Humanistic Theories of Personality


Carl Rodgers's theory of self suggested that there is an inherent tendency of each of us toward self-actualization.  Each of us under ideal conditions would develop our full capacity that was heredity available.  His paradigm consisted of a triangle:

Real self





Congruence results when there is a fit among the aspects of self. Simplistically, Real, Ideal and Perceived self related to each other.  Problems occur when there is not a productive relationship.


Abraham Maslow focused on the study of healthey people and he developed his hierarchy of needs and as the person developed he or she would attempt to meet these needs.  The inability to meet these needs caused anxiety and self actualization was threatened.  He believed the self actualized person was realistic in their interaction with the world and made appropriate accommodation when goals were not attainable.


Behavioral and Social Cognitive theories


B.F. Skinner, a behaviorist, believed that personality was "learned" ways of behaving. He did not address drives, inner conflict or identity issues.  Rather he focused on learned behavior and the environment.  He injected the idea that we are not free but rather products of environment.


Albert Bandura's Social Cognitive Theory  emphasized the role of observation and imitation/modeling.  He viewed the self as a set of "cognitive structures" that direct perception, thinking, and behavior. Actual  reinforcement was not as important as perceived reinforcement. He argued that behavior and the situation interacted and influenced each other.  He called this reciprocal determinism.  A person's self worth was derived from adjustments to the environment and successful realization of goals.  Failure resulted in helplessness.  A person's personality was the set of behaviors acquired to successfully or unsuccessfully interact with the environment.


Jullian Rotter proposed that reinforcement is influential in shaping behavior and personality but expectations and cognitions were equal or more important. He views  "behavioral potential" as the probability that a particular behavior will happen in a specific situation.  He looked at the concept of "Locus of Control".  Individuals who perceived that reinforcement as contingent on their behavior and attributes had Internal Locus of control.

Persons who perceived that reinforcement is independent of their behavior and was controlled by external forces had External Locus of control.


Personality Assessment

There are a number of personality tests used by psychologists.  Often a psychologist[s] will use structured or unstructured interviews, naturalistic observation and use some form of a rating scale.  Self rating scale may also be used. Objective personality tests are also used. 

Some examples are:

Strong Interest Inventory which was developed in 1927.  it matches and measures a person's interest and activities with those of people in various occupations.

Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory [MMPI] originally developed in 1940 by Starke Hathaway and Charneley Mckinley.  It was used to identify personality disorders.  Currently it is the most widely used test for general personality assessment.  It was revised in 1989 and called the MMPI II  it consists of 567 items that are answered true or false.  In 1992 a form of the MMPI for adolescents was developed, it is call the MMPI-Adolescent.  It has 478 true or false items.

California Psychological Inventory  [CPI] was first published in 1956 and it was developed to measure personality in normal populations. In 1996 the 3rd editions was completed and consists of 434 true or false items.

Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire [16PF] Developed by Raymond Cattell in 1949.    Using Cattell's factor analysis it consists of 185 multiple choice questions. It has been revised 5 times.

NEO Personality Inventory [NEO-PI] developed by Paul Costa Jr. and Robert McCrae in 1985.  it is used to measure five major factor in adult personality:

Neuroticism, extroversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness.  It contains 240 items that are answered on a 5 point scale [strongly agree- strongly disagree]

Meyer-Briggs Type Indicator Isabel Briggs Myers and her mother , Katherine Briggs first published this test in 1921.  It utilized Carl Jung's theory of personality.  It was last revised in 1998 and consists of 126 two choice items.


Projective Personality Tests

Projective personality tests present ambiguous stimuli that allow the subject to respond with projections of his or her own personality.

Rorschach Inkblot Test is one of the best known projective tests.  It was developed by Hermann Rorschach in 1921.  it consists of 10 cards [5 black and white - 5 colored] containing blots of ink. The subject is asked to describe what he/she sees.  This is compared to a data base of other responses.

Holtzman Inkblot Technique [HIT] developed in 1961 used 45 cards in the  assessment of personality.

Thematic Apperception Test [TAT] uses pictures of people in everyday settings and the subject is to describe what is going on or to make up a story about the pictures.





Psychology a Connectext 4th edition, Terry F. Pettijohn

Discovering Psychology, Don Hockenbury & Sandra Hockenbury