ten cards containing ink blots. These ink blots are shown to the individual at a time, in a prescribed way, with a request to state whatever he sees in them or whatever comes to his mind in response to them. It is assumed that individual tends to project the predominating aspects of his personality through these cards.
For example, one response to the card made by an adolescent girl whose parents were separated was “This looks like a person here and another there and they are carrying something; they are fighting over the same thing; they are both trying to pull it towards themselves”.
ii. Situational Tests:
These tests involve studying the individual in daily situations when he is interacting with others, solving a problem or exploring a new environment. The purpose of this study is to observe the individual in a context which is similar to the one for which he is under review. This facilitates the prediction as to how he will regret in a specific situation.
When it is not possible to arrange the situation, the individuals can be observed in their daily environment consciously or at certain times in a day. For example, if the objective is to assess their interpersonal skills, the examiner will observe them when they are working with other persons.
iii. Personality Inventories:
These inventories are printed forms containing questions, adjectives or statements about human behaviour. They can be used to evaluate both normal and psychiatric characteristics. The individual is required to indicate his reactions to different items. The inventories are scored and assessed in terms of percentiles or statistical norms.
Initially, they involve merely single trait such as introversion-extroversion, subsequently, they have been replaced by multiple trait inventories. Relatively the inventories are less time consuming and easy to administer. However, in certain cases, the individuals can give false impression about themselves if they desire to do so.
Term Paper # 4. Theories of Personality:
Over time researchers have developed a number of personality theories.
Personality theories can be grouped under the following five categories:
i. Trait Theory:
A personality trait can be defined as “an enduring attribute of a person that appears constantly in a variety of situations”.
(i) Individual can be described in terms of construction of traits such as affiliation, achievement, anxiety, aggression and dependency.
(ii) Trait distinguishes one personality from another.
(iii) The traits and the amount of each trait that a person has is assumed to be stable fairly and the differences in personality and behaviour between two individuals is assumed to be the result of the differences in the amount of each that-each person has.
Thousands of words in English language refer to the characteristics of behaviour of traits. But the fundamental question is how to reduce them to small number of meaningful traits. One technique is the factor analysis. It is a complex statistical technique for reducing large number of personality traits into small number of independent traits. The technique has the advantage of reducing several hundred test responses. Norman provided the different descriptive objective pairs of words for the same kind of trait.
ii. Freud Theory:
Freud contributed significantly towards the understanding of human behaviour through his concept of unconsciousness.
According to Freud, human mind is composed of three elements:
(i) The preconscious,
(ii) The conscious, and
(iii) The unconscious.
The items in the mind that can be recognized only through Freud Association Method are preconscious. The conscious element is concerned with thoughts, feelings, beliefs and desires that we can learn about ourselves through intro-inspection. The unconscious is basically concerned with ideas and wishes that cannot be learned through intro-inspection but can be determined from hypnotism, dreams and Freudian Therapecific Techniques. According to Freud, the conscious is guided by a reasoned reality principle and the unconscious is guided by the famous hedonist principle of pleasure.
Freud developed an organisation of personality consisting of three structures within the human mind:
a. The id,
b. The ego and
c. The super ego.
These parts of the mind are primarily responsible for originating human action and reactions and modifications.
Id is the original and the most basic system of human personality. It consists of everything psychologically that is inherited and present at the time of the birth. At the base lies the id that is primitive, instinctual and governed by the principles of greed and pleasure. Id represents a store house of all instincts, containing in its dark depths all wishes, desires and unconsciously directs and determines our behaviour. Id is largely childish, irrational, never satisfied, demanding and destructive of others. Id is the foundation up which all other parts of the personality are erected.
As an individual learns to separate the unreality from reality in childhood, the ego develops. The ego the reality oriented art in thinking. It is largely practical and works in an executive capacity. Ego is rational and logical and in essence it is the conscious mediator between the realities of the world and the id’s demand.
It constantly works to keep a healthy psychological balance between id’s impulsive demands and super ego’s restrictive guidance. Ego regulates and integrates the inner motives and conflicting demands, defends the person by using defence mechanisms and master’s the person’s goals. The ego develops by creating an effective perceptual mechanism that enables a person to adjust to the reality principle viz., tolerance of tension, expectation of punishment, awareness of things and associated inhibitions of actions.
