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University of Toronto St. George
Steve Jordens

CHAPTER 14: TRAIT THEORIES OF PERSONALITY -personality - pattern of behaviour/thinking that prevails across time/situations; differentiates people from each other -research on personality requires 2 kinds of effort: 1) identifying personality characteristics; 2) determining the variables that produce/control them -must avoid nominal fallacy – false belief that the causes of an event are explained by simply naming/identifying them -naming/describing a personality trait isn’t the same as explaining it TRAIT THEORIES OF PERSONALITY PERSONALITY TYPES & TRAITS (personality traits = PT) -Hippocrates (Greek physician, 4 century BCE) & Galen (2 century CE) agreed with the FALSE humoral theory (HT): -body contains 4 humours/fluids: 1) yellow bile in excess – choleric (violent/aggressive) 2) black bile in excess – melancholic (gloomy/pessimistic) 3) phlegm in excess – phlegmatic (sluggish/relaxed/dull/unexcitable) 4) blood in excess – sanguine (outgoing/passionate/fun-loving) *C&M = Unstable; M&P = Introverted; P&S = Stable; S&C = Extroverted -HT was wrong, but the notion of personality types persisted – diff categories into which PT can be assigned based on factors such as developmental experiences of physical characteristics) -rather than focusing on types, we prefer to measure the degree to which an individual expresses a particular personality trait (PT) - enduring personal characteristic that reveals itself in a particular pattern of behaviour in a variety of situations -PTs are biological but can be changes through learning… thus, those changes must have a neurological basis IDENTIFICATION OF PERSONALITY TRAITS -different trait categorization models are as follows: ALLPORT’S SEARCH FOR TRAITS -Gordon Allport (1987-1967) searched for a basic core of PT) -identified all ~18,000 words in dictionary that described aspects of personality -identified words that described only stable PTs; not temp states (ex. flustered) or evaluations (ex. admirable) -people with a particular PT react similarly across situations -not all PTs have equal influence on their possessors: -cardinal traits (CT) – strong unifying influence on a person’s behaviour; most powerful PTs & are rare -people with these stand out (Hitler’s exercise of oppressive power, Mandela’s commitment to justice) -central traits – less singular in their influence than CTs, but capture important traits of an individual -ex. we say that someone is honest & warm to distinguish them from others -secondary traits – traits that have minor influence on consistency of behaviour -ex. someone’s tendency to frequently change jobs -only when we know how to describe an individual’s personality will we be able to explain it CATTELL: SIXTEEN PERSONALITY FACTORS -cut Allport’s 18,000 trait words to 171 adjectives that made up a set of surface traits – refer to observable behaviours -used factor analysis to identify 16 personality factors (aka source traits - cornerstones on which personality’s built) EYSENCK: 3 FACTORS -Hans Eysenck (1916-1997) using factor analysis he identified 3 important factors (which are bipolar dimensions): 1) extroversion – seek company of others; spontaneity/take risks; like socializing -opposite of introversion – avoid company of others; shy; careful/cautious 2) neuroticism – anxious; worried; full of guilt; moody & unstable -opposite of emotional stability – relaxed; at peace with oneself; even-tempered 3) psychoticism – anti-social tendencies; aggressive; egocentric… (NOT referring to a mental illness) -opposite of self-control – kind/considerate; obedient of laws/rules -factor loadings… if preceded by a (-) sign, it means the people who say “no” receive high scores on the trait If preceded by a (+) sign, it means the people who say “yes” receive high scores on the trait -Eysenck emphasizes the biological nature of personality (i.e. the functioning of a neural system produces diff levels of arousal of the cerebral cortex) -ex. introverts have high levels of cortical excitation & extroverts have low levels -to maintain optimum arousal levels, extroverts need more external stimuli than does the introvert THE 5-FACTOR MODEL (McCrae & Costa) -five-factor model - developed using factor analyses of ratings of the words people use to describe PTs -states that personality is composed of 5 primary dimensions: 1) openness… 2) conscientiousness… 3) extroversion… 4) agreeableness… 5) neuroticism -NEO-PI-R (Neuroticism, Extraversion, & Openness Personality Inventory) – measures elements in 5-factor model -consists of 240 items that can potentially be used to describe the person being evaluated -the test items are brief sentences (ex. “I really like most people I meet”) and the person completing the test rates the accuracy of each item on a scale of 1-5 (strongly disagree/agree) -the sums