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Gordon Allport: Motivation and
Personality
Allport’s Life

Career of over 40 years

Born in 1897

Montezuma, Indiana

First American born theorist we are studying

Youngest of four sons

Mother a teacher/father a salesman turned doctor

Very religious

Strict mother and household rules
Allport’s life

Not as masculine as brothers

Did not really have friends

Isolated life

Allport believed healthy adults are unaffected by childhood events

Exceled due to feelings of inferiority

Ph.D. is psychology from Harvard

Second in high school class

Graduated in 1915 and went to Istanbul, Turkey

Upon return he met Freud
Allport’s early career

Met Freud in Vienna

Freud immediately assessed Allport as having a compulsive
personality

Street car example

Allport viewed the encounter in later years as traumatic

Wrote the book Personality: A Psychological Interpretation in 1937

Brought personality into the mainstream
Differed from Freud

Allport believe the unconscious was not as Freud described it

He believed emotionally healthy people function rationally and
consciously

He believed emotionally healthy people have control over their
personality

He believed the unconscious was only important in the behavior of
“neurotic or disturbed individuals”

We are not prisoners of childhood issues

Guided more by present and view of the future
Allport’s Contributions

He opposed collecting data from abnormal personalities and said
instead the field should be studying normal/healthy personality to
determine theory.

Uniqueness of Person—very aligned with social work values and
ethics


Saw each person as unique and not universal/specific
Believed inferiority are feelings of isolation and rejection and all
people deal with these to some degree
Nature of Personality

Dynamic

Organized

Constantly changing and growing

Almost two personalities—one for child; one for adult

Psychosocial to him was personality composed of both mind and
body together as one unit

All facets of personality activate and direct specific behaviors and
thoughts

Believed people were rational in the decisions they made about
behaviors (rather than just impulses or uncontrolled desires)
Personality Traits

Traits are distinguishing characteristics that guide behavior;
measured on a continuum and subject to social, environmental and
cultural influences

1. Real and exist within each of us

2. Determine or cause behavior

3. Can be demonstrated

4. Interrelated—may overlap—aggressiveness and hostility

5. Vary with the situation—can be neat and orderly in one area but
based on situation disorderly in another
Traits

Individual—unique

Common—shared by many

Personal dispositions (changed to this)—peculiar to an individual

Cardinal trait—pervasive and influential

Central traits—everyone has 5-10 themes that best describe
behavior

Secondary traits—least influential traits—may display inconsistently
Motivation

Past does not explain current behavior

Plans an intentions play a vital role

Differed from Freud in this way also

We strive for what we want and that is key to understanding our
behavior

Functional autonomy of motives—independent of childhood events

2 levels of functional autonomy—Perservative and Propriate
Functional Autonomy

Idea that motivations in the normal, mature adult are independent
of the childhood experience.

Tree example

Preservative functional autonomy—relates to low level and routine
behaviors

Propriate functional autonomy—(proprium is allport’s term for the
psyche or ego)

Relates to all of our values; self-image and lifestyle
Propriate Functional Autonomy

Relates to our values, self-image and lifestyle

We retain motives that enhance our self esteem or self image

Direct relationship between our interests and abilities


Organizing the energy level

Mastery and competence

Propriate patterning
Proprium—his term for the ego or self
Organizing functioning


Organizing & energy level

Explains how we acquire new motives

Motives arise from necessity
Mastery and competence

Refers to level at which we choose to satisfy motives


Master new skills
Propriate Patterning

Striving for consistency and integration of personality
Stages of development
In Childhood

Unique Self

Infants have no awareness of self

Then Proprium emerges

3 stages of proprium development

1. Bodily Self (ages birth to 4) develops when infants begin to be aware
of own fingers/grasping/own body.

2. Self Identity (birth to 4) children learn their own name and see selves
as distinct from others

3. Self-esteem (birth to 4 years) can accomplish things on their own;
become motivated to build, explore, manipulate objects
Stages of Development
In Childhood

Extension of Self (age 4-6 years) people are part of a larger world

Self-image—ages 4-6 years) how children see and would like to see
themselves

Self as a rational coper (ages 6-12 years) reason and logic can be
applied to solving every day problems

Propriate Striving (12-18 years) begins to formulate long range plans
and goals for self

