The date for the exam is given in the Syllabus and Calendar on Canvas.
The exam will cover all lectures and required readings for Modules 6-9 (Memory; Thought and Language; The Trilogy of Mind; and Personality and Social Interaction as well as the corresponding chapters of the text.
There are lots of resources available for the examination. In addition to this narrative review, there are lots of materials on the course website: the Lecture Supplements, which contain expanded treatment of the lectures given in class, as well as copies of all past exams, with answers (and usually with explanations of the answers). I don't intentionally repeat questions from year to year, but the topics I deem important don't change that much.
In addition, students are encouraged to post questions to the Queries and Comments discussion board on Canvas. Either I or the GSIs will do our best to respond to them, provided that they are posted no later than noon on the day before the exam. Do not send questions by private Email to either me or the GSIs: we want to make sure that everybody in class has equal access to the exchanges.
The exam will consist of 50 multiple-choice questions. Roughly half will be drawn directly from the lectures, roughly half will be drawn directly from the text. Of course, there is some overlap between lectures and readings. The exam will be computer scored according to procedures outlined in the Exam Information page on the course website.
Exam Construction and Scoring
The focus of my exam is on basic concepts and principles. There are no questions about names or dates (though names and dates may appear in questions). There are no questions about picky details. There are no questions about specific experiments, though you should be able to recognize the implications of the phenomena revealed by some classic experiments. There are no intentionally tricky questions: I want you to understand basic concepts and principles, not the exceptions to the rules.
The exam will be scored twice, following the procedures outlined in the page on Exam Information. Usually, we try to post exam grades within a couple of days of the exam.
When grades are posted, there will also be an announcement to this effect, and we will also post a copy of the exam with answers, item analysis, and commentary.
Memory is the "mental storehouse" of knowledge, but this knowledge comes in various kinds, and you should understand the distinction between declarative and procedural knowledge, and between episodic and semantic memory. You should also understand the three stages of memory processing: encoding, storage, and retrieval. The lectures focused on episodic memory, and the principles governing the various stages of memory processing as revealed by experiments employing the "verbal learning" paradigm.
Short-term memory is often considered to be the gateway to long-term memory, and the differences between the two are illustrated by "the magical number 7, plus or minus 2", and by the serial-position effects of primacy and recency. Most theoretical attention these days is on "working" memory, rather than short-term memory as such.
Attention links perception and memory. You should know something about the differences between early- and late-selection theories of attention, and also about the differences between automatic and controlled processes.
The rest of the lectures were organized around a small number of basic principles governing episodic memory.
- With respect to the encoding stage, the distinction
between rote (maintenance) and elaborative rehearsal leads
to the elaboration principle, illustrated by the "depth of
- To which we can add the organization principle.
- With respect to the storage stage, the operative principle
is time-dependency, which can have a number of causes,
depending on whether we are talking about short-term or
- In long-term episodic memory, time-dependent forgetting is mostly a function of interference, as illustrated by the fan effect.
- Encoding and storage make trace information available in
memory, apparently permanently -- at least so far as
long-term episodic memory is concerned, there does not seem
to be any loss from storage due to decay or displacement.
So, the problem at retrieval is how to gain access to
information that is available in memory.
- This is governed by the principles of cue dependency and encoding specificity.
- The schematic processing principle has to do with the
effect on memory of the person's cognitive framework of
knowledge, beliefs, and expectations.
- Schema-relevant information tends to be remembered
better than schema-irrelevant information.
- Schema-congruent information has an advantage because
the schema provides additional retrieval cues.
- Schema-incongruent information has an advantage because the conflict between the event and expectations induces extra elaboration.
- Just as perception is constructive, going beyond the information given by the stimulus, so memory is reconstructive, going beyond information in the trace.
Chapter 7Kalat's Chapter 7 provides excellent coverage of the various methods of testing memory: free and cued recall, recognition, savings; explicit vs. implicit memory.; and declarative vs. procedural memory.
Eyewitness identification is, essentially, a problem of recognition memory. There is a nice discussion of factors affecting children's eyewitness memory, which can be viewed through the framework of the principles discussed in the lectures.
