Cory Matthews

by: Chelsea Oyer


Cory Matthews is the main character of the 1993 television series, “Boy Meets World”. The show aired for seven years, from 1993 until 2000, and covered Cory’s life from sixth grade through college. Over the course of the show Cory transforms from a sixth grade boy into a married man. The show revolved around Cory’s family and friends, and the challenges they faced. Cory grew up in the Philadelphia area. He lived with his mother Amy, father Alan, older brother Eric, younger sister Morgan, and younger brother Joshua. Cory’s parents provided him with the structure and support he needed throughout his life. Shawn Patrick Hunter is Cory’s best friend. Together they face many obstacles. Shawn experienced a rough family life, however this provided Cory with an understanding of the fortunate upbringing he was exposed to. Topanga Lawrence starts off as Cory’s girlfriend, but then later becomes his wife, when they are sophomores in college. Cory is undoubtedly in love with Topanga. However, he seems to be easily swayed by the affection of other women. Mr. George Hamilton Feeny is Cory, Shawn, and Topanga’s teacher from sixth grade through college. He plays not only the role of teacher in their young adult lives, but also the role of a mentor. Cory, Shawn, Topanga, and Eric all attend Pennbrook University together. Cory starts off as the class clown in his sixth grade class, but overtime develops nervous tendencies. He is always worried about his relationship with Topanga and that Shawn is going to run off or fail. Cory is portrayed as a caring and level headed friend.

Psychoanalytic Perspective:

The psychoanalytic perspective approach to personality was founded on the work of Sigmund Freud. Freud believed the mind was divided into three parts, conscious awareness, unconscious material, and the preconscious. However, most of his work revolved around the unconscious, or the part of the mind the individual is not aware off. He believed personality was made up of the Id, the Ego, and the Super Ego. The Id represents a persons primitive desires, drives and emotions, the superego represents an individuals morality, and the ego balances the two. Based on these beliefs Freud founded a set of psychosexual stages. The stages are the oral stage, anal stage, phallic stage, latency stage, and the genital stage. Freud believed that individuals progress through these stages one at a time over their life span. However, if a stage is not passed successfully one may develop a fixation around that stage. Fortunately, Cory made it through the first four stages without a fixation. From the time of birth to about eighteen months old a child is in the oral stage of development. During this stage infants want to orally satisfy their hunger and thirst drives. If this stage is not properly satisfied a child may develop oral fixations later in life, such as smoking, or alcoholism. Cory does not experience an oral fixation. After the oral stage comes the anal stage of development. This stage takes place between eighteen months and three years of age. During this stage children are potty trained and receive pleasure from going to the bathroom. If the child does not properly satisfy this stage he or she may become anal-retentive, very neat, or anal-expulsive, extremely messy. Cory does not express either of these behaviors, and therefore fulfills this stage. The next stage is the phallic stage, which typically occurs between three and six years of age. During this stage gratification is focused on the genitals. In addition, children develop an attraction for their opposite sex parent. If this stage is not pleased children develop narcissism behaviors. Cory successfully passes through this psychosexual stage of development. When the show first aired Cory was in the latency stage of development. He was a typical sixth grade boy who only cared about fooling around with his best, same sex, friends. It wasn’t until the end of sixth grade, that Cory became interested in relationships with individuals of the opposite sex. This is when Cory leaves the latency stage and starts the genital stage of development. He remains in this stage for the rest of the television series. Cory’s main focus in life is his relationships with his girlfriend Topanga and best friend Shawn. According to this perspective Cory’s personality is developing typically.

