(The Trait, Humanistic, and Social-Cognitive Perspectives)


  1. Discuss psychologists' descriptions of personality in terms of types of traits.

  2. Explain how personality inventories are used to assess traits.

  3. Discuss research regarding the consistence of behavior over time and across situations.

  4. Describe the humanistic perspective on personality in terms of Maslow's focus on self-actualization and Roger's emphasis on people's potential for growth.

  5. Describe humanistic psychologist approach to personality assessment, and discuss the benefits and liabilities of self-esteem and self-serving bias.

  6. Describe the impact of individualism and collectivism on self-identity and social relations.

  7. Discuss the criticisms of the humanistic perspective.

  8. Describe the social-cognitive perspective on personality, and explain reciprocal determinism.

  9. Discuss the important consequences of personal control, learned helplessness, and optimism.

  10. Describe how social-cognitive researchers assess behavior in realistic situations, and evaluate the social-cognitive perspective on personality.


Traits- a characteristic pattern of behavior or a disposition to feel and act, as assessed by self- report inventories and peer reports.

The Big Five- most active personality research topic and is the best approximation of the basic trait dimensions.  Emotional stability, extraversion, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness.

Personality Inventory- a questionnaire (often with true-false or agree- disagree items) on which people respond to items designed to gauge a wide range of feelings and behaviors; used to assess selected personality traits.

Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI)- the most widely researched and clinically used of all personality tests.  Originally developed to identify emotional disorders (still considered its most appropriate use), this test is now used for many other screening purposes.

Empirically Derived Test- a test (such as the MMPI) developed by testing a pool of items and then selecting those that discriminate between groups.

Self Actualization- according to Maslow, the ultimate psychological need that arises after basic physical and psychological needs are met and self esteem is achieved; the motivation to fulfill one’s potential.

Unconditional positive regard- according to Rogers, an attitude of total acceptance toward another person.

Self- concept- all our thoughts and feelings about ourselves, in answer to the question, “Who am I?”

Self- esteem- one’s feeling of high or low self worth.

Self- serving Bias- a readiness to perceive oneself favorably.

Individualism- giving priority to one’s own goals over group goals, and defining one’s identity in terms of personal attributes rather than group identifications.

Reciprocal Determinism- the interacting influence between personality and environmental factors.

Personal Control- our sense of controlling our environment rather than feeling helpless.

External Locus of Control- the perception that change or outside forces beyond one’s personal control determine one’s fate.

Internal Locus of Control- the perception that one controls one’s own fate.

Learned Helplessness- the hopelessness and passive resignation an animal or human learns when unable to avoid repeated aversive events.

Positive Psychology- the scientific study of optimal human functioning; aims to discover and promote conditions that enable individuals and communities to thrive.