Perspectives of personality psychology can effect what???

The study of personality, from a scientific perspective, is important to the study of psychology in that issues such as further research from Freud or Wilber surrounding the study of the unconsciousness can be addressed, gender and cultural influences can be understood, and personal values of individuals can be assessed.  Friedman and Schustack (2006) discussed eight different perspectives of personality psychology that can be used to address these, and many other, psychological issues.  The eight perspectives are:


  • Psychoanalytic which focuses on unconscious influences and sexual drives
  • Neo-analytic/ ego which addresses the self’s management of emotions and internal and external drives and demands
  • Biological which addresses limitations and tendencies that are inherited
  • Behaviorist which analyzes the impact of learning experiences on personality development
  • Cognitive which addresses active human thought processes
  • Trait which addresses individual assessment techniques
  • Humanistic which looks at the spiritual side of individuals and the struggle for self-fulfillment and dignity and lastly,
  • Interactionist which acknowledges that different selves in one individual may present in different situations

What is useful about studying these eight perspectives of personality psychology is that they can be looked at scientifically to either support or disprove correlations, general assumptions, or coincidences associated with an individual’s personality and actions.  With the rise in the interest of health psychology and its application to stress management the perspectives of personality psychology can have great value.  For example, Kenney and Bhattacharjee (2000) noted that personality traits such as hardiness, assertiveness, confidence in others, and ability to express one’s feelings can have a positive effect on reducing negative health symptomologies during stressful events.  If a person’s personality style is scientifically assessed (versus what could be found in someone’s individual horoscope profile) it is possible to identify if someone is at a high or low risk for the development of stress related disesses.   

Friedman, H. S. & Schustack, M. W. (2006). Personality: Classic theories and modern research (3rd ed.). MA: Allyn & Bacon.  

Kenney, J. W. & Bhattacharjee, A. (2000). Interactive model of women’s stressors, personality traits, and health problems. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 32(1), 249-258.



A real psychological "love triangle"

Personal relationships are an important part of everyday social life in both the short term and the long term. Humans naturally desire to socialize with each other but having a successful relationship is not something that occurs without significant effort from both parties ( Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2005, p. 77). However, even with effort, the mental and social development a person experiences throughout their lifespan as well as their social age will have an influence upon the success or failure of a relationship (Santrock, 2006, p. 20).

375px-Love-triangle.jpgHaving positive social relationships and networks is one third of the biopsychosocial model that health psychologists use to manage overall health and well being (Brannon & Feist, 2004, p. 12). Social relationships translate into social support when a person is going through a traumatic experience such as the death of a loved one or a serious illness. In these situations social support has been proven to help individuals recover from stress and illness faster and more efficiently versus those who do not have social relationships (Snyder, 1999, p. 63). Therefore, it is important to understand the factors that will contribute to the formation and maintenance of a satisfying relationship. For a successful friendship these factors include being able to listen, share, and grow together but for an intimate relationship the factors become a bit more complex. Sternberg’s triangular model of love notes that intimacy, passion, and commitment must all equally be present to have a consummate love ( Baron, Byrne, & Branscombe, 2006, p. 318) . Although a consummate love may not be achieved in every relationship, it is still important to work to develop friendships and social relationships throughout your lifetime.

Baron, R., Byrne, D., & Branscombe, N . (2006). Social psychology (11th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

Brannon, L. & Feist, J. (2004). Health psychology: An introduction to behavior and health (5th Ed.). CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.

Santrock, J. (2006). Life-span development (10th ed.). Madison, WI: McGraw Hill.

Schneider, F., Gruman, J., & Coutts, L. (Eds.). (2005). Applied social psychology. London: Sage Publications, Inc.

Snyder, C. R. (1999). Coping: The psychology of what works. Oxford University Press.


Be Positive About the Healing Process

When someone is recovering from a major surgery it is preferable that this process is uneventful, sterile, full of nutritional health and positive ideally. Health psychologists often help evaluate the mental health of a patient prior to them undergoing surgery; however, unplanned surgical events and unplanned family emergencies can not always be predicted.

The healing process of a wound is a complicated but amazing process. The epidermis layer of the skin is the first line of protection against foreign objects entering the body and this layer of skin is used to having scratches and minor abrasions that heal rather easily without severe scaring (Buford, 2001). This layer of skin is important to the protection of the dermis layer of skin which makes up the majority of the tissue as well as ensuring the regulation of body temperature and protecting the body from a loss of fluid. The dermis constitutes the majority of the skin and therefore has a great deal of the fluids and blood vessels necessary to maintain overall tissues health (Yang & Glaser, 2005). This depth of cellular penetration is especially important with regard to healing of wounds.

