Character Personality Analysis
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Leigh Anne Touhy is the fictional representation of the real life Leigh Anne, famed adoptive mother of Michael Oher from the 2009 film The Blind Side. Leigh Anne is a white interior designer, living in the south with her husband and two children. The family is considered to be part of the upper class, and made their money from owning a string of fast food chains. Leigh Anne and her family take in a black homeless boy, Michael, and throughout the film experience a growing love and bond. They eventually adopt Michael and the Leigh Anne becomes a fiercely protective mother. Very little is revealed about her upbringing or background. The only pre-film time period information that is truly shared is her attendance at Ole’ Miss and her career as a cheerleader.
A Sullivan View
Leigh Anne is a deeply devoted, caring and hard working mother, wife and member of her southern community. As open as her heart is, her emotional openness is lacking. When looking at her inability or unwillingness to show emotion, even to her family, Sullivan’s interpersonal theory would view this as a self-security measure (Sullivan, 1953). Leigh Anne strives to always show her “good self”, and while there may be an underlying lack of self esteem, there is a greater desire to protect herself and her loved ones from the bad in the world, including overwhelming feelings of emotion. The anxiety induced by strong feelings of any degree, forces a wall up.
Allport’s Traits in Action
Gordon Allport, considered to be a trait psychologist, categorized a person’s individual traits into three sections, Cardinal, Central, and Secondary (Allport: Psychology of the Individual, 2002). In taking an Allport assessment of Leigh Anne’s traits, one can see what the ruling aspects are and what is more reserved. Cardinal traits fro Leigh Anne seems to be honesty, nurturance, and loyalty. A Christian, southern woman, Leigh Anne is honest (all most to a shocking degree) and prides herself on it. Her nurturance is abundantly apparent in not only to care she takes of her family, but also those in her tight nit world. Leigh Anne’s loyalty is unwavering, and throughout the movies time line we observe her put herself literally in front of a gun to stand by her people. Central traits that Leigh Anne, and according to Allport all individuals posses to a degree, would be integrity, empathy, and likability. For many reasons she expresses integrity and empathy in almost every moment of the movie, and well, how can you not like her. Leigh Anne’s secondary traits are probably the most interesting of all. These are the traits that one only sees when she is faced with a situation that causes either great distress or a large amount of emotion. Her courage, defensiveness, timidity and aggression, all escape the careful lock box of emotion at different times. When her family or herself is threatened she is found to fight for them, but when overwhelmed with emotion, she becomes closed off and withdrawn.
Five Factor Analyses
The five-factor model of personality is a hierarchical organization of personality traits in terms of five basic dimensions: Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, and Openness to Experience (McCrae, 1991). Based on her character in the film, Leigh Anne’s Five Factor results would reflect thusly: Factor I extraversion, this trait reflects preference for, and behavior in, social situations. People high in extraversion are energetic and seek out the company of others. (40) Is relatively high. Factor II agreeableness, this trait reflects how we tend to interact with others. People high in agreeableness tend to be trusting, friendly and cooperative. (27) Is about average. Factor III conscientiousness, this trait reflects how organized and persistent we are in pursuing our goals. High scorers are methodical, well organized and dutiful. (45) Is relatively high. Factor IV neuroticism, this trait reflects the tendency to experience negative thoughts and feelings. High scorers are prone to insecurity and emotional distress. Low scorers tend to be more relaxed, less emotional and less prone to distress. (14) Is relatively low. Factor V openness, this trait reflects ‘open-mindedness’ and interest in culture. Low scorers are more down-to-earth, less interested in art and more practical in nature. (16) Is relatively low.
Explanation of Personality
The movie falls short on any real background information about Leigh Anne Touhy. There is little to no discussion of life outside of the time period represented in the film. Attempting to explain where and why the personality development happened would be simply a guess, and have no real basis. What can be said is that the high level of extraversion and conscientiousness could be linked to the culture in which she lives. It is a huge stereotype, but most southern women are viewed as loud, life of the party caregivers, and this generalization does seem to align with Leigh Anne’s overall persona. This speaks to the influence of environment and culture on personality development in this case, but again, without any real knowledge of her upbringing or background, this is purely an assumption.
With little known about the background of the character, it is impossible to definitively asses’ personality and its development. However, what is known about Leigh Anne Touhy shows a lifelong consistency of personality. Whether viewing from a cognitive, trait, or five-factor perspective, the aspects of her personality show an underlying issue with strong emotion and a high influence from cultural and environmental factors. In the end Leigh Anne Touhy is an outgoing, caring, and loyal woman, who truly embodies what every southern lady, strives to be.
Allport: Psychology of the Individual. (2002). Dispositional Theories. McGraw-Hill. Retrieved from http://highered.mcgraw hill.com/sites/0072316799/student_view0/part4/chapter14/chapter_outline.html McCrae, R. R. (1991, May 9). Inroduction to the Five-Factor Model and its Applications. Sullivan, H. (1953). The Interpersonal Theory of Personality. New York: W.W. Norton.