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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Investigation of the oral, anal and hysterical character types and their relationship to percetions of child-rearing Bowman, Roland Glen


Although psychoanalytic theory can provide a large number of testable hypotheses concerning personality development, scientific psychology has been slow to realize this potential. The concept of character type is one aspect of Freudian theory which merits further investigation. It is believed that certain traits occur together in adult personality because they arise at the same level of psychosexual development. The present study tested the empirical validity of the oral, anal and hysterical character constructs in a normal sample. Relationships between character type and perceptions of parental attitudes and behavior were also explored. 143 psychology students completed a personality questionnaire, which provided scores for traits relevant to the character typology, and the Parental Role Patterns questionnaire (PRP), a measure of adult's perceptions of their own childrearing. Subjects also provided information about birth order, number of siblings, parents' marital status and other demographic variables thought to be relevant to the personality types. It was hypothesized that those traits which have been attributed to the oral, anal and hysterical types would form correlation clusters. Factor analysis was used to test the nature of these intercorrelations. Several hypotheses concerning relationships between personality and childrearing were also advanced. These were tested by computing correlations between personality factor scores and PRP scores. For both male and female subjects, factors identifiable as the oral, anal and hysterical emerged, although the results did not support a view of the oral character as a unitary construct. The anal character emerged most clearly. These findings were discussed in relation to published studies in which the same personality questionnaire was used in a psychiatric population. The majority of the hypotheses pertaining to relationships between personality and childrearing also received support. The oral character was associated with perceptions of low parental warmth and high control, the anal character with high warmth (for females), and the hysterical character with low warmth. A multivariate analysis of variance performed on groups of subjects typical of one of the three character types failed to indicate significant differences in childrearing perceptions. Since an adequate typology should enable researchers to make predictions on the basis of subject assignment to type, the usefulness of the psychoanalytic character typology remains in question.

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