By Jefferson A. Singer Phd
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Additional info for Personality and Psychotherapy: Treating the Whole Person
It would appear, then, that her Extraversion score divides up roughly along the sociability and active-assertiveness domains, with only the latter domain in the low area. We return to this critical difference shortly. Her other low domain score is Conscientiousness, which encompasses the capacity for self-control, as demonstrated in “planning, organizing, and carrying out tasks” (Costa & McCrae, 1992, p. 16). It taps into individuals’ achievement orientation, sense of competence, and diligence.
Even the great philosopher Immanuel Kant talked about dimensions of activity and feeling, and the founder of the first psychology laboratory, Wilhelm Wundt, saw the four temperaments as based in variations of emotional strength and consistency (see McAdams, 2006). In the mid-20th century, Allport (1937) formally defined the notion of a trait as a characteristic disposition with an underlying neural basis that tends to impose similar perceptions on diverse stimuli and that guides behavior in a rather predictable and stable direction.
For example, when Jennifer judges herself as not competent or striving for achievement, is this a realistic appraisal, or is it the appraisal of an individual who sets high standards and judges herself harshly when she does not live up to them? Is her warmth and sympathy toward others a 46 PERSONALITY AND PSYCHOTHERAPY genuine expression of her compassion and tender heartedness, or is it a reflection of need and insecurity? By knowing Jennifer’s stated goals, we have a better understanding of her low score in Conscientiousness and her elevated score in Agreeableness.