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Anger and Forgiveness"Are You There Alone?"10 Good Questions about Life and DeathA Casebook of Ethical Challenges in NeuropsychologyA Companion to BioethicsA Companion to BioethicsA Companion to GenethicsA Companion to GenethicsA Companion to Muslim EthicsA Cooperative SpeciesA Critique of the Moral Defense of VegetarianismA Delicate BalanceA Life for a LifeA Life-Centered Approach to BioethicsA Matter of SecurityA Natural History of Human MoralityA Philosophical DiseaseA Practical Guide to Clinical Ethics ConsultingA Question of TrustA Sentimentalist Theory of the MindA Short Stay in SwitzerlandA Tapestry of ValuesA Very Bad WizardA World Without ValuesAction and ResponsibilityAction Theory, Rationality and CompulsionActs of ConscienceAddiction and ResponsibilityAddiction NeuroethicsAdvance Directives in Mental HealthAfter HarmAftermathAgainst AutonomyAgainst BioethicsAgainst HealthAgainst Moral ResponsibilityAgency and AnswerabilityAgency and ResponsibilityAgency, Freedom, and Moral 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Health ResearchEthics in PracticeEthics in PsychiatryEthics in PsychologyEthics in Psychotherapy and CounselingEthics of PsychiatryEthics without OntologyEthics, Culture, and PsychiatryEthics, Sexual Orientation, and Choices about ChildrenEvaluating the Science and Ethics of Research on HumansEvilEvil GenesEvil in Modern ThoughtEvil in Modern ThoughtEvolution, Gender, and RapeEvolutionary Ethics and Contemporary BiologyEvolutionary Psychology and ViolenceEvolved MoralityExperiments in EthicsExploding the Gene MythExploiting ChildhoodFacing Human SufferingFact and ValueFaking ItFalse-Memory Creation in Children and AdultsFat ShameFatal FreedomFellow-Feeling and the Moral LifeFeminism and Its DiscontentsFeminist Ethics and Social and Political PhilosophyFeminist TheoryFinal ExamFirst Do No HarmFirst, Do No HarmFlashpointFlesh WoundsForced to CareForgivenessForgivenessForgiveness and LoveForgiveness and ReconciliationForgiveness and RetributionFoucault and the Government of 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Autonomy and BioethicsPractical EthicsPractical Ethics for PsychologistsPractical RulesPragmatic BioethicsPragmatic BioethicsPragmatic NeuroethicsPraise and BlamePreferences and Well-BeingPrimates and PhilosophersPro-Life, Pro-ChoiceProcreation and ParenthoodProfits Before People?Progress in BioethicsProperty in the BodyProzac As a Way of LifeProzac on the CouchPsychiatric Aspects of Justification, Excuse and Mitigation in Anglo-American Criminal Law Psychiatric EthicsPsychiatry and EmpirePsychological Concepts and Biological PsychiatryPsychology and Consumer CulturePsychology and LawPsychotropic Drug Prescriber's Survival GuidePublic Health LawPublic Health Law and EthicsPublic PhilosophyPunishing the Mentally IllPunishmentPursuits of WisdomPutting Morality Back Into PoliticsPutting on VirtueQuality of Life and Human DifferenceRaceRadical HopeRadical VirtuesRape Is RapeRe-creating MedicineRe-Engineering Philosophy for Limited BeingsReason's GriefReasonably ViciousReckoning With HomelessnessReconceiving Medical EthicsRecovery from SchizophreniaRedefining RapeRedesigning HumansReducing the Stigma of Mental IllnessReflections On How We LiveReframing Disease ContextuallyRefusing CareRefuting Peter Singer's Ethical TheoryRelative JusticeRelativism and Human RightsReligion ExplainedReprogeneticsRescuing JeffreyResponsibilityResponsibility and PsychopathyResponsibility and PunishmentResponsibility and PunishmentResponsibility from the MarginsResponsible GeneticsRethinking CommodificationRethinking Informed Consent in BioethicsRethinking Mental Health and DisorderRethinking RapeReturn to ReasonRevolution in PsychologyRightsRights, Democracy, and Fulfillment in the Era of Identity PoliticsRisk and Luck in Medical EthicsRobert NozickRousseau and the Dilemmas of Modernity Rule of Law, Misrule of MenRun, Spot, RunRunning on RitalinSatisficing and MaximizingSchizophrenia, Culture, and SubjectivityScience and EthicsScience in the Private InterestScience, Policy, and the 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Life?TestimonyText and Materials on International Human RightsThe Aims of Higher EducationThe Almost MoonThe Altruistic BrainThe American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Forensic PsychiatryThe Animal ManifestoThe Animals' AgendaThe Art of LivingThe Autonomy of MoralityThe Beloved SelfThe Best Things in LifeThe Big FixThe Bioethics ReaderThe Biology and Psychology of Moral AgencyThe Blackwell Guide to Medical EthicsThe Body SilentThe BondThe