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Lecture 1

# PSYC 2P25 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Probability Distribution, Birth Order, Nomothetic

Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYC 2P25
Professor
Michael Ashton
Lecture
1

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Lecture 1 - January 4, 2016
The final exam will not be cumulative
Personality and Individual Differences
Studying personality
Two approaches to study of personality:
o Idiographic approach: try to understand each individual’s complex, unique features
Distinctive and noteworthy about a certain person
Used in biographies, fictions, etc. can help to generate ideas
Inefficient would take too long to study many people in this way, too much
effort.
Also it doesn’t give a way to test ideas about personality
o Nomothetic approach: try to understand all people in terms of personality variables
by measuring many people, can see how variables are inter-related and can
test ideas about personality in general (not just for one person).
Basic measurements Concepts:
to test ideas about personality, we need to measure the personalities of many people and then
analyze and compare the measurements
we’ll consider how to measure personality a bit later
But regardless of how we measure personality, we want our measurements to have certain
properties
If we measure people on a characteristic, we want our measurements to show which
We want our measurements to show how big are the differences between people
Ex. Difference between 10 and 15 should mean the same thing as the difference between 25
and 30
If our measurements give meaningful differences between people, then we have “interval
scores”
With interval scores, we can calculate means, standard deviations, correlations, etc.
(personality measurements rarely have a ‘true’ or ‘absolute’ zero
So we can’t compare scores in terms of ratios doesn’t make sense to say that one person is
“twice as” nice/smart/lazy/nervous/etc. as another)
Continuous Distributions
When we measure psychological characteristics, we find that many of them have a continuous
distribution
Usually, most people have levels close to average and few extreme
The Correlation Coefficient
To understand personality, we often want to find out how much a personality characteristic is
related to some other variable
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