There is also a nice discussion of the distinction between short-term (or working) and long-term memory.
- You should understand the differences between short-term and long-term memory, in terms of characteristics such as capacity and decay.
- You should understand the differences between short-term and working memory, in terms of attention.
- The influence of meaningfulness and arousal on encoding; also encoding specificity and the use of mnemonic devices.
- Consolidation processes during the storage stage.
- The section on "retrieval" has a nice discussion of inference and other reconstructive processes, and the effects of reconstruction, such as hindsight bias.
- There is a nice discussion of trauma and memory: the
problem of suggestion, and of recovered memories generally,
relates back to the earlier discussion of reconstructive
- Note the differences in the memory disorders suffered by patients with damage to the hippocampus especially the distinction between declarative and procedural memory), compared to the prefrontal cortex (you can think of confabulation as a phenomenon of memory reconstruction).
- You should understand the difference between anterograde
amnesia (reflecting problems in encoding) and retrograde
amnesia (reflecting problems in retrieval).
- Note, too, the memory problems at the beginning and the
end of the life-cycle: infantile amnesia, and Alzheimer's
Thought and Language
The lectures on thought and language are organized by the limits of normative rationality as an account of how people actually think, as illustrated by categorization, judgment, and decision-making.
As one example, a strictly logical approach to categorization, a basic cognitive function, is provided by the classical view of categories as proper sets, whose members share in common a single set of defining features. You should know the implications of the proper-set view of categorization, concerning issues such as the vertical arrangement of categories into supersets and subsets, and the "all or none" principle governing the horizontal relations between categories. And you should know something about how the prototype view of categories as fuzzy sets helps solve these problems.
Don't worry about the distinction between prototypes and exemplars: but for those who are interested, the prototype view also has some problems, many of which are solved by an alternative view of categories as collections of exemplars. But don't worry about this for the exam.
The problems with normative rationality are also illustrated by the literature on judgment heuristics.
You should know the difference between an algorithm and a
heuristic, and between well-defined and ill-defined problems,
and you should understand how certain common heuristics work,
- simulation, and
- anchoring and adjustment.
In each case, people depart from the use of algorithms, and prefer to use heuristics instead, thus increasing the risk that they will make judgmental errors.
The same principle applies to framing effects, as illustrated by the disease problem and sunk costs. Here, people's judgments are swayed by the way a problem is worded, instead of making decisions based on an abstract, algebraic representation of the problem.
To account for phenomena like these, Kahneman and Tversky proposed Prospect Theory as a substitute for rational choice. Prospect theory is a "psychological" theory, not a "logical" theory, because it tries to account for how people actually think: when they will be risk averse, how they handle probabilities, how they use background information to make choices.
Some theorists conclude from these
sorts of results that people are basically stupid and
irrational. But, as Simon pointed out, people may well be
rational, but their rationality is constrained (bounded) by
certain considerations: most reasoning takes place under
conditions of uncertainty, where algorithms won't work anyway;
and even if there is an appropriate algorithm available, it
may not be possible to use it because of limitations on human
information-processing capacity (remember "the magical number
7..."). Judgment heuristics, far from being irrational, may be
quite adaptive -- "fast and frugal" means of making judgments
quickly and economically.
Intelligence can be defined as the ability to learn and think, and assessing individual differences in intelligence by means of "IQ" tests has been a major industry in psychology for more than a century.
- You should know something about the evolution of intelligence testing, beginning with the work of Binet and Simon.
- And the evolution of the measurement of IQ, from mental age to deviation IQ.
- The properties of psychometric tests.
- The debate over whether intelligence is "one thing" or "many things".
- Spearman's g
- Thurstone's Primary Mental Abilities
- Guilford's Structure of Intellect
- Cattell's distinction between crystallized and fluid intelligence
- And the notion of "culture-Fair" testing
- Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences
- Sternberg's triarchic theory of intelligence
- The debate concerning social and emotional intelligence
I'll have more to say about the genetic and environmental determinants of IQ in the lectures on Psychological development, after the Midterm.
