Lecture 6 – Social vs. Personality Psychology October 28, 2011
(Individual differences vs. environmental differences)
Adding 3 percent on our Midterm marks
o Keep this in mind throughout the lecture
o Who’s the person in charge – and what is their intention (ulterior
What makes psychologists credible (big question)
o Depends on their audience!
o Among participants?
Bringing people to lab and getting data, that is honest etc …
o Among the public?
First half of course
Often certain type of credibility is fostered in academic
community or the public – one might be valued over the other
(Psychoanalysis – more public credibility)
o Among other academics/intellectuals?
What are fellow psychologists looking for, that they are
credible and know what they are talking about (talked about
this the first half of course)
Essay question – psychology as a science, and credible
institutions – with credible scientists in the institution
o Credibility particularly important – diagram
Rectangles at end actual things that are measured (tests
administered; concrete measures)
Circles constructs (hypothetical, theoretical things)
Some fundamental construct the rectangles are tapping
Drawing the link between what you are doing (practical,
methodological level), but what you end up talking
about (publish, make statement that makes it credible)
and credibility is the way you present this
o (People’s level of discrimination or)
Want to talk about constructs, but can’t measure
… where credibility is essential
Talking about invisible concepts – and have to draw
invisible lines – boundaries
Speak a language that others will understand – and
psychologists have the right to talk this language
Can people change?
o Giving people a second change fundamentally, if you’ve done this
than you probably believe that people can change
o Or are people of a certain type? Changing behaviour/society and
Why do people behave as they do?
o Fundamental attrbitution error
Social circumstances – our own behaviours attributed this way
Some one else – attribute their behaviour to their personality
In law, for instance (can political orientation change?)
o General social orientation – can change be imposed? Or is regulation
the best option?
o General perspective – trust and free will
Can people act consistently vs. frivolously?
Knowing how to know those around us these questions are
huge – so how do we credibly speak to these questions … can
this be done with science?
Word Associations: Psychology …
o Tests – associated with its tools, or tests
[Trait Theory – strongly grounded in testing and statistics]
o Trait theory – differences between people – are stable (have them
when we were born), predictive
o People are a certain way – specifiable and measurable traits
Watson – overt behaviour still important here
Root of behaviour – that is specified down to a measure
All those fundamental questions – science of mind – can be
narrowed down to these tools of measurement
o How do we build credibility into the theory?
How do we know whether these traits exist? And how? TESTS!
[Before Trait theory]
Four Humours – Attributed to Hippocrates and Galen
o A person’s personality is one of these four:
Sanguine – blood
Melancholic – black bile
Choleric – yellow bile
Feeble-mindedness and Criminality
o The way criminals were treated in the prison system – by
o Skulls of psychopathic criminals – to measure feeblemindedness (like
the Kallikak family) more evidence in favour of this approach
Smaller brains, or misshapen skulls, that led their mind to be
different that ours
Open the skull out, squeeze as much with dried peas/rice (or
other) and then empty out in a jar to see how big the skull is
Can be done intentionally or unintentionally (to be bias
in one way or another)
Interesting they didn’t use something more reliable, like
water, because it could fill up all the crevices properly
Method that has flaws – potentially a method that was
designed to fail – perhaps the scientists were motivated
to find a particular conclusion and henceforth acted in
Measurable, biological factor – skull size
o Measuring people’s brains – especially immigrants
o People would often know each other through stereotypes – national
o Psychologists study: what it was that defined the national psychology
of the French person – characterizing entire groups of people
o Derogatory characterization of English man – of what the French
thought of the English national character
o How about research today?
Independent and interdependent culture psychology
West – collectivistic? Or East – individualistic?
And more so on regional character
Testing – useful vs. accurate
o When we use measures that assume the above case (individual vs.
collectivistic), than we assume its real
o And we end up talking about something that really isn’t’ want it is
o Useful: produce statistical results – produce valid differences between
groups; basic validity is there; numbers work the way they are
o Accurate: over the course of time, could change (accurate today may
not be accurate 10 years ago)
Test might produce differences and might be useful, but is it
measuring what we say its measuring?
This is the more important question to answer
o These are naturally appealing – have the appearance of complete
objectivity AND fits the scientific method
o But sometimes tests were grounded in INTUITION
o What to test, and what to ask = conundrum
o Face validity –
Difference ways to measure the same things