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Introduction to Psychology: Lecture 008

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Steve Joordens

30 January 2013 CHAPTER 12: PERSONALITY Personality is different from anyone else’s and expresses itself pretty consistently across settings, at home, in the classroom, and elsewhere. Personality is an individual’s characteristic style of behaving, thinking, and feeling. Studies that ask acquaintances to describe each other find a high degree of similarity among any one individual’s descriptions of many different people; however, resemblance is quite low when many people describe one person. Personality differences are concerned with:  Prior Events that can shape an individual’s personality. Researchers interested in events that happen prior to our behavior delve into our subconscious and into our circumstances and interpersonal surroundings as well as studying our biology and brains (IE: Biological prior events, Amy Winehouse received genes from her parents that may have led her to alcohol abuse and broken loves)  Anticipated Events that might motivate the person to reveal particular personality characteristics. Anticipated events emphasizes the person’s own perspective and often seems intimate and personal in its reflection of the person’s inner life hopes, fears, and aspirations Personality psychologists study questions of how our personalities are determined by the forces in our minds and in our personal history of heredity and environment and by the choices we make and the goals we seek. MEASURING PERSONALITY General personality measures can be classified broadly into personality inventories and projective techniques. Personality Inventories Self-Report is a series of answers to a questionnaire that asks people to indicate the extent to which sets of statements or adjectives accurately describe their own behavior or mental state. The respondent typically produces a self-description by circling a number on a scale or indicating whether an item is true or false. The researcher then combines the answers to get a general sense of the individual’s personality with respect to a particular domain. A self report scale is created by collecting a set of self descriptive statements that indicate different degrees of a personality characteristic. This kind of personality scale uses multiple answers to a variety of items that are related in content to gauge the underlying personality characteristic. Actuarial Method is when people in some identifiable group (IE: Convicted criminals) answer any self-report item differently than do other people and answers on that item are used to predict membership in that group. This can be used to gauge personality even when the self- report items are not clearly related in content to the characteristic being measured. If convicted criminals happened to like turnips (even just a little), reports of a love for turnips could be used along with other reports to predict a tendency toward criminality. Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI-2) is a well-researched, clinical questionnaire used to assess personality and psychological problems. The MMPI-2 measures tendencies toward clinical problems (IE: Depression, hypochondria, anxiety, paranoia, unconventional ideas, bizarre thoughts or beliefs, as well as some general personality characteristics, such as degree of masculine and feminine gender role identification, sociability versus social inhibition, and impulsivity). The MMPI-2 also includes validity scales that assess a person’s attitudes toward test taking and any tendency to try to distort the results by faking answers. Because no interpretation of the responses is needed, biases are minimized. Responsse Style is the phenomenon where people provide honest response, especially about characteristics that might be unflattering and if they don’t always agrees or always disagree. Projective Techniques Consist of a standard series of ambiguous stimuli designed to elicit unique responses that reveal inner aspects of an individual’s personality. People will project personality factors that are out of awareness (IE: Wishes, concerns, impulses, ways of seeing the world) onto ambiguous stimuli and will not censor these responses (IE: Cloud looked like a monster to her). Rorschach Inkblot Test is when the individual interpretations of the meaning of a set of unstructured inkblots are analyzed to identify a respondent’s inner feelings and interpret his or her personality structure. Critics argue that although the Rorschach captures some of the more complex and private aspects of personality, the test is open to the subjective interpretation and theoretic biases of the examiner. Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) is when the respondents reveal underlying motives, concerns, and the way they see the social world through the stories they make up about ambiguous pictures of people. The test taker is thought to identify with the main characters and to project his or her view of others and the world onto the other details in the drawing. Projective tests remain controversial in psychology. Critics argue that such tests are open to the subjective interpretation and theoretic biases of the examiner. Although a TAT story may seem revealing, the examiner must always add an interpretation. Despite the rich picture of a personality and the insights into an individual’s motives that these tests offer, projective tests should be understood primarily as a way in which a psychologist can get to know someone personally and intuitively. When measured by rigorous scientific criteria, the TAT, like the Rorschach and other projective tests, has not been found to be reliable or valid in predicting behavior. IN SUMMARY  In psychology, personality refers to a person’s characteristic style of behaving, thinking, and feeling  Personality psychologists attempt to find the best ways to describe personality, to explain how personalities come about, and to measure personality  Two general classes of personality tests are personality inventories, such as the MMPI-2, and projective techniques, such as the Rorschach Inkblot Test and the TAT THE TRAIT APPROACH: IDENTIFYING PATTERNS OF BEHAVIOUR Personality is as a combination of traits. Although you still occasionally hear people speak in terms of personality types, most psychologists now think it makes more sense to talk about personality traits. The trait approach to personality uses such trait terms to characterize differences among individuals. In attempting to create manageable and meaningful sets of descriptors, trait theorists face two significant challenges:  Narrowing down the almost infinite set of adjective  Answering the more basic question of why people have particular traits, whether they arise from biological or hereditary foundations Trait is a relatively stable disposition to behave in a particular and consistent way. The trait may be a pre-existing disposition of the person that causes the person’s behavior, or it may be a motivation that guides the person’s behavior. Gordon Allport believed people could be described in terms of traits just as an object could be described in terms of its properties. Allport saw traits as pre-existing dispositions, causes of behavior that reliably trigger the behavior. Henry Murray believed traits reflect motives and researchers examining traits as causes have used personality inventories to measure them, whereas those examining traits as motives have more often used projective tests. Authoritarianism is the tendency toward political conservatism, obedience to authority, and conformity. In the wake of WW2 many were trying to understand what had made people support the rise of Nazi Germany and Fascism. Our personality is depends on how much of the four humours (liquids) in our body that we have: blood, phlegm, bile and water. CORE TRAITS The study of core traits began with an exploration of how personality is represented in the store of wisdom called language. Traits might be related in a hierarchical pattern with more general or abstract traits at higher levels than more specific or concrete traits. Factor Analysis sorts trait terms or self- descriptions into a small number of underlying dimensions (IE: Tree diagram). Cattell proposed a 16-factor theory of personality, way down from 18,000. Hans Eysenck’s two-factor analysis identified one dimension that distinguished people who are sociable and active (extraverts) from those who are more introspective and quiet (introverts). He only later made it into three. THE BIG FIVE DIMENSIONS OF PERSONALITY Big Five are the traits of the five-factor model (C.A.N.O.E.):  Conscientiousness is the degree to which a person is organized, careful, self disciplined, and responsible  Agreeableness is the extent to which a person is good natured, helpful, trusting, and cooperative  Neuroticism is the extent to which a person is calm and secure  Openness is the extent to which a person
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