Book of LifeThe Burden of SympathyThe Cambridge Companion to Virtue EthicsThe Cambridge Companion to Virtue EthicsThe Cambridge Textbook of BioethicsThe Case against Assisted SuicideThe Case Against PerfectionThe Case Against PunishmentThe Case for PerfectionThe Case of Terri SchiavoThe Challenge of Human RightsThe Code for Global EthicsThe Colonization Of Psychic SpaceThe Commercialization of Intimate LifeThe Common ThreadThe Connected SelfThe Constitution of AgencyThe Creation of PsychopharmacologyThe Criminal BrainThe Decency WarsThe 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of DesireThe Trauma of Psychological TortureThe Trauma of Psychological TortureThe Triple HelixThe Trolley Problem MysteriesThe Trouble with DiversityThe Truth About the Drug CompaniesThe Ugly LawsThe Varieties of Religious ExperienceThe Virtue of Defiance and Psychiatric EngagementThe Virtues of FreedomThe Virtues of HappinessThe Virtuous Life in Greek EthicsThe Virtuous PsychiatristThe Voice of Breast Cancer in Medicine and BioethicsThe War Against BoysThe War for Children's MindsThe Whole ChildThe Woman RacketThe Worldwide Practice of TortureTherapy with ChildrenThieves of VirtueThree Generations, No ImbecilesTimes of Triumph, Times of DoubtTolerance Among The VirtuesTolerance and the Ethical LifeTolerationToxic PsychiatryTrauma, Truth and ReconciliationTreatment Kind and FairTrusting on the EdgeTry to RememberUltimate JudgementUnborn in the USA: Inside the War on AbortionUndermining ScienceUnderstanding AbortionUnderstanding CloningUnderstanding EmotionsUnderstanding EvilUnderstanding Kant's EthicsUnderstanding Moral ObligationUnderstanding Physician-Pharmaceutical Industry InteractionsUnderstanding TerrorismUnderstanding the GenomeUnderstanding the Stigma of Mental IllnessUnderstanding Treatment Without ConsentUnhingedUnprincipled VirtueUnsanctifying Human Life: Essays on EthicsUnspeakable Acts, Ordinary PeopleUp in FlamesUpheavals of ThoughtUsers and Abusers of PsychiatryValue-Free Science?Values and Psychiatric DiagnosisValues in ConflictVegetarianismViolence and Mental DisorderVirtue EthicsVirtue, Rules, and JusticeVirtue, Vice, and PersonalityVirtues and Their VicesVulnerability, Autonomy, and Applied EthicsWar Against the WeakWar, Torture and TerrorismWarrior's DishonourWeaknessWelfare and Rational CareWhat Genes Can't DoWhat Have We DoneWhat Is a Human?What Is Good and WhyWhat Is Good and WhyWhat Is the Good Life?What Price Better Health?What Should I Do?What We Owe to Each OtherWhat Would Aristotle Do?What's Good on TVWhat's Normal?What's Wrong with Children's RightsWhat's Wrong with Homosexuality?What's Wrong With Morality?When Is Discrimination Wrong?Who Holds the Moral High Ground?Who Owns YouWho Qualifies for Rights?Whose America?Whose View of Life?Why Animals MatterWhy Animals MatterWhy I Burned My Book and Other Essays on DisabilityWhy Not Kill Them All?Why Punish? How Much?Why Some Things Should Not Be for SaleWisdom, Intuition and EthicsWithout ConscienceWomen and Borderline Personality DisorderWomen and MadnessWondergenesWould You Kill the Fat Man?Wrestling with Behavioral GeneticsWriting About PatientsYou Must Be DreamingYour Genetic DestinyYour Inner FishYouth Offending and Youth Justice Yuck!
edited volume explores human behavior from the perspective of personality
psychology. In particular, it examines
the value of particular personality traits with respect to psychological, as
well as social, adjustment and maladjustment.
The book is organized around a chosen number of personality traits, with
each chapter dedicated to one of these traits.
Some of the traits, for example, self-esteem, optimism, intelligence,
goal pursuit and personal control, have traditionally been taken to be
behaviors that confer positive benefits upon their possessors (i.e. virtues),
while other such as pessimism, rumination, perfectionism and neuroticism have
been understood to be vices. The
overall goal of the book is to demonstrate that such personality characteristics
cannot be thought of universally as either virtues or vices. Rather, to correctly understand personality
traits, and in particular whether they are beneficial or harmful for an
individual to have, one must understand both the context in which a trait occurs,
and the effects of other personality traits on the trait in question. Thus, in order to begin to better understand
personality, one needs to go beyond an either-or understanding of the utility
of personality traits. One needs to
relinquish the belief that any given trait -- no matter who possesses it and in
what context it is possessed -- is either a virtue or a vice.
