Term Paper: Carl Jung and His Theory of Personality

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Carl Jung and Personality

Carl Jung: A Matter of Character

Carl Jung's famous works mark the beginning on the modern era in psychology. An early collaborator with Sigmund Freud, Jung eventually diverged from Freud's ideas to create works that would herald a new era of thought and theory in human psychology. Jung's work on personality was based on the theory that certain aspects of a person's basic characters remained constant throughout their life. Many personality tests were based on the ability to discover these basic characteristics in people. The follow will explore Jung's influence on psychological practice today, in terms of personality assessment. It will support the thesis the Jung's basic theory on personality characteristics and tests that are based on them can be a useful tool for employers to assess employees.

Jung's Theory

The basis of Jung's personality theory is that through the use of certain tests specific characteristic of a person's personality could be identified. Some of these tests concentrated on a particular area of the personality, while others attempted to obtain an overall view of the person's personality. Jung's early personality tests evolved into many of the more common personality assessment instruments that are used today.

Jung divided a person's psyche into three distinctive portions. The first of which is the ego. This portion of the person refers to the conscious mind. Jung also identifies what is called the personal unconscious, which is anything that is not presently in the conscious, but that could easily be brought into the conscious (Jung, 1971). Jung explains that these portions of the conscious include both memories that are easily brought into the mind and memories that for some reason have been suppressed by the person. These memories often include memories that are too painful to remember (Jung, 1971).

Jung and Freud agree on many of these points. However, one of the key differences between Jung and Freud is that instincts are not included in the work or Jung, but Freud considers them to be a part of our personality (Diamond, 1999). In addition to this key difference, Jung introduces another component of personality that makes his theory unique. Jung includes the "collective unconscious." This refers to the part of our consciousness that we "inherit" from our ancestors. This includes the experiences that we have as a species. It is innate knowledge that we are "born with."

We are not aware of our collective unconscious and we are never completely aware of it, yet it influences our actions. The results of our collective unconscious are observed indirectly by looking at emotional influences of behavior that cannot be explained by immediate influences in our life (Jung, 1971). Some possible examples of this are an innate knowledge that things such as fire, snakes, and spiders induce the emotion of fear in many people. Babies do not have to be burned by first or bitten by spiders or snakes to be afraid of them. They are innately afraid of these things even in the absence of personally experiences with them. This is one example of what Jung would call collective consciousness. It can be a strong influence on human behavior, causing them to run from a burning building or dash into the flames to rescue a loved one.

Jung claims that he did not include "instinct" as defined by Freud into his theory. However, the idea of collective unconsciousness has many similarities to the idea of instinct presented by Freud. Although Jung denied the inclusion of instinct into his theories, it is difficult to ignore the similarities between instinct and collective conscious presented in his own theory. This idea can be extended to the idea of Jungian archetypes as well. Both instinct and collective unconscious refer to inherited memories and reactions. Whether we wish to admit it or not, instincts are a part of our personality.

The reaction to a spider is a perfect example of how instincts can demonstrate an aspect of a person's personality. Some people's personality precludes them to ignore the spider, some might be curious about it. They might hold it and watch it spin its web. Others will immediately run screaming from the room hysterically at the sight of a spider. Some people might kill the poor creature out of fear that it might bite them, even though there is little chance of this, or minimal consequences if it did. The spider is the stimulus, it does not have to take any action to cause a reaction, other than to be there. The person's personality is a major predictor of the fate of the creature's fate.

One of the most difficult aspects of personality tests is that psychologists have attempted to develop a set of "norms" in order to assist with interpretation. People are different in many ways. The key question surrounding the use of norms is whether it is fair to assess an individual as compared to a sample of the population. This raises the question of how far does one have to deviate from the established norm in order to be labeled as "deviant" of "abnormal?" These questions raise several concerns about the usefulness and predictive power of personality tests. The question is whether certain personality characteristics, or personality types are predictive of certain types of behaviors, such as criminal activity, certain types of mental illness, or addictive behaviors. The predictive value of these tests has been a key point of contention among psychologists.

Jung's first divided people into introverts and extroverts. Introverts were inwardly centered personalities and extroverts were outwardly centered personalities. In addition to these categories Jung classified people into thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition functional types of people (Jung, 1971). Jung considered thinking and feeling to be rational because both require the person to evaluate a real experience. He considered sensation and intuition to be irrational because they are concerned with perception and do not require the person to evaluate a real experience (Jung, 1971).

The attributes of introvert and extrovert are combined with the four types to produce eight personality types, which are defined as having certain set characteristics. These eight personality types are Extraverted thinking, introverted thinking, extraverted feeling, introverted feeling, extraverted sensation, introverted sensation, extraverted intuition, and introverted sensation (Jung, 1971). These personality traits range from analytical and strategic to idealistic and visionary. Jung's personality categories are like a scale that represents a range of personality types. Many people know someone who fits into these categories. However, sometimes it is difficult to neatly fit someone into on of these categories. Some people might crossover into several categories.

What is the Value of Personality Tests?

Jung's personality types were used to develop a multitude of personality tests, such as the Myers-Briggs Personality test. One of the key arguments against the type of sorting that Jung suggests is that it can result in stereotyping. Jung defined a set of traits that is associated with each of these personality traits. These can be a useful tool for attempting to understand someone, but they should not be relied upon as a sole means to judge a person's characters. Seldom do people fall cleanly into one category. This is a caveat that people have to be aware of when using a personality assessment to make a decision.

Personality tests have been plagued by a number of difficulties that affect their interpretive value, One of the key problems is biased interpretation by the clinician. It is easy for clinicians and researchers to place project their own biases and experiences onto test results. It is difficult to validate in a non-biased manner. The interpreter might subconsciously make a judgment as to whether the information applies to them. This is called Forer Effect and is problematic in the interpretation of personality tests (Forer, 1949).

Another problem that afflicts self-reported personality tests is the ability of respondents to fake their answers. The accuracy of personality tests depends on the honesty of the respondent. Certain respondents will be able to assess which answer is the "correct" answer and will choose accordingly. This invalidates the accuracy and usefulness of the personality test in such as manner as to render it useless. Recently, methods have been developed to help spot fakers and liars, but more research needs to be done in order to determine how reliable these methods are in detecting this type of respondent bias. (Robie, Curtin, & Foster, et al., 2000).

Modern Perspectives on Jung

It is now recognized that behaviors are influenced by a combination of factors. These include personality, individual experiences, and social learning. The current debate centers on the importance of each of these factors and how to devise a more accurate model for predicting human behavior. Personality tests based on the concepts of Jung will more than likely remain a part of this assessment, but it is not known how much emphasis will be placed on these tests.

Personality tests based on Jung's original findings are used in a number of applications. They are used to assess… [END OF PREVIEW]

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