The most important characteristics of ego are that it has the ability to distinguish between mental images and actual sources of tension release, and it responds to the real sources of tension reduction. If the ego succeeds, the individual is content; otherwise he will be dissatisfied and have a mental stress, ambivalence and burn out.
c. Super Ego:
It represents noblest thoughts, ideas, feelings that are acquired by a person from his parents, teachers, friends, religion, organisation and colleagues etc. As a child grows and absorbs parental and cultural attitudes and values, he develops a super ego. It is also labelled as ‘ego-ideal’ that tells the individual what is acceptable. The primary concern of superego is to determine whether the action proposed by ego is right or wrong so that the individual acts in accordance with the values and standards of the society. If people violate the prohibitions of super ego they may feel guilty.
In Freudian theory of personality, the instinctual drives of id and super ego are constantly battling each other and seeking to breakout the bonds of reason the ego. As a person becomes torn between these conflicts, a friction develops and results in anxiety, an ominous feeling that all is not well. Anxieties create tension and as such as a person resorts to defensive mechanism in order to reduce tension.
iii. Adler and Jung Theory:
Adler emphasized the thrust for superiority as a derive which motivates the individual. He developed the concepts of compensation and the inferiority complex based on the drive for power. Individuals who are weak in one area of work tend to excel in another area of work. Adler stressed social relationships instead of innate or biological factors. This as well as his stress on individual uniqueness, style of life and the creative self, brings him close to modern theorists who consider themselves as psychoanalytic in approach.
Jung developed analytical psychology stressing the unconscious aspect of psychoanalysis. He postulated the collective unconsciousness. According to him, personality is based on predisposing patterns borrowed by the individual from his ancestors. His collective unconscious extends back through previous generations to the dawn of history. It is his notion of heredity transference of acquired features which is the least acceptable to modern theorists.
Despite in stress in the past, Jung asserted that the operation of an individual’s personality is as much future oriented as rooted in the past. To the extent he asserted that the individual is not bound to the past but can effectively build his future as a dynamic optimist.
iv. Social Learning Theory:
The theory considers the situation as an important determinant of behaviour as against trait theories which assume that personality is characterized by the enduring traits of an individual. According to this theory, an individual’s action in a given situation, individual’s appraisal of the situation and post reinforcement of behaviour are somewhat similar situations. When the situation they encounter are relatively stable, individual’s behaviour will be more or less consistent.
The main focus of the learning approach is on the patterns of behaviour the individual learns in coping with the environment. Some behaviour patterns are learned or acquired through direct experience. Responses can also be acquired or learned without direct reinforcement. Social learning theorists believe that reinforcement is not necessary for learning but they accept the view that reinforcement facilitates learning by focusing attention. According to social learning school, much of the human learning is vicarious or observational.
Reinforcement though not necessary for learning is very crucial for the performance of learned behaviour. The assumption of this theory is that people behave in the ways likely to produce reinforcement. An individual’s repertoire (storehouse) of learned behaviours is extensive. The particular action chosen for specific situation depends upon the expected outcome.
The reinforcement that controls the expression of learned behaviour may be:
Refers to, the social approval or disapproval or alleviation of aversive conditions and other tangible rewards.
Refers to observation of someone else receiving reward or punishment for similar behaviour.
Refers to evaluation of one’s own performance with self-praise or reproach. Of all these, self-administered reinforcement theory plays a vital role in social learning theory.
v. Holistic Theories:
Kolasa has grouped several theorists under a common title— Holistic theorists. They include holistic, organismic and field theorists who stress on the totality and inter relatedness of all kinds of human behaviour. In spite of the common aspect of emphasis on the individual as a whole, they differ in many ways.
Maslow has focused on the concept of needs derived from the positive and optimistic dimensions of the individual’s total functioning. He has structured several levels of needs i.e., the hierarchy of needs. His concept of self-actualization needs is of great significance. His concept of hierarchy of needs has been greatly relied upon to understand human behaviour in organisational settings.
Rogers visualizes personality in terms of the organism (or of the whole individual) functioning in a phenomenal field (or the entire experience). The patterns of perceptions in this field provide the basis for, the self who seeks to become consistent with itself and its environment. If this is not possible for any reason the organism is exposed to threats.
Based on his approach a new school of thought called Phenomenology has developed. This viewpoint assumes that the reality for the individual consists of what he perceives in his field or experiences instead of things as they factually are.
