Outrageous Celebrity Psychology Assignment

This is a brief look at Lady Gaga from the perspective of psychological personality theory and lifespan development theory. The article includes quotes from Lady Gaga.

In psychology, personality refers to the basic underpinnings of a person’s character. According to our text, it is, “the enduring patterns of thought, feeling, and behavior that are expressed by individuals in different circumstances” (Kowalski & Western, 2009, p. 418). I do not believe it is a coincidence that we also refer to famous people as ‘personalities’ as well. For instance, we will call a television star a ‘TV personality’. To make my discussion of personality and development easier to understand, I have decided to discuss the personality and development of a famous musician, Lady Gaga.

Lady Gaga was born Stephanie Germanotta on March 20, 1986. She grew up attending the Convent of the Sacred Heart School in New York The New York Times Company, 2010). Today, Gaga is still a very spiritual woman who believes in God, and prays often. It would seem from this that her early upbringing has had quite an effect on her moral development (CNN, 2010). Both of her parents were involved in the arts. Her mother was in musical theatre, and her father played in a Springsteen cover band (The New York Times Company, 2010).This seems to point toward a hereditary gift for musical and theatrical intelligence, that is evident in Gaga’s work today.

It takes more than musical talent to become an influential artist I believe it also takes a strong work ethic. By 2010 sold more than 15 mil albums worldwide, and was listed in time as one if it’s 100 most influential people. Success was not just a stroke of luck for this young woman. Gaga started working at 15 as a waitress. She then did other odd jobs such as working as a go-go dancer to pay for flyers to promote her shows (CNN, 2010). This strong work ethic that characterizes Gaga’s emotional personality was developed via environmental influences. According to an interview with Gaga, “my parents instilled a very strong work ethic in me and my sisters. So as long as I worked hard at whatever it is that I wanted to do, they were OK with me doing it.” (CNN, 2010, para. 34).

Gaga’s social and family support systems also influenced her developmental growth and adjustment. Her parents were highly supportive of her desires to be an entertainer. They encouraged her to do what she loved, and to do her best at it. However, her social network shaped her into the woman who would label herself a “freak” and wish to be a role model for other “freaks”. Growing up in a Catholic school, Gaga had very few friends. She dressed differently and got along better with men than with women. She said that all of this combined to make her feel like a freak.

This lack of social support and her empathy with others with similar problems comes through in her music and performance. She believes that this is part of what has endeared her to her fans, daring them to be different, and to be ok with it (CNN, 2010). She has stated, “I joke in the show. at the beginning of the show, I say all the freaks are outside and I locked the doors. It's -- it's kind of the opposite of what you're saying, Larry. We believe that we aren't the freaks, that everyone else is the freaks” (CNN, 2010, para. 114). Gaga’s unique quirks can be explained using several personality theories. For this paper I have chosen the Five-Factor Model and Existential Theory.

The Five-Factor Model (FFM) of personality breaks the personality down into five different factors, each of which conglomerates a plethora of specific traits. This theory also looks at one’s language to determine types, this is helpful when looking at someone who writes lyrics for a living (Kowalski & Western, 2009). For instance, Gaga’s lyrics and interviews would seem to rate her high on neuroticism, extraversion, conscientiousness and openness and low on agreeableness.

In contrast, Existential Theory is more fluid. According to our text, existentialism views humans as having no set nature. Each person basically creates their own personality. It also concerns itself with a few key issues; one of these is existential dread. Existential dread is the tendency for humans to run from their own mortality and meaninglessness (Kowalski & Western, 2009). This shows up quite a bit in Gaga’s music and interviews. For instance when asked about death being a theme of a lot of her performances, she replied, “It's something I -- well, I dream about it a lot. You know I -- I don't know. I suppose I could lie to you and not tell you the truth, but the truth is I do think about it” (CNN, 2010).

I believe this shows her tendency to come to grips with her own mortality by trying to make it into a meaningful form of art. Notice that each theory has valid points when it comes to her personality, and that they do not overlap. The FFM discusses the specific types of traits she has in her personality and in what quantities. The Existential Theory is more concerned about what drives her to have those traits.

