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Personality Psychology

Personality Psychology ­ PSY 405
Lesson 31
5-Tension Reduction
Murray conceived of the individual as set into action by a complex set of motives. Further, he granted that
when a need is aroused the individual is in a state of tension, and satisfaction of the need involves reduction
of the tension. Finally, the organism will learn to attend to objects and perform acts that it has found in the
past to be associated with tension reduction.
Although this conventional formulation met with Murray's approval, he contended that it is an incomplete
picture. Not only does the individual learn ways respond in such a manner as to reduce tension and thus
experience satisfaction, but also he or she learns to respond in such a manner as to develop tension so that it
can later be reduced, thereby enhancing the amount of pleasure.
One should note that this formulation applies only to effect needs. In process activity and modal needs the
satisfaction is intrinsic to the activity and may be just as Intense at the beginning or middle as at the end.
A thema is simply an interactive behavioral unit. Thus, it deals with the Interaction between needs and
press. With it one can represent the situations that lead to the operation of particular needs as well as the
outcome or resultants of the operation of these needs.
Themas vary from simple formulations of a single subject-object interaction to more general and of longer
transactions. They also include formulations that represent the combination of a number of simple themas
(serial themas). The thema as an analytic unit is a natural outcome of Murray's conviction that interpersonal
relations should be formulated as a dyadic unit. That is, the theorist not only must represent the subject who
is the focus of interest but also must represent fully the nature of the person with whom the subject is
Consider two of Murray's examples of episodes. First, an individual who is snubbed by another might
respond in kind. This would be coded as rejection press, triggering rejection need in the individual. Second,
a person might make renewed efforts to succeed following failure. This would be conceptualized as
achievement need following a failure outcome or press.
7- Need Integrate
Although needs are not necessarily linked to specific objects in the environment, it often happens that with
experience the individual comes to associate particular objects with certain needs. Likewise, particular
modes of response, or means of approaching or avoiding these objects, may be acquired and associated
with the need. When this integration of the need and the image or thought of the environmental object, as
well as instrumental acts, has taken place, Murray speaks of a need integrate. A need integrate is a well
established "thematic disposition" -a need for a certain kind of interaction with a certain kind of person or
object. Under circumstances where a need integrate exists, the arousal of the need will ordinarily lead the
person to seek in an appropriate way the environmental object corresponding to the image that was a part of
the need integrate.
8- Vector-Value Scheme
Murray proposed that behavioral tendencies be represented in terms of vectors that represent broad
"physical or psychological directions of activity." The values that the vectors serve are represented by a
series of value concepts. Although the, scheme was not completely worked out, Murray provided tentative
lists of values and vectors. The vectors consist of rejection, reception, acquisition, construction,
conservation, expression, transmission, expulsion, destruction and avoidance. The values consist of body
(physical well-being), property (useful objects, wealth), authority (decision making power), affiliation
(interpersonal affection), knowledge (facts and theories, science, history), aesthetic form (beauty, art), and
ideology (system of values, philosophy, religion). In practice it is intended that these vectors and values be
arranged in a matrix of intersecting rows and columns so that each cell in the matrix will represent behavior
that corresponds to a particular vector in the service of a particular value.
Personality Psychology ­ PSY 405
Thus, it is now possible to represent the individual at any point in time as a complex integrate of needs and
press or vectors and values, as well as personality structures, abilities, achievements, and sentiments.
9- Genetic-Maturational Determinants
In a late formulation of his views, Murray (1968b) ascribed an important role to genetic and
maturational factors in the development of personality. He conceived of genetic-maturational
processes as being responsible for programming a succession of eras throughout an individual's life.
During the first era- that of childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood- new structural compositions
emerge and multiply. The middle years are marked by conservative recompositions of the already
emerged structures and functions. In the final era, the capacity for forming new compositions and
recompositions decreases and the atrophy of existing forms and functions increases. Within each
period, there are numerous smaller programs of behavioral and experiential events that run under the
guidance of genetically controlled maturational processes.
Learning consists of discovering what generates pleasure and what generates distress for the individual.
These hedonic and anhedonic generators may be classified in several ways. They may be retrospective
(memories of past experiences that were delightful or distressful), spective (current experiences), or
prospective (anticipations of future pleasures or pains). Current generators may be classified according to
whether they are located predominantly in the person, in the environment, or in an interpersonal
transaction. These generators may be further subdivided. For example, generators in the person may be
located in the body, in some emotional center of the brain, in some type of psychological process, or in
the judgments of conscience.
In spite of his attention to general categories of analysis, Murray always maintained the essential
uniqueness of each person, and even of each behavioral event, as a self-evident fact. His respect for
naturalistic observation and his creative and intuitive literary talents made it easy for him to grasp and
express compellingly the individuality and elusive complexity of each subject or event.
12-Unconscious Processes
Among academic psychologists Murray was one of the first to accept the pervasive role of unconscious
determinants of behavior (Murray, 1936).
