Domains of Knowledge Where Weve Been Where Were Going

Each of the six domains of knowledge represents a specialty within the field of per sonality psychology. When any field of knowledge grows la ge and complex, workers in that field are forced to specialize. For example, there once was a time whe the field of medicine was more simple and limited than it is no , and all doctors were general practitioners. The knowledge base of medicine was small enough so that each practitioner could generally master all of it. Today the field of medicine is so la ge and complicated that no one person can know it all, so doctors today are specialists. Personality psychology is much the same—a field in which people tend to specializ into the six domains of knowledge outlined in this book. In the remainder of this chapter, we will review the main features of each of these domains of knowledge, ending with some predictions about likely developments in each domain.

Dispositional Domain

The dispositional domain concerns the aspects of personality that are stable and that make people dif ferent from each other . For example, some people are outgoing and talkative; others are introverted and shy . Some are emotionally reactive and moody; others are calm and cool. Some people are conscientious and reliable; others are unde-pendable. There are many ways in which people dif fer from one another , and many of these dif ferences can be described as personality traits.

Major questions for psychologists working in this domain include the following: How many personality traits exist? How can we best discover and measure them? How do personality traits develop? How do traits interact with situations to produce behaviors?

It is likely that personality trait psychologists will continue to focus on the interaction of persons and situations. Psychologists have realized that behaviors always occur within a context. A formulation offered by psychologists Shoda and Mischel (1996) is the idea of if-then relations. Shoda and Mischel ar gue that personality is a specific pattern of if-then relationships. For example, if an adolescent is aggressive it means that certain behaviors (e.g., verbal insults) are likely to occur if certain situations are created (e.g., teased by a peer). Individual persons may be characterized by distinct profile of if-then relationships. What are the conditions under which a particular person will become depressed, angry, or frustrated? Each person has a distinct psychological signature in terms of specific if-then rela tionships: The person will do behavior A when situation Z occurs, but behavior B when situation Z does not occur . Two people may be equally high on aggressiveness, but the situations that trigger their aggression may be dif ferent. This is the essence of person-by-situation interaction.

A major emphasis of the dispositional domain concerns the accurate measurement of traits and abilities. More than any other domain of knowledge about personality, the dispositional domain emphasizes quantitative techniques for measuring and studying personality. This trend will probably continue, with trait psychologists leading the way in developing new methods for measuring personality characteristics, as well as new statistics for evaluating personality research. Future developments in measurement theory are likely to have an impact on how measures of personality traits are developed and evaluated (W est, 2002). For example, efforts are under way that will allow test makers to assess the accuracy and validity of individual items on a personality test. Other statistical developments are enabling personality researchers to examine causal connections between variables, even in the absence of experimental procedures. Continued progress in statistics, measurement, and testing will be a part of the dispositional domain of the future.

Different trait theories are associated with dif ferent procedures for identifying the most important individual differences. Some use the lexical strategy—starting with the thousands of trait terms embedded within language. Others use statistical techniques to identify important individual dif ferences. The future will see cooperation among these researchers to test whether specific trait structures are found using dif ferent procedures. Indeed, the search will continue for other traits not yet identifie by these strategies. For example, in the lexical approach, early researchers deleted adjectives related to sex or that were sex-linked (applied to one sex more than to the other). As a consequence of deleting these adjectives, researchers may have missed one or more traits related to sexuality or sex dif ferences. The recent discovery of a possible sixth factor , Honesty-Humility, obtained from extensive cross-cultural research, represents an exciting new discovery in the dispositional domain.