of the answers to diff sets of items represent scores on each of the 5 factors -predicts other aspects related to personality (how they’d react to situations & job performance) -when people describe someone known to them, they generally use traits from the 5-factor model -however, agreeableness/conscientiousness aren’t as widely “understood/similar” amongst different cultures -there is a strong degree of heritability for these 5 factors -*Jackson argues for a 6-factor model where conscientiousness is split into methodicalness (planfulness & a need for orderliness) and industriousness (perseverance & achievement orientation) THE DARK TRIAD -a special cluster of traits may underlie socially offensive personalities -dark triad – overlapping negative traits of machiavellianism, psychopathy & narcissism; distinct from the 5-factors 1) machiavellianism – skill at manipulating others socially 2) psychopathy – lack of empathy for others & a high degree of impulsivity 3) narcissism – grandiosity & feelings of superiority TRAITS ACROSS CULTURES -in the study of personality, problems in demonstrating universality lie in taxonomy -ex. Do the same words mean the same things across cultures? -referring to the geography of PTs, the culture’s temperature/distance from equator wasn’t related to personality, but cultures that were geographically close appeared to share similar PTs -may be due to shared gene pools or to features of those cultures -acculturation (assimilation of a person’s behaviour with their culture) -some PTs may be adopted/enhanced by acculturation (open/agreeable), but some may not (introvert) *US/Australia (individualistic culture) vs. Mexico/Philippines (collectivistic cultures) -trait beliefs (traits rather than situations are determinants of behaviour) were stronger among US/Australians -contextual beliefs were stronger among Mexicans/Filipinos PSYCHOBIOLOGICAL APPROACHES HERITABILITY OF PERSONALITY TRAITS -Cattell/Eysenck – a person’s genetic history has a strong influence on their personality -MZ twins are more similar to each other than DZ twins on many personality measures; indicates heritability -correlation regarding the 5-factors for MZ twins were double than that for DZ twins -could’ve been because the family environment may have been more similar for MZ twins, or the family environments were the same in all cases but were perceived as different by the DZ twins -Zuckerman – for Eysenck’s factors (extroversion, neuroticism & psychoticism) -heritability is responsible for 50-70% of the variability in these 3 PTs -the remaining 30-50% of the variability is caused by differences in environment -but, studies measuring correlation in PTs of MZ twins raised together & apart found no differences -this means that differences in family environment seem to account for none of the variability of PTs -Toddler Behaviour Assessment Questionnaire – temperament can be measured with respect to 5 dimensions: -1) activity level, 2) pleasure, 3) social fearfulness, 4) anger proneness, and 5) interest/persistence -as children develop, their temperaments show some change -changed aspects are the result of environment factors; the stable aspects are controlled by genetics THEN & NOW: TWIN DIFFERENCES & THE GENOME -Human Genome Project (2003) – finished sequence describes ~99% of the code-bearing part of the human genome with an accuracy of 99.99% -a useful role of human genome knowledge may be to help us understand the non-genetic sources of personality -it’s been difficult, using statistical measures, to determine when the non-genetic components comes from -now, we can approach non-genetic differences in personality (i.e. in MZ twins) via epigenetics – describes mechanisms of cell inheritance that don’t involve modifications of the genetic code -2 people who begin life as identical twins can show epigenetic differences later in life -human genome tells us where to look for epigenetic modifications (ex. one modification can occur where guanine follows cytosine; this mod is a DNA methylation - makes genetic code less accessible to mechanisms that synthesize proteins, reducing the expression of the gene that contains it) BRAIN MECHANISMS IN PERSONALITY (Zuckerman) -the personality dimensions of extroversion/neuroticism/psychoticism are determined by the neural systems responsible for reinforcement, punishment & arousal Personality Trait Biological Characteristics Extroversion High sensitivity to reinforcement Neuroticism High sensitivity to punishment Psychoticism Low sensitivity to punishment (difficulty learning when not to do something) High optimum level of arousal BIOLOGICAL BASIS FOR SHYNESS (Kagan) -10-15% of kids between 2-3 become quiet/watchful/subdued when they encounter an unfamiliar situation -shyness may be related to a LOW level of extroversion & a HIGH level of neuroticism -shyness may be the excitability of neural circuits