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Lecture 15

PSY230H5 Lecture Notes - Lecture 15: Agreeableness, Behavioural Genetics, Twin Study

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Ulrich Schimmack

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Personality and Social Relationships
Close social relationships one of the most important motives/values for many people
Social relationships vary in quality
Western cultures- divorce accepted and common practice to end bad relationship
o Strong indication that people are unhappy with their marriage
o Low divorce rate doesn’t mean everyone is happily married; not culturally acceptable
o Divorce rate for Canada suggests marriages are unsuccessful and end in divorce
Looking at how personality traits influence social relationships
How consistent people’s behaviours and feelings are across different relationships
Parent-Infant relationship: attachment theory
Attachment theory: infants need their parents to survive; look to parents for help specially during times of need,
stress or uncertainty
Stranger situation test- children left alone with stranger (anxiety provoking situation), mother returns
(behaviour of infant observed at this stage)
o Secure attachment- infants regards mother as someone who can and will protect it during times of need
o Avoidant attachment- implied infant does not trust mother to protect him and tries to cope with anxiety
without mother’s help
o Anxious/ambivalent attachment- child overwhelmed by stressful situation and doesn’t know how to act
Assumption made is that secure attachment provides infants with important experience that they can trust
someone to take care of them
o Allows for positive developed and forming better social relationships later one
Insecurely attached children grow up thinking they cant rely on anyone which has negative consequences on
their personality and social relationships
Another assumption is that the attachment style is partially shaped by the parents or can be based on genetic
Infant attachment and childhood personality
Some evidence that infants’ attachment predicts children’s personality
Studies found that secure attachment during infancy is a negative predictor of neuroticism and positive
predictor of extraversion and openness
Infant attachment: parents vs. infants influence
How much infant’s attachment styles are influenced by infant’s personality vs. parent’s parenting behaviour
Measures show stronger MZ than DZ correlations indicating that infant’s genes contribute to attachment styles
Twins have more similar attachment styles than we would predict based on their genetic relatedness;
environmental similarity reflects influence of parents on infants
Fathers also influence their infant’s attachment styles
Adult attachment styles
Systematically related to Big Five (secure-lower neuroticism, higher extraversion, agreeableness and
Consistent with assumption that secure infant attachment leads to better social relationships and positive
personality later on in life
Romantic relationships- attachment styles better predictors of relationship status, length and satisfaction than
personality traits
o Openness predicted length of relationships (more open-> casual dating) and higher neuroticism
associated with lower relationship satisfaction
Longitudinal Evidence
Infant’s attachment style significant predictor of observer ratings of romantic relationships and it is a strong
effect; also a predictor of self-reported closeness but effect was weaker
Twin studies of adult attachment styles
Attachment theory predicts that twins should have similar attachment styles beyond influence of their genes;
reason being that the theory predicts parents shape infant’s attachment and parental influence continues to
shape attachment behaviours in adulthood
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