PSYA02Winter2012 Chapter 14.docx -textbook and lecture notes

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11 Apr 2012
PSYA02Winter2012 Chapter 14: Personality
o Personality: a particular pattern of behaviour and thinking that prevails across time and
situations and differentiates one person from another
o The goal of psychologists is to discover the causes of individual differences in behaviour
o Research on human personality requires 2 kinds of effort: identifying personality characteristics
and determining the variables that produce and control them
Trait Theories of Personality
Personality Types and Traits
o Hippocrates in 4th century BCE started theory of personality
o Galen in 2nd century CE refined Hippocrates
o The body was thought to contain 4 humours (fluids) : yellow bile, black bile, phlegm and blood
o People were classified according to the dominant humour in the body
o Choleric people (excess of yellow bile) were bad tempered and irritable
o Melancholic people (excess of black bile) had gloomy and pessimistic temperaments
o Phlegmatic people (excess of phlegm) were sluggish, calm and unexcitable
o Sanguine people (excess of blood) were cheerful and passionate
o This theory divided people into personality types different categories into which personality
characteristics can be assigned based on factors such as developmental experiences or physical
o Theory of the humours was later discredited, but dividing people into personality types
o Most investigators today reject the idea that people can be assigned to discrete categories
differences in personality are differences in degree not the type of personality
o Personality trait: an enduring characteristic that reveals itself in a particular pattern of
behaviour in a variety of situations
o We carry our personality traits with us around in our brains (some are biological, and some are
learned etc)
Identification Of Personality Traits
Allport’s Search for Traits
o Began his work by identifying all words of the English language in a dictionary that described
aspects of personality found 18000 entries
o Analyzed and identified the words that described stable personality characteristics
o Words that represented temporary states such as flustered or evaluations such as admirable
were eliminated
o He believed traits were neuropsychological properties that led to behavioural consistency over
time and contexts by producing functional similarity in the way a given person interprets and
experiences events people with a particular trait react similarly across situations because
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they experience a unique sense of similarity across those situations that guides their feelings,
thoughts and behaviour
o Some traits remain consistent over time
o Not all traits have equal influence on those who posses them
o Cardinal traits are the most powerful characterize a strong unifying influence on a person’s
o Allport believed these traits were rare, but people that possessed them deffinately stood out
from the crowd
o Example: Hitler’s relentless excercise of oppressive power, Mandela’s commitment to justice,
Mother Teresa’s altruism
o Central traits are less singular in their influence, but capture important characteristics of an
individual example: when we say someone is honest or warm in order to distinguish them
from other people
o Secondary traits includes characteristics that have minor influence on consistency of behaviour
example: a person’s tendency to frequently change jobs
Cattell: 16 Personality Factors
o Used Allport’s list of 18000 traits as starting point for his theory of central traits
o Narrowed list down to 171 adjectives that made up a set of distinct surface traits refer to
observable behaviour
o The then used factor analysis to identify clusters of these traits that he believed represented
underlying traits identified 16 personality factors
o He called them source traits because they were cornerstones upon which personality was built
o Example: relaxed and tense, tradition and open to change, reserved and warm (with a scale
from 1-8 between each characteristic)
Eysenck: 3 Factors
o Hans Eysenck also used factor analysis to devise a theory of personality extroversion,
neuroticism and psychoticism
o These factors are bipolar dimensions: extroversion is the opposite of introversion, neuroticism is
opposite to emotional stability and psychoticism is opposite of high level of activity
o Extroversion: the tendency to seek the company of other people, to be spontaneous, and to
engage in conversation and other social behaviours with them
o Introversion: the tendency to avoid company of other people, to be inhibited and cautious;
o Neuroticism: the tendency to be anxious, worried and full of guilt
o Emotional stability: the tendency to be relaxed and at peace with oneself
o Psychoticism: the tendency to be aggressive, egocentric and anti-social
o Self control: the tendency to be kind, considerate and obedient of laws and rules
o The most important aspects of a person’s temperament are determined by the combination of
the 3 dimensions: extroversion, neuroticism, and psychoticism
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o Eysenck believes that the functioning of neural system located in the brain stem produces
different levels of arousal of the cerebral cortex
o Example: introverts have high levels of cortical excitation while extroverts have low levels so
in order to maintain an optimum arousal level the extrovert requires more external stimulation
than the introvert the extrovert seeks this stimulation by interacting with others or by
pursuing new and highly stimulating activities the introvert avoids external stimulation to
maintain their optimum arousal level different states of arousal lead to different values of
extroversion trait for different people
The Five Factor Model
o Theory stating that personality is composed of 5 primary dimensions: neuroticism, extroversion,
openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness theory was developed using factor analyses
of ratings of words people use to describe personality characteristics
o These factor are measure by Neo-PI-R (neuroticism, extroversion, openness Personality
Inventory Revised) consists of 240 items that can potentially be used to describe the person
being evaluated
o The test items are brief sentences such as “I really like most people I meet” which is rated from
1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree) can be done by the person themselves, or
answered by spouse or person that knows subject really well
o The 5 factor model has considerable cross-culture applicability
o Self rating agree closely with ratings by family members
o It can predict subjective well being, job performance extroversion seems to predict success in
jobs that require leadership (managerial positions) or in jobs that demand the ability to
improviser in order to reach goals (sales positions) + conscientiousness has also been found to
predict success across job classifications
o There seems to be a very strong degree of heritability for these traits correlations in traits are
higher within monozygotic twins than dizygotic twins which means environmental factors are
not as important as genetic factors in this case
o Jackson argues that the 5th factor conscientiousness is actually made of 2 factors called
methodicalness (reflects planfullness and a need for orderliness) and industriousness
(characterized by perseverance and achievement orientation)
The Dark Triad
o Special cluster of traits may underlie socially offensive personalities
o Machiavellianism: trait characterized by skill at manipulating others socially
o Psychopathy: a trait describing lack of empathy for others and a high degree of impulsivity
o Narcissim: a trait characterized by grandiosity and feelings of superiority
o Men tend to score higher than women on tests that measure Dark Triad traits
o Correlations of Dark Triad traits between twins show that there is considerable genetic influence
on these traits
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