that control avoidance behaviours -shyness is an enduring trait (kids shy at 2-3 years were still shy at 7.5 years) -shy kids found new stimuli stressful… heart rate increased, more dilated pupils, urine had more norepinephrine, saliva had more cortisol (norepinephrine/cortisol - hormones secreted in times of stress) -secretion in fearful situations is controlled by amygdala (shy people show greater activity in the amygdala when they see unfamiliar faces) SUMMARY: -extroversion/neuroticism/psychoticism are affected strongly by genetics, but there’s little evidence of an effect of common family environment (largely because one’s environment is strongly affected by hereditary factors, such as personality & physical attributes) SOCIAL COGNITIVE APPROACHES -models that interpret personality as behaviour stem from B.F. Skinner’s experimental analysis of behaviour -believed that the consequences of behaviour were important causal factors -behaviour is consistent from one situation to the next if it’s maintained by similar consequences -social cognitive theory – idea that both the consequences of behaviour & an individual’s beliefs about those consequences determine personality -idea that personality is the result of observing & imitating the actions of others EXPECTANCIES & OBSERVATIONAL LEARNING (Albert Bandura) -his theory is based on observational learning (OL) – learning through observation of the kinds on consequences others (called models) experience as a result of their behaviour -we use OL when we learn to dance, write in cursive, learning to tie a shoelace -OL is more than imitation, and also depends on reinforcement -however, it is the model that is reinforced… reinforcement is indirectly experienced by the observer -expectancy – belief that a certain consequence will follow a certain action… has to do with how someone perceives the contingencies of reinforcement for their own behaviour -if they do something, it may be because they expect to be rewarded/punished RECIPROCAL DETERMINISM & SELF-EFFICACY (Albert Bandura) -reciprocal determinism – idea that behaviour, environment & person variables (cognitions/expectations) interact to determine personality -self-efficacy (SE) – people’s beliefs about how well or badly they will perform tasks -our degree of SE is an important determinant of whether we’ll attempt to make changes in our environment -SE determines no only whether we’ll engage in a particular behaviour, but aalso the extent to which we’ll maintain that behaviour in the face of adversity -if we are confident in our abilities (have a high SE), we’ll maintain our abilities in the face of adversity PERSON VARIABLES -extreme position – situationism – view that the behaviours defining a certain personality are determined solely by the current situation rather than by any persevering traits -Walter Mischel, like Bandura, believes that much of personality is learned through interaction with the environment -believes that people’s thoughts/behaviours undergo constant change as they interact with the environment -like Bandura, he stresses cognition in determining how one learns the link between behaviour & consequence -in addition, Mischel argues that [5] personal variables (individual diffs in cognition) account for diffs in personality 1) competencies – we all have diff skills/capacities… what we’ve learned affects how we’ll act now 2) encoding strategies and personal constructs – differ in ability to process info, thus we have diff perceptions 3) expectancies – we have formed expectancies that affect our behaviour 4) subjective values – degree that we value certain reinforcers over others; we seek outcomes we value most 5) self-regulatory systems & plans – self-punishment/-reinforcement; modify plans to target our goal best -Mischel said that some PTs may be important predictors of behaviour, but that some situations by their very nature severely constrain a person’s behaviour (red light), while others permit a wide variety of responses (amber light) *trait approach (behaviour based on PTs) vs. social cognitive approach (behaviour based on PTs and environment) -trait approach to personality – suggests that individual personalities are composed of broad disposition (ex. we describe a person by listing a number of traits… like outgoing, king, even-tempered); a trait can be thought of as a relatively stable characteristic that causes individuals to behaviour in certain ways -the trait approach is focused on differences between individuals -the combination/interaction of various traits forms a personality that’s unique to each individual -trait approach is focussed on identifying/measuring these individual personality characteristics -social cognitive theory – portions of one’s knowledge acquisition can be directly related to observing others within the context of social interactions, experiences & outside media influences -a learning