Psychopathic personality (a term that has been largely supplanted in psychologists’ and psychiatrists’ nosologies by anti-social personality disorder) and narcissism are venerable, widely used, and fiercely contested categories of personality disorder. Psychopathic personality was originally delineated in the early years of the 20th century to encompass behavior that was, in experts’ estimation, decidedly not normal but that fit none of the other categories of mental disease. Critics of the diagnosis claimed it was but another label for individuals’ non-conformity with social norms, used to punish the poor and marginal. Narcissism has had an even more tumultuous history than psychopathy. Referring simultaneously to traits considered pathological (grandiosity, exploitativeness, manipulativeness) and to traits thought desirable (high self-esteem, capacity for leadership and authority), narcissism has been at the center of debates over national decline and the character of the modal American for the past half-century. Both categories have also sparked controversy along the trait/ state, dimensional/ categorical divide that flared in the run-up to the publication of the 5th edition of psychiatry’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 2013. Thousands of papers have attempted to resolve the ambiguities surrounding both diagnoses, but these ambiguities have proven productive (of research and new knowledge) and are unlikely to be resolved soon.
History of the Personality Disorders Narcissism and Psychopathic Personality
Personality Disorders in Later Life
S.P.J. van Alphen and S.M.J. Heijnen-Kohl
Personality disorders severely impact a person’s functioning in many ways. Although a person may have found ways to cope throughout life, at an older age underlying dysfunctional patterns can emerge and cause much distress both for the person and those around them. Why normal personality traits shift to abnormality is not easily understood. In literature there are many theories with different definitions. In this chapter a few of the prominent theories on the description of personality will be discussed. For example, some psychologists have described personality as a complex pattern that is deeply tied to psychological characteristics that are largely unaware, hard to wipe out, and expressed in all aspects of functioning. Other psychologists define personality as individual differences in the tendency to display consistent patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. The American Psychiatric Association (2013) defines personality traits as enduring patterns in the way someone perceives, relates to, and thinks about the environment and oneself and that these patterns are exhibited in a wide range of social and personal context. These definitions of personality are all concerned with unique and stable characteristics in different situations. These theories are not age-specific, but age-related changes and differences in manifestations do occur. This complicates diagnosis as measurements for older adults have barely been developed or validated. The feasibility of measurements and various information sources will be addressed. Descriptions and diagnosis have the ability to enhance treatment for patients with personality disorders. Known treatment forms have successfully been applied to older adults as well and differing treatment levels will be distinguished. Treatment of first choice can be aimed at changing personality characteristics or enhancing adaptation, but in some cases supportive treatment is the best fit. In clinical practice a variety of possible interventions is needed to provide the best care for different manifestations of personality disorders.
Personality Assessment in Clinical Psychology
Katy W. Martin-Fernandez and Yossef S. Ben-Porath
Attempts at informal personality assessment can be traced back to our distant ancestors. As the field of Clinical Psychology emerged and developed over time, efforts were made to create reliable and valid measures of personality and psychopathology that could be used in a variety of contexts. There are many assessment instruments available for clinicians to use, with most utilizing either a projective or self-report format. Individual assessment instruments have specific administration, scoring, and interpretive guidelines to aid clinicians in making accurate decisions based on a test taker’s answers. These measures are continuously adapted to reflect the current conceptualization of personality and psychopathology and the latest technology. Additionally, measures are adapted and validated to be used in a variety of settings, with a variety of populations. Personality assessment continues to be a dynamic process that can be utilized to accurately and informatively represent the test taker and aid in clinical decision making and planning.
Personality and Health
Sarah E. Hampson
Although the belief that personality is linked to health goes back at least to Greek and Roman times, the scientific study of these links began in earnest only during the last century. The field of psychosomatic medicine, which grew out of psychoanalysis, accepted that the body and the mind were closely connected. By the end of the 20th century, the widespread adoption of the five-factor model of personality and the availability of reliable and valid measures of personality traits transformed the study of personality and health. Of the five broad domains of personality (extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, and intellect/openness), the most consistent findings in relation to health have been obtained for conscientiousness (i.e., hard-working, reliable, self-controlled). People who are more conscientious have better health and live longer lives than those who are less conscientious. These advantages are partly explained by the better health behaviors, good social relationships, and less stress that tend to characterize those who are more conscientious. The causal relation between personality and health may run in both directions; that is, personality influences health, and health influences personality. In addition to disease diagnoses and longevity, changes on biomarkers such as inflammation, cortisol activity, and cellular aging are increasingly used to chart health in relation to personality traits and to test explanatory models. Recognizing that both personality and health change over the life course has promoted longitudinal studies and a life-span approach to the study of personality and health.