Language is a tool for communication, but it's also a tool for thinking. You should know something about the properties of human language, and how language compares to animal communication (e.g., birdsong).
You should understand the hierarchical organization of language:
- Phonemes, morphemes, words, phrases, and sentences.
- How phrase structure combines words into sentences
- The difference between surface structure and deep structure.
- Pragmatics and conversational rules
And you should know something about the debate concerning linguistic relativity, also known as the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.
Chapter 8Chapter 8 covers both "high-level" thinking and language, and begins with an excellent treatment of attention. (The fact that the lectures treated "attention" in the lectures on Memory, while the textbook treats this same subject in the chapter on Thinking is not a problem -- remember, you learn better if you space out your study, and if you encounter the same material in different context!). There is a nice discussion of bottom-up (data-driven) and top-down (conceptually driven) processes: both are involved in selecting material for further processing. You should understand the implications of the Stroop effect, and also of change blindness.
- This basic research is then brought down to earth in the use of formal tests of attention in the assessment of Attention Deficit Disorder, like the choice-delay task and the stop-signal task.
- You should understand how concepts are linked together in associative networks, giving rise to such phenomena as priming through spreading activation.
- You should understand representativeness and availability as examples of heuristics and the problems they can create
- With representativeness, a failure to consider base-rate information.
- On availability, don't be confused about the criticism
of the belief that "you should stick with your first
impulse on a multiple-choice test". If you can't
choose on any other basis, and especially if you have
eliminated some alternatives as clearly wrong, your
"hunch" will be right more likely than wrong.
Unless, that is, the instructor is fiendishly tricky,
which I'm not.
- You should also understand the other common errors discussed in this chapter.
- Confirmation bias.
- Functional fixedness.
- Framing effects.
- The sunk-cost problem.
Chapter 8 also contains a discussion of language.
- You should understand the difference between the surface structure and the deep structure of a sentence, and the role of transformational grammar in getting from one to the other.
- You should understand some of the problems in attributing a capacity for language to non-human animals such as chimpanzees.
- You should understand why language is special, and not just a special case of intelligence, including its special organization in the brain (remember Broca's and Wernicke's areas?).
- You should know something about the stages of language development in early childhood.
- And about the effects of not being exposed to language, and about exposure to bilingual environments.
- You should know something about how we resolve ambiguity in understanding words and sentences.
The section on word recognition includes the distinction between phonemes and morphemes, and also repeats some material from earlier lectures on pattern recognition.
You should know something about how eye movements (fixations
and saccades) reveal reading processes.
You can think of intelligence as reflecting individual differences in thinking and problem-solving ability. You should understand the basic theoretical approaches to intelligence.
- Spearman's arguments for the single factor of g.
- Alternative explanations for the existence of g.
- Cattell's distinction between fluid and crystallized intelligence.
- The argument that g is the top level in a hierarchical structure of different kinds of intelligence, such as verbal and perceptual.
- Gardner's theory of "multiple intelligences", which essentially denies that g exists.
- Sternberg's "triarchic" theory of intelligence, with its emphasis on practical intelligence.
You should understand the rationale behind "IQ" tests, such as the series of tests devised by David Wechsler, including the distinction between aptitude and achievement, and the importance of culture-fair (or at least culture-reduced testing).
- The distribution of IQ, in terms of mean and standard deviation.
- How IQ and other psychological tests are analyzed for reliability and validity.
- Problems of gender, age, and racial bias in IQ tests.
- Potential sources of the 'Black-White" gap in test
scores, including "stereotype threat".
And you should know something about the genetic and environmental sources of individual differences in IQ, as revealed by family, twin, and adoption studies.
- You should understand that there is also specific evidence
for environmental as well as genetic contributions to
intelligence, like the Flynn Effect.
The Trilogy of Mind
The course so far has focused mostly on cognition, but the domain of psychology includes emotion and motivation as well.
You've already been introduced to some biological aspects of motivation in the lectures on the Biological Bases of Mind and Behavior.