In Section I (Positive Personalities: When
Virtue Can Become Vice), we begin with a chapter on the value of high
self-esteem. Traditionally taken to be
a virtue in so far as it reflects a well anchored and secure sense of self, as
well as being positively correlated with psychological health in general, we
learn that high self-esteem is, in some cases, a vice as well. In particular, some individuals with high
self-esteem employ self-protective or self-enhancement strategies to avoid
failures. This is caused by an
excessive concern with how they feel about themselves, and an unhealthy vigilance
in maintaining their high self-esteem.
Such an individual typically credits their own abilities for their
successes, while denying any involvement in their failures. Others are often unfairly blamed for these
failures. In addition, some high
self-esteem individuals engage in risky behaviors because they overestimate
their abilities. Thus, personality
psychologists have found it necessary to introduce a distinction between secure
and fragile self-esteem. The two are
differentiated on the basis of a number of factors, among these the stability
of one's self-esteem over time, and the dependency of self-esteem upon the
achievement of certain outcomes. Thus,
we learn that self-esteem is only a virtue when combined with particular other
personality traits, and in the absence of those traits (or perhaps, more
correctly, in the presence of other traits) self-esteem becomes a vice.
Other chapters in this section explore similar
themes. Chapter 2 examines
"Optimism as Virtue and Vice", where we learn that optimism may only
be beneficial in situations where an individual exerts some control. In those situations beyond an individual's
control, optimism predicts depression and risk-proneness. In Chapter 3, "Intelligence: Can One
Have Too much of a Good Thing?", we are presented with the now common (albeit,
not yet well understood) question of what, exactly, counts as
intelligence. If intelligence is merely
understood in terms of standardized IQ tests, then certainly intelligence can
be negatively correlated with adaptability.
Examples of this include cases where practical intelligence (not
measured by standardized IQ tests) is lacking, and day-to-day practical problem
solving skills are absent. Chapter 4
explores "The Hazards of Goal Pursuit", and Chapter 5 "The
Virtues and Vices of Personal Control".
Section II (Negative Personalities: When Vice
Can Become Virtue), contains chapters on pessimism (Chapter 6, "Pessimism:
Accentuating the Positive Possibilities"), rumination (Chapter 7,
"Rumination, Imagination, and Personality: Specters of the Past and Future
in the Present"), perfectionism (Chapter 8, "On the Perfectibility of
the Individual" Going Beyond the Dialectic of Good Versus Evil") and
neuroticism (Chapter 9, "Neuroticism: Adaptive and Maladaptive
Features"). This last chapter
takes on what is, for psychology, a very old and well-studied personality
trait. From the beginning of scientific
investigation into this important and broad dimension of individual personality
in the nineteenth century, it has been thought of as a maladaptive property. (More correctly, high neuroticism is thought
to be maladaptive, whereas low neuroticism to be adaptive.) Thus neuroticism is correlated with
chronically elevated levels of negative emotion that are believed to cause high
levels of stress, distress and dissatisfaction. The authors of Chapter 9 challenge this view. By first demonstrating that neuroticism is
not only a trait that one may possess but also a strategy for coping with
life's situations, they explore the strong link between neuroticism and the
Behavioral Inhibition System -- a warning system that responds to environmental
uncertainty and produces a multitude of negative affects inducing the organism
to scan the environment for more information.
Understood in light of this connection, neuroticism can be seen as a
protective measure. Neuroticism
promotes vigilance -- attentiveness to environmental stimuli that evolved to
protect the organism from harm.
edited volume is intended for anyone interested in an in-depth exploration of
personality traits and the effects of these traits on everyday behaviors. We learn that personality traits are not
just fixed properties of individuals but also provide strategies for living:
strategies that, when coupled with particular circumstances or other personality
traits, can provide quite different consequence from those expected. The main lesson is that when it comes to
personality traits, what counts as virtue or vice cannot be understood in the
abstract, as always and everywhere either a virtue or vice.
Overall, the chapters provide an extremely balanced,
well-rounded view of these personality characteristics and the particular ways
in which they affect the quality of human life. An added bonus is the fact that each chapter constitutes a
literature review article on some particular personality trait. Thus, each serves as an extensive reference
resource for further readings on the topics covered.
is important to note that this volume is not for someone uncomfortable with the
idea that psychology is a social science and as such, engages in the
statistical analyses of its subject matter, drawing conclusions about human
behavior that are based upon the analyses of inventories, questionnaires and
other quantifiable measures. In this
sense, this collection reflects mainstream psychological science. That said, it also worth noting that the
volume does not engage a level of technicality beyond that which can be
expected of the generally well-educated reader. When statistical or other technical work is invoked, it is always
well explained and used primarily for illustrative purposes.
would highly recommend this book to those both familiar as well as unfamiliar
with personality psychology. It
represents the field at its best and convincingly portrays the research done
there as absolutely essential to any complete understanding of human behavior.
2004 Patricia Ross
Ross teaches philosophy at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.