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Lecture 3

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Michael Ashton

PSYC 2P25 Sept. 24, 2012 Personality Structure  When assessing people’s personalities, it isn’t feasible to measure ALL traits reliably, it would take too long  But, if you decide to measure only a few traits, some of them might be very similar and you might completely miss a lot of important traits  But if we could categorize personality traits into a few groups of related traits, then we could assess a few traits from each group and thereby summarize people’s personalities thoroughly and efficiently  Finding basic trait categories would also help to organize research on personality (every researcher would measure similar set of traits) and [maybe] give clues about the causes and functions of personality itself  How to identify the basic trait categories? o Examine correlations among many traits and find a few (unrelated) groups of strongly correlated traits:  Use “factor analysis”  Numbers show how clearly variables “belong” to that factor  High loading on factor means high rs with other variables in same factor  Usually, results aren’t obvious ad you actually need to do FA  When using FA to find major dimensions of personality, you need a complete list of personality traits (if some traits are missing, then you might miss a factor completely) o Get list through the lexical approach The Lexical Approach  Two ideas it’s based on: o 1) a few basic personality traits (“dimensions”) will each be seen in many specific, subtly distinct traits o 2) people want to talk about each other’s personalities, and invent many adjectives to describe people on those may traits  So, we could measure people on personality trait adjectives (using dictionary list), and then do factor analysis to find the basic dimensions of personality  Using the lexical hypothesis o 1) get list of familiar personality adjectives o 2) get self- or observer ratings of many people (multi-point scale) o 3) find rs among adjectives, and factor analyze them o 4) interpret each factor by finding common meaning of its adjectives  Results of lexical studies o Idea of LH is old (Galton, 1884), but 1 lists of personality adjectives
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