PSYA02H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Big Five Personality Traits, Rorschach Test, Sigmund Freud

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18 Jun 2018
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Lecture 2
Personality, Part 1
Personality
Personality is an individual’s characteristic style of: behaviour, thought, and feeling
Personality is relatively stable* across time and situations
The study of personality is the study of both individual differences (idiographic approach) and common trends in
the population (nomothetic approach)
Study has two main components = describing personality, explaining personality
Describing personality = Measured through personality inventories = personality tests - rely on self-report; can be
subjective; can be too general - to broad
Explaining personality = personality theories, why someone acts the way they do
How to measure personality?
We could observe the individual’s behaviour
Personality measurements instead usually take one of two forms: personality inventories (personality tests/scales)
and projective techniques
Personality inventories
Rely on self-report: subjective descriptions of one’s own behaviours, thoughts, and feelings
Most have weaknesses in validity and reliability
Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI)
Widely reliable
True/false/can't answer
Forces people to make a decision - instead of a scale where people can just pick 3
A lot of questions (meant to cause fatigue)
Based more on instinct rather than what you want the test to say
Criticisms of personality inventories
Test administrator can be biased
Test taker may not know everything about herself
Test taker can be biased (test takers often report socially desirable traits = validity scales)
Lecture 3
Personality, Part 2
MMPI validity scales
Set of questions that attempt to mitigate bias
F-scale (high rates of “true” responses can indicate severe psychopathy or over reporting = checking yes without
reading)
Lie-scale (high rates of “false” responses may indicate lying = due to bias; wanting to appear better)
?-scale (high rates of “I don’t know” may indicate an invalid test
Aside from measuring personality, personality psychologists also attempt to describe and explain personality
Trait approach
Trait approach to personality attempts to describe personalities as a series of traits – a relatively stable disposition
to behave in a particular and consistent way
Researchers that adhere to the trait approach use factor analysis to reduce list to the lowest possible set of traits
Factor analysis
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1. Individuals rate themselves on hundreds of traits
2. Traits that are highly correlated (positive or negative) are combined into factors
3. Traits with no correlation to one another are considered parts of separate factors
The Big Five (trait approach)
Today, most researchers agree upon a five-factor model of personality
These Big Five personality traits are not correlated with each other
Individuals’ levels on the Big Five tend to increase slightly throughout the lifespan (get stronger in our traits)
If an individual rates above average on a trait early in life, it is most likely that she will rate above average on that
trait later in life as well
Personality traits are relative stable and even increase across the lifespan
change in personality is most apparent in childhood and adolescence
Personality states change across situations
Biological explanation
Genetics is the largest single factor
The Big Five traits have a heritability factor between 0.35 and 0.49
But ~50-65% of variability in personality is still due to various life experiences
If traits are so informed by genetics, it should not be surprising that we show evidence of our personalities in
infancy
Temperament is an infant’s characteristic activity level, mood, attention span, and distractibility = predictive of
their adult personalities
Cultural approach
Most research that has explored the Big Five has been conducted in WEIRD cultures = western, educated,
industrialized, rich, and democratic
Are the Big Five universal? Evidence is mixed
Prevalence of personality traits does vary from culture to culture – so culture may play a role in determining an
individual’s personality
Lecture 4
Personality, Part 3
Biology -Trait approach
Experience -Behaviourist approach
-Social-cognitive approach
-Psychodynamic approach
-Humanistic approach
Behaviourist approach
Behaviourism: operant conditioning; animals produce behaviours that are reinforced
We behave in ways that we learned over time
Behaviourist personality theorists believe that the same principle applies to human personality
1. A human produces a behaviour
2. The behaviour is reinforced
3. The behaviour is repeated
Social-cognitive approach
Personality is how a person deals with the situations encountered in daily life: how we construct situations in our
own minds; how we respond to those situations
This is distinct from the trait approach, in which people behave the same way across most situations
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The difference between the trait approach and social-cognitive approach is called the person-situation controversy
= what influences our behaviour more? Our personality or the situation we’re in?
The correlation between personality and behaviour is not all that high
This may be because people’s behaviour is highly situation-dependent
We base our behaviour on personal constructs = which we use to make sense of our worlds/personal theory of the
world/dimensions we use to create these constructs tells us a lot about ourselves
Outcome expectancies
What are your goals? For today? For this week? For this year? For life?
What behaviours will lead/detract you toward those goals?
The different answers to these questions make us part of our personalities
Freud and psychoanalysis
Sigmund Freud = physician = practiced neurology (Study of disorders of the nervous system = treated patients for
hysteria (uncontrollable emotion)
Developed psychoanalysis based on is patients’ free associations, fantasies, and dreams
Psychodynamic theory
Psychodynamic theory is the personality theory extending from Freud’s psychoanalytic approach
Personality is formed by needs, strivings, and desires largely operating outside of awareness – motives that can
also produce emotional disorders
Mental processes that are outside our awareness = dynamic unconscious = an active system encompassing a
lifetime of hidden memories, the person’s deepest instincts and desires, and the person’s inner struggle to control
those forces
Dynamic (un)conscious divided into three parts:
1. Id = unconscious, animal desires
2. Ego = allows us to deal with life’s practical demands
3. Superego = internalization of cultural/social rules (prevents Id)
Freud believed that our personality is determined by which of these three parts of the unconscious is dominant
Conflict between the three parts – anxiety = defense mechanisms
Defense mechanisms: repression, rationalization, reaction formation, projection, regression, displacement,
identification, sublimation
Projective techniques
Another way to measure personality is with projective techniques
Tests designed to reveal inner aspects of individuals’ personalities by analysis of their responses to a standard
series of ambiguous stimuli
Rorschach inkblot test = thoughts and beliefs revealed by analysis of unstructured inkblots
Thematic apperception test (TAT) = shown a card with an ambiguous scene, asked to make up a story
Difficult to interpret and interpretations are too subjective
Psychodynamic approach - criticisms
Have mixed empirical evidence = difficult to test/support
Focuses on after-the-fact interpretation rather than testable prediction
Reject free will (predetermined)
Biased sample (based on restricted sample of individuals = Victorian ladies with hysteria)
Unfalsifiable (b/c it is predominantly interpretational)
Lecture 5
Personality, Part 4
Humanistic-existential approach
Humanistic theories have positive, optimistic views of human nature, believe that humans have free will
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PSYA02H3 Full Course Notes
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Document Summary

Personality is an individual"s characteristic style of: behaviour, thought, and feeling. Personality is relatively stable* across time and situations. The study of personality is the study of both individual differences (idiographic approach) and common trends in the population (nomothetic approach) Study has two main components = describing personality, explaining personality. Describing personality = measured through personality inventories = personality tests - rely on self-report; can be subjective; can be too general - to broad. Explaining personality = personality theories, why someone acts the way they do. Personality measurements instead usually take one of two forms: personality inventories (personality tests/scales) and projective techniques. Rely on self-report: subjective descriptions of one"s own behaviours, thoughts, and feelings. Most have weaknesses in validity and reliability. Forces people to make a decision - instead of a scale where people can just pick 3. A lot of questions (meant to cause fatigue) Based more on instinct rather than what you want the test to say.

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