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2740 January 23.docx

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PSYC 2740
David Stanley

1 PSYC*2740-01 January 23, 2013 Theoretical & Measurement Issues in Trait Psychology Theoretical Issues 1) Meaningful individual differences: traits describe how people meaningfully differ from one another. Using the taxonomies (particularly the Big Five), you can either have very little of a trait or a lot of a trait. There is tremendous variability from person to person. In psychology, because trait psychologists are so interested in scoring trait differences, trait psychology can occasionally be referred to as “differential psychology”. 2) Stability over time: when we say that traits are relatively enduring, we are referring to the fact that on average, we can be characterized by these traits. 3) Consistency across situations. Stability over time Traits are consistent over time. However, if we were to look at introversion, it may not appear to be the same over a lifetime. Therefore, a manifestation of a trait may vary over time. How is there consistency if a trait is known to change with age? Some traits do change with age; some traits will go up or down with age. We know they’re consistent because of something called rank order: with a change in a given trait, a relative difference remains between individuals. Rank Order example: Impulsivity In this example, someone who rates high in impulsivity in adolescence may show a decrease in this trait as they age. However, somebody who scored low in impulsivity will also show a decrease in this trait as they age. Therefore, in comparison, the person with higher impulsivity will continue to demonstrate higher levels of impulsivity than others, hence the trait is consistent over time. Consistency across situations: Traits very often affect our behavior, however, it is not the only factor. The situation (situationalism) or context also has an effect on how we behave. It has been found that it is the interaction between the trait and situation that causes behavior. Person-Situation Interactions Strong situation: refers to a situation in which almost all people will react similarly. Situational Specificity: specific reaction to a specific situation. This is where the interplay between trait and situation comes into play. For example, someone may be very laid-back for the most part, but when suddenly faced with an exam two days away, may find themselves very anxious. Selection: people with specific traits will select activities or situations that emphasize these traits. Evocation: how we act or what we say also evokes certain situations. Therefore, it can be said that our personality also attracts certain kinds of situations and responses. Manipulation: different people will try to manipulate other people for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s not for noble purposes; occasionally people will manipulate 2 others to meet their own needs. However, this does not mean that manipulation is not always a bad thing. For example, parents may manipulate their children to keep them from engaging in risky or life-threatening behaviours. Consistency Across Situations: Aggregation (an example) Aggregation takes a measure (or an average) of how often a specific trait occurs over time. Aggregation, in other words, is the average tendency, which is why personality is referred to as an average tendency. Measurement Issues 1) Carelessness Some people may be misreading the question, or may only be skimming the true nature of the question, and therefore their response will not be indicative of their actual response. Researchers have tried to identify two key ways in which we can determine whether people are answering truly. Infrequency scales: questions where all participants will answer the same. If the person is truly not paying attention to the questions, they may answer this the opposite way. Duplicate questions: ask the same question in different ways, and compare their responses to see if they’re giving the same answers for the same questions. 2) Faking on questionnaires There are many different reasons why people may fake their answers on a questionnaire. One reason may be that they want to appear good (or will answer according to how they think you want them to). Other people may try to make themselves look worse, or not well-adjusted. One way to deal with this is to give them a survey beforehand as a warning of how they may try to present themselves. Limitations of this approach: false negative (somebody is telling the truth, but you believe they are lying so you discount their data); and false positive (somebody is lying, but you believe they are telling the truth so you include their data). Barnum Statements These statements pertain to test interpretation. These are generalities that apply to anyone. Personality in Employment Personality is used to predict: 1) Personnel Selection: only people who have appropriate training or traits that align with the job description will often be chosen 2) Integrity Testing: often times you don’t want someone who is dishonest or antisocial, and many times jobs require people to have good people skills, so you can test for this. 3) Concerns about Negligent Hiring: you don’t want to hire someone who could harm your employees or clients. Balancing Issues in Employment There are sex & racial norms that must be considered. For example, some tests may not take culture into account. Also, there must be a good rationale for using the test. People do have a right to privacy, and it is illegal to partake in disability discrimination. Employers need to also look at the test validity and reliability. 3 Measures in Business Settings Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI): most widely used measure to select individuals for leadership and positions. It is also used for other purposes, such as career counseling. This measure yields types of personality: 1) Introverted or extraverted 2) Sensing or intuitive 3) Thinking or Feeling 4) Judging or Perceiving There can be a variety of different combinations of these traits. Some criticisms of this measure are that it doesn’t account for the fact that most traits are distributed normally. A smaller number of the population are at extreme ends. This theory claims that traits are types, and cut-off sc
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