When the skin is injured, be it through an accident or through a surgical procedure such as a planned abdominal surgery, a complicated process of recovery is triggered. The first step the body takes is to clot the immediate area of injury and then inflammatory cells are sent to the wound cite followed by a flow of monocytes and lymphocytes to as well as macrophagoctyic cells that help remove any excessive bacteria development (Yang & Glaser, 2005).

With all these natural processes occurring to manage injuries there is evidence that there are additional factors that are associated with wound healing such as a person’s immune system stability, their nutritional standpoint, or their stress levels (Yang & Glaser, 2005). For example studies suggest that psychological stress has an effect upon the integrity of the epidermal and dermal layers of the skin and their ability to heal efficiently.

Therefore, if a person is healing from a surgical related incision to the skin and/or muscular tissues which requires a healing process and they are faced with normal stresses with the addition of significant stressor it would make sense that the body may not distribute the available cellular and immunological resources to heal the body as efficiently as would be possible without the additional stress factor.

Myss (1997, p. 28-30) has suggested that there are opportunities for a person to disregard negative beliefs and feelings so that a person can focus on mending their own personal physical illnesses. However, this ability requires a level of faith an ability to have a positive psychological outlook regarding health, spirituality, and the healing process. Healing%20Positively.jpg

When considering the recovery process for someone who has just underwent a serious surgery and then had to face a significant emotionally challenge it would be recommended to have the person communicate the negative and sad feelings hopefully resulting in a functional decline in the psychological pain and an increase in the healing process as negative emotions can contribute to prolonged infection at the wound site, as well as immune deregulation for the core healing processes (Kiecolt-Glaser, McGuire, Rolbes, & Glaser, 2002).

Given this information a healthy diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables and organic fish and meat should be advised to the person complimented with relaxation therapy, coping strategies such as grief writing or mediation, and social support networks would be of assistance to a patient who is sadly recovering from a surgery as well as such a personal loss.

Buford, G. (2001). Wound healing and pressure sores. Heathology. Retrieved Novemeber 13, 2007 from

Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K., McGuire, L., Rolbes, T. F., & Glaser, R. (2002). Emotions, morbidity, and mortality: New perspectives from psychoneuroimmunology. Annual Review of Psychology, 53, 83-107.

Myss, C. (1997). Why people don’t heal and how they can. NY: Harmony Books.

Yang, E. V. & Glaser, R. (2005). Wound healing and psychoneuroimmununology. In K. Vedhara & M. Irwin (Eds.). Human psychoneuroimmunology. NY: Oxford University Press.


The psychology of attraction...

Attraction occurs on a variety of biological, intellectual, and social planes. For example, physically pheromones are know to cause a positive chemical reaction between two members of the opposite sex while intellectually individuals evaluate a potential mate based upon factors such as whether or not they are compatible with his or her lifestyle, such as being a smoker or nonsmoker or a mountain climber versus a bookworm (Pinel, 2006, p. 177). Socially the affect-attraction effect plays an important role. Affect-attraction is the emotional response that a person has to another person based upon how the other individual makes him or her feel about herself or how a person is able to project their feelings about a particular social situation upon another person who is not responsible for those feelings ( Baron, Byrne, & Branscombe, 2006, p. 263).

There are a variety of factors that contribute to and promote attraction as well as selection criteria that influence romantic attraction. For example, it has been noted that although men may value financial security and success in their female partners, a female’s attractiveness is consistently important. Additionally, even when a relationship has reached a mature state of three years of monogamy, the male in a “Relationships and Love” research video expressed his value of his spouse’s attractiveness (Laureate Education, 2007). However, he also discussed his attractiveness to her “sweet, understanding, and kind” personality. His wife did not comment on the attractiveness of her husband from a physical standpoint; rather she commented on how well he treats her, which also could include him living up to her expectations of being a gentleman and a provider.

The opinions expressed in the videos are fairly consistent with the definition of selection criteria for males and females explained by Baron, Byrne, and Branscombe (2006, p. 311). They concluded that men prefer to select women that are youthful and have beautiful traits such as a symmetrical face or long, shiny hair as this represents potential reproductive capability. Further, women are more likely to select men who fit the criteria of being financially stable, intelligent, dominant, and in a high social position because this represents the ability to provide for, and protect, the woman and her offspring ( B aron, Byrne, & Branscombe, 2006, p. 312).

