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PSYC 2740
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CHAPTER 7 Physiological Approaches to PersonalityThe idea that elements of personality are products of the biological processes has been around for agesIn AD 170 ancient Roman physician Galen wrote that personality or character was influenced by biology He taught the bodyfluid theory the amounts of four fluids present in the body determined personality An abundance ofoPhlegmpassive calm thoughtful phlegmaticoBloodhappy outgoing lively sanguineoYellow bileunstable aggressive excitable cholericoBlack bileunhappy pessimistic somber melancholicThe bodyfluid theory of personality remained in favour for centuries influencing philosophers and early psychologists Although antiquated by todays understanding of physiology and medicine Galens theory is noteworthy as one of the first to take a physiological approach to personality Physiologically oriented approaches are based on the premise that psychological characteristics such as friendliness and thoughtfulness are due to underlying physiological systemsoAssumes that differences in physiological characteristics are related to differences in important personality characteristics and behaviour patternsA Physiological Approach to Personality Most physiological personality psychologists today use measures of distinct physiological systems such as heart rate or brain wavesThe typical research question posed by contemporary psychologists concerns whether some people will exhibit more or less of a specific physiological response than others under certain conditionsoEx are shy people likely to show a higher level of anxiety exemplified by a higher heart rate when called on to perform in front of an audience compared to those who are not shy Researchers must be able to build such a theoretical bridge between the personality dimension of interest and physiological variables in order to help explain personalityoThe above example contains all of the necessary components of a theoretical bridgespecific conditions audienceCHAPTER 7 Physiological Approaches to Personalityspecific personality characteristic shynessspecific physiological response anxietyspecific physiological indicator heart ratePhysiological Measures Commonly Used in Personality Researchmost of the common physiological measures in personality research are obtained from electrodes sensors placed on the surface of the participants skinPROS they are noninvasive cause practically no discomfort CONS participant is wired to the physiological recording machine polygraph so movement is constrainedThe 3 main measures of interest to personality psychologists are oelectrodermal activity skin conductance of electricityocardiovascular measuresoactivity of the brain ELECTRODERMAL ACTIVITY SKIN CONDUCTANCEthe skin on the palms and soles of the feet contains a high concentration of sweat glands
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