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Lecture 7

Lecture 7 - Personality.doc

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PSYC 102
Kevin Hamilton

Personality: • Personality is defined as the unique pattern of relatively stable behaviours and mental processes that characterize an individual and how he or she interacts with their environment • Influenced by genetics (dispositions or temperament 40 – 60%) • Influenced by environment (development in the context of family and culture)  It is rare for siblings to have the same personality, as they compete for resources  Younger children tend to develop a more social personality  Independent thinking is advocated in individualist cultures, whereas group harmony is more important in collectivist cultures • We often use vernacular terms to describe personality (e.g. intelligent, extroverted, conscientious, pleasant, moody) Psychologists are interested in: • Characterizing and describing personality traits • Studying the relationship between personality traits and behaviour • Understanding and predicting behaviour from personality traits (e.g. forensics, personnel selection) Approaches to Personality: • Descriptive (Trait theories)  Articulates what is observed and places little emphasis on explaining the observed behaviours 1 • Biological or genetic (Dispositional theories) • Learning (Behavioural and Cognitive social learning theories) • Psychodynamic • Humanistic , Existential or Phenomenological  The humanistic perspective assumes that people have free will and that they continuously make choices  The existential philosophy assumes that people are entirely free and thus responsible for what they make of themselves  The phenomenological philosophy is based on the premise that reality consists of objects and events as they are perceived or understand in individual consciousness and not of anything independent of human consciousness • Each approach has it own set of assumptions about the determinates of personality • Many forms of psychological illness are attributed to dysfunctional personality and personality development  Thus, different forms of therapy often follow different approaches Early approaches to understanding personality: • Initial attempts to identify personality traits involved studying the English language for terms describing human behaviour • There are approximately 18,000 terms describing behaviour (5% of the English language) Dispositional theories: 2 • Earliest theories of personality were dispositional theories, which assume that personality is made up of stable, long-lasting behavioural tendencies, dispositions or temperaments • Dispositional theories originate with Hippocrates, the ancient Greek considered to be the father of modern medicine • Hippocrates proposed humoural theory  The theory states that the body consists of 4 basic humours or fluids: blood, phlegm, black bile, yellow bile  The relative proportion of each humour in anyone’s body determines disposition or temperament Body fluid Temperament Characteristics of too much blood sanguine optimistic, hopeful phlegm phlegmatic calm black bile melancholic depression yellow bile choleric hot headed, irritable Modern dispositional theories: Sheldon (1940-1950) believed that personality and physique were related Physique Description Characteristics Endomorphic soft, round viscerotonic (relaxed, sociable) Mesomorphic muscular energetic assertive Ectomorphic thin, tall, fragilcerebrotonic (restrained, fearful, introverted, artistic) Problems with dispositional theories: 3 • too simplistic • generate stereotypes and prejudices • provide very little explanation as to why one has a particular personality • assume personality stable (most stable traits have r = 0.5-0.7, meaning that 25-49% of personality may be determined by the aforementioned dispositions) Other Modern theories of personality: • Trait theory • Psychodynamic theory • Learning theory (Behavioural and Cognitive social learning) • Humanistic theory (Phenomenological, Existential) • Note that it is difficult to find someone who is totally committed to any specific theory  Today, personality theorists tend to be eclectic (deriving ideas or style from a broad and diverse range of sources) 4 Trait theory: • Personality and behaviour controlled by a wide variety of relatively stable personality traits e.g., dependency, aggressiveness, gentleness, thoughtfulness • Trait theory is really an expression of an empirical methodology • Trait theory in its purest form does not provide a mechanism for explaining behaviour, only a set of descriptions of behaviour • Personality determined by a combination of traits • Trait theories largely based on studies using factor analysis, a statistical technique for determining intercorrelations amongst item (trait) variables • Different statistical criteria for establishing trait factors can lead to different numbers of personality factors being identified  E.g. Cattell identified 16 personality factors, while Gall identified 37 Eysenck (1960's): • Eysenck was a trait theorist who extended trait theory beyond being simply an empirical description of personality • He believed personality traits are based primarily on learning (classical and operant conditioning) and, to a lesser extent, on genetic factors • Eysenck identified 2 primary dimensions to personality by means of factor analysis  Neuroticism (emotional stability)  Introversion/extroversion (inward vs. outward view on world) 5 Factor Analysis Introversion ←−−−−−−→ Extraversion Dimension • Retiring • Outgoing and talkative • Reserved (factor) • Wants many friends • Likes solitary activities • Enjoys parties • Does not parties • Disliked solitary activities • Dominates social situations • Eysenck’s personality circle appears similar to the four personality types first proposed by Hippocrates 6 • Introverts are more easily conditioned and develop behaviours that show susceptibility to conditioning (e.g. anxiety and depression) Big Five: Acronym OCEAN • Openness to experience • Conscientiousness • Extroversion • Agreeableness • Emotional stability (neuroticism) Low Scorers High Scorers Loner Joiner Quiet Talkative Extroversion Passive Active Reserved Affectionate 7 Suspicious Trusting Agreeableness Critical Lenient Ruthless Soft-hearted Irritable Good-natured Neglig
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