Biologjcal Domain

The core assumption of biological approaches to personality is that humans are biological systems. This domain concerns the factors within the body that influence o are related to personality as well as the evolutionary causal processes responsible for creating those bodily mechanisms. This domain is not any more fundamental than the other domains, nor is knowledge about this domain any closer to the truth about personality than is the knowledge in other domains. The biological domain simply

Personality psychologists will likely refine their understanding of the conditions or situations under which certain behaviors, such as arguing, will be evoked in people with certain traits, such as hostility.

contains the physical elements and biological systems that influence or are influenc by behaviors, thoughts, feelings, and desires. Biological processes may give rise to observable individual differences, or they may simply correlate with observable individual dif ferences. In addition, biological dif ferences between people may be the cause of personality dif ferences (as in the biological theory of extraversion) or may be the result of personality dif ferences (as in heart disease being the long-term consequence of the hostile Type A personality style).

One area of research that is likely to be active in the future concerns the psychology of approach and avoidance (Carver , Sutton, & Scheier, 1999). Many current researchers on biological bases of behavior recognize two tendencies that underlie human behavior and emotion: (1) the tendency to feel positive emotions and to approach and (2) the tendency to feel negative emotions and to avoid or withdraw (Davidson, 2000). Much of the research reviewed in Chapter 7 concerns examples of this theme. Some examples include the work on separate brain areas associated with positive and negative emotions, Gray's theory about behavioral approach and behavioral inhibition, and the work on sensitivity to reward and punishment. These areas of research will most likely further converge and the motives to approach and to avoid will become prominent themes in personality psychology .

Another major physical element within the body that influences personality i genes. Our genetic makeup contributes to whether we are tall or short, have blue eyes or brown eyes, or tend toward being skinny or overweight. It also appears that our genetic makeup influences behavior patterns associated with personalit , such as how active we are, whether or not we are aggressive, and whether we like to be with others or prefer to spend time by ourselves. Understanding how genetics contributes to personality falls squarely within the biological domain.

Behavioral genetics research has come a long way from the simple nature versus nurture question. Most of the major personality traits are now known to show some moderate amount of heritability (in the range of .20 to .50). With 20 to 50 percent of the variance in these traits due to genetic dif ferences, that leaves 50 to 80 percent due to either measurement error or the environment. The environment can be broken down into the shared and nonshared components. The shared environment is what siblings have in common, such as the same parents, the (presumably) same parental rearing style, the same schools and religious institutions, and so on. The nonshared environment consists of such chance factors as dif ferent friends or peers outside the family , different teachers, potentially different parental treatment, and random factors, such as accidents and illnesses. Researchers are pinpointing shared and nonshared environmental factors that appear important to personality . Thus, we will see the counterintuitive scenario in which genetics researchers will focus on a careful assessment of environmental characteristics.

Other researchers will concentrate on genetics at the molecular level. The Human Genome Project, which began in the 1990s, is the lar gest and most expensive scientific project ever undertaken in th course of human history. The goal of this project is no less than to map the entire human genome, to use molecular techniques to learn what every strand of

DNA is responsible for. Twin and adoption studies, the primary methods of behavioral genetics, use indirect methods that only estimate the genetic component of traits by assessing the resemblance of relatives. Molecular genetic studies, on the other hand, are able to directly identify the DNA markers of genetic dif ferences between individuals. As a conse quence of these new techniques, "researchers are at the dawn of a new era which . . . will revolutionize genetic research on personality by identifying specific genes that contribute to genetic variation in behavioral dimensions an disorders" (Saudino & Plomin, 1996, p. 344). Already, researchers have begun to focus these molecular techniques on the search for genes related to alcoholism, certain cognitive abilities, criminality , and impulse control. It is likely that researchers will find that genes are responsible for synthesizing specific neurotransmitters, a those neurotransmitters are in turn related to specific traits. Personality psychologist may soon team with molecular geneticists to locate specific genes that will relate t personality dimensions (Plomin & Crabbe, 2000).

The biological domain also includes evolutionary thinking about personality . From the perspective of evolutionary psychology , personality can be analyzed at three levels—human nature, sex dif ferences, and individual dif ferences. At each of these levels, an evolutionary perspective poses two related questions: What adaptive problems have humans confronted over the long expanse of human evolutionary history? What psychological solutions have evolved in response to these adaptive problems?