Not only is the individual unaware of certain tendencies that influence behavior but, more important, some
of these tendencies are actively defended against or warded off from consciousness. Thus, Murray not only
accepted the role of unconscious determinants of behavior but also recognized the operation of the Freudian
mechanisms of repression and resistance.
13-The Socialization Process
Murray suggested that the human personality is a compromise between the individual's own impulses and
the demands and interests of other people. These demands of other people are represented collectively by
the institutions and cultural patterns to which the individual is exposed, and the process is socialization.
Conflicts between the individual and the approved patterns of the society are customarily solved by means
of the individual conforming to the group patterns in some manner.
An essential element in achieving the goals of socialization is the development of an adequate superego. An
internal structure that serves to reward and punish one when one is behaving appropriately or
inappropriately .in terms of the culture pattern as interpreted by these authority figures. This implies that
the parents, as the most important authority figures, are the chief agents of the socialization process. The
effectiveness of the parents in rewarding approved and punishing disapproved patterns of behavior will
largely determine the success of this developmental process. An important component of the parent's role
as socializer is the effectiveness with which they develop a mutually affectionate relationship with the child
so that mere approval or disapproval can serve as significantly motivating conditions in controlling the
child's behavior.
Personality Psychology ­ PSY 405
14- Characteristic Research and Research Methods
Let us examine very briefly several distinctive qualities of Murray's general approach to personality
1-Intensive Study of Small Numbers of Normal Subjects
Murray was convinced, that an adequate understanding of behavior must follow a complete and detailed
study of individual subjects. Just as case study has provided indispensable assistance in the growth and
development of medical science, so the future of psychology is linked to the willingness of investigators to
take the time and effort to understand thoroughly individual cases. Group relations are important only when
accompanied by a careful inquiry into the deviations within the group and conditions that cause or
accompany these deviations. To report a finding that characterizes 80 percent of a specified group is of
little value unless some explanation can be provided for the failure of the other 20 percent to fit into this
pattern. Murray's consistent emphasis on this point was one of his principal contributions to research
A further distinctive quality of his research has been its emphasis upon the study of normal individuals in
natural settings. In general, the intensive study of individual cases has been reserved for the clinical
setting where the pathology of the patients has made them a subject of particular interest or else the
demands of diagnostic or therapeutic expediency have necessitated extensive information. Thus,
Murray's choice of the normal subject as the focus of his research provided a natural complement to the
case histories available from psychiatric settings.
Murray (1958) believed that the ultimate concern of the personologist is to explain and predict the
individual's activities in everyday life. For that reason, he or she should not be content to limit predictions
to the subculture of the laboratory or try to understand the individual merely by validating one test against
the other.
He was also one of the pioneers in interdisciplinary co-operation in personality research. The Harvard
Psychological Clinic staff habitually included representatives of psychiatry, psychology, anthropology, and
other disciplines in an era when this was anything but commonplace.
2-The Diagnostic Council
Murray placed great emphasis upon the importance of the observer or the psychologist as an instrument, in
psychological research. Although we may use rating scales, category sets, or psychological tests to appraise
personality, still, at the base of all these instruments is the sensitive observation of the investigator or
clinician. Because of the root status of the observer, Murray was convinced that more attention should be
paid to his serious efforts directed at improving their powers of observation. These considerations led him
to refer to the psychologist as the most important "instrument of precision" in psychological research.
One evident means of placing checks upon, and improving the quality of, observation is to have multiple
observers all examining the same data from a different perspective. Thus, using a number of investigators
to study the same individual or individuals offers unique rewards in the form of canceling out limitations
posed by the biases of particular observers or the limitations offered by specialized sets of data. Not only is
the end result of such group observation presumably superior to individual observation but the members of
the group should sharpen and improve their powers of observation as a result of the corrective function of
the observations of others.
These considerations led Murray to devise the diagnostic council, which involves many observers all
studying the same subjects from different points of View with the opportunity for a final discussion and
synthesis of the information secured from these different vantage points. After a period of individual obser-
vation during which each investigator studies the subjects through his or her own specialized techniques,
there is a conference for each subject. At this time every investigator presents his or her data and
interpretation with a full opportunity for the observations and interpretations of other observers to support
or suggest modifications in the report. A single investigator has primary responsibility for assembling and
presenting the synthesis of each case, but each member of the council is given an unlimited opportunity for
contributing to this final product.
Personality Psychology ­ PSY 405
3-Instruments of Personality Measurement
No one has made more significant contributions to personality assessment than Murray. He devised a large
number of ingenious devices for the measurement of personality, only a small number of which have been
systematically exploited. The volumes Explorations in personality and Assessment of men provide ample
illustration of the instruments he devised or was influential in developing.
One of these, the Thematic Apperception Test, has become, next to the Rorschach Test, the most widely
used projective technique in current use (Lindzey, 1961; Murstein, 1963; Zubin, Eron, & Schumer, 1965.
see Kaplan & Saccuzzo, 1993, for a recent review). In addition, Murray's system of needs has been the
basis for several other widely used personality inventories. Most notable among these are the Edwards
Personal Preference Schedule (Edwards, 1954, 1959), the Personality Research Form (Jackson, 1967), and
the Jackson Personality Inventory (Jackson, 1976 a, b).
