Personality within the context of adult relationships

The relationship between personal characteristics and relational constructs may seem quite an obvious one. Personality has a great impact on how a person behaves and how he/she experiences intimate relations as described in K.J. White`s and S.S. Hendrick and C. Hendrick work Big five personality variables and relationship construct, Personality and Individual Differences (2004). As a major overarching concept of personality I chose the Big five model. According to this model the human nature is divided into these smaller parts: knowing, rationalization, variability and activity. Personality has to be seen as a system and an adequate theory of personality must be able to define this system precisely, distinguish its components, describe its organization, interactions and development. It arises from the assumption that the personality system can be described in three levels, the first one are the personality traits, second the coping strategies, skills and values and the third life stories, experiences. The big five model of personality does not represent any theory, but rather provides the space for the characteristic differences of particular individuals. These differences are stable in time, consistent throughout any situations. It examines the pattern of thoughts, emotions and behaviour. The Big five model is composed of elements of neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness and conscientiousness. For my further study I chose the dimensions of neuroticism and conscientiousness based on their characteristics an intrusive reaction within a relationship may be observed.

The scale determines individual differences in emotional stability and emotional instability – neuroticism. The term neuroticism in this case can be understood as a psychological category or diagnosis. The scale than determines how hoe the negative emotions such as fear, embarrassment or sadness are perceived. People with high neuroticism score are most likely emotionally instable, thus their psychological balance is easily disturbed. Unlike the emotionally stable individuals, they report more negative experiences and difficulties in overcoming them. It is quite easy for these individuals to enter the states of embarrassment, feeling ashamed or insecure, experiencing anxiety or worries. Neuroticism in context of relationship was studied mostly as a negative factor. M.D. Newcomb and P.M. Bentler in their work: Marital breakdown. In S. Duck & R. Gilmour (Eds.), Personal relationships personal relationships in disorder (1981) found that neuroticism is associated with rising number of divorces. B.R. Karney and T.N. Bradbury in The longitudinal course of marital quality and stability: A review of theory, method, and research (1995) demonstrated the negative impact of neuroticism on the satisfaction in a relationship. R.M. Cate, L.A. Levin and L.S. Richmond, in Premarital relationship stability: a review of recent research (2002) found out that neuroticism is associated also with instability within a family. P.R. Shaver and K.A. Brennan in their work Attachment styles and the „Big Five“ personality traits: their connections with each other and with romantic relationship outcome (1992) shown that neurotics individuals tent to have a shorter length of relationship that the general population and B. Fehr and R. Broughton in Gender and personality differences in conceptions of love: an interpersonal theory analysis (2001) found a positive correlation between neuroticism, sexuality and “crush” love a negative correlation between neuroticism and friendly love. In various theories of personality the concept of stimuli control plays a vital role. During the process of growing up many individual learn to control their desires and whishes. The inability to control impulses and temptations is a neo-indicator of neuroticism. Emotional attachment to parents significantly affects future forms of one’s intimate relationship. Based on care-taking models the child adopts these concepts and carries them into adulthood. These models influence the need fro closeness, intimacy and autonomy.


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