Trait and Skill Perspective:

The modern trait and skill perspective of personality was influenced by the work of Carl Jung, Raymond B. Cattell, and Gordon Allport. Much of the models developed under this perspective were created through factor analysis. In other words, the theories are driven by data rather than by theories.
Gordon Allport took a philosophical and humanistic approach to personality. He stated that each individual has unique qualities that guide how they think or act and these qualities remain relatively stable, even when the individual is placed in different situations. More specifically he stated that an individuals personal dispositions are made up of cardinal and central dispositions. Cardinal dispositions are an individuals ruling passions, while central dispositions represent an individuals fundamental traits. Cory’s cardinal dispositions would be his interpersonal relationships. His whole life revolves around his love for Topanga, loyalty and support for Shawn, and devotion to his family. Many of the choices he makes in life, such as where to go to college, revolve around his friend’s feelings. On the other hand, Cory’s central dispositions would include his honesty, trustworthiness, and nervousness. Cory’s friends and family know that they can always count on him for anything, but he is often extremely nervous about the decisions he makes.
The big five theory rates an individuals personality in five different categories, extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness. An individual can have a different degree of each trait. Cory is a social person that lacks dominance. He pleasantly goes along with his friend’s ideas, but rarely shows interest in making decisions for the group himself. Therefore he would not be high or low in extroversion, but somewhere in the middle. However, Cory is extremely high in agreeableness, because he is friendly, trustworthy, and modest. For example, when approached by a pretty girl in high school Cory is easily manipulated into a tempting situation. The girl invites Cory over for a party, but when he arrives he realizes there aren’t any other guest attending the party. The girl kisses him, and he becomes very upset and leaves the party, while still managing to be polite. He immediately tells Topanga, his girlfriend that he kissed another woman. This example represents Cory’s agreeable characteristics. Furthermore, Cory is also high in conscientiousness. He lakes impulsive behaviors, or is extremely dependable and persistent. Cory never seems to act out a whim; he never lets his emotions take control of a situation. This may be because his nerves take over and cause him to suppress his other emotions. Cory also shows some neuroticism behaviors. He becomes easily depressed when things go wrong between him and Topanga. For example, he may refuse to leave his apartment for a long period of time if they break up. In addition, he is extremely nervous. The last trait is openness. Cory shows some characteristics of this trait as well. More specifically, at times he displays a wild imagination and curiosity. For example, if Topanga is studying with a fellow male classmate. Cory would most likely imagine that the two are kissing and not actually studying. And ultimately he would allow his curiosity to take over, and cause him to go spy on Topanga and her classmate.
Furthermore, Henry Murray developed a trait and skill approach to personality that focused on an individual’s motives. Motives are internal psychobiological forces that induce specific behavior patterns from an individual. Murray’s four needs included the need for achievement, the need for affiliation, the need for power, and the need for exhibition. The need for achievement represents an individual’s motivation to be successful on tasks that are set out by society. Cory does not express a high level of this need. He doesn’t express motivation to be the best, but rather he seems motivated to remain average. Cory does well in school, but is not a straight “A” student. The need for affiliation is the motivation to draw others near and win their affection. Cory does experience a high need for affiliation. He values his friendships and seeks to maintain them. The need for power is the motivation to be in positions where one can exert control over others. Cory has a very low level of this need. His behavior is more characteristic of a people pleaser then of a person who needs to exert power. He tends to go along with the flow, and he wants everyone to be happy. Lastly is the need for exhibition. This motivation is driven by ones need to show off in front of others. In sixth grade Cory did show class clown behaviors. He was driven to shock, amuse, and excite others. However, as he grew older this motivation died down. Over time Cory becomes more nervous and therefore now tries to not be the center of attention.


By using the psychoanalytic and trait and skills approaches to personality, one can make many assumptions about Cory Matthews’s personality. It is extremely interesting that according to the psychoanalytic approach Cory developed without any problems. Moreover, he did not seem to be stuck in any of the psychosexual stages of development. However, according to the trait and skills approach Cory did express interesting levels of specific characteristics. Freud’s psychoanalytic approach was unable to detect Cory’s nervousness and need for affiliation. The trait approach allowed for a more in-depth look into his personality.


Boy Meets World. (2011, April 17). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 17:10, April 19, 2011, from