PSYCH 2B03 Lecture Notes - Nomothetic, B. F. Skinner, 6 Years
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9/10/2012 5:36:00 AM
First Midterm – Friday October 12
Nature vs Nurture
How much of who we are is built into our genes?
To what extent do we come with our personality already intact? Vs is that
personality shaped and formed after birth?
Look at the interaction of nature & nurture
What is Human Nature?
How does personality develop?
What is that changed & what changed it? How? What are the important things
that need/do happen to us?
What motivates us?
How can we conceptualize this moving force?
Conscious vs unconscious
Virtually everything that is significant to our personality is unconscious to us –
Others say we know who we are. Our personality is available for our conscious
Group vs individual
Nomothetic approach - Looking for general principals
Idiographic view – want to know/understand someone as an individual – rare
view in psych – position is taken by humanist
Why Chose Specific Theories?
Theory have been of significance in our development & direction of thinking
o Sigmund Freud
Theorists who are important today
Theories that illustrate a particular approach to personality
Theories that Dr. Day thinks are interesting
Ways Personality Theory differs from others
Lots of personality theories
o Dozens of different theories all trying to explain same set of phenomenon
The oldest area in all of psychology
o Over 2000 years
o First personality theories – philosophers of Greece
Big idea, enormous range of phenomenon
o Changes an huge amount of the way we think
o Very general
The way they‟ve developed & been tested
o Most theories begin with observation, see things & wonder why. Apply
that theory to events in the real world
o Personality Theory – usually began with clinical practice
What is it about people that can be changed
Real world application, then to theorizing (very different from other
The way they are tested
o Very difficult to generate testable predictions for personality theories
o Personality theories do best: postdict (not predict)
Explain why something just happened
o Relatively weak on empirical support
Two purposes for theories in science
o Describing how reality is
o Theories guide research
o Personality theories
Good job of explaining how things are
Not so good at generating testable research
Two observations that personality is designed to help us understand
Consistency – there is a pattern to our behaviour, thinking, emotional expression.
o We attribute this to personality. Personality is the reason people are
People differ in their patterns of consistency
o Why? Because we have different personalities
Cannot define personality
o Theories differ in the definition of Personality
Most important part of this course is the following, but very few questions will be
tested. Refers to the way we understand theories.
There is no such thing as Personality
Made up, created, illusionary idea
o Hypothetical construct – an idea that we invent to try to understand the
world in which we exist.
Because these theories are metaphors for reality we will never
understand/fictional stories, we can invent any number of them
o infinite number of theories
o They‟re all useful – help us understand different aspects of personality
o Each theory will tell us something useful – each proven more useful in
certain situations over others
General set of answers to very big questions about personality
What is personality made of/constructed of
What are the constructs we will use to understand personality?
Type Approach Oldest approach
There is some small number of distinct personality types & each one of us has/is
one of those personality types
These types are largely built in – biology/genetics determine the personality
o Born with personality type
“The Four Humours” – Hypocrites & Galen
o Human body is made of four substances
o Ideally they are balanced – in good humour
o Imbalance = illness
o Can only get access to blood & phlegm (spit/bleed)
o Some people are born with excess of one or more
Permanently out of balance
Susceptible to illnesses
Determines their personality
o This theory was so influential, words are still in place today
o Blood – sanguis – sanguine personality
o Yellow Bile – colair – colleric personality
o Phlegm - phlegmatic