PSYB30H3 Lecture Notes - Neuroticism, Extraversion And Introversion, Conscientiousness

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12 Mar 2013
Lecture 2: Trait Approach: Part I
Trait = a consistent pattern of behavior, emotion, and thought
Personality = sum of all traits
Trait theories provide descriptions that must be explained by other theories
Theorists try to establish:
Approaches to discovering traits
Statistical (Empirical)
Common Traits and Trait Continua
Common traits = traits shared by all
Behaviours can be represented on trait continuum
Scores assumed to be normal distributed
Ordering people along these dimensions is nomothetic approach used in most trait theories
Compares people along the same personality dimensions
E.g. comparing Canadians and Americans on the trait of risk-taking
Contrast with idiographic approach
In-depth study of individuals
Idiographic approach = the approach where you take a close look at an individual person want to know a
lot about that one person
Where they grew up, early experiences, what parents were like, in different situations and how they
impacted on you,
Want to figure out how the different aspects of personality work together the dynamic aspects of
personality want to understand personality better in a general scale but you do this by analyzing
an individual and then going big
Nomothetic approach = comparing a large group of people collectively with another large group of people
Gordon Allport
Key Ideas
Idiographic approach
Uniqueness = Combination of traits
Techniques he used qualitative data = Use of diaries, interviews, behavioural observations, q-sort (index cards with
different trait words and then ask to sort much like them not much like they etc = easier to move around and
conceptualize) etc.
Internal structures that render many stimuli functionally equivalent and yield similar adaptive and expressive
What he meant: Personality trait was something inside the person that made the external stimuli seem the
same to that person
E.g. shy person might see all (wide variety will seem similar) social situations as threatening and react with
E.g. person who is very helpful might see many situations as opportunities to help others
Traits express what a person generally does across situations
Inconsistency does not mean that traits doesn’t exist - situations also have influence
Just means that there will be some pattern of what they will do … it is more general
Modern theorists recognize the impact of the situation and study the interaction of trait and situations
E.g. lack of sociability at a funeral even for really sociable person
Three types of traits
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Cardinal single characteristic that directs most of a person's activities
Strong influence over their life very few people have these traits
Only use it if someone's entire life is geared towards this trait
Central main characteristics of a person
Usually 5-10
How we describe a person there is a balance between trait generality and behavior specificity
E.g. extraverted vs. sociable vs. talks a lot
Secondary similar to central trait but effects less
Characteristics that affect behaviour in fewer situations and are less influential
Easier to change than central traits
E.g. preference for dark chocolate or dislike of rap music
Raymond Cattell
Empirical approach to trait theory
Reduction of 4,500 trait words (left by Allport) to 16 most basic personality dimensions
Removed synonyms
Collected ratings on the remaining traits
Used factor analysis to reduce the personality factors that he had
Started off with lexical things that Allport had done
Major Divisions of Traits (trait theorists like to have categories because they can be distinguished and placed into these
categories well)
Constitutional (biological) vs. environment-mold (learned)
Biological = genetic, the fact that we are human
Learn/ environmental
Ability vs. temperament vs. dynamic
- Ability
Skill in dealing with complexity more or less equivalent to how Cattell defined intelligence
Fluid ability to think and reason
Not really learned but innate; you can develop it but it isn't learned
"Using your mind effectively"
Crystallized learned things
How to read and write, knowing facts
- Temperament
General traits that appear present early
Persons level of energy, how sociable they are, how regular their daily cycles are, moodiness, interest in others
(and interacting with them)
- Dynamic traits
Ambition, competitiveness, etc.
Things that drive you or prevent you from making progress in a certain area
Surface vs. source vs. second-order
Surface traits: superficial
Superficial on the surface of things… things easier to see and are more assessable
E.g. how good they are to memorize, how much they can apply, how good they are at xyz etc… things that
we can easily spot
Source traits: deeper, more comprehensive
Identified by Cattell through factor analysis
E.g. intelligence
Factor Analysis
Summarizes how a large # of variables are related
Many different measures administered to many respondents
Some scores will be positively correlated; others negatively correlated
Correlations might reflect more basic, underlying factor
Some stats basics
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