Introduction to the Study of Personality

Introduction to the Study of Personality
Last edited by Jan Kinney over 1 year ago

Introduction to the Study of Personalitypersonality types and Rorschach test

Welcome to Introduction to the Study of Personality! This short course presents an excerpt from Psychology 203 (Introduction to Personality and Individual Differences) a four-credit, undergraduate course offered online through University of Washington Educational Outreach. The full-length course was created by Jonathon D. Brown, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Washington.

In Introduction to the Study of Personality, you will begin to explore the science of personality. You'll look at just what we mean when we use the term "personality"; you'll learn some basic and important concepts of contemporary science, and how those concepts are applied to the study of personality. Finally, you'll get an introduction to the study of personality traits: characteristic ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving that are the basic unit of personality; and motives—the needs and desires that cause us to behave as we do.

By the end of this short course, you will be able to

  • define some basic concepts of the study of personality;
  • explain what a variable, a hypothesis, and a theory are and how scientists use them;
  • describe the difference between correlational research and experimental research in the study of personality; and
  • describe some of the basic traits and motives that make you both unique and similar to everyone else.

This course includes four lessons offered as narrated PowerPoint presentations. Each is followed by a self-grading quiz, and additional readings and activities drawn from Psychology 203.

Getting Started

When you're ready to begin, press the "Modules" button on the left-hand side of this page, and click on Lesson 1! Be sure your speakers or headphones are turned on so you can hear the narration.

About the Lessons

Lesson 1: Introduction

In this lesson, you'll learn how psychologists define "personality," the scientific methods they use to study it, and three levels of studying personality, ranging from "human nature" to your own personal uniqueness. You'll also get an opportunity to take a couple of "pseudo-psychology" tests, just for the fun of it. This lesson is followed by an activity in which you'll consider a question raised in the lecture; there is also a short quiz to test your mastery of the lesson topics.

Lesson 2: The Nature and Practice of Science

This lesson introduces you to different ways of knowing—ranging from accepting the word of an authority to testing and verifying hypotheses. You'll learn about the four basic functions of science, and you'll see how those four functions apply to the study of personality. Finally, you'll learn the definitions of three concepts basic to science: variable, hypothesis, and theory. The lecture is followed by an activity in which you will observe your own use of inductive and deductive reasoning, and experimental and correlational research in your daily life. You can also take a short quiz to test your mastery of the concepts in this lesson.

Lesson 3: Traits

Traits are the basic units of personality—but are they simply patterns of behavior, or do they have a biological basis?  This lesson describes how psychologists study traits, and outlines the five broad traits believed to be the basic components of personality. The lecture is followed by a short quiz.

Lesson 4: Types and Motives

How are personality types different from traits? In this lesson, you'll learn about some historic and contemporary approaches to personality types. You'll also look at needs and motives, and some of the tests that help psychologists identify unconscious motives. In the activities for Lesson 4, you can consider the validity of Murray's theories, and compare other theories on human motivation. You can also take a short quiz.