Lecture 4: January 12 2011
Going Beyond the Big 5 Trait Dimensions
Second level of personality, not as organized as level 1 (Characteristic
Questions of the day:
• What else do we need to know about a person? (Besides standing on big 5 traits)
o Characteristic adaptations
• What are the most common forms of characteristic adaptations?
A Different Kind of Film Clip
• How would you describe his or her personality?
• Would a trait description be sufficient?
Clip from the first Spider Man movie:
Both highly agreeable, sincere, sympathetic, gentle
Medium-low on extroversion
Conscientious – taking out the garbage
Besides the Big 5 they are also talking about things that are impt aspects of
personality, how they see themselves now and what their hoping to do in the future
Being a dancer – a ideal she has – but not sure if that’s who she is and if she can do
Social-cognitive approach – we have multiple self-representations, some of them
might not match up so well
What else do we want to know about a person if we are to know them well:
• What was his family like?
• What does he strive for?
• What are his career goals?
• What are his interests and hobbies?
• How does he relate to others, the boss, coworkers?
• How does he act in his closest relationships?
• How does he cope when things go badly?
• How does he think about his life story?
• How does he find meaning in his life?
• "Think about someone who you know really well. What is it that you know about
him or her that you don't know about other people. Is it traits? Probably not?
• “It is likely that you know a person well by knowing what the person's life is like,
what it has been like in the past, and what it may be like in the future. As part of
this knowledge you may have access to the person's desires, needs, wishes, wants, goals, challenges, values and the unique way in which the person puts this
all together, puts this together in a narrative pattern to make sense of who he or
Key point: besides consistencies in behaviour you want to know about persons life,
motivation, how they view themselves
The Three Levels of Personality
• 1) Traits – highly consistent and stable
• 2) Characteristic adaptations – more fluid
• 3) Life Narrative – in most modern societies even when weve developed our traits
and C.A. another challenge we have is to construct a coherent identity that can tie
together all the personality related features we have. We do this by…(second
• Characteristic adaptations: “More particular aspects of personality that describe
personal adaptations to motivational, cognitive, and developmental challenges and
• “Internalized and evolving narratives of the self that people construct to integrate
the past, present and future and provide life with a sense of meaning and
o This is a process that only beginnings in late adolescences or early
Organization of the text:
• Part 1: Persons, Human Nature and Culture
o Studying the Person Chapter 1
o Evolution and Human Nature; Chapter 2
o Social Learning and Culture; Chapter 3
• Part 2: Dispositional Traits, Chapters 4, 5 & 6
• Part 3: Characteristic Adaptations, Chapters 7,8,9
• Part 4: Life Stories and Identity, Chapters 10, 11
Characteristic adaptations – very disorganized level and there is prob over 40-50
personality concepts and measures that might fit into this level. But it cant be organized
into a big 5. The best we can do is organize it based on the kind of focus that the different
concepts have. Some are more motivational, cognitive (mental representations),
developmental (vary across life span)
Examples of Characteristic Adaptations:
one example for each
• Implicit Motives (Motivational)
• Self-Discrepancies (Cognitive)
• Developmental Stages (Developmental) The Big Three Motives
• Need for Achievement - a recurrent preference or desire for experiences of doing
well and being successful.
• Need for Power - a recurrent preference or desire for experiences of having
impact on others.
• Need for Intimacy - a recurrent preference or desire for experiences of warm,
close, and communicative interactions with others.
Variety & Challenge
Henry Murray – at least 20 diff motives that can drive and energize our behaviour
he also suggested the best way to assess these motives is not to ask ppl to describe
themselves or ask others, must use a projective technique to get a sense of what people’s
underlying motives are (bc people are usually unaware of what their real motives are)
people are presented wt 20 ambiguous scenes on black and white cards and asked to
make a story about each scene (5 mins with a beginning, middle and an end)
when people began to do research on this they decided to choose pictures than were
less extreme and more normative
only works for these 3 motives emerged from this test
Why not just ask people directly? Murray – overestimating how useful this projective test is, hard to get a reliable sense
of a persons motives from these kinds of stories
The Research Version of the TAT
involved showing ppl 6 diff scenes and having them tell a story about each 1
2 female scientists
architect at his desk and there is a picture of his family there
Which themes are most noticeable?
Same picture can elicit various stories form diff ppl. Differences that emerge can
reflect recurrent motivational concerns of an individual of the 3 motvies – achievement comes through in this story 7
coding system “good”, “things go well”
get 5 points for achievement, 0 for power, 0 for intimacy
you might think it pulls for achievement but you can find