Since adaptive problems tend to be specific—for example, the problem of foo selection differs from the problem of mate selection—the psychological solutions also tend to be specific. Thus, an evolutionary perspective leads us to expect that personality will be quite complex, consisting of a lar ge collection of evolved psychological mechanisms, each corresponding to a specific adaptive problem. Specific mate pre erences, jealousy, fears and phobias, altruistic feelings toward kin, and dozens more all may be parts of evolved psychological mechanisms, according to the evolutionary perspective.

This perspective, however , does not claim that humans are optimally adapted, or even well adapted, to the conditions of modern living. Given the slow pace of evolution, we possess Stone-Age brains inhabiting a New-Age world of the Internet, global travel, and modern medical miracles. Thus, problems can arise when lar ge discrepancies exist between the ancient world, in which our adaptations evolved, and the modern world, which we have created.

The evolutionary perspective will continue to gain in importance, although it probably will not supplant other perspectives. Instead, evolutionary psychology will add a new layer of questions and, hence, a necessary layer of insight when these questions are answered empirically . Perhaps most critically , an evolutionary perspective asks, "What is the adaptive function of each psychological mechanism?" Posing questions about adaptive function will likely result in the discovery that human personality is even more complex and contains even more psychological mechanisms than we are now aware of. Rather than being motivated merely by sex and aggression, as Freud envisioned, humans will be found to be motivated by a dozen or more drives. But it should not surprise us that human personality will turn out to be so complex. After all, if personality were really simple, consisting of a small number of easily understood psychological mechanisms, then this book would be a lot shorter than it is.

It is important to keep in mind that biology is not destiny . Rather , the biological domain, like all the other domains, includes one set of factors that influence or are related to personalit . Personality is best thought of as multiply determined, as the collection of influences from all six of the broad domains considered in this book.

Intrapsychic Domain

The intrapsychic domain concerns the factors within the mind that influence behav ior, thoughts, and emotions. The pioneer of this domain was Sigmund Freud, though new perspectives have advanced beyond his original ideas. This domain deals with the basic psychological mechanisms of personality , many of which operate outside the realm of conscious awareness. Theories within this domain often start with fundamental assumptions about the motivational system—for example, the sexual and aggressive forces that Freud presumed ener gized much of human activity . Although these fundamental assumptions often lie outside the realm of direct empirical testing, research has shown that motives, even those outside of awareness, can be powerful and that their manifestations in actual behavior can be studied empirically . The intrapsychic domain also includes defense mechanisms, such as repression, denial, and projection, some of which have been examined in laboratory studies.

In this book, the ideas and contributions of psychoanalysis were divided into two areas: classical psychoanalytic theory as put forward by Freud and his disciples and contemporary psychoanalytic theory consisting of extensions of and changes to these basic ideas. For example, newer views emphasize social crises rather than sexual conflict as the tasks of personality development. In addition, modern views in psy choanalysis emphasize the importance of internalized representations of important relationships. These views still retain the notion that childhood is crucial to understanding the adult personality , but the emphasis is now on relationships, such as the attachment between an infant and the primary caregiver .

A fundamental assumption of psychologists working in the intrapsychic domain is that there are areas of the mind that are outside of awareness. Within each person, there is a part of the mind that even the individual does not know about, called the unconscious. In classical psychoanalysis, the unconscious mind is thought to have a life of its own. It has its own motivation, its own will, and its own ener gy. It can interfere with the functions of the rest of the mind. In fact, it is thought to be the source of all psychological problems. Modern research on motives (e.g., the power motive, achievement motive, and intimacy motive) also draws on the notion that motive forces can operate outside of conscious awareness.

