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COURSE NAME: "Theories of Personality "
SEMESTER & YEAR: Summer Session II 2018

INSTRUCTOR: Heather Scherschel
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: MTWTH 1:40-3:30 PM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: PS 101
OFFICE HOURS: by appointment

Personality is generally defined as an individual’s unique stable pattern of thinking, feeling and behaving, and its study has been an extremely important focus in scientific psychology. This course examines the various theories of personality and, according to each theory, a personality’s structure and development. The scope of theories studied will be from the Freudian tradition through to Trait Theories, Biological Perspectives, Behavioral/Social Learning theories, Humanistic/Existential models and finally to more current Cognitive theories. Students will have opportunities to critically evaluate each theory/perspective, and in each of the theories address a variety of questions.

This course will introduce you to some of the major theories of personality and the research methods used to test these theories. Several perspectives on personality will be introduced and critical evaluation of these alternative perspectives will be encouraged. From each theoretical perspective we will address questions such as: What is personality? What are the similarities and differences among individuals’ personalities? What factors influence the development of personality? How can we investigate the nature and cause of personality? What are the implications and consequences of our theories of personality?


I will ask you to be active learners in this class – to go beyond rote memorization of theories, concepts, and terms. Our class meetings will consist of a combination of discussions, activities, lectures, all of which will encourage and require you to think critically about how we conceptualize and assess personality.


It will be essential for you to complete reading assignments BEFORE class because the activities of each class meeting will revolve around them.  You will be bored, lost, and potentially embarrassed if you haven’t read the material.

• The student will be able to define and comprehend the concepts associated with the psychoanalytic, social, biological, cognitive, trait, behavioral, and humanistic domains in personality theory.
• When applicable, the student will be able to understand how to apply these concepts to the therapeutic strategies associated with each domain.
• The student will be able to communicate these understandings and concepts in oral and written communication.
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Theories of Personality, 6th EditionwSusan CloningerPearson978-0-205-25624-2  

Attendance and Class ParticipationYour class participation grade will be generated on the basis of your attendance record, full engagement in each class meeting, and contributions to small- and large-group discussions. Much of what you learn from this course will come from the materials that are presented and discussed in class. 15%
ExamsThere will be three exams in this course, all of which will include objective items as well as essay questions. 60%
PaperIn this paper you will be analyzing the personality of a character in a movie, tv show, play, or book. 1) First, you will describe the character, providing enough background information to ensure understanding of your analysis. 2) Analyze the character from two different theoretical perspectives. Be sure to present evidence for your analysis. 3) Summarize and present your critical opinion about how well (or not) these theories serve in examining the character. 4) Be sure to include references to the book and course materials. You must use APA style for in text citations and include a reference page (you do not need a title page nor abstract). This paper should be 8 double-spaced pages long in 12-point font with 1-inch margins. Formatting counts. Thus, this is a relatively brief paper that will require concise communication of ideas. (Additional information regarding instructions and rubric will be provided.) Be prepared to discuss your analysis in class. 25%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

You cannot make-up a major exam (midterm or final) without the permission of the Dean’s Office. The Dean’s Office will grant such permission only when the absence was caused by a serious impediment, such as a documented illness, hospitalization or death in the immediate family (in which you must attend the funeral) or other situations of similar gravity. Absences due to other meaningful conflicts, such as job interviews, family celebrations, travel difficulties, student misunderstandings or personal convenience, will not be excused. Students who will be absent from a major exam must notify the Dean’s Office prior to that exam. Absences from class due to the observance of a religious holiday will normally be excused. Individual students who will have to miss class to observe a religious holiday should notify the instructor by the end of the Add/Drop period to make prior arrangements for making up any work that will be missed. The final exam period runs until August 3rd.
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.




Class meeting



Mon July 2


Introduction to Personality Theory

Chapter 1

Tues July 3

Psychoanalytic Perspective:

Classic Psychoanalysis (Freud)

Chapter 2

Thurs July 5

Psychoanalytic Perspective:

Analytical Psychology (Jung)

Chapter 3

Fri July 6

Psychoanalytic-Social Perspective:

Individual Psychology (Adler)

Siblings and Personality Development

Chapter 4

Brody, G. (2005). Siblings’ direct and indirect contributions to child development. In C. Morf and O. Ayduk (Eds.), Current Directions in Personality Psychology, pp. 143-148. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Society.

Mon July 9

Psychoanalytic-Social Perspective:

Psychosocial Development (Erikson)

Chapter 5

Tues July 10

Exam 1

Wed July 11

Take the VIA Strengths Survey Online

Trait Perspective:

Personological Trait Theory (Allport)

Chapter 7

Thurs July 12

Bring VIA Survey results to class

Trait Perspective:

Big Five: Factor Analytical Trait Theory (Cattell)

Strengths Assessment Interpretation

Chapter 8

Mon July 16

Trait Perspective:

Biological Theories (Kagan, Eysenck, Gray)

Chapter 9

Tues July 17

Biological Perspectives

Dabbs, J. Hargrove, M., & Heusel, C. (1996). Testosterone differences among college fraternities: Well-behaved vs. rambunctious. Personality and Individual Differences, 20, 157-161.

Farah, M. (2005). Neuroethics: The practical and the philosophical. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 9, 34-30.

Wed July 18

Emotions and Personality

Coping and Personality

Fredrickson, B. L. (2003). The value of positive emotions. American Scientist, 91, 330-335.

Folkman, S. & Moskowitz, J.T. (2005). Stress, positive emotion, and coping. In C. Morf and O. Ayduk (Eds.), Current Directions in Personality Psychology, pp. 181-186. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Society.

Thurs July 19

Exam 2

Mon July 23

Learning Perspective:

Behaviorism (Skinner)

Chapter 10

Tues July 24

Cognitive Social Learning Perspective:


Chapter 12

Wed July 25

Stability of Personality

Thurs July 26

Cognitive Social Learning Perspective:


Mon July 30

Humanistic Perspective:

Person-Centered Theory (Rogers)

Chapter 14

Tues July 31

Humanistic Perspective:

Need Hierarchy Theory (Maslow)

Chapter 15

Wed Aug 1

Positive Psychology

Contemplative Science

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1999). If we are so rich, why aren’t we happy? American Psychologist, 54, 821-827.

Davidson, R., Dunne, J., Eccles, J., et al. (2012). Contemplative practices and mental training: Prospects for American education. Child Development Perspectives, 6, 146-153.

Thurs Aug 2

Paper Due

Wrap Up & Discuss papers

Fri Aug 3

Final Exam