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Personality Psychology

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Personality Psychology ­ PSY 405
VU
Lesson 17
CONSTITUTIONAL PSYCHOLOGY
Constitutional psychology looks at the physique or soma or body type as possible explanation of human
behavior.
Sheldon's Somatotype Theory
Sheldon looks at the physique or body type (soma) for the explanation of human behavior.
Sheldon defines:
1- A discrete Number of Physical
2- Temperamental variables that he considers of primary importance in representing human behavior.
A complete description of the process of somatotyping the male body is contained in Sheldon's Atlas of
men (1954) which includes representative somatotype photographs of over one thousand men derived from
a total sample of 46,000 photographs.
The physical measurements provide ratings for the five different areas of the body: head-neck, chest-trunk,
arms, stomach-trunk, and legs.
Core Concepts of Sheldon's Theory
1- The Structure of Physique
Dimensions of Physique
Primary Components of Physique
1- Endomorphy
2- Mesomorphy
3- Ectomorphy
2-The Secondary Components
·
Dysplasia.
·
Female Somatotyping
3- The Analysis of Behavior (Personality)
·
Dimensions of Temperament
·
Primary Components of Temperament
4- The Relation of Physique to Behavior (Personality )
1-Factors Mediating the Physique- Temperament Association
2-Biological and Genetic Orientation
3-Unconscious Processes
5- Characteristic Research and Research Methods
1-Physique and Mental Disorder
2-Physique and Delinquency
6-Evaluation
Sheldon's Constitutional Psychology
The constitutional psychologist is one who looks to the biological substratum of the individual for factors
that are important to the explanation of human behavior.
Sheldon's Constitutional Psychology
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Personality Psychology ­ PSY 405
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Theories that suggest a relation between physique and behavior antedate by many centuries the birth of
academic psychology. Not only did these formulations begin in the dim past but more surprisingly many of
them show a remarkable correspondence to formulations that are still popular. The individual who is
generally credited with having begun work in this area is Hippocrates who suggested not only a typology of
physique but also a temperament typology and a conception of humors that is highly congruent with the
current emphasis upon the importance of endocrine secretions as determinants of behavior. He suggested a
twofold classification of physiques, dividing subjects into those who were short and thick and those who
were long and thin.
In the measurement of physique Kretschmer was surprisingly systematic and painstaking. As the result
of it, Kretschmer arrived at a conception of three fundamental types of physiques.
1-The first type is called asthenic and refers to a frail, linear physique.
2-The second physique type is the athletic which a muscular vigorous physique is.
3-The third type is the pyknic physique which is characterized by plumpness.
In addition to the three types outlined above an additional type was added-the dysplastic. This includes the
small group of cases where There are strikingly deviant aspects to the individual's build so that they appear
to even the casual observer as "rare, surprising and ugly."
Ernst Kretschmer provides an indispensable backdrop against which Sheldon's formulations and
procedures evolved. Although it is true that Sheldon's work is vastly superior in many respects to that of
his predecessors, it is unlikely that his achievements could have been accomplished without the imaginative
and painstaking efforts of these earlier figures
William H. Sheldon
Sheldon was born in the year 1899 in Warwick, Rhode Island, where he grew up in a farm setting. The
rural atmosphere of his early life and his close relationship with his father, who was a naturalist and animal
breeder, had a lasting effect upon his values and upon his view of human behavior.
Sheldon's professional writings follow a remarkably consistent main stream. With only two interesting
excursions, they represent an attempt to identify and describe the major structural components of the
human body (The varieties of human physique, 1940), the major components of temperament (The
varieties of temperament, 1942), and the application of these findings to the area of delinquency (Varieties
of delinquent youth, 1949). Sheldon returned to the problem of description of physique in his Atlas of men
(1954) and several other publications. Up until the time of his death Sheldon was actively working on an
"Atlas of Women," an "Atlas of Children," and a volume concerned with physique and organic disease.
In Sheldon's theory we find a clear and vigorous exposition of the crucial importance of the physical
structure of the body as a primary determinant of behavior. Moreover, he identifies a set of objective
variables that can be used as a bridgehead for describing physique and behavior. Furthermore, his
techniques for assessing the structural characteristics of the body involve the use of standard photographs
and a much more carefully specified and reproducible procedure than that of his predecessors.
1-The Structure of Physique
One of the fascinations of Sheldon's theory of personality lies in its simplicity and specificity. Sheldon
defines a discrete number of physical and temperamental variables that he considers of primary importance
in representing human behavior.