Herzberg approach considers man in his two aspects. One aspect of the man is ‘Adam’ or of animal nature which aims to avoid the pain of adjustment with the environment, which the other aspect is Abraham which motivates him to achieve and add to his existence. The Adam aspect of man possesses hygiene needs which are satiated (fulfilled) through salary, working conditions and fringe benefits. The Abraham aspect of man involves needs which motivators are including those related to psychological growth of the individual in work setting, job enlargement, etc.
According to Lewin (Field theorists) interpretation individuals, personality can be depicted in a perceptual field in physical units. The field has been considered on the psychological life space of the individual with forces attracting or diverting him in respect of a goal.
Festinger, has postulated cognitive dissonance as a motivating condition in the individual. As soon as two cognitions of an individual are inconsistent with each other, he tends to change one of them to adhere to the other, minimising the dissonance.
Term Paper # 5. Personality Traits:
Personality traits are the enduring characteristics that describe an individual’s behaviour. The early work in the structure of personality revolved around the attempts to identify and level enduring characteristics that describe an individual’s behaviour. Popular characteristics include shy, aggressive, submissive, lazy, ambitious, loyal and timid.
Efforts to isolate traits have been hindered because they were so many. In one study, 17, 953 individual traits were identified. One researcher isolated 171 traits but concluded that they are superficial and lacking in descriptive power. Then he reduced these set of traits in sixteen set of traits. These sixteen traits have been found to be generally steady and constant source of behaviour, allowing prediction of an individual’s behaviour in specific situations by weighing the characteristics for their situational relevance.
Traits can additionally be grouped to form personality types. Instead of looking at specific characteristics, we can group these qualities that go together into a single category. For example, ambition and aggression tend to be highly correlated. Efforts to reduce the number of traits into common groups tend to isolate introversion-extroversion and something approximating high anxiety and extroversion would be tense, excitable, unstable, warm, sociable and dependent.
As the traits ignore situational contents, they are not contingent oriented and therefore largely ignore the dynamic interchange that occurs between a person’s personality and his environment. As a result, personality traits tend to be more valuable as predictors with individuals who hold a trait at its extreme.
We might be able to predict some common behaviour among extreme extroverts or individuals who are highly anxious. But since the majority of people are in the vast middle range on most trait characteristics, personality traits must be considered in their situational context.
Term Paper # 6. Personality and Organisational Behaviour:
Personality is an important determinant of employee behaviour. If an employee likes monotonous or boring work, if he steadfastly refuses additional responsibilities in the form of promotion, if a supervisor fails to reprimand an unruly subordinate or if a middle level manager tries to climb up the ladder to reach the top of an organisation callously ignoring ethical considerations, the explanation for such behaviour in each case depends on the individual personality, which predisposes an individual to certain behavioural patterns. A thoughtful application of personality concepts helps us to understand unique beings and groups with similar personality characteristics.
Personality is the focal point determining motivation-consider the following quote:
“It is impossible to give a full and comprehensive account of executive behaviour without raising questions of why they behave as they do”. For example, why do effective executives spend so much time on personnel matters? Why do not they concentrate their efforts on production?
When we ask such questions regarding executive behaviour, we are trying to explore question of motivation. Motivation is concerned with the study of the direction and persistence of action. Personality is the organising centre around which people’s motives form a unified and integrated system.
Personality characteristics influence selection of individuals to occupy various positions in an organisation. The traits required for a successful sales manager are different from those required for an executive in charge of production. In this connection psychologists have devised a series at tests (e.g., the California tests of personality, Rorschach Ink blot test, thematic apperception test, etc.) which help selection of right individuals for the right jobs.
The concept of personality is not to be understood in an organisational context only. The need for understanding human characteristics, in general, is more significant than comprehending personality in the context of organisations. Despite serious attempts, experts have not been able to comprehend the real nature of personality.
Of all the problems that have confronted human beings since the beginning of recorded history, perhaps the most significant has been the riddle of their own nature. Attempts to answer, ‘what is man’? Are countless, a great many answers have been explored, with an enormous variety of concepts being employed along the way.
Astrology, philosophy, and the life sciences are but a few of the many directions that the quest to understand human nature has taken. At this point in history, some of these answers have proved to be dead ends, while others are just beginning to flourish.
And today, the problem is more pressing than ever, since most of the World’s ills, for example, over population, war, pollution, prejudices are brought about by the behaviour of people. So, it may not be overstating the case to say that the quality of human life in the future, indeed our own survival, may well depend upon an increased understanding of human nature.