Of the two theories, I believe the Existential Theory best explains Gaga’s personality. The key issues covered in this theory all seem to be questions that are near and dear to Gaga’s heart. When considering the issue of quest for meaning in life, Gaga’s political pursuits can be taken as an excellent example. Her video for the song Alejandro has a gay military theme. This was released just as the political debase was heating up for the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law rules for gays in the military. She seems to address the hazards of viewing one’s self as an object instead of a creative source of will and action in videos such as the one for the song Bar Romance. In this video she is alternately portrayed as a monster, a dark queen, an animal and several other characters that were dehumanized (Vevo, LLC, 2010).

Lady Gaga is one of my favorite musicians. It has been fascinating to review her early life, and influences. It seems obvious that her personality and development came from a combination of inherited talents and learned behaviors. These have combined to not only make a very unique young woman, but a pop superstar that will likely end up being this generation’s Madonna or Elvis.


CNN. (2010). CNN Larry King Live Interview With Lady Gaga. Retrieved from http://archives.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1006/01/lkl.01.html

Kowalski, R., & Western, D. (2009). Psychology (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

The New York Times Company. (2010). About.com. Retrieved from http://top40.about.com/od/l/p/ladygaga.htm

Vevo, LLC. (2010). Vevo. Retrieved from http://www.vevo.com/watch/lady-gaga/bad-romance/USUV70903493

Photo Credit

LAS VEGAS - AUGUST 13: (NO ARCHIVES/EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Recording artist Lady Gaga performs during a stop of The Monster Ball Tour at the MGM Grand Garden Arena August 13, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The singer is touring in support of the album, "The Fame Monster." (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Presentation on theme: "Theoretical Perspectives"— Presentation transcript:

1 Theoretical Perspectives

2 Psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) Focuses on abnormal behavior
Freud connected unconscious drives and conflict often stemming from childhood

3 Psychoanalysis Cont’d
Relies on personal observation and reflection instead of controlled laboratory experimentation as its means of discoverySince Freud’s death in 1939 many of his theories have been disproved however elements from his original theory are still apart of pop cultureFreudian slip – Mistatement reflective on something one would like to say

4 Behaviorism John B. Watson (1878-1958)
Studies only observable and objectively describable actsDoes not focus on anything you cannot see.Today, behaviorism focuses on learning through rewards and observation

5 Humanistic Carl Rogers (1902-1987) & Abraham Maslow (1908-1970)
Emphasizes the conscious experience humans go throughHumans have free will in their decision making and are not controlled by rewards and reinforcements


7 BiologicalLooks to understand behavior through the biological structures, emotions, and thoughtsIf a person lacks a certain chemical in their brain they suffer affects to their behavior and actions.Stranger situation

8 CognitiveFocuses on how people think, take in, store, and retrieve informationRemembering things you have learned or are learning from past actions or behaviorsStranger situation

9 Socio-CulturalLooks at how thinking and behavior change depending on the situation or settingHow you act and think in situations where you are comfortable vs. when you are not comfortableStranger situation

10 PositiveMovement that focuses on the study of optimal human functioning and the factors that allow individuals and communities to thriveFirmly grounded on psychological science, thereby avoiding humanistic psychology’s lack of scientific research to support its theoretical foundationDefine communityDo we have optimal human functioning at S.E.And Lincoln vs. Ponca

11 Outrageous Celebrities
Choose a famous person i.e. Brittany Spears, Justin Bieber, Richard Nixon or anyone else and explain their outrageous behavior using Three theoretical concepts we have discussed in classMake a connection between the behavior and the psychology perspectiveAnswers should be in complete sentences

12 Lindsay Lohan

13 BehaviorismLearned some of her disruptive behaviors from her parents and the people around her growing upWatched her dad drinkIn the celebrity world alcohol is commonStars get attention from the media, the more disruptive, the more attention they receive

14 Socio-Cultural Her mother pushed her into fame at a very young age
Dina Lohan was a bad example for LindsayDina admits to having a drinking problem in the pastDina and her husband had a bad relationship, they would always fight and blame each other for Lindsay’s disruptive behaviorBoth Lindsay’s mother and father went to the press to humiliate the other

15 Socio-Cultural Cont’d
Sam Ronson was Lindsay’s girlfriendIt was an unhealthy relationship where Lindsay relapses into drug abuseThey were often out partying all the time which lead to media attention for LindsayThe media attention was rough on Lindsay, she was in the limelight since she was 12All of her actions were caught on tape

16 Humanistic Lindsay is stuck in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs pyramid
She has no sense of love and belonging which stops her from having self-esteem and self-actualizationHer morals are out of whack based on the environment she grew up in and the environment she is surrounded in

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