Dimensions of Physique
Primary Components of Physique
After a considerable period of carefully examining and judging these pictures Sheldon and his associates
concluded that, with a list of three, they had exhausted the possibilities of discovering new components.
These three dimensions became the core of the technique for assessing the physical structure of the body.
The first component was endomorphy. The individual who is high in this component and low in both of the
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Personality Psychology ­ PSY 405
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others is characterized by softness and a spherical appearance. Consistent with the softness and rounded
quality is an underdevelopment of bone and muscle and a relatively low surface-mass ratio. Such an
individual has a low specific gravity and floats high in the water. The fact that the digestive viscera are
highly developed in this physique and that the functional elements of those structures develop primarily
from the endodermal embryonic layer accounts for the use of the term endomorphy.
The second component was referred to as mesomorphy. A physique heavily developed in this component,
and showing a decrement in both the other components, is hard and rectangular, with a predominance of
bone and muscle. The mesomorphic body is strong, tough, resistant to injury, and generally equipped for
strenuous and exacting physical demands. The athlete, adventurer, or professional soldier might best be
endowed with this type of physique. The dominant portions of this physique have derived primarily from
the mesodermal embryonic layer, hence the term mesomorphic.
The third component was labeled ectomorphy. An individual who is at the upper extreme in this component
and low in the other components is linear and fragile, characterized by flatness of the chest and delicacy of
the body. He is usually thin and lightly muscled. Relative to his mass the ectomorph has more surface area
than the other types of physique; he shows a preponderance of surface over mass. He also has the largest
brain and central nervous system in proportion to his size. From this, Sheldon reasons that his physique is
made up, more so than the other physiques, of tissues that have derived from the ectodermal embryonic
layer. The ectomorph, because of his large proportionate surface area, is overexposed to external
stimulation.
The physical measurements not only lead to an over-all score for each of the components; they also provide
ratings for these components for five different areas of the body: head-neck, chest-trunk, arms, stomach-
trunk, and legs. A complete description of the process of somatotyping the male body is contained in
Sheldon's Atlas of men (1954) which includes representative somatotype photographs of over one thousand
men derived from a total sample of 46,000 photographs.
In his major publication of recent years, Sheldon has presented (Sheldon, Lewis, and Tenney, 1969) a full
discussion of these basic somatotype variables together with a series of tables (The Basic Tables for
Objective Somatotyping) that permit one to establish the correct somatotype given scores on the three
variables. An abbreviated version of this monograph (Sheldon, 1971) provides the historical context of this
work and a brief summary of the new procedure.
The somatotype of the individual is the patterning of the primary components of physique as expressed by
three numerals derived from the seventeen measures mentioned above, or some equivalent set of
operations, viewed against an adequate history of the individual. The first of these numerals always refers
to endomorphy, the second to mesomorphy, and the third to ectomorphy. The numerals range from 1 to 7
with J representing the absolute minimum of the component and 7 the highest possible amount. Thus, an
individual rated 7-1-1 is extremely high in endomorphy and very low in mesomorphy and very low in
ectomorphy. An individual rated 4-6-1 is about average in endomorphy and very high in mesomorphy but
markedly deficient in ectomorphy.
2-The Secondary Components
One of the most important of the secondary components is dysplasia. Borrowing the term from Kretschmer,
Sheldon uses it to refer to "any inconsistent or uneven mixture of the three primary components in different
regions of the body" (1940, p. 68). Thus, it is a measure of disharmony between different areas of the
physique, for example, head and neck of one somatotype and legs of another. The measure of dysplasia is
arrived at by taking the separate somatotype ratings for the five regions of the body and summing the
differences for each of the components among the five areas of the body. In other words, it represents the
amount of discrepancy in the somatotype as computed for each of the five areas of the body. One can
derive separate dysplasia scores for each of the three components as well as a total score. Preliminary
findings indicate that there is more dysplasia associated with the ectomorphic component than with either
of the other two components, and also more dysplasia observed in the female physique than in the male
physique. Sheldon (1940) also reports that there is more dysplasia among psychotics than among college
students.
Female Somatotyping
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The bulk of the initial work that was done with Sheldon's physical dimensions was carried out with males.
In his first volume on physique Sheldon (1940) states that the evidence then available indicates that the
same seventy-six somatotypes seemed to occur among women as had been observed among men, although
probably with different frequencies. He also suggests that endomorphy, and endomorph, combined with
ectomorphy, are more common among women; while mesomorphy, and mesomorphy combined with en-
domorphy, are more common among men.
