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2 - Trait Approach Part 1 Lecture Outline.docx

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Connie Boudens

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:  framework  taxonomy Approaches to discovering traits Lexical Statistical (Empirical) Theoretical 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 andAmericans 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 GordonAllport 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. Traits • Internal structures that render many stimuli functionally equivalent and yield similar adaptive and expressive behaviours. • 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 anxiety • 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 • 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 byAllport) 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 thatAllport 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 • Motivations • Ambition, competitiveness, etc. • Th
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