From the lectures, you should know how emotion is defined, in terms of feelings of pleasantness and unpleasantness, and you should have some idea of the affective lexicon -- that there's more to emotion than just feeling sad or happy. You should appreciate that emotional responses have subjective, behavioral, and physiological components.
You should be able to trace the history of our understanding
- The James-Lange theory, and its critique by Cannon and Bard;
- General arousal theory;
- The cognitive-evaluation theory of emotion proposed by Schachter and Singer;
- Variants of the cognitive-evaluation theory proposed by Mandler and Smith and Ellsworth;
- How the facial-feedback hypothesis revived the James-Lange theory.
You should know how Darwin's theory of evolution laid the basis for Ekman's idea of basic emotions. Don't worry too much about Zajonc's vascular theory of emotional efference, or Leventhal's perceptual-motor theory of emotion.
You should understand how current neuroscientific approaches to emotion, predicated on the Doctrine of Modularity, have their beginnings in the Cannon-Bard hypothalamic theory, as elaborated by the concept of Papez' Circuit , and MacLean's idea of the limbic system in the triune brain (introduced in the lectures on Biological Bases).
Current neuroscientific ideas concerning brain systems for emotion focus on the role of the amygdala in fear, but research is beginning to uncover other links between specific emotions and specific brain centers.
As for motivation, you should understand how the basic idea of approach and avoidance (discussed in the lectures on Learning) fits in.
Many biological motives are based on the notion of homeostatic regulation, and you should understand the difference between positive and negative feedback. You should also understand the basics of how homeostatic regulation works out in the cases of hunger, thirst, and thermoregulation.
But motivation goes beyond homeostatic regulation. You should understand why homeostasis doesn't apply to aggression and mating, for example.
You should understand the distinction between primary and secondary reinforcement, and how motives can be acquired through learning.
You should understand something about the opponent-process theory of acquired motivation.
You should also know something about Harlow's work on "contact comfort", and Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Don't worry too much about Freud's instinct theory or Murray's needs.
Perhaps the biggest area of research on human motivation these days has to do with intrinsic motivation. You should understand the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, and the argument that intrinsic motivation can be undermined by reward. But you should also understand that reward is a complex thing, and that intrinsic motivation can be undermined or enhanced depending on how the reward is structured, how it is perceived, and what the person being rewarded values.
Motivation is Kalat's special area of research expertise: he wrote a wonderful textbook devoted to just this subject. So not surprisingly, he discusses motivation before emotion, whereas my lectures do the reverse. Either way, it doesn't matter.
- You should be able to contrast three views of motivation: drive, homeostasis, and incentive.
- You should know about Maslow's hierarchy of needs, and
Yang's cross-cultural "Double-Y" model.
You should know the surprising relationship between pay and job satisfaction, the characteristics of effective leaders, and the differences between the scientific-management and human-relations approaches to job design.
You should know something about the physiological mechanisms regulating hunger and satiety, over both short and long intervals.
- But eating isn't just about physiological needs, and there are social and cultural influences at play, as well.
You should know something about eating disorders in general:
- the nature of obesity
- factors affecting weight gain and loss
- social pressures about weight and body image
- anorexia and bulimia
There's also a fair amount on sexual behavior, some of which will also be discussed in the lectures on Development, after the Midterm Exam. For now, focus on sexual orientation and behavior, not so much on gender identity.
- The stages of sexual arousal, and gender differences.
- Determinants of heterosexual or homosexual orientation
Chapter 12Kalat's chapter on emotion focuses on stress and its implications for physical health. The three measures of emotion - -self-reports, behavioral observations, and physiological indices -- map onto Lang's multiple-systems view of emotion, as discussed in the lecture.
- There is also good coverage of the James-Lange theory.
- And Schachter & Singer's cognitive-appraisal theory.
- And Ekman's theory of that few basic emotions expressed by innate facial displays/
- And Russell's circumplex model.
- And last, but not least, Mayer & Salovey's idea of
individual differences in emotional intelligence,
There is nice coverage of the role of emotion in moral judgment and other aspects of decision-making, not covered in the lecture.