Schema Therapy With Older Adults
Schema therapy has evolved since the late 1980s as an efficacious and increasingly widely used psychotherapeutic treatment for personality disorders and many other complex disorders that correlate with underlying maladaptive schemas. Only recently, attention among clinical geropsychologists has been growing for the application of schema therapy in older adults. Schema therapy is very feasible for both therapists and older patients. Schema therapy is an integrative psychotherapy, which draws on the cognitive-behavioral, attachment, psychodynamic, and emotion-focused traditions. In this treatment model, early maladaptive schemas are considered core elements of persistent and pervasive psychopathology, including personality disorders. The goal of treatment is to decrease the impact of maladaptive schemas and to replace negative coping responses and maladaptive schema modes with more healthy alternatives so that patients succeed in getting their core emotional needs met. The emerging attention for schema therapy in older adults is in line with the increased attention for personality disorders in later life, and also with the maturing field of psychotherapy for older adults. The first scientific evidence for the feasibility and the effectiveness of schema therapy has recently been shown. Despite these developments, much work is still to be done. The question is whether schema theory, which was developed for adults in young and middle adulthood, equally applies to those in later life. Although the first tests of effectiveness of schema therapy in older adults are encouraging, age-specific adaptations of existing therapy protocols, both for individual and group schema therapy, are wanted. Furthermore, the research that has been conducted so far has focused on the young-old. Especially for the growing and highly complex group of oldest-old patients, the development of feasible and effective schema-based interventions is needed. Integrating age-specific moderators for change, such as wisdom enhancement, attitudes to aging, and integrating the action of positive schemas, deserves recommendation.
Resistance to Persuasion
Dolores Albarracín and Alexander Karan
Since the 1940s, persuasion processes and the resistance to such processes have been extensively studied, becoming integral components within society affecting everyday life from of marketing and advertising to politics to health. Persuasion and its resistance naturally stemmed from research on attitudes and their formation. The process by which people can form attitudes is either through individual processes or persuasion processes. Regardless of if attitudes are already held, they can either follow along the persuasion process or resist it. Persuasion and its resistance occur for the same reasons: people want to be accurate, defend their self-consistency, or react to the social environment. Knowing why people become persuaded or resist it led to deeply researching how these processes occur. Processes and techniques related to the likelihood of successful resistance include retrieving prior attitudes; selective exposure; bolstering initial attitudes; selective memory; biased processing; derogation of the source, content, or message and persuasive attempt; and counter-arguing, which includes forewarning and inoculation techniques. Although researchers have been prolific and steadfast in determining these facets of resistance, there are more emerging topics that are rife for the exploration. Such topics include more social motives for resistance, the mechanisms underlying successful resistance processes and techniques, how often resistance occurs, what combinations of processes and techniques engender reliable resistance, and the consequences (both individual and interpersonal) of resistance. All in all, the future for this line of work is promising and timely. Everyday life will continue to provide situations that call for the psychology of resistance to persuasion.
Individual Differences at Work
There is a great deal of research on whether personality, ability, and motivation correlate with behavior in the workplace. This is of great importance to all managers who know the benefits of able, engaged, and motivated staff compared to staff who are alienated and disenchanted. The research is an area of applied psychology that is at the interface of work, personality, and social psychology. Predominantly, the research aims to identify measurable characteristics (i.e., personality traits) of an individual that are systematically related to work output and to explain the mechanism and process involved. Research on the relationship among personality and organizational level, promotion level, and salary, all of which are related, is difficult because in order to validate the findings, it is important to get representative and comprehensive measures of work output, which few organizations can provide. The results suggest that personality plays an important part in all the outcomes and that three traits are consistently implicated. The higher people score on trait Conscientiousness and Extraversion and the lower they score on trait Neuroticism, the better they do at work. Similarly, intelligence plays an important role, particularly in more complex jobs. Recent literature has looked at management derailment and failure, with the idea that studying failure can illuminate success, as well as prevent a number of systematic selection errors. This approach is based on “dark-side” traits and the paradoxical finding that some subclinical personality disorders correlate with management success.
