PSYC 2740 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Lexical Hypothesis, Impulsivity, Big Five Personality Traits

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16 Nov 2017
Department
Course
Professor
Personality January 18th
The Dispositional Domain: Traits & Trait Taxonomies
Recall that a trait is…
A characteristic describing how people differ (or are similar)
Refers to an average tendency
Relatively enduring
But, how do we conceptualize traits?
Traits as Internal Causal Properties
causal help to influence and explain why people do the things they do
Traits as Descriptive Summaries
Traits are descriptive summaries of one’s attributes without assuming
internality/causality
They summarize behavioural trends
Not thinking about causality/why all were saying is that traits are descriptive
summaries of specific attributes traits have corresponding behaviours
Act Frequency Research Program
Trying to find different categories of behaviour that acquaint to different traits
Traits = Categories of Acts
1. Act Nomination
2. Prototypically Judgement
3. Recording of Act Performance
Act Frequency: A Critique
Helps to rule out other
causes for behaviour
Traits are presumed to be
"internal"
Desires/needs carry
across settings & are
presumed to be causal
but traits may lie dormant
As Internal Cause Properties
As Descriptive Summaries
OR
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Pros
o Identifies acts relating to most traits (can account for lots of different traits)
o Identities behavioural regularities
o Helps study the meaning of hard to study traits (i.e., creativity, identify
behaviours of this trait)
Cons
o No account for amount of context (e.g., pressured or bullied into doing
drugs not impulsivity, context could explain why it is resembling a certain
trait)
o Applies only to overt acts (have to be able to see it)
o May prove difficult with complex traits (more difficult to identify, multiple
different behaviours for one trait, narcissism)
o Less theoretical (not trying to explain things
How Do We Identify Traits?
3 main approaches: (not mutually exclusive)
1. Lexical
2. Statistical
3. Theoretical
Lexical Approach
Lexical Hypothesis: All key individual differences are encoded within our
language over time
Traits important in communication
o Help to describe ourselves and other people
o Language probably has a role in personality
o All traits should be imbedded in our language across generations
Criteria for identifying traits
o Synonym Frequency: for any given trait do we have a number of different
terms for that trait
o Cross-cultural Universality: if were in Canada and were looking at English
language we should be able to identify certain traits and it should be cross
culture (in other parts of the world we should see these same kind of traits
in different languages)
Pros:
o Helps initially to identify key differences
o Considers culture
Cons:
o Some traits are ambiguous
o May not capture various types of speech
o Because not all traits can be described from an adjective; could use nouns
(genius)
Statistical Approach
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