The chapter then turns to specific emotions such as fear, anger, sadness, and happiness.
Module 12.3 talks about the psychology and physiology of stress, a topic discussed at length in the lecture on the autonomic nervous system in the "Biology" module.
- You should understand Selye's definition of stress, and how stress is measured behavioralsly (his "General Adaptation Syndrome" was discussed in the earlier lecture on the autonomic nervous system) .
- You should know some direct and indirect effects of stress on health.
- And ways of coping with stress, such as social support,
exercise, relaxation, and distraction.
Personality and Social Interaction
While some teachers and authors treat personality and social psychology separately, I take an integrated view of these two fields, united by Lewin's equation B = f(P, E). Behavior is a function of both personal and environmental (situational) determinants, but persons, environments, and behavior constitute an interacting field. So, over and above the doctrine of traits (that behavior is caused by personal characteristics such as traits and attitudes) and the doctrine of situationism (that behavior is caused by factors in the physical and social environment outside the individual), I adopt the view that persons shape the environments in which they behave (the doctrine of interactionism), and that the relations between persons, environments, and the behavior they display in them, is characterized by bidirectional causality (the doctrine of reciprocal determinism). Having gotten all that out of the way, the succeeding lectures analyze the bidirectional relations between persons and behavior, between environments and behavior, and between persons and environments.
What I call The Dialectic Between the Person and Behavior begins with analysis of just which traits are supposed to cause people to behave the way they do. That's where the Big Five come in. You don't have to know anything about the statistical technique (known as factor analysis) by which they were derived, but you should recognize The Big Five as the basic structure of individual differences in personality. The next question concerns the degree to which we can predict an individual's behavior in some specific situation, knowing his or her general personality traits. The answer is: some, but not all that much. Mischel has characterized the "personality coefficient" of .30 (on a scale that ranges from -1 through 0 to +1) as representing about all the power traits have to predict behavior in some specific situation (political attitudes and voting behavior are a salient exception to this principle). For example, the correlation between teacher's ratings of children's level of "ego control" correlates in the mid-.20s with the children's actual performance on a test of delay of gratification.
That's fine for personal characteristics determining behavior, but what about the reverse - -behavior causing personal characteristics to form. Here, self-perception theory offers a good example of how observation of one's own behavior can shape his or her attitudes, thus reversing the usual direction of causation. So too for the James-Lange theory of emotion: whereas we usually think of behavior as being caused by emotional state, James and Lange thought that behavioral responses caused emotional states.
We can offer the same sort of analysis for The Dialectic Between Environment and Behavior. The social-psychological literature is replete with examples of how situational manipulations affect behavior, as in Asch's conformity experiments or the experiments on bystander intervention and altruism. But it's also true that behavior can alter the situation, as in the bystander intervention studies where pluralistic ignorance effectively defines the situation as a non emergency. And, continuing the delay of gratification example, children cannot delay long if they wait in the presence of a promised reward.
Here's where the lecture got cut short by the fire alarm, in which there wasn't any pluralistic ignorance, everyone did what they were supposed to do right away, and everybody took their turn lining up and going out the doors, so there was no panic. Good work!
But The Dialectic Between the Person and the Environment properly begins, again, with the traditional social-psychological literature, which (again) is replete with examples of how situational manipulations affect people's attitudes, moods, and the like -- what are supposed to be internal, personal determinants of behavior. There's the "snack" effect on attitudes and persuasion, for example, the effect of proximity on interpersonal attraction, and especially the mere exposure effect.
More interesting, at least to me, is the reciprocal influence of the person on the environment, which brings us back to the Doctrine of Interactionism, and the question of just how people affect their environments. I identified four such mechanisms:
- Evocation, where the mere presence of a person, or his or her physical appearance and other characteristics that have nothing to do with his or her behavior, alters the environment for the person. The classical example is gender stereotyping, where -- let's be blunt here -- the physical appearance of the newborn infant structures the environment in which the child is raised, so as to produce masculine boys and feminine girls. More broadly, stereotyping and prejudice are examples of evocation: in general, the presence of an outgroup member in the context of an ingroup changes the environment for everyone involved, even if the outgroup member does nothing.