Caveman.bmpAlthough these theories sound a bit barbaric and from the Neanderthal period, they still hold true today. For example, men do biologically and psychological respond to the physical traits of a woman such as her hip to waist ratio as a sign of attractiveness and women do look for men who control resources so they have the material well being to care for their offspring (Singh, 1993). Therefore, when women are placing advertisements in singles’ columns they often promote their attractiveness where as males should look to promote their security in society by describing their occupation, education, lifestyle, health, and their place in the social and economic hierarchy. I guess?  What do I know anyways; I am married.

Baron, R., Byrne, D., & Branscombe, N . (2006). Social psychology (11th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

Devendra, S. (1993). Adaptive significance of female physical attractiveness: Role of waist-to-hip ratio. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65(2), 293-307.

Pinel, John P. J. (2006). Biopsychology with “beyond the brain and behavior” (6th ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.


Stress and Your Heart

Patients who have suffered from cardiac disorders need to understand that their lifestyle, in terms of how they manage their overall health, will be a predictor of a future cardiac episode as well as overall longevity especially for those who are advancing in age (Brannon & Feist, 2004, p. 230). Psychologists, or mental health workers, can be helpful for patients in the sense that they can develop management plans to assist with cardiac rehabilitation as well as designing behavioral modification programs.

Psychologists work with cardiac patients, in conjunction with medical physicians, to develop coping strategies to help reduce stress, handle psychosocial reactions from friends and family, and create manageable treatment strategies (Livneh, 1999). Coping strategies, which can be developed from a problem-focused plan to manage the cardiac incident or an emotion-based perspective, assists in the reduction of depression in cardiac rehabilitation patients and this is helpful in managing the overall lifestyle of the patient (Ben-Zur, Rappaport, Ammar, & Uretzky, 2000). Cardia%20stress.jpg

Coronary heart disease has biomedical predictors such as obesity, smoking, alcohol abuse, and high cholesterol levels all which are associated with how a person manages their lifestyle (Brannon & Feist, 2004, p. 221). In addition to consumption lifestyle behaviors there is research that suggests that those who personality disorders, or behaviors, such as those who have a Type A behavior pattern and experience chronic levels of hostility, have an increase in risk of developing coronary heart disease (Consedine, Magai, & Chin, 2004).

Inflammation is a further predictor of coronary heart disease as it is now understood that there is a relationship between atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease development and lifestyle (Steptoe & Brydon, 2005, p. 107). However, this chronic inflammatory response is not completely biological in nature and ties well the prior lifestyle contributing factors in that inflammation may be a physiological response to socioeconomic status, social isolation, depression, anxiety, or other lifestyle factors (Steptoe & Brydon, 2005, p. 119).

Ben-Zur, H., Rappaport, B., Ammar, R., & Uretzky, G. (2000). Coping Strategies, Life Style Changes and Pessimism after Open-Heart Surgery. Health and Social Work, 25(3), 201-204.

Brannon, L. & Feist, J. (2004). Health psychology: An introduction to behavior and health (5th Ed.). CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.

Consedine, N. S., Magia, C., & Chin, S. (2004). Hostility and anxiety differentially predict cardiovascular disease in men and women. Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, 50, 245-259.

Livneh, H. (1999). Psychosocial Adaptation to Heart Diseases: The Role of Coping Strategies. The Journal of Rehabilitation, 65(3), 24-27.

Steptoe, A. & Brydon, L. (2005). Psychoneuroimmununology and coronary heart disease. In K. Vedhara & M. Irwin (Eds.). Human psychoneuroimmunology. NY: Oxford University Press.


Am I nutty enough for the job?

Psychological testing and personnel selection has ethical implications that may come in the form of the data collection techniques, the issues of dual roles, or the examiner’s proficiency. Personnel selection has taken a different turn in the workplace as there is a decreased focus on test scores; this often may be because of the controversies associated with test validity and assessment ethics (Bersoff, 2003). For example there are challenges that result from test materials, evaluation criteria, and the interpretation of the results that should not be the quantifiable decision that discloses identifiable variables that could identify a person to hire. Additionally legal situations often put considerable pressure upon corporations to manage their psychological testing protocols and how that is incorporated into the standard hiring practice. However, in situations that are not corporate the person who receivresumay.gifes the assessment should be informed of the standards that are associated with Standard 9.01 which protect the patient (Fisher, (2003).

