This domain is dif ferent from the others discussed in the book so far. The first fi domains each referred to a collection of specific explanations of personalit . That is, each gave a perspective on, and a collection of knowledge about, the causes of personality and individual dif ferences. In this last domain—the Adjustment Domain—we examine some of the consequences of personality . We focus on adjustment because, in many ways, personality functions to help us adjust to the challenges and demands of life, albeit in a unique way for each of us. We focus on two important outcomes in this domain: physical health and mental health.
Day by day, all of us are adjusting to the demands of life and reacting to life events. Some of us might even think there is too much stress in our lives. However , stress is not "out there" in our lives, but rather stress mostly refers to how we respond to life events. How we interpret some event will determine whether we feel it as stressful or not. The tendency to interpret events in a way that evokes a stress response is influenced by our personalities Personality plays a key role in how we appraise and interpret events, cope, adapt, and adjust to the ebb and flow in our day-to-da lives. Moreover, some people display patterns of behavior, emotion, and interpersonal relations that create problems for themselves and those around them. These problematic personality profiles form th collection of personality disorders. These two areas—coping with stress and disorders of personality—define the adjust ment domain because they refer to how effectively people interact with and cope with challenges from the environment.
Considerable evidence has been accumulating that personality is linked with important health outcomes, such as heart disease. Psychologists have developed several theories for how and why these relationships exist, as well as offering ways to change health-harming behavior patterns. Personality is also linked with a variety of health-related behaviors such as smoking, drinking, and risk-taking. Some research has even demonstrated that personality is correlated with how long we live (Peterson, 1995, 2000).
In addition to health and coping with stress, many of the important problems in living can be traced to personality . In this domain of knowledge there is the concept of disorder, the idea that certain personality profiles can be so abnormal or problemati so as to create clear dif ficulties in th person's life, particularly in terms of work and social relationships. Certain personality features that are related to poor adjustment and poor outcomes in life are described as personality disorders. We devote an entire chapter to the personality disorders, such as the antisocial personality and the narcissistic personality. We believe that an understanding of "normal" personality functioning can be enhanced by examining what can go wrong with personality. This is similar to the field of medicine, in which an understand ing of normal physiological functioning is often illuminated by the study of disorders and disease. We begin our coverage of the adjustment domain with the topics of stress, coping, and health.
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