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PSY210H1 Lecture Notes - Agreeableness, Factor Analysis, Correlation And Dependence

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-1Lecture #13
Personality (part I)
ŸPersonality is the basis of various psychologies, many ways of defining what personality is
ŸCharacteristic pattern of thinking, feeling and behaviour that distinguish one individual from another
ŸOne of the key concepts of personality theories, and oldest concepts is the idea of a trait, most widely
researched and theorized
ŸTwo definitions of trait, in one sense it is an attribute that describes a person or anything, another way
in which researches use the word which is more subtle, refers to the dimension or continuum relating
to the extent to which you have a particular attribute (intelligent, people can be described either more
or less intelligent)
ŸDimension that describes and dimensionalizes that trait
ŸField of personality was found in 1937, publication of the first text book on personality b y Gordon
Allport, founder and father of the fiend
ŸHe had a very specific definition of personality, represents the dynamic organization within the
individual of those psychophysical systems that determine his/her unique adjustments to the
ŸFive important ideas conveyed in this definition, the first idea is the concept of dynamic organization,
connotation of coherences, all the attributes within a person cohere and hang together, unified whole
ŸThe second is with reference to the phrase within the individual, all of our theories are hypothetical,
but Allport believed personality IS real and isn’t just a hypothetical concept, its real in so far that its
substantiated in the brain and neural system (psychophysical systems) it has a biological basis,
physical and chemical processes of the brain
ŸIn reference to the word determined, personality causes things, causality, it has explanatory value,
when you ask why someone does something, you can explain it in reference to their personality, what
makes us how we are causes us to do the things we do
ŸThe fifth quality is the unique adjustments to the environment, personality helps regulate how we adapt
to the environment, it helps us behave properly, adjustment quality that is part of personality
Ÿ25 years later he published the first text book and had a revised definition altering the last phrase, the
revision was intended to address that he found a mistake, he came to realize in the subsequent years
that personality is more than reacting and adapting to our environment, but we reflect upon it, were
also capable of growth and show development, so he introduced a broader definition
ŸAllport thought the corner stone, the piece that completes the puzzle is the concept of a trait, most
important personality variable,
Ÿa functional equivalence=trait, a trait attribute makes the person look at the world and see different
situations in the same way (e.g to an extrovert, a business conference and a party are both different
events, but to the extrovert its an opportunity to get attention and recognition)
ŸIt guides the way we look at situations for what they afford us, even thought the superficial features are
different, for a person, it displays the same opportunities (functionally the same)
ŸAllport had all different notions for traits, many different forms, common traits and individual traits
ŸSome traits that lots of people have=common traits (idea of extroversion, consciousness)
ŸAllport also recognized that some instances that one person has, and no one else has, which are
individual traits or personal dispositions, help render you entirely unique
ŸAllport made another distinction between cardinal, central and secondary traits
ŸSecondary trait for Allport is the most useless of trait ideas, attribute that explains very specific areas
of a persons functioning, e.g. punctuality, being punctual describes a very limited scope of limitations
ŸCentral traits are attributes that explain significant areas of functioning, e.g. consciousness, how you go
about your daily life in work, level of responsibility, how you behave in a range of situations, approx.
5-10 central traits
ŸAllport also reserved the right to say that some traits are so consuming, that virtually every aspect of
the persons behaviour that every aspect of a persons behaviour can be attributed to it, called cardinal
trait, so encompassing explains everything a person does, most of us don’t have cardinal traits, but
when we look through history, we can see who did, Mother Teresa and her compassion, everything she
did can be related to her compassion for the world and to help
ŸHow are we going to develop taxonomy, and way of talking about trait differences, idea Allport had
was to look at the natural language, ways in which everyday people talk about other people, how were
alike and how were different known as the lexical hypothesis, those trait differences that are most
socially obvious will eventually become encoded into their daily language
ŸThe more important the difference is, the more likely we are going to come up with as a single word
ŸIts not just a cases that there will be one word in the language, but it will be a single word to
characterize the word (e.g. dominance)
ŸAll port’s idea was to turn to the language and look at the natural way people talk to see if traits exist,
so he and his assistant sat down with the dictionary and went through it word by word trying to find
those terms that had a capacity to distinguish a persons trait (one behaviour differs from another)
ŸThey found approx 18 thousand that met this criteria, then they slotted them into categories, about
4500 described stable differences between people (e.g. introverted, social able, aggressive)
Ÿ4500 other words were more like states, people behave in specific moments (afraid, elated, angry),
momentary states rather than enduring traits
ŸAnd different terms that referred more to reputation, emotion quality (excellent, worthy, irritating)
Ÿ3700 miscellaneous terms that didn’t fall into that category (lean, red-headed, gifted)
ŸHad about 4500 perspective trait terms, and he thought this is not a nice neat organized system, more
reduction, and he thought it would take a lifetime, and it did
ŸThey figured it out through factor analysis, ways in which they found natural trait categories were
asking people to rate attributes and use factoring analysis to find underlying traits
ŸTo see if two variables are the same, you use the correlation of the two words (dominance and
forcefulness, extent to which they are related to each other)
ŸIf there are three variables, more complicated, the more variables the more complicated
ŸStatistical tool of factor analysis is a way in which we look at a large number of traits and ratings of
attributes and we look at the way they cluster together to see underlying correlations
ŸA,b,c are all correlated, but d and e aren’t (correlation matrix in slide)
ŸRaymond Catell also did work on intelligence, examined the few traits that existed, primarily
interested in the common traits Allport had discussed
ŸThe common traits were broken down into two categories, surface and source traits
ŸSurface traits are the things we actually measure, how dominant you ar, how friendly you are, etc.
ŸUnderneath that he thought there was an underlying dimension called the source trait, called surgancy
or extroversion, which manifests itself in the surface in things like confidence, happiness, etc.
ŸPeople rate themselves on certain traits and by factor analysis, you can find the underlying source traits
for those surface attributes
ŸCatell dedicated his lifetime and took the 4500 terms, and took out the synonyms and made clusters,
from 4500 words to 171 basic clusters of terms
ŸThen he came up with a name for each of those clusters and asked participants to describe someone
they know using the 171 words
ŸAnd he factor analyzed them to find underlying source and reduced 171 terms to 35 terms
ŸAnd repeated the process again and reduced 35 to 12, and added 4 that he felt was important as basic
ŸBut he was wrong, he made mistakes, because he was doing these correlation matrices by hand, and we
know now by re-analyzing that there are about 5 traits, neuroticism (affect), extraversion (power),
agreeableness (love), conscientiousness (work) and openness to experience (ideas)
Ÿ5 basic dimensions to which all people differ, all European languages and other languages that show
these 5 basic dimensions, not only English
ŸYou can measure and assess these dimensions in less than 15 minutes, and what you can tell about
others relative to these attributes can result to extraordinary predictions