CH 14: Personality PSYA02 1
Trait Theories of Personality
Personality is a particular pattern of behavior and thinking and determines how we act
or react in a variety of situations.
Humoural Theory (by Galen): earliest theory to explain individual differences in
personality. (Body contains 4 humours)
o Choleric ppl – excess yellow – bad tempered/irritable.
o Melancholic ppl – excess black – gloomy/pessimistic.
o Phlegmatic ppl – excess phlegm- sluggish/calm/unexcitable.
o Sanguine ppl – excess blood – passionate/cheerful
Personality types – different categories into which personality characteristics can be
assigned based on factors (developmental exp for eg)
o This is an obviously rejected theory, today we conceive of individual differences
personality as being in degree, not kind.
Personality trait – enduring personal characteristic that reveals itself in a particular
pattern of behavior in different situations.
o Ppl vary in the extent to which they are one or the other (analogous to a
o Traits have both biological and learning outside of body.
Allport (Important in Personality Traits)
o Believed that people react the same in
Cardinal Traits – rare, but strong unifying influence on person’s behavior.
Central Traits – less singular than cardinal (eg. Honest, warm) used to
distinguish from others.
Secondary Traits – minor influence in behavior (eg. freq to change jobs)
He believes “we only know how to explain a person’s personality
once we can describe it!”
Dynamic organization – integrated and unified
whole, we have a sense of having a unified
• organization occurs within the individual.
• Exists in terms of psychophysical systems
• These systems determine(implying cause and
• Personality has causal impact on our behaviour
– knowing somebody’s personality has an
EXPLANATORY power to it.
• Personality helps us makes adaptations to
world around us.
CH 14: Personality PSYA02 2
Cattell (16 Personality factors)
o Used Allports information to bring Allports 18 000 trait words into 171 adjectives
(using factor analysis)
o He referred his 16 PF as source traits, to which personality was built.
Eysenck (3 Factors) of bipolar dimensions. (ENP)
o Extroversion – outgoing nature (opp to introversion) – requires more external
stimulation than introvert to maintain optimum arousal.
Introversion – shy, reserved, careful (opp to extroversion) – requires little
to maintain his lower arousal lvl.
o Neuroticism – always tense, worrying, moody and unstable (opp to emotional
o Psychoticism – aggressive, anti social, egocentric (opp of self control)
5 Factor Model (P is composed of 5 primary dimensions)
o the original 3 were Neuro,Extra(big two) and Openness.
o Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness.
o They are measured by the NEO-PI-R (Neuroticism, Extraversion and Openness
Personality Inventory) R standing for revised.
Reliability: alphas from .87 to .92, N = 1,539.
Validity: self-peer r’s from .36 to .53, N = 250.
Consists of 240 items to describe a person.
McCrae, Costa, and Busch performed Factor Analysis on a list of
adjectives contained in a test called the California Q-Set – resulting in the
same 5 factors.
Identical twins correlate more than fraternal twins in terms of personality measures.
Heredity is responsible for b/w 50-70 % of variability in these 3 personality traits. The
remaining % is caused by diff in environment.
Identical twins were much more likely to have experienced similar family environments.
Heredity plays a large role in determining the nature of environment
P458 to p460 needs reading again.
Social Learning Approach
Social Learning Theory – personality is determined by consequences of behavior and the beliefs
of those consequences. Skinner believed that personality was determined by consequences.
CH 14: Personality PSYA02 3
Expectancy – specific action leads to a specific consequence. Yet consequences can change
depending on when the action is dealt. (aggressiveness to get a toy, but do this in front of your
parents and you get into trouble).
Observational Learning – a derivative to expectancy - allows ppl to learn actions vicariously
(not directly re-inforced). For eg. watching your mom put on deodorant, and then mimicking
*More complex behaviours = more times it needs to be observed/executed = more practice =
learn it well.
Reciprocal Determinism – idea that personal variables (cognitive, expectations etc), behavior
and environment interact with each other in determining one’s personality.
Self-Efficacy – how well you can perform a task – related to optimism and pessimism –
optimists have better chances of performing a task even when the circumstances don’t look too
Person Variables – favoured by Mischel – 5 of them –
1) Competancies – reinforced skills + behaviours will be likely engaged in future.
2) Encoding Strats and Personal Construct – we process info differently than others –
therefore we perceive situations differently than others.
3) Expectancies – one action to one expectancy of our behavior
4) Subjective Values – degree to which we value certain reinforcers (seek most value)
5) Self-Regulatory Systems and Plans – to achieve our goals we monitor ourselves by
reinforcement and punishment.
Locus of Control – belief that consequences are controlled by person variables
External Locus = events in life are determined by envi variables.
Internal Locus = events in life determined by their own variables.
The I-E Scale measures locus of control (0-23) Low score=Internal, High Score=External
Evaluating Scientific Issues
Mischel’s beliefs – situations, not traits, best predict behavior.
Eg. comparing introversion/extroversion when events are party vs. funeral.
Many disagreed – some situations are weak to determine ppl’s behavior
CAPS Approach (Cognitive-Affective Processing System) look at powerpoint