Aggression: Risk Factors in the Person and the Situation
Aggressive behavior is defined as social behavior carried out with the intention to harm. Violence denotes those forms of aggression that are intended to cause severe physical harm. Aggressive behavior has severe negative consequences for individuals, social groups, and societies as a whole. Therefore, understanding why some individuals are more prone to engaging in aggressive behavior than others and some situational circumstances and social contexts are more likely to elicit aggressive behavior is a critical task. Influential psychological theories of aggression conceptualize aggression as the result of the interplay between variables in the person and the situation. To explain individual differences in aggressive behavior, one line of research has looked at broad personality dimensions, such as self-esteem and narcissism, lack of self-control, and the “Big-Five” personality factors. Evidence shows that high narcissism, low self-control, low openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, and agreeableness, and high neuroticism are linked to a higher propensity to engage in aggressive behavior. Another line of research has focused on more circumscribed, aggression-related personality constructs, demonstrating that individuals who are habitually anger-prone, have a tendency ruminate about anger-eliciting experiences, and show a hostile attributional style in terms of seeing other persons’ behavior as an expression of hostile intent are more likely to show aggressive behavior. On the side of the situation and social environment, several conditions have been identified under which the likelihood of aggressive behavior is increased. Individuals are more likely to show aggressive behavior when they have consumed alcohol, after they have experienced social rejection by others, when aggressive cues, such as weapons, are present in the situation, and when they have access to a firearm. Aggression is also more likely to be shown under conditions of anonymity and high temperature and as a result of regular exposure to depictions of violence in the media. In addition to such “main effects,” there is evidence of an interactive effect of individual and situational characteristics. For example, the impact of exposure to violent media is greater on individuals with a higher disposition to show aggressive behavior, and the effect of alcohol consumption on aggression is greater among people who are habitually prone to engage in angry rumination. Approaches to preventing aggression may build on the evidence on personal and situational differences. For example, anger management trainings may promote better control of angry impulses, focusing on the personal risk factors for aggression, whereas providing role models who show nonaggressive responses in anger-eliciting situations reflects a focus on situational interventions. In conclusion, personality and situational variables need to be considered in combination and interaction to predict when aggressive behavior is likely to occur. Gaining a better understanding of the factors promoting aggressive behavior needs to remain high on the agenda for theory building and empirical research in psychology.
Psychological Resilience and Adversarial Growth in Sport and Performance
The ability to withstand or adapt to environmental demands is an inherent aspect of performance sport. At the highest level of competition, phenomenal levels of psychological resilience are necessary to attain and sustain success. Although various biopsychosocial factors contribute to the development of this resilience, an important differentiating factor in the emergence of the world’s best athletes is an ability to benefit in some way from the adversity they encounter, to the extent that they psychosocially grow and develop their resilience beyond their pre-trauma functioning, resulting in superior performance. These interrelated experiences of adversity, growth, and resilience involve ongoing complex interactions of numerous personal and situational factors. To briefly elaborate, following adversity-related trauma, athletes go through a “transitional process” whereby growth is facilitated through a combination of internal and external processes. For the world’s best athletes, changes to their motivation and personality appear to be particularly salient psychological aspects of adversarial growth. With regard to the development of resilience, the combined influence of psychological (i.e., personality, motivation, confidence, focus, support) and environmental (i.e., challenge, support) factors underpin athletes’ enhanced ability to withstand or adapt to environmental demands. Although there are a variety of potential beneficial outcomes of these experiences, it appears that there may also be some darker aspects to the world’s best athletes’ development and performance that have less desirable effects on their mental health and relationships. The integrative synthesis of psychological resilience and adversarial growth offers one of the most exciting and insightful avenues for future research in sport and performance.
