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
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.
General personality measures can be classified broadly into personality inventories and projective
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.
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
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 psychology, personality refers to a person’s characteristic style of behaving, thinking, and
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
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.
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
Agreeableness is the extent to which a person is good natured, helpful, trusting, and
Neuroticism is the extent to which a person is calm and secure
Openness is the extent to which a person