- Selection, where people choose to place themselves in one environment as opposed to another. People with different personalities tend to favor environments in which they can "be themselves". And people tend to select mates who are similar to themselves in personality.
- (Behavioral) Manipulation, where people engage in overt behaviors that alter the objective environment for themselves, and for everyone else in that environment. How do you liven up a dull party? Whatever it is that you do, you change the environment from dull to lively. Observations of children who can delay gratification even in the presence of a promised reward show that the children engage in various behavioral strategies that have the effect of putting the reward out of sight. And children who distract themselves by playing with a toy are also able to delay longer.
- (Cognitive) Transformation, where people engage in cognitive activities that alter the private, subjective, mental representation of the environment -- how the environment is perceived, categorized, and interpreted. There's no overt behavior involved, and the change in the environment only occurs from the point of view of the person making engaged in the cognitive activity. For Martin Luther King, being in the Birmingham Jail had a different meaning than it would for most of the rest of us. More prosaically, returning to the delay of gratification experiment, children who cognitively transform marshmallows into clouds, and pretzels into tree trunks, are able to wait longer for a promised reward.
The broader point is that we can change the stimulus environment by changing the way we think about it -- how we perceive it, how we categorize the events in it. Optimists see the glass as half full, pessimists see the glass as half empty.
And the even broader point is that behavior is not merely caused by personal and environmental factors, and the personal and environmental causes of behavior are not independent of each other. Rather, the person, the environment, and the behavior that takes place in that environment constitute a complex system characterized by bidirectional causality.
Now, Kalat doesn't put it this way, but most of the material in Chapters 13 and 14 can be slotted into this framework. But you have to work at it a little -- and, frankly, it's a good exercise to promote understanding of the lectures.
My lectures are a little innovative, in
that the present personality and social psychology in an
integrated matter. The corresponding chapters in Kalat's
book take the more conventional route, discussing personality
and social psychology in separate, almost independent
chapters. Further, while the lectures talked about
personality before social psychology ("The Doctrine of Traits"
and "The Dialectic Between the Person and Behavior", P
==> B), Kalat reverses this order, discussing social
Chapter 13 deals mostly with the influence of the social environment on behavior -- that is, E ==> B, but also social influences on attitudes, which comes under the rubric of E ==> P. So you should know something about the influence of the social environment on various categories of behavior:
- competition and cooperation in the Prisoner's Dilemma
- altruism (helping behavior)
- social loafing;
- aggression and violence.
There is a nice discussion of social cognition:
- The power of first impressions.
- Stereotyping and prejudice -- including implicit or unconscious stereotyping and prejudice, a topic that will be discussed (a little) later in the lecture on Consciousness.
- A preview: Kalat is a lot more sanguine about the
Implicit Association Test, as a measure of unconscious
attitudes and prejudice, than I am. It's a long
story, and really a proper topic for an advanced course,
so for present purposes you should just have some
understanding of how the IAT is supposed to
work. (But if you ever go online and take the IAT,
please, please, take the results with a grain of salt.)
- Attribution of behavior to internal (personal) vs. external (environmental) causes, including the Fundamental Attribution Error, the Actor-Observer Effect, and cultural differences.
- A warning: here I think Kalat follows the proponents of
the FAE and AOE too far. The evidence for both the
error and the effect have been grossly exaggerated in the
literature. But Kalat isn't alone in doing so.
To understand why the FAE and AOE have been exaggerated,
you'd have to take my Social Cognition course! So
for the present, you should just understand what the FAE
and AOE are (claimed to be).
The study of attitudes and persuasion dominated social psychology for a very long time -- several decades, in fact.
- You should know how attitudes are defined and measured via paper-and-pencil scales.
- Cognitive dissonance theory is historically important, and predicted some interesting paradoxes in attitude-behavior relations.