Williams Syndrome (WS) is a rare condition resulting from the deletion of approximately 25 genes on one copy of chromosome 7. As well as physical manifestations, most individuals with WS have a distinctive psychological profile including marked difficulties in visuospatial cognition, relatively fluent speech, and good face recognition, and a “hypersocial” personality including intense attention to faces and readiness to approach and engage with strangers. However, they show wide individual variations in cognitive and social abilities, from severe intellectual disability to normal range IQ scores. Many individuals with WS are prone to anxiety and obsessions and some meet the criteria for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. A number of features of the WS profile are consistent with a deficit in function of the dorsal cortical stream, and anomalies in dorsal stream structures, as well as other specific features of brain structure and function which have been identified in the brains of individuals with WS. A number of specific genes within the deletion have been characterized, and links between gene expression, neural structure, and behavior have been suggested, but understanding of these links remains very partial and uncertain. Individuals with WS display a friendly and engaging personality. However, their social and cognitive difficulties mean that specialist support is needed in their education and integration within the community so that people with WS can achieve a degree of independent living while optimizing their well-being.
Individual Differences in the Vitamin Model of Well-being
Prominent among frameworks of well-being is the Vitamin Model, which emphasizes nonlinear associations with environmental features. The Vitamin Model has previously been described through average patterns for people in general, but we need also to explore inter-individual variations. For presentation, those differences can either be viewed generically, based on divergence in age, personality and so on, or through short-term episodes of emotion regulation, such as through situation-specific attentional focus and reappraisal. Both long-term and short-term variations are considered here.
Raymond E. Fancher
Gordon W. Allport was a prominent Harvard University psychologist during the mid-20th century, notable both for his early and effective promotion of “personality” as an important psychological subdiscipline, and in his later career as a social psychologist for works on several issues of major social importance. In 1921 he and his older brother Floyd Allport jointly proposed the study and measurement of traits as the foundation of a new subdiscipline of personality psychology, with Gordon’s Harvard doctoral research a pilot study demonstrating the feasibility of the approach. On a subsequent postdoctoral fellowship in Germany Allport became impressed by William Stern’s “personalistic” psychology, which held that a person’s “individuality” could be defined in two ways: relational individuality, comprised of the particular combination of numerous measurable traits manifested by a subject in studies such as Allport’s thesis; and real individuality, a Gestalt-like conception of a personality that is more than just the sum of its parts, and discoverable only through a qualitative analysis of the traits’ role in an overall life history. These ideas inspired in Allport a conception of personality as a broad and independent psychological field that would incorporate both the “nomothetic,” experimental methods of the natural sciences in measuring and studying personality traits, and the non-experimental “idiographic” methods utilized in the historical and humanistic fields for providing conceptions of wholly integrated, unique personalities. Noting that Anglo-American psychology was heavily dominated by the former approach, he became an outspoken advocate of the latter as a necessary complement to it. Allport taught undergraduate seminars promoting this conception at Harvard and Dartmouth between 1924 and 1930, before returning permanently to Harvard in 1930. There, both independently and in collaborations with others, he conducted and promoted seminal personality research employing both nomothetic and idiographic methods. His comprehensive and authoritative 1937 textbook, Personality: A Psychological Interpretation, was a landmark in establishing personality as a major psychological discipline. With enhanced reputation, Allport became a leading institutional figure in American psychology. For the rest of his career he continued to advocate an inclusive, “eclectic” approach to personality psychology, while also turning attention to important social issues such as wartime morale and propaganda, the influence of radio as a mass medium, the role of religion in personality and society, and with particular impact the nature of prejudice.
