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PSYC 100
Daniel J Levitin

PSYC 100INTRO TO PSYCHOLOGYSet 9 Lectures 2021November 161So today were going to talk about personality We talked about in the first week or two the goals of psychological science was to be able to predict behavior in fact thats the goal of any science We want to be able to predict the behavior of planetary bodies of chemical compounds maybe behavior of other organisms thats what science is after the ability to predict In terms of human behavior weve looked so far at the things that might help predict human behavior We looked at perception in particular how the eyes and ears take in information so if you show somebody a particular visual display or play a particular sound you may form some predictions about what they see or hear based on what you now know about perception particularly if the sounds were ambiguous And you might be able to change the figures in some way to bias them towards interpreting them one way or another and you remember from memory how people might behave under certain circumstances whether they would have a false memory like many of you in class had You might even be able to predict with some accuracy the kinds of things somebody might forget You remember from the serial forgetting curve for example which shows that people were more accurate at remembering what First and last things of a long list rather than whats in the middle So in terms of predicting behavior if you present something in the middle of a list theres a better chance its going to be forgotten Last week we talked about social psychology and some of the factors that feed into predicting behavior based on the roles people play or the situation theyre in And in fact we didnt just talk about it last week We talked about some social psychology throughout the course but theres another way to look at things and thats the personality POV Maybe people have some stable traits or personality factors that we can learn and understand and that will help us predict their behavior So at the outset I want to make the distinction the field and the book make between temperament and personality Temperament shows up in infants If you have younger siblings you know this or if youve hung around nursery schools you see early on that children display different proclivities different temperaments some are patient some are outgoing some are shy And these show up very early in life and these temperaments are considered to be separate from personality traits They tend endure throughout the lifespan and they seem large innate componentto have athough there also seem to be environmental factors You may not start out shy but with enough negative social interactions you may become shyPersonality traits on the other hand are somewhat malleable as a function of experience and the environment but theyre considered largely stable throughout the lifespan though they may not show up as early as temperament and they tend to be more nuanced We talk about thousands and thousands of personality traits We talk about relatively few temperamental traitsBut I want to focus a little bit on personality traits It was Sir Francis Galton who was probably the first scientist of human behavior who did his research in the dictionary He had this insight He made the assumption Personality theory rests on this assumption Its not perfect Its a reasonable one I think youll agree but its not ironclad not airtight Galton said if we want to study personality the way humans differ from one another maybe the reasonable assumption is any differences that are important between one person and another will eventually become encoded in some or all of the worlds languages Its an assumption it might not be true Galtons the first to admit it But it might be It might be that all those things we care about we will eventually have a word for it So of the thousands of ways we differ eventually things like stinginess or helpfulness or kindness or meanness or outgoingness Maybe these kinds of traits if 2
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