- Persuasive communications can change people's attitudes in two ways, through "central" and "peripheral" routes and you should know something about the differences between them.
- The chapter also describes a lot of neat effects uncovered in attitude research, and you should have some appreciation of them:
- The role of social norms.
- Contrast effects
- The "foot-in-the-door" and "bait-and-switch" techniques.
- The "sleeper effect".
And last, but certainly not least, you should know something about the determinants of interpersonal attraction (this can be very handy if you're dating):
- Obviously, physical attractiveness is important.
- Somewhat paradoxically, average faces are considered
most attractive, and you should understand some of the
theories why this might be the case.
- But so are proximity and familiarity, as illustrated by the mere exposure effect.
- And so is similarity.
- And so is social exchange, such that each partner gives something, and each partner gets something, out of a close relationship.
And finally, we come to the vast literature on social influence:
- You should understand the difference between conformity (as studied in the Asch experiment) and obedience (as studied in the Milgram experiment).
- Group effects on decision-making, such as groupthink and
And similarly, Kalat's Chapter 14 deals with the traditional psychology of personality -- that is, with P ==> B, and especially the nature of individual differences in personality.In some respects, the classic theories of personality are theories of human nature.
- This is especially true of Freud's psychodynamic theory of personality. We now understand that Freud's theory is, scientifically, pretty much worthless -- there just isn't any scientific evidence for most of its propositions; and the propositions research supports aren't unique to Freudian theory. But Freud had, and still has, such an enormous influence on Western culture that you really ought to understand something about his theory.
- The importance of unconscious determinants of behavior.
- The stages of psychosexual development (I talk about these later, in the lectures on Development).
- The structure of personality, distinguishing between the functions of the id, ego, and superego.
- The importance of repression and other defense mechanisms.
- Karen Horney exemplifies the "neo-Freudian" approach to personality, which de-emphasizes biology, sexuality, and aggression. For Horney, the patient's problems were in the real world, not the world of fantasy.
- C.G. Jung postulated the existence of a collective unconscious. But aside from his theory of psychological types, Jung proved to be just as scientifically intractable as Freud did.
- Alfred Adler, once an adherent to Freudian psychology, staked out his own territory with his ideas about "striving for superiority" and the "inferiority complex".
And the there are the humanistic psychologists, like Rogers and Maslow. Scientific personality research doesn't have much use for them, either, though each made important contributions at a more conceptual level:
- Rogers, with his notion of the self-concept, especially self-esteem, and the need for unconditional positive regard.
- Maslow, with his hierarchy of motives (discussed in the lecture and chapter on motivation), and his idea of self-actualization.
So, as you can see, a lot of these "theoretical" concepts, such as the Oedipus complex, collective unconscious, inferiority complex, unconditional positive regard,and self-actualization, wormed their ways into popular culture -- which is why we want you to know something about them!
You should understand the relationship between personality traits and social attitudes -- both are stable, consistent, dispositions manifested in behavior. Personality traits are usually measured by the same sorts of paper-and-pencil questionnaires used in the study of attitudes, and these methods are supposed to have the same psychometric properties -- like reliability and validity -- that IQ tests have. And just like IQ, personality is supposed to have its source in the interaction of heredity and environment.
The modern scientific study of personality is dominated by the "Big Five" model, and you should be able to identify and define each of these major dimensions of personality.
- As with IQ, you should understand the evidence for a genetic contribution to individual differences in personality, based on family, twin, and adoption studies.
- And you should have some idea of how levels of each of the Big Five traits change over time.
You should understand something about the differences between
"objective" and "projective" methods of personality
assessment, and how criminal profiling stacks up as an
exercise in personality assessment.
You should also understand how priming techniques might
be used to assess unconscious aspects of personality, much as
the IAT might be used to assess unconscious
stereotypes and prejudices. But let's emphasize the
"might" in these statements: while open to unconscious
influences on personality and attitudes, I'm deeply skeptical
about either the IAT or affective priming as providing
positive evidence for them. So while it's important to
know about these claims, it's also important to know that they
might be exaggerated.
This page last revised 07/21/2017.