Creativity is perhaps what most differentiates humans from other species. Understanding creativity is particularly important in times of accelerated cultural and environmental change, such as the present, in which novel approaches and perspectives are needed. The study of creativity is an exciting area that brings together many different branches of research: cognitive psychology, social psychology, personality psychology, developmental psychology, organizational psychology, clinical psychology, neuroscience, mathematical models, and computer simulations. The creative process is thought to involve the capacity to shift between divergent and convergent modes of thought in response to task demands. Divergent thought is conventionally characterized as the kind of thinking needed for open-ended tasks, and it is measured by the ability to generate multiple solutions, while convergent thought is commonly characterized as the kind of thinking needed for tasks in which there is only one correct solution. More recently, divergent thought has been conceived of as reflecting on the task from unconventional contexts or perspectives, while convergent thought has been conceived of as reflecting on it from conventional contexts or perspectives. Personality traits correlated with creativity include openness to experience, tolerance of ambiguity, impulsivity, and self-confidence. Evidence that creativity is linked with affective disorders is mixed. Neuroscientific research on creativity using electroencephalography (EEG) or functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) suggests that creativity is associated with a loosening of cognitive control and decreased arousal. It has been shown that the distributed, content-addressable structure of associative memory is conducive to bringing task-relevant items to mind without the need for explicit search. Tangible evidence of human creativity dates back to the earliest stone tools devised over three million years ago, with the Middle-Upper Paleolithic marking the onset of art, science, and religion, and another surge of creativity in the present. Past and current areas of controversy concern the relative contributions of expertise, chance, and intuition, whether the emphasis should be on process versus product, whether creativity is a domain-specific or a domain-general function, the extent to which creativity is correlated with affective disorders, and whether divergent thinking entails the generation of multiple ideas or the honing of a single initially ambiguous mental representation that may manifest as different external outputs. Promising areas for further psychological study of creativity include computational modeling, research on the biological basis of creativity, and studies that track specific creative ideation processes over time.
Social Relationships Across Adulthood and Old Age
Cornelia Wrzus and Jenny Wagner
Over the entire life span, social relationships are essential ingredients of human life. Social relationships describe regular interactions with other people over a certain period and generally include a mental representation of the relationship and the relationship partner. Social relationships cover diverse types, such as those with family members, romantic partners, friends, colleagues, as well as with other unrelated people. In general, most of these relationships change in number, contact frequency, and relationship quality during adulthood and old age. For example, both the number of and contact with friends and other unrelated people generally decrease with advancing age, whereas the number of and contact with family members remain rather stable. Relatively little is known about longitudinal changes in the quality of relationships, apart from romantic relationships, because few longitudinal studies have tracked specific relationships. Some explanatory factors, which are discussed in the literature, are (a) motivational changes, (b) reduced time due to work and family demands during adulthood, and (c) resource constraints in older age. Future work on social relationships would benefit from increasingly applying dyadic and network approaches to include the perspective of relationship partners as well as from examining online and offline contact in social relationships, which has already proved important among younger adults.
Jesús F. Salgado
Personnel selection is one of the most critical processes in the study of human work behavior because it determines the efficacy of many other issues of human resource management (e.g., training, productivity, and culture). From this perspective, personnel selection is a process of decision-making, and its main objective is to predict the future performance of potential employees. In order to achieve this objective, personnel selection identifies the individual requirements of job performance and uses a variety of assessment procedures, including cognitive ability tests, personality inventories, interviews, job knowledge tests, situational judgment tests, job experience, work sample tests, assessment centers, biodata, and reference checks. Using the best combination of predictors, currently, scientific personnel selection is capable of predicting and explaining over 60% of job performance variance based on individual differences.
History of Social Psychology at Mid-20th Century
Thomas F. Pettigrew
The discipline of psychology has an extremely broad range—from the life sciences to the social sciences, from neuroscience to social psychology. These distinctly different components have varying histories of their own. Social psychology is psychology’s social science wing. The major social sciences—anthropology, economics, sociology, and political science—all had their origins in the 19th century or even earlier. But social psychology is much younger; it developed both in Europe and North America in the 20th century. The field’s enormous growth over the past century began modestly with a few scant locations, several textbooks, and a single journal in the 1920s. Today’s social psychologists would barely recognize their discipline in the years prior to World War II. But trends forming in the 1920s and 1930s would become important years later. With steady growth, especially starting in the 1960s, the discipline gained thousands of new doctorates and multiple journals scattered throughout the world. Social psychology has become a recognized, influential, and often-cited social science. It is the basis, for example, of behavioral economics as well as such key theories as authoritarianism in political science. Central to this extraordinary expansion were the principal events of mid-20th century. World War II, the growth of universities and the social sciences in general, rising prosperity, statistical advances, and other global changes set the stage for the discipline’s rapid development. Together with this growth, social psychology has expanded its topics in both the affective and cognitive domains. Indeed, new theories are so numerous that theoretical integration has become a prime need for the discipline.
