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Lecture 10

PSYB30H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 10: Field Dependence, Explanatory Style, Learned Helplessness

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Lisa Fiksenbaum

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The Cognitive Approach
Explaining an individual’s personality by emphasizing the way that individual thinks
Focuses on the way people think basic differences in information processing
Differences in how we interpret thingsin how we think about things (our cognitions)
are seen by the cognitive approach as forming the basis for our personalities.
Have you ever known of two people who have gone through similar experiences but
responded to them in very different ways?
Have you ever known anyone who had a difficult experience but found a way to make the
best out of it?
Have you ever known anyone who always sees the worst in everything & everyone?
Focus on differences in information processing
o awareness and thinking
o Specific mental acts: perceiving, interpreting, remembering, believing,
anticipating, etc.
o when we take a cognitive approach in personality we are interested in individual
differences in the way that people interpret events in the event, perception,
individual differences in memory processes,etc
o a lot advances in in technology = able to look at cognitive processes; growing
Three levels of cognition of interest to personality psychologists:
o Perception: Process of imposing order on information received by our sense
organs differences in how individuals make sense of stimuli in their
environment what they notice, take in, what they construct from it
Perception is subjection, sensation is objective (size, shape, colour, smell)
o Interpretation: Process of making sense of, or explaining, events in the world
One step above perception
Involves a lot of complex cognitive processes and processes that are
o Beliefs and desires: Standards and goals people develop for evaluating themselves
and others
Different methods people use to pursue their goals
Personality Revealed Through Perception
Field Dependence-Independence
Pain Tolerance and Sensation Reducing-Augmenting
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Field Dependence-Independence
Field independent (relative to field dependent) people can focus on details despite
background information
Applies to many sensory domains such as sound focusing on certain sounds when
there is a lot of ambient noise
Testing field-dependence
Embedded Figures Test (EFT)
Requires you find certain figures embedded in a larger figure
The faster you can do it, the more field independent you are
Rod and Frame Test (RFT)
Involves apparatus
Room is dark and person is placed facing apparatus
Rod in the middle of frame = rod and frame glow brightly have to use a
knob to adjust the position of the rod so that it is straight up and down
In order to do this must be able to ignore the frame and just focus on the
If you’re able to do it = field independent thinker
With field independence and dependence there is a cultural difference
Chinese tend to be field dependent = harder time with rod and frame test = extents
to the idea that Asian cultures focus on the social context here perceptual
Field Dependence-Independence and Life Choices
Witkin et. al. (1954) found that choice of major in college was related to field
Field Independence focused on details, being able to spot patters despite
background noise
Natural sciences
Field Dependence
Social Sciences
Interpersonal Relations
Witkin found that field dependent people rely on social cues, are oriented toward
other people. harder for them to isolate context and object
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