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Lecture 3

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PSYC 2600
Elizabeth Nisbet

Lecture 3 The Dispositional Domain… - What is a trait? - How do we identify traits? - Organizing traits - Taxonomies Three fundamental questions guide those who study traits - How should we conceptualize traits? - How can we identify which traits are the most important from among the many ways that individuals differ? - How can we formulate a comprehensive taxonomy of traits—a system that includes within it all the major traits of personality? Traits as Internal Causal Properties - Traits are presumed to be internal in that individuals carry their desires, needs, and wants from one situation to next - Desires and needs are presumed to be causal in that they explain behavior of individuals who possess them - Traits can lie dormant in that capacities are present even when behaviors are not expressed - Scientific usefulness of viewing traits as causes of behavior lies in ruling out other causes - Can’t always observe someone’s traits • Ex: bravery. This is inside you, but may only appear in certain situations, so it may never be expressed or may never be seen Traits as Descriptive Summaries - Trait-DescriptiveAdjectives • Words that describe traits, attributes of a person that are characteristic of a person and perhaps enduring over time - Make no assumptions about internality - Nor is causality assumed - Trait describes expressed (i.e., observable) behavior - Traits are just descriptions of people- describe what they are like Studying Personality Traits - How can we identify which traits are the most important from among the thousands of ways in which individuals differ? Identifying the Most Important Traits: ThreeApproaches - LexicalApproach - StatisticalApproach - TheoreticalApproach LexicalApproach - Starts with lexical hypothesis:All important individual differences have become encoded within the natural language over time - Trait terms are important for people in communicating with others - Two criteria for identifying important traits • Synonym frequency • Cross-cultural universality - Problems and limitations • Many traits are ambiguous, metaphorical, obscure, or difficult • Personality is conveyed through different parts of speech (not just adjectives), including nouns and adverbs - Agood starting point.... - Lexical: in the dictionary; words to describe the traits; show up in language • Less important traits have less symptoms StatisticalApproach - Starts with a large, diverse pool of personality items - Most researchers using lexical approach turn to statistical approach to distill ratings of trait adjectives into basic categories of traits - Goal of statistical approach is to identify major dimensions of personality - Clusters of traits that go together and create major dimensions • The ‘Big 5’personality traits StatisticalApproach - Factor analysis • Identifies groups of items that covary or go together, but tend not to covary with other groups of items • Provides means for determining which personality variables share some property or belong within the same group • Useful in reducing the large array of diverse traits into smaller, more useful set of underlying factors • Factor loading: Index of how much of a variation in an item is “explained” by a factor TheoreticalApproach - Starts with a theory, which then determines which variables are important - Example: Sociosexual orientation (Simpson & Gangestad, 1991) - ‘cads’and ‘dads’ - Theory guides how you develop the scale or measure the trait Evaluating theApproaches for Identifying Important Traits - Many personality researchers use a combination of three approaches - This strategy solves two problems central to the science of personality: • Problem of identifying key domains of individual differences • Problem of describing order or structure that exists among individual differences identified Taxonomies of Personality - Eysenck’s Hierarchical Model of Personality - Cattell’s Taxonomy: The 16 Personality Factor System - Five-Factor Model Eysenck’s Hierarchical Model of Personality - Model of personality based on traits that Eysenck believed were highly heritable and had psychophysiological foundation - Three traits met criteria: Extraversion-Introversion (E), Neuroticism-Emotional Stability (N), Psychoticism (P) • Extraversion: High scorers like partiers, have many friends, require people around to talk to, like playing practical jokes on others, display carefree, easy manner, and have a high activity level  Maybe have higher arousal • Neuroticism: High scorers are worriers, anxious, depressed, have trouble sleeping, experience array of psychosomatic symptoms, and over-reactivity of negative emotions  Considered more negative • Psychoticism: High scorers are solitary, lack empathy, often cruel and inhumane, insensitivity to pain and suffering of others, aggressive, penchant for strange and unusual, impulsive, and has antisocial tendencies  Also considered negative. Want to be low on this trait Eysenck’s Model of Personality - Hierarchical Structure of Eysenck’s System • Super traits (P, E, N) at the top • Narrower traits at the second level • Subsumed by each narrower trait is the third level—habitual acts • At the lowest level of the four-tiered hierarchy are specific acts • Hierarchy has the advantage of locating each specific, personality-relevant act within increasingly precise nested system - Biological Underpinnings - Key Criteria for “Basic” Dimensions of Personality • Heritability: P, E, and N have moderate heritabilities, but so do many other personality traits • Identifiable physiological substrate - Biological Underpinnings—Limitations • Many other personality traits show moderate heritability • Eysenck may have missed important traits - Have to tie stable traits to someone’s physiology - If something is inherited, your parents have passed on something that contributes to your personality • Ex: twins being more alike than other people reared together (even if the twins were reared apart) Cattell’s Taxonomy: The 16 Personality Factor System - Cattell’s goal was to identify and measure the basic units of personality - Believed that the true factors of personality should be found across different types of data, such as self-reports and laboratory tests - Identified 16 factors - Major criticisms • Some personality researchers have failed to replicate the 16 factors • Many argue that a smaller number of factors captures important ways in which individuals differ - Trying to find things (traits) that everyone has in common - Started from lexical/factor analysis - Ex: high or low in dominance- choose different types of occupations based on this Five-Factor Model (FFM) - Five broad factors: Surgency or Extraversion,Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Emotional Stability, and Openness/Intelle
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