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Lecture 5

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Brock University
Michael Ashton

PSYC 2P25 October 1, 2012 Midterm exam: 60-70 questions -> in class Will post a review/review seminar Everything in the textbook we’ve learned so far. Test is challenging. Essay due November 19 .h Development: Stability and Change  Do personality traits change in a life time?  Two questions o How does the typical person’s trait level change across the lifespan? o How much do relative trait levels of people (from same age cohort) change across the lifespan?  Changes in mean levels o Recent review by Roberts et al. (2006) of previous research o Some main findings (using Big Five)  Between adolescence and late middle age, average person becomes higher in conscientiousness, emotional stability, “assertive” aspects of extraversion, agreeableness (to a lesser extent), openness (increase by young adulthood)  Not much change between these periods in the “sociable/lively” aspects of extraversion  Changes during childhood are harder to measures o Hard to get self-reports o Also, which behaviours to assess via observer report  Why do mean trail levels change across lifespan?  Environmental demands (“social roles”) that differ across stages of life? (e.g. student, employee, spouse, parent, grandparent, retiree)  Genetic influences expressed at different periods? (natural selection favouring age-appropriate trait levels)  Stability (vs. change) of individual differences o About after age 30, high stability o Across 6-7 year period r=.70 for same trait  Even across a few weeks, only have r=.85 o Between 18 and 30, fairly high stability (a bit less than in later adulthood)  Across 4-8 year period, r=.55-.60 for same trait o During teenage years, moderate stability  Across 4 year period, r=.40-.50 for same trait PSYC 2P25 October 1, 2012 o Few studies of personality stability in childhood  But stability appears to be fairly low  See Lamb et al. (2002) in textbook o Why do some people’s trait levels move up or down relative to own age cohort?  Environmental influences experienced by some and not others (e.g. due to job, marriage, parenthood, divorce, retirement, etc)  Genetic influences experienced by some and not others (analogy with differences in “growth spurts”) o Future research:  Long-term study of personality change and stability (using self- and observer reports) from young adulthood (or even childhood) into old age Biological causes  Still in early stages of understanding biological basis of personality Eysenck: Extraversion vs Introversion  Structure in brain stem (the ARAS) regulates how much stimulation enters brain  In some people, ARAS allows in a lot of stimulation, in others, very little  If ARAS allows a lot of stimulation, feel overwhelmed -> withdraw (introversion)  If ARAS allows little stimulation, feel bored -> seek, approach (extraversion)  Empirical evidence o Eysenck & Eysenck (1967)  Put drops of lemon juice on people’s tongues, and measured salivary response  People who salivated most were more introverted (on average) than those who salivated least  E.g. lemon juice stimulated introverts more than it did extraverts o Geen (1984)  Asked people to do a learning task while exposed to background noise and measured their heart rates  Some participants were allowed to choose loudness of noise  Extraverts chose louder noises than did introverts -> preferred more stimulation  Heart rates similar for extraverts and introverts -> same level of stimulation preferred noise level  Extraverts who got quiet level had low heart rates -> under stimulated  Introverts who got loud level had high heat rates -> overstimulated  Results consistent with Eysenck’s theory (Various
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