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PSY230H5 Lecture Notes - Trait Theory, Walter Mischel, Femininity

by OC4

Course Code
Ulrich Schimmack

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PSY230- personality psychology
Chapter Two
Personality trait
- differences among individuals in a typical tendency to behave, think, or feel in
some conceptually related ways, across a variety of relevant situations and
across some fairly long period of time.
- Comparison (difference among ppl)
- Likelihood of showing some behaviours or having some thoughts or feelings
(typical tendency)
- Trait is expressed by various behaviours, thoughts, feelings that appear to have
some common physiological cause (conceptually related)
- Personality trait NOT just a habit confined to one spec situation; rather shown
across a variety of settings in which ppl differ in the ways that the trait is
expressed (across a variety of relevant situations)
- Pattern can be observed over the long run (fairly long period of time)
! Trait: there is some reasonably stable, long lasting tendency to show the relevant
pattern of behaviours
! People behave consistency across situations
! Behaviour also influenced by situations
- one broad disposition affecting many independent behaviours
- cross situational consistency : people who act a certain way in one situation,
should act same way in other situationswhether this holds true or not is the core
of debate
Personality trait vs. psychological characteristics
- Mental abilities (verbal, mathematical) diff from personality trait ! represent
one’s max level of performance on one task vs way of thinking, behaving, feeling.
- Beliefs, attitudes -! focused on particular object (ie specific set of
religious/political issues vs. general way of thinking, feeling, behaving)
- Sexuality
Person and Situation Debate
Does personality exist?
A. Situationism
Walter Mischel 1968
- Behaviour changes mostly as a function of situation indiv is in ! no consistent
differences between individuals
- argued result of personality studies indicate personality traits were of LIMITED
VALUE for predicting behaviour
- behaviours supposedly related to the same underlying trait were weakly correlated
across situations
!Correlation b/w personality measures and actual behaviour in a specific situation
small to mod (r<0.3)
Hartshorne and May (1928)
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PSY230- personality psychology
- elementary n high school students
- situations where differences in “moral character” arise
- children observed several times in each situation-- > reliable score to indicate
his/her tendency in altruistic, self control, honest
- low correlations
- Hartshorne and may’s results ! personality traits less imp than previsouly
- Even though the situation is important, we can still see very consistent difference
among people when we consider their overall behaviour as observed across many
difference situations, traits clearly do exist.
B. Traitism
Epstein (1979) & Rushton, brainerd, pressley (1983)
- calculate child’s average level of altruism within each of two sets of several
situations found correlation b/w scores of two sets.
- Higher correlation
- Ie. if person is above avg in altruism as avged across one set of several situations,
then there is high probability that same person will be above avg in altruism as
avged across another set of several situations
! Ppl differ consistently in their overall elvel as observed across many situations
! Mischel failed to notice cross-situational consistency that can be shown when
observations of behaviour are aggregated (averaged across many situationsOVERALL
!Cuz traits = dispositions that have a strong influence on behaviour across many diff
situations than on behaviour in a single situation
o Daily diary study of moods
- Day-to-day
- only moderate consistency in moods from one day to another ( r=0.2; pairs of days)
- high consistency in average levels of moods over a period of weeks (r=0.81; avg mood
on odd days n avg mood on even days)
o Fleeson
- moment-to-moment
- aggregate of odd moments n even moments much higher
Thus situation imp, but typical behaviour across several situations
Personality traits have moderate effects on behavior in a single situation.
The influence of personality becomes stronger when behaviors are aggregated.
C. 2nd round of debate
Personality psych
- aggregation necessary to control measurement error.
- Personality all that matters
- aggregation destroys situational effects
- situational effects much larger than personality effects
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