Organizations need to fully understand the selection process of how they identify potential employees so that they have fair methods in place, they need to work with others that understand how to appropriately place those that have specific skill levels into situations that they can be interviewed and select from the best (Cates, 1999). Psychological testing may lack the ability to identify skills such as potential and, further, the testing mechanisms are not regulated in a manner that could show statistical significance in the correlation between the person’s results and their potential performance (Cates, 1999). It should be an obvious point that tests or traits are not going to be consistent and, when there are not any controls in place, the results will vary and an employer could screen out a possibly great new hires or employ someone who does not fit the corporate culture.

Bersoff, D. N. (2003). Ethical conflicts in psychology (3rd ed.). Washington, DC. American Psychological Association.

Cates, J. A. (1999). The art of assessment in psychology: Ethics, expertise, and validity. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 55(5), 631-641

Fisher, C. B. (2003). Decoding the ethics code: A practical guide for psychologists. Thousand Oaks, CA. Sage Publications, Inc.


Mentality and Survival

A coping style I find to be interesting is the coping mechanism of confidence by a patient in their chance for recovery via the biopsychosocial model.  For most patients and their families, a diagnosis of chronic illness causes feelings of anxiety and a sense of as they try to cope with changes and stresses in their lifestyle such as receiving treatment for the illness, managing the change in self esteem and ego-depletion in the patient because of the impact of the illness, and both the patient and the family’s ability to maintain a positive attitude towards treatment (Brannon & Feist, 2004; Snyder, 1999).  doctors.jpg

Kirk (1992) conducted a study that found there were two types of confidence factors that can have a positive impact on patient’s emotional state and coping mechanism or style related to the biopsychosocial model. The first factor was the patient’s confidence in the level of chronic illness care they were receiving from their doctors and nurses. The second factor that positively contributed to a patient’s ability to cope was dependent upon nurses and doctors taking the time to talk to patients as if they are people, not patients,  by giving them confidence in their individuality (Kirk, 1992). These behaviors are consistent with the biopsychosocial model of care with regards to reducing stress (Lovallo, 2004).  This style of coping mechanism is more of an adaptive style and it is more directly related, in my opinion, to social psychology and the importance of community, family, and the security associated with those factors.

It is important not to allow chronic illness patients and their families to feel like they are numbers; they need to know that they are individuals so that they do not have an increase in the emotional distress they are already experiencing (Brannon & Feist, 2004). Chronic illness causes an increase of stress and it is the job of medical practitioners to do their best to psychologically assist their patients so that the patients do not experience maladaption because of the physical reactors to stress (Leidy, 1989). 

Further, Cohen, Kessler, and Gordon (1997) discuss the importance of mood has on influencing a person’s perception and response and clearly, if a chronically ill person is feeling confident their mood will escalate and hopefully contribute to their ability to cope with their illness and have a recovery or better lifestyle.

Brannon, L. & Feist, J. (2004). Health psychology: An introduction to behavior and health (5th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson.

Cohen, S., Kessler, R. C., & Gordon, L. U. (1997). Measuring Stress: A Guide for Health and Social Scientists. NY: Oxford  University Press

Kirk, K. (1992). Confidence as a factor in chronic illness care. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 17(10), 1238-42

Leidy, N. K. (1989). A physiological analysis of stress and chronic illness. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 14(10), 868-76

Lovallo, W. (2004). Stress & Health: Biological and Psychological Interactions. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications
Snyder, C. R. (1999). Coping: The psychology of what works. Oxford University Press


Positive Health Psychology and AIDS

Health psychologists play an important role in managing the epidemic of AIDS in the sense that they can act as educators and develop behavioral modification programs for individuals that will discourage the risky behaviors that are associated with the transmission of the disease which are mainly unprotected sex and intravenous drug use via the sharing of needles (Brannon & Feist, 2004). An additional role that health psychologist play in the AIDS epidemic is assisting those who are already infected so that they may have positive experiences in their life which will improve the quality of their life, fend off severe depression, and encourage them to adopt positive health-related behaviors such as maintaining their recovery drug regime and halting their risky behaviors (Brannon & Feist, 2004).

Health psychologists can conduct community focus groups to help those who are at risk for contraction of HIV understand that they must put their knowledge of risky behavior into action, such as encouraging and educating individuals about making sure they actually use condoms (Forrest, 1993). Even though many people are aware that condoms and safe sex are preventative factors they do not execute their knowledge upon their behavior and therefore are at risk. There is often a great deal of risk-denial in communities that are at risk, such as women who participate in heterosexual relationships without condoms with men who may not be in monogamous relationships (Brannon & Feist, 2004; Sobo, 1993).