Adulthood (rest of life) autonomy; free of child hood motivations
Allport

Placed great importance on the infant and mother bond
Healthy Adult Personality

This grows and changes from infancy

6 criteria for adult personalities

1. Extended Sense of Self—people and activities beyond the self

2. Mature adults relate warmly to other people exhibiting intimacy

3. High degree of self-acceptance helps to achieve emotional
security

4. Realistic perception of life—develop personal skills make a
commitment to some type of work

5. Sense of humor and self objectification

6. Unifying philosophy of life-directs toward future goals
Assessment

Used many techniques due to the complexity of personality

Personal-document technique—the study of a person’s written or
spoken records

Jenny
Study of Values

Allport developed a test called the study of values

Personal values are the basis of our unifying philosophy of life

1. Theoretical values-concerned with the discovery of truth

2. Economic values—concerned with the useful and practical

3. Aesthetic values—form harmony/grace

4. Social values—human relationships, activism, and philanthropy

5. Political values—power, influence, and prestige

6. Religious values—deal with the mystical
Research on Allport

Did not believe in only experimental or correlational methods

Expressive behavior—spontaneous behavior

Coping Behavior—consciously planned behavior

Effects of Gender and age—women and children better at reading
facial expressions than males

Cultural differences in facial expressions
Criticisms

Can his theory be tested?

Functional autonomy—how is an original motive transformed into an
autonomous one

Not generalizable—too focused on uniqueness of person
Contributions

Influential

Impacted Maslow and Rogers

Readable theory
Cattell: 16 Factor Theory
Cattell’s theory

His theory goal was to predict how a person will behave in response
to a given stimulus

He was not interested in taking abnormal behavior and moving to
normal behavior

Studied normal people

Rigorously scientific

Utilized 50 types of measures and searched for correlations
Cattell’s Life

Born in 1905 in England

Married a mathematician

Worked at University of Illinois

In his 70’s he went to the University of Hawaii

Noted to be very hard working

Died in Honolulu in 1998
Cattell’s Theory

He has success in the United states

Defined traits as relatively permanent reaction tendencies that are
basic structural units of personality

Common traits: possessed in some degree by all persons

Unique traits: possessed by one or a few persons

Ability traits: describe our skills and how efficiently we will be able to
work toward our goals

Temperament traits: describe our general behavioral style in
responding to our environment
Cattell’s theory

Dynamic traits: driving forces of behavior

Surface traits: show a correlation but do not constitute a factor
because they are not determined by a single source

Source traits: personality characteristics that are much more stable
and permanent

Constitutional traits: source traits that depend on our physiological
characteristics

Environmental mold traits: learned from social and environmental
interactions
Ergs and Sentiments

Ergs—permanent constitutional source traits that provide energy for
goal-directed behavior. The basic innate units of motivation

Sentiments—source traits that mold behavior

SEMS—Socially Shaped ergic manifolds which may be reason for us
to continue to call them sentiments
Source Traits: Basic Factors of
Personality

16 Traits

See table 8.2 in text

Developed the Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire

Basic elements like atoms are the basic units of the physical world
Dynamic Traits: Motivating Forces

Concerned with motivation

Believed if a theory did not take motivating into account then the
theory was incomplete

Believed in influences of Heredity and environment
Stages of Development

Infancy—birth to 6 years-formative; influenced by parents/siblings

Weaning/toilet training

Security and insecurity
Childhood–age 6-14
few issues and beginning to move toward independence
Adolescence—age 14-23
troublesome and stressful
Stages of Development

Maturity—age 23-50

Productive; career; family creation;

Personality becomes less flexible
Late Maturity—age 50-65
Physical, social and psychological changes
Health vigor and attractiveness may decline
Old age—age 65 to death
Loss of friends, spouses
Loss of Career
Critiques

Some subjectivity

Impacted the notion of a genetic influence

The 16 PF test can’t be translated—so lack of cultural
competence/relevancy
Contributions

Research tied to certain traits and things like marital stability and
predicting success on the job

Variability in responses predicts different things

Numerous written items
Eysenck

Born in 1916 in Berlin; immigrated to Germany in 1934

Immigrated due to Hitler’s rule

Prolific record

Wrote many books and astonishing 1097 journal articles
Behavioral Genetics

Study of relationship between genetic/hereditary factors and
personality traits
Dimensions of Personality

Critic of factor analysis

Created the Eysenck Personality Inventory

Three dimensions

E—extraversion versus introversion

N—neuroticism versus emotional stability

P—psychoticism versus impulse control (superego functioning)