Anglo-American Psychology in the Cold War
Marcia E. Holmes
From the end of World War II until roughly 1989, global leaders feared that cataclysmic war would break out between the world’s two superpower states, the Soviet Union and the United States. Though such a confrontation did not occur, the stalemate between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and the United States—with its simmering fears, proxy battles, and psychological warfare—became known as the Cold War. Psychological expertise played an important role in the Cold War, especially within Western democracies like the United States, Great Britain, and Canada. In these countries, citizens tended to view the Cold War as a “battle for minds”: a fight against communist political ideology, totalitarianism, social conformity, and other threats to individual mental freedom. Anglo-American psychology flourished within this intellectual environment by finding new topics and applications for research, new sources of funding, and a new image as essential to the functioning of healthy democracy. Historians continue to debate how the Cold War influenced the field of psychology. Overall, the strategic partnership between psychology and the “military-industrial complex” was limited to certain initiatives. In some cases, Anglo-American psychologists who used their expertise to fight the Cold War were led into questionable pursuits, resulting in greater public scrutiny and even scandals for themselves and their profession. Nonetheless, the Cold War had a significant impact on Anglo-American psychology by making the relationship between psychological knowledge and democratic values a continual subject of public concern.
Theories of Prejudice
Thomas F. Pettigrew
Prejudice, especially intergroup prejudice, has long been a central topic of social psychology. The discipline has sought to be both socially relevant and useful. Thus, theory and research on prejudice fits directly into these central concerns of the discipline. The study of this topic has developed in direct correspondence with how social psychology itself has been able to devise new theoretical and empirical tools—from self-administered questionnaires and probability sample surveys to laboratory experiments and computer-assisted methods. Given the discipline’s intense research interest in intergroup prejudice, it is not surprising that that there is a plethora of theories concerning prejudice. But these many theories tend not to conflict with one another. Rather, they typically coalesce around interrelated themes across three levels of analysis. The micro level of the attitudes of individuals was the primary focus for the first half-century of modern social psychology (1920–1970). Slowly, the field turned its attention to the meso level of intergroup interaction and how such contact influenced intergroup prejudice and discrimination. Finally, the discipline began to consider more systematically the many relevant structural and cultural factors at the macro level of analysis and how they shaped both intergroup prejudice and discrimination. With time, direct links between the three principal levels of analysis have been uncovered. With this order of attention, social psychology boasts many more theories and studies of prejudice at the micro level of individuals than at other levels. But the field has learned that all three levels of analysis are critical for a fully rounded, more complete understanding of the topic.
Projective Psychodiagnostics: Inkblots, Stories, and Drawings as Clinical Measures
Projective psychodiagnostics refers to the use of psychological instruments through which the subject is asked to respond to a set of ambiguous (though often suggestive) stimuli, thereby “projecting” aspects of their personality into these responses. The most prominent of these instruments includes the Rorschach Inkblot Technique, in which the subject is confronted with ten inkblots and is asked what these stimuli look like, and then what perceptual features make them look that way. Another common projective technique is the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT), a storytelling exercise in which the subject responds with a narrative to a series of ambiguous but sometimes highly charged black and white pictures depicting human interactions. Over time, new pictures have been developed for similar storytelling instruments targeted to children (the Children’s Apperception Test) or different ethnic populations. Both of these tests emerged under the influence of psychodynamic theories, and of the work of Carl Jung, whose Word Association Test served as a projective measure of psychological conflicts. Finally, there is a series of drawing tests which, while less commonly used, have had a projective history, including human figure drawings, the Bender–Gestalt Test, and the Wartegg Drawing Completion Test. Projective instruments have been used in a variety of psychiatric settings and have been criticized for being insufficiently grounded in either quantitative measures or scientific validity. The Rorschach has emerged with increasingly statistically based scoring systems addressing perceptual features, language, and content in the assessment of risk and diagnosis. The TAT is essentially a structured interview (since most scoring systems are not used by clinicians), but it nonetheless appears to be useful in gleaning information about a subject’s relationships with other people. Drawing tasks and sentence completion tests (derived from word association tests) are less commonly used, though more prevalent with children whose verbal abilities may be more limited. In general, projective tests appear to have some limited ability to define diagnosis and risk (and can be especially helpful in defining thought disorder and prognosis), but they may be most useful in helping clinicians obtain a deeper picture of conflicts and resources within the person tested.