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Theories of Personality
California State University, Los Angeles
Guidelines for Final Term Paper
Personality Case Analysis
The following are very broad guidelines for writing your final paper (8-12 pages, double-spaced, including references). Although you may take any particular theoretical approach(es) in writing your case analysis, you should include descriptions of major traits/needs/motives characterizing the individual that are apparent, and important social structures/processes that influence or have influenced the person.
Include an introductory paragraph or page describing the goals of your paper (highlight the importance and relevance of your case in understanding personality; describe briefly the particular relevance of your case; describe briefly the theoretical approaches you will take in examining the case).
- Case Background
This section should be several pages long and involve a comprehensive description of your case’s background. Important components that you may include:
- General childhood experience
- Family structure, socioeconomic status, education, etc.
- Particularly meaningful or important childhood events
- Features of childhood behavior that are reflective of or important for later personality
- General adulthood experience
- Important life outcomes that make the case famous or well-known
- General lifestyle information (ways of living, relationships, occupations, other activities, etc.)
- Adulthood interpersonal style (the case’s typical behaviors in interaction with others), if evident.
- Any additional information about the person’s adulthood and lifestyle you think is particularly important.
- Case Self-Descriptions and/or Other Descriptions
This section may be long or short depending on your case, but it should include any information you have found concerning self-descriptions that your case has made, or descriptions of the case provided by knowledgeable informants (family members, spouses, close friends, etc.).
- Theoretical Case Analysis
This section should be several pages long.
- Identify and explain the major personality traits/needs/motives that are reflected in the person’s behaviors and life outcomes.
- Identify and explain at least two additional theoretical approaches to understanding personality, and why these approaches are particularly relevant to understanding your case.
- Apply your chosen theoretical approaches to understanding the personality of your case (yes interpretation and some subjectivity is required on your part).
- Identify any personality characteristics of your case that may not be easily explained by either of your chosen theoretical approaches.
- Explain any shortcomings in the theoretical approaches in understanding your case.
- Identify any additional information you think would be helpful in understanding more about your case’s personality.
Should be at least one page long and include your subjective opinion about your case and features of their personality that are particularly salient or meaningful for other people. You may also discuss how understanding the development of such personality types may be important for social issues. You may also discuss possible changes in the case’s experience that may have led to a different type of personality in adulthood, and the potential for personality change over time. Try to predict how your case’s personality may affect their own future life outcomes (if they are still living) or the outcomes of others in the future.
Be sure to include a reference list of sources cited in text.