Psychologists will continue to be interested in the idea that people can have thoughts outside of awareness. Psychologists disagree about whether such thoughts are the result of a motivated unconscious, as Freud thought, or whether they are simply thoughts that are not accessible to immediate awareness. Many psychologists view the unconscious as an automatic information-processing mechanism, which can influ ence conscious awareness (e.g., Bar gh & Chartrand, 1999). And they have developed impressive methods for studying the unconscious, such as priming and subliminal exposure. It seems likely that we are on the ver ge of learning a great deal about just how much cognitive activity occurs outside of awareness and the extent to which these unconscious thoughts influence behavio .

Another area likely to receive continued attention from both researchers and clinicians is the topic of repressed memories. Researchers can demonstrate false memories in the lab, such as by showing that subjects who learn a list of words sometimes falsely recall that a related word was on that list, when, in fact, it was not (Roediger

American actor Richard Gere, who often plays violent characters on film, leads a very different private life. As a practicing Buddhist, Gere believes in the principle of nonviolence. He is shown here speaking at an event for the National Day of Action for Tibet, 1998, in Washington, D.C. The development of the self and social identity, especially in complex and contradictory lives, will continue to fascinate personality psychologists.

& McDermott, 1995); many people in such false memory experiments are certain that the tar get word was on their list. Certainly , such experimental demonstrations of false memory are a long way from the issue of repressed or false childhood memories of traumatic events; however, traditional cognitive scientists are beginning to look seriously at how memory works, as well as at the processes that make it possible for people to recollect events that did not occur (Roediger, McDermott, & Robinson, 1998).

Cognitive/Experiential Domain

The cognitive/experiential domain concerns subjective experience and other mental processes, such as thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and desires about oneself and others. One of the central concepts in this domain is the self. Some aspects of the self describe how we view ourselves: our knowledge of ourselves, our images of past selves, and our images of possible future selves. Do we see ourselves as good or as evil? Are our past successes or past failures prominent in our self-views? Do we envision ourselves in a positive future? It is likely that psychologists will continue to focus their attention on self-concept and identity . Moreover, it is likely that psychologists will incorporate the idea that identity is like a story and that a narrative or case history approach to understanding will continue to be a part of personality psychology .

A modern metaphor that is informing personality psychology is the information-processing, or computer , metaphor. Humans take in sensory information; process it through an elaborate cognitive system, which selects and modifies from the vast array o information available; then store it in memories, which do not bear a one-to-one relationship with the original events. At every step along the way—from attention and perception to memory and recall—there are opportunities for personality to influence the process. Psychologists will continue to take seriously the notion that people construct their experiences. Understanding how this works, and what it says about personality, will be one objective in this domain (Pervin, 1999).

A somewhat different aspect of the cognitive/experiential domain pertains to the goals people strive for . Research within this tradition approaches personality through the personal projects that individuals are trying to accomplish (e.g., Little, 1999). Goal concepts will continue to be important within personality psychology . Goals have cognitive, emotional, and behavioral components. Goals are often individual expressions of social or institutional norms or standards, so the goal concept may be one route whereby psychologists can study relationships between individuals and broader social systems.

Yet another aspect of subjective experience entails emotions. Is a person habitually happy or sad? What makes a person angry or fearful? The joy, the sadness, feelings of triumph, and feelings of despair are essential elements in our subjective experience subsumed by the cognitive-experiential domain. If you want to learn what is important to a person, really important, ask about his or her emotions. When was the last time he or she was angry? What makes him or her sad? What does he or she fear? Emotions are likely to continue to be important concepts in personality .

Social and Cultural Domain

One of the novel features of this book is an emphasis on the social and cultural aspects of personality. Personality is not something that merely resides within the heads, nervous systems, and genes of individuals. Rather , personality affects, and is af fected by, the significant others in our lives

Humans are not passive recipients of their environments, and personality plays a key role in social interaction. We selectively enter some interpersonal environments and selectively avoid others. We actively choose our mates and friends. We evoke reactions from others, sometimes quite unintentionally . And we actively influence o manipulate those occupying our social worlds. Personality influences these processe of selection, evocation, and manipulation. Emotionally unstable individuals, for example, tend to choose similarly unstable persons as romantic partners; they evoke predictable forms of anger in those partners through their moodiness; and they more often use the "silent treatment" as a tactic for influencing those partners. Personalit , in short, expresses itself through our social selections, evocations, and manipulations.

