It is common for those outside of the field of psychology to think of personality in terms of characteristics or traits. For example, we can describe people as introverted, lazy, or nervous. But for those of us studying personality theory, arriving at some answers for questions of how, what, and why, and moving beyond descriptors, is of great interest:
• How do characteristics develop?
• Do personality characteristics develop due to the influence of nature, or are they primarily nurtured by external or environmental factors?
• How might personality be abnormal or dysfunctional?
• Is there room for change, based on any given personality theory?
Personality theory provides the groundwork for implementing psychotherapy, so having a firm grasp of personality theory is an important component of our training as counselors. Part of your task in this course, and as you progress in your program, is to answer the question: How do I view human nature? The foundation for answering this question begins with examining personality theory.
Humans are naturally curious, and those in the helping professions are perhaps even more so. Wanting to know why, and even more importantly, being able to explain why, is of inherent interest to many in helping professions. By answering why, we can intervene, and it is the actual study of personality—rooted in scientific research methods—which serves to ground theory to practice. As you will find in the weeks ahead, various psychological theories lend themselves better to scientific inquiry than others, as the standard in scientific discovery relies on witnessing observable phenomena.
Schultz, D. P., & Schultz, S. E. (2013). Theories of personality (10th ed.). Belmont, CA: Cengage/Wadsworth.
To successfully complete this learning unit, you will be expected to:
5. Identify two important issues related to the study of personality and describe why the issues appeal to you.
6. Identify the goals of personality research.
7. Describe the criteria associated with the three main research approaches.
8. Provide an example of a clinical, experimental, or correlational research study and discuss how the study meets the criteria of the associated research approach.
Learning Activities Studies:
In the Theories of Personality text, read Chapter 1, “Studying Personality: Assessment, Research, and Theory,” pages 1–38.
This chapter introduces you to the study of personality, important issues in personality theory, and the goals and approaches of personality assessment and research.
Use the library to complete the following tasks:
• In Theories of Personality, Schultz and Schultz discuss several issues related to the study of personality. After reading the Introduction to the text, select two issues that you find most appealing. Locate and read one professional article (from within the past five years) for each issue. You will use these articles in an upcoming discussion.
• Locate and read one professional article (from within the past five years) that focuses on clinical, experimental, or correlational research on personality and is published in the Journal of Personality. You will use this article in an upcoming discussion in which you explain how your selected study article meets the criteria for the category of research in which the study fits (clinical, experimental, or correlational).
Discussion 1: 1 page needed with two references.
The Study of Personality
Using the information from this unit’s studies, select two conceptual issues related to the study of personality that appeals to you. Examples include nature versus nurture, extroversion versus introversion, personality disorders, and so on. For this first discussion:
• Identify the two issues you selected.
• Explain why the issues are of interest to you.
• Use APA style to cite and reference the articles to substantiate your post and convey your reasoning.
Discussion 2: 1 page needed with two references.
The three general research approaches to the study of personality are clinical, experimental, and correlational. For this discussion:
• Briefly describe the criteria for each of the research approaches: clinical, experimental, and correlational.
• Select a recent article (from within the past five years) that focuses on a personality research study and is published in the Journal of Personality. Use the library to search for articles in this journal.
• Identify the main aspects of the study article you located in the library and the research approach to which it relates.
• Explain how the selected study meets the criteria for the research approach.
• Be sure to use APA style to cite and reference your article.