University of Phoenix
Facilitator: Kathleen Bernhard
November 12, 2012
Scientific Study of Personality Personality is a characterized way of thinking, feeling, and subsequent behaviors. It is believed that the personality of an individual is based on their character traits. The individual is often defined by their personality whether it be warm, empathetic, and so on. Personality also allows for an individualistic approach to life in that each person possesses their own unique personality. Because of these variances between individuals the idea of defining personality has become quite perplexing among working professionals. Researchers use several different methods to study personality traits, each using different base methodologies and containing advantages and disadvantages just the same.
Defining Personality There is no current defining definition of the term personality as it is generally a word used to describe a whole rather than an individual. Since the use of the word has come to be used in a breadth of scenarios professionals have developed a working definition of the word. The working definition of personality contains several parts or subsections. This allows the professional to have a better understanding of personality and all that it contains. Personality embraces moods, attitudes, and opinions and is most clearly expressed in interactions with others. Personality includes behavioral characteristics either inherent or acquired that distinguish one person from another. These characteristics can be observed in a person’s relations to the environment and social groups. The term personality has been defined in many ways, but as a psychological concept two main meanings have evolved giving a working definition of the word. The first pertains to the fact that people differ from one another. In this aspect of the definition the goal is to understand and classify psychological traits that remain stable throughout humanity. The second part of the definition focuses on the traits of humanity that set them apart from the rest of the species. It directs the personality theorist to search for those regularities among all people that define the nature of man as well as the factors that influence the course of their lives. The duality of this definition also helps to explain the bidirectional approach that personality theorists take. On one hand there is the study of specific qualities in people, while on the other hand there is the search for totality in psychological functions that emphasize the interplay between organic and psychological events within people. (Britannica, 2012)
Methods of Study The study of personality is believed to have originated on the fundamental idea that people are characterized by their individual patterns of behavior. The distinctive ways in which an individual walks, talks, furnishes their home, or expresses their urges (Britannica, 2012). Although other fields of psychology examine many of the same functions and processes, such as attention, thinking, or motivation, the personality theorist places emphasis on how these different processes fit together. The systematic study of personality has emerged from a number of different sources, including a multitude of various case studies. Other means by which researchers will gain new insight into the inner workings of personality is the correlational design, or more directly the use of questionnaires and the use of experimental research methods. (Cervone & Pervin, 2010)
The idea of a case study is to gather information from a sole participant. This allows the researcher an opportunity to apply what they have learned to a more individualistic approach. Rather than the typical approach to a personality theory which encompasses the whole, the use of a case study uses a technique which is centered on one person. However, this concept if used in conjunction