Rhode Island College

Department of Psychology

Psychology 251 - Personality Psychology

Instructor: Thomas E. Malloy, Ph.D.
Office: Horace Mann 058
E-Mail: tmalloy@ric.edu

Telephone: 456-8177

Textbook: Funder, D.C. The Personality Puzzle (2nd ed.). New York: Norton.

The current edition of the text is in the college bookstore.   If you face financial constraints that preclude purchasing the current version, you may wish to purchase an older version online.


This course is designed to give a general introduction to the history, theories, and key empirical results in personality psychology. The specific focus will be on: history of personality theory and research, the concept of individual differences, research methods used by personality psychologists, biological and evolutionary theory, psychoanalytic theory, classical and operant learning models, social learning theory, existential/humanistic theory, information processing theory, emerging social psychological models of personality, perception of the personality traits of others, culture and personality.

Outline of the Course





History of Personality

Funder 1


Research Methods

Funder 2 & 3


Individual Differences and the

Cross-Situational Consistency of Behavior

Funder 4


Individual Differences: Genetic and Environmental


Lecture Only


Biological and Evolutionary Theory

Funder 8 & 9


Psychoanalytic Theory

Funder 10 & 11


Experimental Studies of Unconscious Motivation

Lecture Only


Learning and Personality

Funder 15


Cognitive Theory

Funder 17 & 18


Existential and Humanistic Theory

Funder 13


Cognitive Social Learning Theory

Funder 16


Personality Perception

Funder 6


Culture and Personality

Funder 14


Summary and Integration

Funder 19

Course Requirements

Examinations - There will be two examinations in the course, a mid-term and a final. Exam 1 will cover the topics from weeks 1 through 6, and Exam 2 will cover topics from weeks 7 through 14. Exams will include material from the assigned reading and lectures. The specific dates for each exam will be announced in class. Exams will be objectively scored using the multiple choice format. Exams MUST be taken at the designated time and place. Failure to take an exam will result in zero points for that exam. In the case of an extreme emergency that precludes taking an exam at the designated time and place, I must be notified before the administration of the exam so that an alternative time for administration can be established.

In-Class Project - There will be a project conducted in class that will provide exposure to research conducted by personality psychologists. Students will gain experience in the collection of data on personality and the interpretation of research results. The specific details will be discussed in class. The purpose of this project is to give students a "hands on" experience with some of the current research being conducted in this area. This practical experience will make many of the abstract concepts concrete. This project will be conducted entirely in class and the data produced in our class exercise will be analyzed by the instructor and summarized for students. Students will be required to write a 3-4 page paper that accomplishes the following goals.

1. Clearly presents the conceptual (i.e. theoretical) basis of the exercise
2. Describes the methods that were used to collect the data
3. Summarize the key result(s) of the data from the exercise
4. Presents a clearly written, well organized, and thoughtful interpretation of the data. This paper should highlight the extent to which the data collected were consistent or inconsistent with the theoretical basis of the exercise.


1. Exam 1 percentage correct

_______40% of final grade

2. Exam 2 percentage correct

_______40% of final grade

3. Write-up of the in-class project percentage

_______20% of final grade