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PSY230H5 Lecture Notes - Personality Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, Cognitive Psychology

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Ulrich Schimmack

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Lecture 1- September 11, 2012
What is personality psychology?
Cognitive psychology: science of basic cognitive processes (i.e. memory, attention, perception)
o Research question ex: why do some people have better memories than others?
Neuropsychology: science of connection between brain and the mind (how the brain carry out
our actions)
Social psychology: science of social influences on psychological processes (i.e. social influence)
o Research question ex: why do people respond differently to rejection by others?
Developmental psychology: science of changes in psychological processes over the life span
(how does aging influence the way we think and behave)
o Research question ex: why are some children more afraid of strangers than others?
Personality psychology differs from the rest because it can vary from one person to another;
recognizes that we are all unique individuals; different methods of research (i.e. more self-
evaluation) ; focus on variations among people that are good/positive
o i.e. extraversion help to build social relationships
o introversion helps people to study and get bored less easily
o Other areas of psychology assume we are all alike (i.e. “people” would do this rather
than “Jane would do this...)
Abnormal psychology- assumes people differ from each other (thus somewhat similar to
personality psychology); focuses on people with psychological problems
o Variation among people but those variations are unhealthy/negative (not similar to
personality psychology in this way)
i.e. depression
o Thus, the focus really is on getting rid of the variation
Two approaches to understanding personality:
Idiographic (person centered; focusing on one person at a time) versus nomothetic approach
o Idiographic- tries to understand individual’s actions from individual’s characteristics
Examples: biographies of famous people, self exploration
Advantages: more complete understanding of a single individual, great for
important people
Disadvantages: subjective (i.e. influenced by biographer), difficult to test
scientifically, insights don’t generalize to other individuals, and not good for
everyday people
o Nomothetic- variable centered; focus on relation between individual differences in one
variable (i.e. shyness) and another variable (i.e. age of marriage)
advantages: objective, theories can be tested scientifically, offers more
complete understanding of many people, findings are useful for everyday
disadvantages: boring and difficult
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