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Lecture 02 - PSYB30.docx

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Connie Boudens

Lecture 02 PSYB30 May 13, 2013 Trait Approach - Trait = a consistent pattern of behavior, emotion, and thought o Stability over time and situations o Distinctiveness between people - Personality = sums all traits - Trait theory provide descriptions that must be explained by other theories - Theorists try to establish: o Framework within which any and all persons can be described o Taxonomy of traits Approaches to discovering traits - Lexical approach - Statistical (Empirical) approach - Theoretical approach Common traits and trait continua - Common traits are traits shared by all - Behaviors 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) Common traits and nomothetic approach - Ordering people along these dimensions is nomothetic approach used in most trait theories - Compares people along the same personality dimensions o I.e. comparing Canadians and Americans on the trait of risk-aversion - Contrast with idiographic approach o In-depth study of individuals Key ideas - Gordon Allport - Advocated idiographic approach o Believed there are common traits - Uniqueness = Combination of traits - Use of diaries, interviews, behavioral observations, q-sort (index cards with different trait words written on them, and having someone sort the cards to what is similar to themselves) etc. to assess personality o Qualitative data Traits - Internal structures that render many stimuli functionally equivalent and yield similar adaptive and expressive behaviors o I.e. shy person might see all social situations as threatening and react with anxiety o I.e. person who is very helpful might see many situations as opportunities to help others - Traits expressed what a person generally does across many situations - Inconsistency does not mean that traits doesn’t exist – situations also influence whether, where, and how traits are expressed o I.e. Lack of sociability at a funeral - Three types of traits… o Cardinal  Single characteristic that directs most of a person’s activities  I.e. Superman and fighting crime  Few people have them o Central  Major characteristics of an individual  Usually 5-10  People tend to describe others at this level where there is balance between trait generality and behavioral specificity  I.e. Extraverted vs. sociable vs. talks a lot o Secondary  Characteristics that affect behavior in fewer situations and are less influential  More easily modified than central traits  I.e. preference for dark chocolate or dislike of rap music Raymond Cattell - Empirical approach to trait theory - Reduction of 4,500 trait words (left by Allport) to 16 most basic personality dimensions o Removed synonyms o Collected ratings on remaining traits o Used factor analysis to reduce Major divisions of traits - Constitutional (biological) vs. environment-mold (learned) - Ability vs. temperate vs. dynamic - Surface vs. source vs. second-order Ability vs. temperament vs. dynamic t
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