Further, health psychologists can work with schools and communities to discuss the risks for high school children for developing the disease by explaining that health behavior model and enforcing the need to protect themselves sexually with the understanding that the results of AIDS are so severe that they outweigh the inconvenience of having safe sex practices (Walter, 1992). By understanding and identifying behaviors that contribute to the transmission of HIV/AIDS with high school and college students effective behavioral patterns can be identified and changed to reduce the risk of transmitting the fatal disease (Goldman, 1993).


Brannon, L. & Feist, J. (2004). Health psychology: An introduction to behavior and health (5th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson.

Forrest, K. A. (1993). Exploring norms and beliefs related to aids prevention among california hispanic men. Family Planning Perspectives, 25(3), 111-117

Goldman, J. A. (1993). Self-perception variables that mediate aids-preventive behavior in college. Official Journal of the Division of Health Psychology, 12(6), 489-98

Sobo, E. J. (1993). Inner-city women and aids: The psycho-social benefits of unsafe sex. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, 17(4), 455-485

Walter, H. J.( 1992). Factors associated with aids risk behaviors among high school students in an aids epicenter. American Journal of Public Health, 82(4), 528-32


Exercise is Positive...just trust me

Exercise benefits a person’s body by improving physical strength and flexibility, and mentally by reducing psychological stresses (Brannon & Feist, 2004). Living a lifestyle that does not include outdoor activities, exercise, or flexibility programs will not contribute to a healthy life and therefore organic fitness, which is what each person has the natural physical potential, and dynamic fitness, which is what each person has trained themselves to do in a physical manner, should be incorporated to enhance a physical activity plan which should incorporate muscle strength training, endurance, cardiovascular aerobics, and flexibility (Brannon & Feist, 2004).

Exercise.jpgExercise has been found to help reduce anxiety if it is performed on a regular basis (three times a week, 20 minutes a day) and this is found to be equally beneficial to both men and women (Petruzzello, 2001). Both men and women benefit from exercise as they are equally less likely to have premature death if they consistently exercise and their cardiovascular health improves among other benefits according to Brannon and Feist (2004).  Additionally a study that looked at an independent exercise program such as running found that both men and women benefited equally from a psychological and physical standpoint (O’Connor, 2001).

Brannon, L. & Feist, J. (2004).  Health psychology: An introduction to behavior and health (5th Ed.).  CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.
O’Connor, P. (2001) Anxiety and intense running exercise in the presence and absence of interpersonal competition. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 22(4), 423-6.
Petruzzello, S. J. (2001). A meta-analysis on the anxiety-reducing effects of acute and chronic exercise. Sports Medicine, 21(3), 143-82.



Placebo effect is positive!

A placebo effect is a term used to explain the result of a health research experiment or study in which a group of participants is divided and one half of the group receives a treatment and the other half does not receive a treatment, rather they receive an inactive treatment.  What is interesting about the placebo effect is that some participants who receive the placebo respond the same as those participants that received the actual treatment.  A challenge that the placebo effect has on health research is that it forces the experiment to prove that the effect of the real treatment is not only statistically significant; it must also show a statistically significant effect that is also greater than that of the placebo (Brannon & Feist, 2004).  This can present an interesting challenge for researchers as the placebo can have an effect on other areas of behavior and can be considered a “noise” in the results.  One solution that I believe would be helpful to resolve this issue would be to have three groups: one receiving a placebo, one receiving a legitimate treatment, and another group receiving neither a placebo nor a treatment.

Institutional review boards and other governing bodies of research go through great lengths to make sure that the administrations of placebos are done in an ethical manner when using human participants.  Participants must be informed clearly of the fact they may receive a placebo and the use of a placebo is preferred only when there is a positive risk-reward relationship for the study (U. C. Irvine, 2006).  Health research is always scrutinized from an ethical standpoint and the use of placebos in studies can be controversial in some situations such as when the study includes those diagnosed with a form of mental illness often because of controversies surrounding their ability to effectively understand consent (Lapierre, 1998). However, in most cases placebos, although troublesome for the researcher, have a fairly positive effect on the patient and are necessary overall when performing blind research studies.


Good Article: Lapierre, Y. D. (1998).  Placebo: Pro and con.  Communiqué, 8(2). University of California, Irvine (2006).  Placebo controlled studies.  Human Research Protection Programs.  Retrieved March 13, 2007 from the U.C. Irvine databases: