Assignment 4.3: Case Study

** Please note:  This blog post was written in whole or in part as an assignment for a class that I was taking.  If you decide to use some of my work in your own assignments, please give credit where credit is due and cite your source!  Thanks :) **


Paul is a 55-year-old computer technician. Paul says that his favorite thing about his job is that “I don’t fix computers; I fix people.” He is very popular at work and is often specifically requested. He expresses a profound humility and tends to make other people feel as if their ordinary experiences were extraordinary.

Paul has four children and two grandchildren. He likes to read poetry on his porch or play pickup football games with his sons and neighbors. Paul claims that he likes to travel, but his wife complains that he “never can get his act together” so they don’t travel much. However, in his home, brochures are affixed to the refrigerator with magnets.

Paul admits to taking stabs at novel-writing, painting, and sculpture, and he has a guitar he has never learned to play. About these incomplete goals, though, he says that he is only 55 and has plenty of time left. He considers himself an introvert and feels like he needs a great deal of private time to recharge after a busy day at work.

Our assignment here is to write an analysis of Paul from each of the following perspectives: trait (focus on the Big Five), learning-theory, humanist, and sociocultural, and to consider the following questions:

  • How is Paul different at home from at work? Which perspective is this consistent with?
  • How is Paul’s age relevant?
  • Paul doesn’t seem to finish things. What does that tell you about him?

From the Trait Perspective, Paul shows signs of openness to experience by way of his multitudes of interests like travel, reading poetry, writing, painting, and sculpting.  He seems to fall into the category of extraverted sanguine in some ways, particularly at work.  However, he falls into the introverted phlegmatic category as well, seeming more quiet and reserved when he’s at home alone with his wife.  He also falls into the Big Five category of agreeableness, with his kindness, trust, and warmth he shows to the people at work and to customers.  He exhibits the virtues of wisdom and knowledge, showing creativity, curiosity, open-mindedness, love of learning, and is able to provide people with sound advice.

In the Learning-Theory Perspective, from a behaviorism perspective, Paul is molded by his environment.  As a computer technician, he is forced to socialize with people and his personality forms to fit that position.  He is able to easily talk to people and get them talking about themselves, and people seem to be comfortable around him.  With his family and friends, he also conforms to what is expected, doing things like playing football with his sons. But he also spends time reading and writing, or making art and music.  From a social cognitive theory perspective, his personality shapes him as well.  His self-efficacy expectations led him to attempt writing, painting, and potentially playing the guitar.  Even though he doesn’t know how to play yet, he thinks he might be able to, so he’s willing to try.

Regarding the Humanistic Perspective, Paul displays many traits of self-actualization.  He moves towards self-fulfillment in an ethical way with his responses to people, helping bring them out of their own shells, but by his interests in so many things, some of which he may not have even gotten very far with, he is constantly working towards being all that he can be.  Based on Carl Roger’s theory of self, Paul views himself from one frame of reference, but others view him differently.  He has self-esteem, but even his wife has conditional positive regard subconsciously telling him that he can’t get his act together to start certain things like traveling, or learning the guitar.

The Sociocultural perspective does not give us much to go on with Paul.  We are unaware of his cultural background, or his relationships with people of other cultures, so we can’t base his personality on what we know there.  Paul does exhibit traits of individualism, as we see with his perspectives about his own personal goals.  He has attempted many different activities and his statement that he’s only 55 and has plenty of time left shows that he’s putting priority on his personal goals, and will get them done in his own time.

Paul is quite different when he is at work compared to when he is at home.  He is much more extraverted when he is at work, able to talk with people openly and get them to talk freely to him as well.  He takes care of his customers, and when he is with his family and neighbors he still displays an amicable extraverted personality in his activities with people.  When he is home alone with his wife, however, he steps into himself more, requiring time alone to unwind and do his own thing.  This is all consistent with the Trait Perspective.

Paul’s age is relevant because it tells the reader that he is an older man, that he has become set in his ways and has become very agreeable, also in line with the Trait Perspective.  It also points towards his own self-actualization, as he doesn’t feel like he’s running out of time to do the things he wants to do, but still doggedly moves forward with his goals.  Paul’s inability to finish things suggests he might get bored quickly and want to move on to new projects.


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