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Table of Contents:
  1. THE NATURE OF PERSONALITY THEORY:Objectives of Personality Psychology
  2. PERSONALITY MEASUREMENT:Observational Procedures, Rating Scales
  3. MAIN PERSPECTIVES:Psychometrics, observation, Behavioral Coding Systems
  4. SIGMUND FREUD: A PSYCHOANALYTIC THEORY OF PERSONALITY
  5. INSTINCT: WHAT MOTIVATES HUMAN BEHAVIOR?, The Oral Stage
  6. PSYCHOANALYTIC THEORY OF SIGMUND FREUD:The Ego, Free association
  7. THEORY OF CARL JUNG:Biographical Sketch, Principles of Opposites, The Persona
  8. THE PSYCHOLOGICAL TYPES:Childhood, Young Adulthood, Middle Ages
  9. ALFRED ADLER:Biographical Sketch, Individual Psychology, Feeling of Inferiority
  10. INDIVIDUAL PSYCHOLOGY:Fictional Finalism, Social Interest, Mistaken Styles of Life
  11. KAREN HORNEY:Adjustment to Basic Anxiety, Adjustment Techniques
  12. ADJUSTMENT TO BASIC ANXIETY:Moving Towards People, Moving Against People
  13. ERIK ERIKSON:Anatomy and Destiny, Ego Psychology, Goal of Psychotherapy
  14. ERIK ERIKSON:Human Development, Goal of Psychotherapy
  15. SULLIVAN’S INTERPERSONAL THEORY:Core Concepts, The Self-System
  16. SULLIVAN’S INTERPERSONAL THEORY:Cognitive Process, Tension
  17. CONSTITUTIONAL PSYCHOLOGY:The Structure of Physique, Evaluation
  18. SHELDON’S SOMATOTYPE THEORY:The Structure of Physique
  19. MASLOW’S THEORY:Self-Actualizers Aren't Angels, Biographical Sketch
  20. MASLOW’S THEORY:Basic Concepts of Humanistic Psychology, Problem Centering
  21. ROGERS PERSON CENTERED APPROACH:Humanistic, Actualizing tendency
  22. ROGERS PERSON CENTERED APPROACH:Fully functioning person
  23. ROGERS PERSON CENTERED APPROACH:Client Centered Therapy,
  24. KELLY’S COGNITIVE THEORY OF PERSONALITY THEORY:Biographical Sketch
  25. CORE CONCEPTS OF GEORGE KELLY’S COGNITIVE THEORY OF PERSONALITY
  26. GORDON ALLPORT: A TRAIT THEORY OF PERSONALITY:Personality as a
  27. GORDON ALLPORT: A TRAIT THEORY OF PERSONALITY:Secondary Traits
  28. FACTOR ANALYTIC TRAIT THEORY:Factor Analysis, The Nature of Personality
  29. FACTOR ANALYTIC TRAIT THEORY:The Specification Equation, Research Methods
  30. HENRY MURRAY’S PERSONOLOGY:Need, Levels of Analysis, Thema
  31. HENRY MURRAY’S PERSONOLOGY (CONTINUED)
  32. ALBERT BANDURA’S SOCIAL LEARNING THEORY:BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
  33. ALBERT BANDURA’S SOCIAL LEARNING THEORY:Reciprocal Determinism
  34. THE STIMULUS RESPONSE THEORY OF DOLLARD AND MILLER:Core Concepts
  35. THE STIMULUS RESPONSE THEORY OF DOLLARD AND MILLER:Innate Equipment
  36. SKINNER’S THEORY OF PERSONALITY:Biographical Sketch, Books
  37. SKINNER’S THEORY OF PERSONALITY:Positive Reinforcement, Generalization
  38. ALBERT ELLIS THEORY OF PERSONALITY:Biographical Sketch, Social Factors
  39. THE GRAND PERFECT THEORY OF PERSONALITY:Genes and Biology
  40. PERSPECTIVES OR DOMAINS OF PERSONALITY PSYCHOLOGY:Dispositional
  41. PERSPECTIVES OR DOMAINS OF PERSONALITY PSYCHOLOGY
  42. PERSPECTIVES OR DOMAINS OF PERSONALITY PSYCHOLOGY:Need
  43. THE GRAND THEORY OF PERSONALITY:Psychosexual Stages of Development
  44. PERSONALITY APPRAISAL:Issues in Personality Assessment
  45. PERSONALITY PSYCHOLOGY: NEW DIRECTIONS IN THE DISCIPLINE