See table 8.4 (p 227) in text
Extraversion

Oriented to outside world

More pleasant emotions and happier with the world

Certain careers perform better

Introverts shy away from excitement

Extraverts have lower levels of cortical arousal thus they seek
excitement
Neuroticism
Characterized as anxious, depressed, tense, irrational and moody
Largely inherited—genetics
Increased satisfaction with work and social relationships lead to lower
levels of neuroticism and higher extraversion
Higher scored lower in verbal abilities
Psychoticism

High are aggressive, antisocial, tough-minded, cold and egocentric

Insensitive to the needs of others

Can be highly creative

Tends to be more male

Society needs a variety of all three of these personality dimensions
Role of Heredity

Eysenck believed primarily determined by heredity

Also believed environmental and situational influenced personality

Research on twins

Cross cultural support
McCrae and Costa
5 Factor Model

Used factor analysis but varied the number

Just measured traits differently

Believed Eysenck had too few and Cattell had too many

Both still alive

McCrae born in 1949; Costa born in 1942

Developed using a variety of assessment tools
5 Factor

Study of twins noted four of the five factors have a higher heredity
component

Neuroticism; Extraversion; Openness; conscientiousness

Agreeableness was found to have a stronger environmental
component

Cross cultural implications
Gender Differences

Women report higher levels of neuroticism, extraversion,
agreeableness and conscientiousness than men

People tend to view selves as more neurotic and more open to
experiences

Tend to see others as higher in conscientiousness then they see
selves
Predicting Changes over time

Preschool teachers asked to predict 3-6 year old behaviors

What behaviors do teachers and parents promote? Reinforce?
Emotional correlates

Extraversion has been linked to emotional well being

Neuroticism has been negatively linked to emotional well being

People high in extraversion and low in neuroticism are predisposed
to be emotionally stable

Some studies have shown high extraversion links to ability to cope
with life

Extraversion has also been linked to happiness, optimism and life
satisfaction

Persons high in agreeableness and conscientiousness showed
greater emotional well being than persons low in those traits
Emotional correlates

Distress has been linked to high scores of neuroticisms as well as
prone to depression, anxiety, substance abuse and self blame

Those high on neuroticism and openness had greater risk for suicide
Behavioral Correlates

High in openness tend to have wide range of intellectual interests
and to seek challenges

More likely to change jobs and try different careers

Extraverts are more likely to be active in later years

People high in conscientiousness tend to be reliable, responsible,
punctual, efficient, and dependable and earn better grades

Also more organized, self-disciplined and achievement oriented

Agreeableness, conscientiousness and openness correlated to
academic performance in college
Behavioral Correlates

Some ties to healthier and living longer for high conscientiousness

Wear seat belts and take fewer risks

Low in conscientiousness had tendency to be heavy users of
alcohol and drugs

Extraversion leads to more friends
Michael Ashton and Kibeom Lee
HEXACO—Six Factor Model

Proposed a six factor model of personality in 2007

Two of the factors are similar to the five factor model

Extraversion

Conscientiousness
Ashton and Lee continued

Other factors are

Honesty/humility

Emotionality

Agreeableness

Openness to Experience
HEXACO

60 items HEXACO inventory

Some links to certain traits but not overly proven yet

See table 8.6 (p 239) in text
Paulhus and Williams
Dark Triad of Personality

From University of BC

Includes the following:

Narcissism—extreme selfishness, inflated sense of one’s abilities and
talents and the constant need for admiration

Machiavellianism—need to manipulate others, characterized by
cunning, deceit and unscrupulous behaviors

Psychopathy—callous, insensitive, egocentric, antisocial, takes
advantage of other people using great charm and often violence
Assessing the Dark Triad

Dirty Dozen Scale (see p 240)

Those who score high in all 3 tend to be more antisocial

Strong sense of self-promoting

Short term exploitive sexual relationships
Personality Theory and the internet

Five factor model

Links to traits and can predict some internet use

More facebook friends

Introverted tend to use it more

College students high in conscientiousness, agreeableness and
emotional stability were far less likely to post on facebook about
personal matters
Relationship to Social Work

Person in Environment (see this with Allport)

Takes social and cultural influences into account

Has a very heavy focus on heredity

Does use empirical information

Tests have been found to be valid and reliable

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