One important social sphere concerns relations between men and women. Personality may operate differently for men than for women in some domains. An essential part of our identity is gender . Much of what we call gender may have its origins in culture, in how society makes up dif ferent rules, roles, and expectations for men and women. Other aspects of gender may lie in evolved behavior patterns that represent adaptations to dif ferent pressures that faced men and women in the past. Whatever their origins, gender dif ferences will continue to be a compelling interest of personality psychologists. In an ef fort to understand gender dif ferences, it is likely that personality psychologists will enlist the help of specialists from other disciplines, such as anthropologists, animal behaviorists, sociologists, and biopsychologists.

Interacting with people from different cultures is a fact of daily life in many parts of the world. Understanding how people from different cultures are different from, or similar to, each other will continue to be an important part of personality psychology.

At the cultural level, it is clear that groups dif fer from one another. Some cultures are individualistic: People prefer to make their own decisions and to be responsible primarily for themselves. Other cultures are more collectivistic: People prefer to see themselves as part of a social group and do not think of their individual needs as more important than their group' s needs. Personality dif ferences among these groups may be instances of transmitted culture or evoked culture. Some psychologists assume that they are caused by transmitted culture—ideas, values, and representations passed on from parents and others to children within their culture, down the generations. Other psychologists, however , propose that these are instances of evoked culture. According to this view, everyone may have the evolved capacity to be individualistic and preoccupied with the self. And everyone may also have the evolved capacity to be communal and preoccupied with the greater good of the group. Which of these capacities any one individual displays may depend on whether one lives in a culture that is highly mobile, with few genetic kin in close proximity (evoking an individualistic proclivity), or highly stable, with many genetic kin in close proximity (evoking a collectivistic proclivity). This fascinating new direction represents a theoretical fusion of cultural psychology and evolutionary psychology.

The study of culture and cross-cultural dif ferences and similarities will probably continue to grow in personality psychology . Our world is increasingly becoming a global community . Diversity is a fact of daily life in many areas. Many of us encounter persons from dif ferent cultures on a regular basis at our schools, jobs, and communities. Indeed, there is a growing interdependence among people from widely different backgrounds. An important goal of personality psychology will be to understand how cultures shape personality and how specific cultures are di ferent from, or similar to, each other. It is of compelling importance that we seek to understand one another and the forces that shape dif ferences between persons from dif ferent backgrounds.

Adjustment Domain

Personality plays a key role in how we cope, adapt, and adjust to the ebb and flo of events in our lives. Considerable evidence has accumulated, for example, that personality is linked with important health outcomes, such as heart disease. Personality is linked to a variety of health-related behaviors, such as smoking, drinking, and risk taking. Personality is even linked to how long we live (Peterson, 2000). Modeling how these processes work, and the role of personality in relation to health and well-being, will occupy personality psychologists of the future. There has been a shift toward looking at the role of positive emotions, and this emphasis on the positive in psychology is likely to be a part of personality psychology . In addition, there are several longitudinal studies that were started decades ago in various communities around the United States. Participants in this research are now well into adulthood, and researchers are beginning to learn about the long-term ef fects of specific lifestyle an personality factors on longevity and health.

Many of the important problems in coping and adjustment can be traced to personality disorders. An understanding of "normal" personality functioning can be deepened by examining disorders of personality, and vice versa. Psychologists have applied the trait approach to understanding personality disorders (Costa & Widiger, 2002; Widiger, 2000). This is likely to continue to sharpen our understanding of the nature of personality disorders.

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