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Lecture 1

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Connie Boudens

Lecture 1: Personality Psychology Introduction Personality psychology – is the scientific study of what makes us who we are - Study of individual differences: for identifying how we are similar or different + how we became that way Common ways of thinking about personality - Good personality o Global quality  but we don’t really know what it means o Often contrasted with attractiveness - Energy or liveliness  extraverted o Person has "personality" or " a lot of personality" - Personality is defined in "two types" of people The scientific study of personality - We do not think that personality has a global quality but rather that it is more complex and has many components - Categories are more nuanced than just saying its two mutually exclusive categories - There are personality tests out there that are better validated empirically to assess peoples personality Personality Defined  An organized and relatively enduring set of psychological traits and mechanisms that influences a person’s interactions with, and adaptations to, the environment. - Organized: you have traits and mechanisms that are not just a collection of things but they work together as one unit - Relatively enduring: over time and over situations a person will exhibit these qualities o If things change over time/ situations then this is not key part of their personality - Traits and mechanisms: fun, outgoing, clever etc; the way the person interacts with the environment, how particular impact on the person to create a particular effect - Interactions with and adaptations to environment: only evident when they are interacting or adapting with something in the environment (person, task, situation etc)  when the environment makes a demand from them; their personality is how they makes changes to them or how they deal with the situation/ pressures the environment is putting on them Main Issues of Interest What is basic nature of people? - Addresses things that are common to all people – the need to belong, need for affiliation - But personality psychologists are interested in understanding where that comes from, where it is rooted, how it varies between people, how it effects how they behave and interact with the environment, and how they adapt to the load that the environment puts on them Is human behaviour internally or externally determined? - Are the things driving the behaviour internal, something to do with their life, is it due to unconcious mind, the way the person thinks, or in some cases is it due to the situation – think social psych, how the situation has a strong impact on human behaviours regardless of what the person's personality is like or what their internal influences are like - Interested in internal, external and how the two interact to create certain types of behaviours How consistent is personality? - Under what conditions would their behaviour be inconsistent with their personality, are there traits/mechanisms that invariant of the situations, under what particular situations can pervasive personality be changed, consistency over situation and over time, over development which traits will change and which will stay the same Do we have control over internal states and behaviour? - Can we control them, to what extent can we control, is it effected by age or gender Is present and future behaviour determined by past behavior? - Predictive power of past behaviours, how can past predict present or future behaviours and to what extent, everyone likes stability when dealing with other people so important in HR, How adaptive (positive) are certain aspects of personality? - Resilience, courage, how do these help us to adapt to environmental challenges/ overcoming difficulties or help other to overcome, can these be taught or fostered, does it come with age How do our personalities help us to adjust to the environment? - What ways do we adapt personality, what ways do our personality traits help us to make the changes we need to make in order to deal with the situations that present themselves (not just challenging but even the positive) – e.g. her sister who was fun challenged is now having fun because she recognised that and made a plan and changed her personality Areas of Interest and Research Originally, psychologists sought to understand the whole of personality (see “grand theories of personality”) - These theories would explain everything about a person's personality (freud) his theories about personality, psychopathology, normal functioning, - all bound together into one huge theory, - One large overarching system to explain all aspects of human functioning o Not done that way now – modern work in personality is done in sub areas Modern work usually within one of a number of sub-areas or domains “Building Blocks” of Personality 1. Trait / Dispositional  Primarily looks at the ways in which individuals differ  A person's typical way of thinking, feeling, and acting in various situations  Can be born with them but mostly they are developed through socialization and personal experinces  These traits are consistent across our lives  Focus on number and nature of fundamental traits  very important and there are a certain number – she will discuss in another lec  Goals: - Identify and measure most important ways individuals differ  Psychometrics – develop tests to measure something/traits - Origin and development of individual differences  Early experience, inate personality traits, learned in childhood, developed in adulthood  And how these things change over life - Interaction btw trait and situations  Not everyone is the same across all situations  Interested in what impact certain situation has on particular traits; or how trait impacts a given situation 2. Biological Domain - Physical elements and biological systems that influence or are influenced by behaviours, thoughts, feelings  Behavioral genetics of personality - Genetics, vs . environment - There is nothing behavioural that is 100% genetic; so they are interested in what proportion is genetic and what proportion is environmental - To what extent are the personality traits genetic based or environmental based  Intelligence – is this genetic or environment - Allows us
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