Chapter 14 Notes
Personality – A particular pattern of behaviour and thinking prevailing across time and situations that
differentiates one person from another.
Psychologists get their assessment of personality from results of special tests designed to identify
particular personality characteristics. Their goal is to discover the causes of individual differences in
Research on human personality requires 2 kinds of effort: identifying personality characteristics and
determining the variables that produce and control them.
Trait theorists use the term personality as a set of personal characteristics that determines the different
ways we act and react in a variety of situations.
Humoural theory was proposed by the Greek physician Hippocrates in the 4th century B.C. and is the
earliest known explanation for individual differences in personality. The body was thought to contain four
humours or fluids: yellow bile, black bile, phlegm and blood. People were classified based on the
predominance of one of these humours in their systems.
-Choleric people had an excess of yellow bile and were usually bad tempered and irritable.
-Melancholic people had an excess of black bile and were usually gloomy and pessimistic.
-Phlegmatic people had an excess of phlegm and were usually sluggish, calm and unexcitable.
-Sanguine people had an excess of blood and were usually cheerful and passionate.
Personality types – Different categories into which personality characteristics can be assigned based on
factors such as developmental experiences or physical characteristics.
Biological investigations disregarded the humoral theory.
Personality types are useful in formulating hypotheses because when a theorist is thinking about
personality variables, extreme cases are easily brought to mind. The idea that people can be assigned to
categories is rejected today by most investigators and they generally conceive that individual differences
in personality as being in degree instead of kind.
Personality trait – An enduring personal characteristic that reveals itself in a particular pattern of
behaviour in a variety of situations. Example: height such as it is not tall or short it is a degree where you
can fall anywhere between the 2.
Personality traits are not simply patterns of behaviour, they are factors that underlie these patterns and are
responsible for them. Once our personality traits are developed, they reside in our brains.
Gordon Allport was one of the first psychologists to search systematically for a basic core of personality
traits. In his dictionary test, words that represented temporary states such as flustered or evaluations such
as admirable were eliminated.
Chapter 14 Notes
According to Allport, not all traits have equal influence on their possessors. The most powerful of all are
those he termed cardinal units. Cardinal traits characterize a strong unifying influence on a person’s
behaviour. He believed that these traits were rare, but that people characterized by them clearly stand out
from the crowd. Example: Hitler, Mandela and Mother Teresa. Central traits are less singular in their
influence than cardinal traits, but capture important characteristics of an individual. Example: Someone is
warm and honest in comparison to others. Secondary traits include characteristics that have minor
influence on consistency of behaviour. Example: constant change of jobs.
Modern trait theorists maintain that only when we know how to describe an individual’s personality will
we be able to explain it.
Cattell narrowed down Allport’s list to 16 and he referred to them as source traits because Cattell believed
that they were the cornerstones upon which personality is built.
Hans Eysenck also used factor analysis to devise a theory of personality. His research identified 3
Extroversion – The tendency to seek the company of other people, to be spontaneous, and to
engage in conversation and other social behaviours with them.
•Introversion – The tendency to avoid the company of other people, to be inhibited
and cautious; shyness.
Neuroticism – The tendency to be anxious, worried and full of guilt.
•Emotional Stability – The tendency to be relaxed and at peace with oneself.
Psychoticism – The tendency to be aggressive, egocentric and antisocial.
•Self-control – The tendency to be kind, considerable and obedient of laws and rules.
Eysenck emphasized on the biological nature of personality. He believes that the functioning of a neural
system located in the brains stem produces different levels of arousal of the cerebral cortex. Introverts
have relatively high levels of cortical excitation while extroverts have relatively low levels. Most trait
theorists accept the existence of his 3 factors because they have emerged in factor analyses performed by
many different researchers.
Five-factor Model – A theory stating that personality is composed of five primary dimensions:
neuroticism, extroversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. This theory was developed
using factor analyses of ratings of the words people use to describe personality characteristics.
Neuroticism, Extraversion, and Openness Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R) – The instrument used
to measure the elements described in the five factor model (neuroticism, extroversion, openness,
agreeableness and conscientiousness).
Chapter 14 Notes
Mcrae, Costa and Busch (1986) conducted the California Q-set test in which they found the same 5 factors
thus proving that it is regarded by many personality psychologists as a robust model of personality.
Research suggests that environmental factors pale beside genetic ones as far as the 5 factors are
DeNeve and Cooper (1998) have shown that the five factors can be used to predict subjective well-being,
and Vollrath (2000) has found moderate predictability for daily hassles experienced by university students.
Barrick, Mount and Judge (2001) reported that generally speaking, extroversion seems to predict success
in jobs that require leadership (managerial positions) or the ability to improvise in order to reach goals
(sales positions). According to Douglas Jackson, a six-factor theory is more plausible by splitting the
conscientiousness into 2 distinct dimensions. Methodicalness reflects the planfulness and a need for
orderliness whereas industriousness is characterized by perseverance and achievement orientation.
Identical twins are more similar to each other than are fraternal twins on a variety of personality measures
which indicates that these characteristics are heritable. Zuckerman’s (1991) research suggested that
heredity is responsible for between 50 and 70 percent of the variability in these three personality traits.
So, the rest of the 30 to 50 percent belongs to the environment.
Although a child’s environment plays an important part in his or her personality development, hereditary
factors play a large role in determining the nature of this environment. People tend to learn some
important social attitudes from their family environments.
Zuckerman (1991) suggests that the personality dimensions of extroversion, neuroticism and psychoticism
are determined by the neural systems responsible for reinforcement, punishment and arousal.
Social learning theory – The idea that both consequences of behaviour and an individual’s beliefs about
those consequences determine personality.
Expectancy – The belief that a certain consequence will follow a certain action.
Observational learning – Learning through observing the kinds of consequences others (called models)
experience as a result of their behaviour.
Bandura does not believe that either personal characteristics (traits) or the environment alone determines
Reciprocal determinism – The idea that behaviour, environment, and personal variables interact to
Self-efficacy – People’s beliefs about how well or badly they will perform tasks.
Low self-efficacy can hamper both the frequency and the quality of behaviour-environment interactions
whereas high self-efficacy facilitates both.
Personality a particular pattern of behaviour and thinking prevailing across time and situations that. Chapter 14 notes differentiates one person from another. Psychologists get their assessment of personality from results of special tests designed to identify particular personality characteristics. Their goal is to discover the causes of individual differences in behaviour. Research on human personality requires 2 kinds of effort: identifying personality characteristics and determining the variables that produce and control them. Trait theorists use the term personality as a set of personal characteristics that determines the different ways we act and react in a variety of situations. Humoural theory was proposed by the greek physician hippocrates in the 4th century b. c. and is the earliest known explanation for individual differences in personality. The body was thought to contain four humours or fluids: yellow bile, black bile, phlegm and blood. People were classified based on the predominance of one of these humours in their systems.