Almost all of Murray's instruments have been congruent with his fundamental conviction that an ultimate
understanding of human behavior will derive not from the study of lower organisms or the study of humans
under highly restricted conditions but rather from the complex study of individual behavior. That is,
Murray argued for the collection of rich and multiform data that can be expected to reflect a Wide range of
behavioral tendencies and capacities. He was convinced that one of the natural advantages of the
psychologist is the fact that he or she deals with a talking organism and that this should be capitalized upon
fully. In contrast to the biologist, the zoologist, or the physicist, the psychologist deals with a subject who
can tell a great deal about internal processes that operate, about external events that are attended to, and
about the major determinants of behavior. It is true that these reports must be assessed carefully and cannot
always be taken at their face value, but nevertheless they represent a crucial beginning in the attempt to
unravel the secrets of human behavior.
Murray pioneered in the development of personality instruments that explore the full mental content of the
subject. His instruments typicality do not limit the response alternatives of the subject by means of
predetermined categories but rather they permit and encourage a full and subjective exposition on the part
of the subject, Imagination and fantasy are permitted full participation by these techniques. They provide
the investigator with a fullness of data that is at the same time richly promising and complexly
4-Representative Studies
Murray and his collaborators at the Psychological Clinic conducted extensive research. Murray began
Explorations in personality with a commitment to adopting "the life history of a single man as a unit" for
investigation (1938, p. 3). One of Murray's clear legacies has been the commitment among many of his
students to study personality "the long way," by attending in depth to individual lives (e.g., White, 1963b,
1975, 1981). His research agenda has been carried forward by former students, such as Donald MacKinnon
at the Institute for Personality Assessment and Research ((PAR) at Berkeley. In addition, as noted earlier in
this chapter, Murray's research tradition is recognized in the Henry A. Murray Lectures in Personality, at
Michigan State University and in the series of volumes generated by those lectures. -
Three examples of Murray's research deserve mention. First, Explorations in personality contains over
200 pages of research reports by Murray and his collaborators. The research reported there includes
interviews about childhood and sexual development, questionnaires to measure needs and special
abilities, correlations between Murray's needs and hypnotizability, levels of aspiration, Rosenzweig's
experimental studies on repression and reaction to frustration, emotionality and galvanic skin response,
and Erikson's studies of college males in dramatic, play situations. This work deserves further study by
the interested student, both because of its inherent interest and historical significance and because it
illustrates the breadth and creativity of Murray's approach to personality.
In Murray's second major book, The assessment of men (Office of Strategic Services Assessment Staff,
1948), he described assessment procedures he and his staff had employed at the United States Office of
Strategic Services during World War II. Most of those procedures represented attempts to understand the
personalities of candidates being screened for secret, overseas assignments. This work was noteworthy
for its multidimensional, pragmatic orientation. The assessments entailed self-report tests, interviews,
observations, and situational tests. For example, applicants "leadership" skills ostensibly were measured
Personality Psychology ­ PSY 405
by how effectively they directed several helpers in a construction task. The "helpers," however, had been
directed to obstruct the project in a variety of ways, and the entire exercise actually was designed to
measure reactions to frustration. Like the earlier experimental work at Harvard, these assessment
practices foreshadow a number of contemporary research and assessment strategies.
Finally, Murray's most interesting research project would not qualify as research for many psychologists,
but it provides a penetrating insight into Murray's conceptualization of personality.
5-Current Research
Murray's approach to personality inspired a great deal of research. In this respect, the heuristic value of his
theory has been substantial. In this section we consider research programs that are derivatives of Murray's
6-McClelland and Social Motives
The research program most directly associated with Murray is David McClelland's study of the need for
achievement. The connection with Murray actually exists at three levels. First, the motive to achieve was
one of the original needs identified by Murray, who defined it as a drive to overcome obstacles and obtain
high standards. Second, McClelland believes that we are not directly aware of our basic motives. As a
consequence, he embraced Murray's proposal that we measure needs as they exist in a person's fantasies,
not in his or her behavior or self-reports. Third, following on this last point, McClelland has employed a
modified version of Murray's Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) to measure achievement motivation.
The TAT was developed (Morgan & Murray, 1935) out of Murray's belief that many of the basic human
motives exist outside of conscious awareness. This clearly presents a major measurement problem. How
can we expect a person to tell us how much of a tendency he or she possesses if the person is not aware of
the existence of that motive? This is the classic dilemma for depth psychology. Murray's solution was to
develop the TAT in accord with what has come to be known as the projective hypothesis. If we present a
person with an ambiguous picture and then ask what is in the picture, the response must be a reflection of
what is important to the person or the themes the person uses to organize the world.
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
  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,
  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
  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
  43. THE GRAND THEORY OF PERSONALITY:Psychosexual Stages of Development
  44. PERSONALITY APPRAISAL:Issues in Personality Assessment