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Lecture 4

PSYB30H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Walter Mischel, Lexical Hypothesis, Factor Analysis

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Marc A Fournier

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PSYB30H3: Personality Psychology
Lecture 4: TraitsHistory & Controversy
Marc A. Fournier
Part I. Lexical Hypothesis, Factor Analysis, & Paradigm Crisis
Allport’s Concept of Personality
Original Definition (1937)
- The dynamic organization within the individual of those psychophysical systems
that determine his [or her] unique adjustments to the environment
- Coherent phenomenon, experience of unity across time, integrated personality
- Within the individual meaning its real and inside of you (not hypothetical or
- Determinant implies causation and personality does something and what is
responsible for our action
- Personality is the stylistic way we adjust to adaptation
Revised Definition (1961)
- The dynamic organizations within the individual of those psychophysical systems
that determine his [or her] characteristic behavior and thought
- We not only adjust to the environment we reflect and master it and sometimes we
Allport’s Concept of Traits
- A trait is a neuropsychic structure having the capacity to render many stimuli
functionally equivalent to initiate and guide equivalent (meaningful consistent)
forms of adaptive and expressive behavior” (1961)
- Traits are real and are rooted in the neuro system
- Traits are individual
Common vs. Individual
- Common (factor), quality present in every person but to different degrees
- Individual trait is used by a single person, it is an organizing principle within a
- Ex: humor people use it in different ways
Cardinal, Central, Secondary
- Cardinal: so pervasive that all aspects of an individual functions can be traced, are
rare and when they do occur people tend to identify with them
- Central: categorize significant areas of an individuals function
- Secondary: categorize specific areas of an individuals function, limited scope
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The Lexical Hypothesis
- Those individual differences that are most salient and socially relevant in peoples lives
will eventually become encoded into their language; the more important such a
difference, the more likely is it to become expressed as a single word
Allport’s Psycholexical Study
- Sorting through 550,00 entries in Webster’s new international dictionary. Allport
and Odbert found 18,000 terms that possessed the capacity to distinguish the
behavior of one human being from another
- Allport and Odbert listed the 18,000 terms in 4 columns:
- Potential personality traits (4,504)
- Temporary states and activities (4,541)
- Evaluative judgments of personal conduct and reputations (5,226)
- Miscellaneous termsphysical qualities, capacities and talents (3,682)
Factor Analysis: Key Concepts
- Variable: any quality that can assume two or more values
- Correlation: a standardized index of the extent to which two variables are co-
related -1 < r < +1
- Factor analysis: a statistical procedure through which a large number of observed
variables are reduced to a smaller number of underlying dimensions called factors
Factor Analysis: An Illustration
Cattell’s Factor-Analytic Study
- Reduced Allport’s and Obert’s list of 4500 personality trait terms to 171 clusters
- Asked people to rate other on each side of the 171 clusters yielding a matrix of
14535 correlations
- Reduced the 171 clusters to 35 which he used to construct both self report and
peer report rating sales
- Factor analyzed hundreds of rating for these 35 clusters from which he incorrectly
Cattell’s Concept of Traits
Surface traits
Source traits
Lewis R. Goldberg
The “Big Five”
- Neuroticism
- Extraversion
- Agreeableness
- Conscientiousness
- Openness/Intellect
Part II. Situationists, Aggregationists, & Interactionists
Walter Mischel (Personality and Assessment 1968)
- Helped launch the person situation debate that nearly decimated the field of personality
psychology, his cognitive affective processing system theory of personality has helped to
put the debate to rest
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