Introduction to Mischels Personality Theory

In general, personality theories are of two types—those who see personality as a dynamic entity motivated by drives, perceptions, needs, goals, and expectancies and those who view personality as a function of relatively stable traits or personal dispositions. The first category includes the theories of Adler (Chapter 3), Maslow (Chapter 10). and Bandura (Chapter 16). This approach emphasizes cognitive and affective dynamics that interact with the environment to produce behavior.

The second category emphasizes the importance of relatively stable traits of personal dispositions. The theories of Allport (Chapter 13), Eysenck (Chapter 14), and McCrae and Costa (Chapter 14) are hi this category. This approach sees people as being motivated by a limited number of drives or personal traits that tend to render a person s behavior somewhat consistent. Walter Mischel (1973) originally objected to this trait theory explanation of behavior. Instead, he supported the idea that cognitive activities and specific situations play a major role hi determining behavior. However, more recently, Mischel and his colleagues (Mischel & Shoda, 1998, 1999: Mischel, Shoda, & Mendoza-Denton, 2002) have advocated a reconciliation between the processing dynamics approach and the personal dispositions approach. Tins cognitive-affective personality theory holds that behavior stems from relatively stable personal dispositions and cognitive-affective processes interacting with a particular situation.

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