Core Components of Personality

In Figure 14.8, the central or core components are represented by rectangles, whereas, the peripheral components are represented by ellipses. The arrows represent dynamic processes and indicate the direction of causal influence. For example, objective biography (life experiences) is the outcome of characteristic adaptations as well as external influences. Also, biological bases are the sole cause of basic tendencies (personality traits). The personality system can be interpreted either cross-sectionally (how the system operates at any given pomt hi time) or longitudinally (how we develop over the lifetime). Moreover, each causal influence is dynamic, meaning that it changes over time.

Basic Tendencies As defined by McCrae and Costa (1996), basic tendencies are one of the central components of personality, along with characteristic adaptions, self-concept, biological bases, objective biography, and external influences. McCrae and Costa defined basic tendencies as the universal raw material of personality capacities and dispositions that are generally inferred rather than observed. Basic tendencies may be inherited, imprinted by early experience or modified by disease or psychological intervention, but at any given period in an individual's life, they define the individual's potential and direction, (pp. 66, 68)

In earlier versions of then theory, McCrae and Costa (1996) made it clear that many different elements make up basic tendencies. In addition to the five stable personal traits, these basic tendencies include cognitive abilities, artistic talent, sexual orientation, and the psychological processes underlying acquisition of language.

In most of then later publications, McCrae and Costa (1999, 2003) focused almost exclusively on the personality traits: more specifically, the five dimensions (N, E, O, A, and C) described in detail above (see Table 14.1). The essence of basic tendencies is their basis hi biology and their stability over time and situation.

Chapter 14 Eysenck, McCrae, and Costa's Trait and Factor Theories

Chapter 14 Eysenck, McCrae, and Costa's Trait and Factor Theories

Components Personality
FIGURE 14.8 Operation of the personality system according to FFT. Arrows indicate the direction of causal influences, which operate through dynamic processes. Adapted from McCrae and Costa (1996).

Characteristic Adaptations Core components of Five-Factor Theory include the characteristic adaptations, that is, acquhed personality structures that develop as people adapt to then environment. The principal difference between basic tendencies and characteristic adaptations is their flexibility. Whereas basic tendencies are quite stable, characteristic adaptations can be influenced by external influences, such as acquhed skills, habits, attitudes, and relationships that result from the interaction of individuals with then environment. McCrae and Costa (2003) explained the relationship between basic tendencies and characteristic adaptations, saying that the heart of their theory "is the distinction between basic tendencies and characteristic adaptations, precisely the distinction that we need to explam the stability of personality" (p. 187).

All acquhed and specific skills, such as the English language or statistics, are characteristic adaptations. How quickly we learn (talent, intelligence, aptitude) is a basic tendency; what we learn is a characteristic adaptation. Moreover, our dispositions and tendencies are the direct influence on our characteristic adaptations. Characteristic responses are shaped and molded by basic tendencies. What makes them characteristic is their consistency and uniqueness; hence, they reflect the operation of enduring personality traits. Echoing Allport, they are adaptations because they are shaped as a response to what the environment has to offer us at any given moment. They allow us to fit mto or adapt to our environment on an ongoing basis.

Understanding how characteristic adaptations and basic tendencies interact is absolutely central to the FFT. Basic tendencies are stable and enduring whereas characteristic adaptations fluctuate, making them subject to change over a persons lifetime. Characteristic adaptations differ from culture to culture. For instance, the expression of anger in the presence of a superior is much more taboo hi Japan than it is in the United States. Distinguishing between stable tendencies and changing adaptations is important because this distinction can explain both the stability of personality and the plasticity of personality. Thus, McCrae and Costa have provided a solution to the problem of stability versus change in personality structure. Basic tendencies are stable, while characteristic adaptations fluctuate.

Self-Concept McCrae and Costa (2003) explain that self-concept is actually a characteristic adaptation (see Figure 14.8), but it gets its own box because it is such an important adaptation. McCrae and Costa (1996) wrote that it "consists of knowledge, views, and evaluations of the self, ranging from miscellaneous facts of personal history to the identity that gives a sense of purpose and coherence to life" (p. 70). The beliefs, attitudes, and feelings one has toward oneself are characteristic adaptations hi that they influence how one behaves in a given circumstance. For example, believing that one is an intelligent person makes one more willing to put oneself into situations that are intellectually challenging.

Does self-concept need be accurate? Learning theorists such as Albert Ban-dura (Chapter 16) and humanistic theorists such as Carl Rogers (Chapter 11) or Gordon Allport (Chapter 13 ) believe that the conscious views people have of themselves are relatively accurate, with some distortion perhaps. In contrast, psychodynamic theorists would argue that most of the conscious thoughts and feelings people have of themselves are inherently distorted and the true nature of the self (ego) is largely unconscious. However, McCrae and Costa (2003) include personal myths as part of a person's self-concept.

Was this article helpful?

0 -1
Anxiety and Panic Attacks

Anxiety and Panic Attacks

Suffering from Anxiety or Panic Attacks? Discover The Secrets to Stop Attacks in Their Tracks! Your heart is racing so fast and you don’t know why, at least not at first. Then your chest tightens and you feel like you are having a heart attack. All of a sudden, you start sweating and getting jittery.

Get My Free Ebook


Responses

  • pinja sademies
    What are the components of personality explain each?
    3 years ago
  • DARIA
    What are the component of personality trait?
    3 years ago
  • petra myll
    What are the psychological traits component?
    1 year ago
  • LUCAS
    What is the difference between basic tendencies and characteristic adaptations?
    1 year ago
  • Demi
    What are the components of personaluty?
    5 months ago

Post a comment