Introduction to Psychophysiology of Human Personality

Introduction to Psychophysiology of Human Personality

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2283-6.ch001

Abstract

The analysis of historical data has shown that there have been numerous attempts in exploring and understanding individual differences in human personality. Many of them have been using the arousal construct seemed as the most dominant one. Since then, personality psychology has revealed many personality theories and measurement methods as a theoretical and methodological frame in understanding human personality. Besides that, the same researchers and many others have tried to explain human personality and its various psychological concepts using different psychophysiological methods. Therefore, contemporary psychophysiology of personality includes all research on the biological basis of personality underlying trait-like differences in psychological functioning. This section will provide a detailed overview of the psychophysiology of human personality along with the most intriguing research questions.
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Introduction To Biology Of Human Personality And Individual Differences

A systematic study of the physiological basis of individual psychological differences is not only desirable, it is absolutely essential for true scientific understanding of human psychological differences. (Teplov, 1961, according to Fulgosi, 1997, p. 414)

Since there is generally a certain amount of disagreement about how to define psychology as a science (Nyborg, 1997), it is not uncommon that a similar situation is also present within the inner fields of psychology of personality. Some authors define psychology as a social science, others as a biological science. Some universities place it as a field of humanities, others as a medical, social or political science, while some understand it as a part of information technology, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, and computer science. Opinions also differ about what the real subject of study in psychology is, which directly reflects the type of selected methodology applied in the efforts to find answers to research questions. The aforementioned has its logical roots in the very beginning of the formulation of psychology as a science. Plato, Aristotle, and Democritus thereby played key roles, whereas Democritus’s materialistic-atomistic approach to man stood opposite Plato’s and Aristotle’s visions of man who was explained based on his own shadow, not on his own characteristics. Also, the latter represents the foundation of today's philosophical and psychological-humanistic worldview, where abstraction becomes an essential element in explaining man, but also poses a methodological obstacle.

Pursuant to the aforementioned, in the opinion of many psychologists (Nyborg, 1997), the field of personality represents a central place in modern psychology because, unlike others, it requires a systematic scientific study and complete coverage of man, with all his characteristics. It is clear that the aforementioned implies a high complexity. It is important to note that these characteristics interact with each other, and as such should be studied, however, not in isolation. It is, this synthetic approach to the study of human personality that allows a higher level of understanding of human nature and human behavior (Fulgosi, 1997). The English word personality has its roots in the Latin word persona which can be translated as mask, and it indicates all the external characteristics of a person, or the Latin word per se una, meaning to contain yourself (Eysenck, 1967). Consequently, when applying the top down analysis, it is necessary to start from a general definition of personality as: “... a set of consistent, distinctive thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that characterize the way in which individuals adapt to the world around them” (Santrock, 1997, p. 402), and have a different interaction with their physical and social environment (Atkinson et al., 1996).

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