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Lecture 2

PSYB30 Lecture 2 Trait Approach Part 1 Notes.doc

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Connie Boudens

Trait Approach: Part I PSYB30 Lec 2 Trait = a consistent pattern of behaviour, emotion, and thought, way of relating to environment • stability over time and situations distinctiveness between people • Personality = sum of all traits Trait theories provide descriptions that must be explained by other theories • but they don't explain how someone came to be that way like developmental aspect or underlying subconscious factors Theorists try to establish: • framework within which all and any people an be described • taxonomy of traits ( system of classification ) IE the big 5 personality traits Approaches to discovering/identifying traits: Lexical approach takes words as a starting point that describe personality traits, figure out most common, capture the variability b/w people , get it down to a manageable number of words that describe traits Statistical (Empirical) approach collected from data as a starting point to figure of key personality traits for example Theoretical approach starts with theory in order to build from Common Traits and Trait Continua: • Common traits = traits shared by all (to some degree) • Behaviours can be represented on trait continuum - each person can be placed somewhere on the continuum • Scores assumed to be normal distributed , fewer people score in the extreme on any trait • Ordering people along these dimensions is nomothetic approach used in most trait theories • Compares people along the same personality dimensions, comparing within the bell curve/ continuum • Ex. comparing canadians and americans on the trait of risk aversion • Contrast with idiographic approach, close look at individual people to see how the diff impact, developmental historyeract and situations/environments where traits come out and • In-depth study of individuals, like a case study GordonAllport Key Ideas • advocated the Idiographic approach • Uniqueness = Combination of traits • personalityies, interviews, behavioural observations, q-sort etc. to assess Traits • Internal structures that render many stimuli functionally equivalent and yield similar adaptive and expressive behaviours. (internal trait that made external stimuli seem the same to that person) • Ex. shy person might see all social situations as threatening and react with anxiety • Ex. person who is helpful might see many situations as opportunities to help others • Traits express what a person generally does across different situations • Inconsistency does not mean that traits doesn’t exist - situations also have influence whether, where, and how traits expressed • Ex. lack of sociability at a funeral Three types of traits… • Cardinal: is a single characteristic that directs most of a persons activities, few people have them • Ex. Mother Theresa, Superman • Central: major characteristics of an individual, usually 5-10 central traits, people tend to describe other at this level where there is balance b/w trait generality and behavioural specificity • Ex. extraverted vs. sociable vs. talks a lot • Secondary: effects behaviour in fewer situations and are less influential, easier to change • Ex. preference for dark chocolate or dislike of rap music Raymond Cattell • Empirical approach to trait theory, but he tarted off with some lexical work thatAllport had done • Reduction of 4,500 trait words (left byAllport) to 16 most basic personality dimensions • removed synonyms • collected ratings on remaining traits by testing people on them • used factor analysis to reduce the number of traits • Major Divisions of Traits • Constitutional (biological) vs. environment-mold (learned) • Ability vs. temperament vs. dynamic • Surface vs. source vs. second-order Ability vs. temperament vs. dynamic traits Ability • Skill in dealing with complexity • = intelligence e • effectivelyity to think and reason, not learned (born with), use. mind • Crystallized- learned, stuff that you know ( how to write, read, declarative memory) Temperament • General traits that appear present early in dev
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