Understanding Personality

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSUS1PS7014

Course Coordinator and Team: Mamatha Karollil and Asma Nisar (coordinators for two sections) with Neetu Rana

Email of course coordinator: mamatha[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in, asma[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in, neeturana[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in

Pre-requisites: None

Aim: This course introduces students to the issue of personality: what makes each of us different and unique. The course introduces students into the varied approaches to the understanding of psychology and the methods of personality assessment. Are all aspects of personality in our awareness? How do the person and the social context interact? What makes some people more aggressive and others helpful and what is the relationship between personality and distress.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

1. Introduction

This module introduces students to the field of personality. Key issues in personality will be discussed along with the applications of findings in the area of personality

2. Theories of Personality

The domain of personality has been understood and theorized in a variety of ways. This module will introduce the students to four key approaches to the analysis of personality namely the Freudian, Behavioural, Cognitive and Phenomenological Approaches.

3. Understanding, assessing and measuring personality

The module will help students to understand the methods used for assessing, describing, understanding and researching personality. Wherever possible they will be provided some experience in the use of these techniques.

4. Motivation, emotion and personality

The purpose of this module is to help students understand the links between motivation, emotion and personality. This requires a familiarity with the theoretical work of Murray, McClelland and Maslow. The relationship of emotions to personality may be illustrated through one emotion such as anxiety or anger.

5. Defensiveness, conscious and unconscious experience

Are we always aware of all aspects of our experience? In this module students will be familiarized with the psychoanalytic concept of defence mechanisms. The relationship of defensiveness to the openness to experience will also be discussed. In addition the module will take up the concepts of self concept, self esteem and self actualization.

6. Health and distress

The concepts discussed in the earlier module will be expanded to develop an understanding of the healthy personality as well as the personality in a state of distress. In the former we will focus on the conception of a healthy person while the latter will provide students with a general familiarity with the causes and manifestations of distress.

7. Persons in situations

The primary purpose of this module is to enable an understanding of the inevitably social nature of individuals. Aggression, empathy and authoritarianism are all aspects of personality that are socially produced and played out. Identity involves finding a relationship with the community to which one belongs. Students and faculty could evolve an alternative pedagogy for the module that would encourage students to look at any one aspect of the individual personality and locate its relationship with the social. Alternately any one aspect of the relationship of personality to social situations could be taught.


  • Allport, G.W. (1958).What units shall we employ? In Cooper and Perven. Personality.
  • Carver, S.C. and Scheier,M.F. Chapter 8 Self evaluation and self actualization, and Chapter 4 Needs and motives.
  • Chapter Duffy,K.G and Atwater,E. (2005). Psychology for Living Adjustment, growth and behavior today. Eighth edition5 A healthier you.
  • Duffy,K.G and Atwater,E. (2005) . Psychology for Living Adjustment, growth and behavior today. Eighth edition. Chapter13 Stress and you, and Chapter 7 Managing your inner life.
  • Lawrence A. Pervin and Oliver P John (2006). Handbook of personality Chapter 14. On the interface between personality and social psychology. Roy F.Baumeister.
  • Pennington,D. (2003). Essential personality. Chapter 1 Introduction to Personality. Hodder Arnold , and Chapter 2. The study and assessment of personality.
  • Susan E. Cross and Hazel RMarkus In Lawrence A Pervin and Oliver P John Handbook of personality: Theory and research (2nd ed.). Chapter 15 The cultural constitution of personality.

Tentative Assessment schedule with details of weightage:

S.NoAssessmentDate/period in which Assessment will take placeWeightage
1Class test/quizzesOngoing20
2Film AnalysisSeptember 24th40
3End Semester ExamEnd Sem/ Term paper40