theory; people learn by observing others, with the environment, behaviour & cognition all as the chief factors in influencing development -environment affects thinking, observations affect thinking, thinking can affect environment -there’s a fair amount of influence on development generated by learned behaviour displayed in the environment in which one grows up, but the individual person (and thus cognition) is just as important LOCUS OF CONTROL (Julian Rotter) -locus of control – one’s beliefs that the consequences of their actions are control by internal, person variables or by external, environmental variables -internal locus of control – rewards are dependent on your own behaviour; you create your own fate -external locus of control – life is controlled by external forces unaffected by your own behaviour -I-E scale – assess degree one perceives effects of their behaviour to be under control of internal/external variables -the scale contains 29 pairs of statements POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY -positive psychology – a psychological program that examines optimal human functioning -study the origins/processes/mechanisms that lead to psychological well-being/satisfaction/fulfilment -like humanistic psychology, positive psychology concerns the valued aspects of personality -to integrate knowledge of social & cognitive psych to explain valued aspects of life (happiness/satisfaction) -ex. Fincham looked at forgiveness as a factor in the quality of a marriage -a tendency to forgive was correlated with the quality of the marriage at the time SUMMARY: -social cognitive theory – blends reinforcement with expectancy to explain social interaction & personality -Bandura… 1) people learn relation between behaviour & consequence by observing how others’ behaviour is rewarded/punished, 2) believes that personality is the result of reciprocal determinism (interaction of behaviour, environment & person variables) -people with low self-efficacy tend not to try to alter their environments -Mischel argued that personality diffs are due largely to individual diffs in cognition -locus of control – extent to which people believe their behaviour is controlled by person or environmental variables THE PSYCHODYNAMIC APPROACH -before Freud’s theory, people believed that most behaviour was determined by rational/conscious processes -psychodynamic – used to describe the Freudian notion that the mind is in a state of conflict among instincts, reason & conscience THE DEVELOPMENT OF FREUD’S THEORY -Freud (1856-1939) – made detailed observations of patients and drew inferences about the structure of the mind -his work in the lab consisted mostly of anatomical observation rather than experimentation -catharsis – the release of energy; “uncorking” bottled up emotions -Freud: all human behaviour is motivated by instinctual drives which, when activated, supply “psychic energy” -this energy is aversive, because the CNS seeks a state of quiet equilibrium -if something prevents the psychic energy caused by activation of a drive from being discharged, psychological disturbances will result -believed that instinctual drives are triggered by events in a person’s life -many of these events & the reactions they cause will be mundane & part of the normal fabric of life -but traumatic events (TE) may seriously threaten the desired state of psychic equilibrium -during a TE, one may try to deny/hide their strong emotional reaction (ER) rather than express it -sometimes we must hide & not act on strong emotions (ex. strong anger could lead to murder) -emotions may be expressed neurotically if we hide our ERs & suppress psychic energy that fuels them -one will not be able to recall their extreme ERs because they’ll be embedded in the unconscious -unconscious – inaccessible part of the mind… -unconscious emotions still exert control over conscious thoughts/actions; the ways those emotions eventually find a degree of release help define our unique personalities -the mind actively prevents unconscious memories of TEs from reaching conscious awareness by repressing them STRUCTURES OF THE MIND: ID, EGO & SUPEREGO -psychological disturbances could stem from events that a person apparently could no longer consciously recall, although they could be revealed during hypnosis… thus, the mind consisted of 3 elements: 1) unconscious- mental events of which we are not aware 2) conscious – mental events of which we are aware 3) preconscious – mental events that may become conscious through effort -the mind was divided into 3 structures: 1) id – unconscious reservoir of libido (the psychic energy that fuels instincts & psychic processes) -it’s a source of unrestrained/uncivilized/ultimately harmful behaviour -libido – insistent/instinctual force unresponsive to demands of reality; primary source of motivation -pleasure principle – rule the id obeys… obtain immediate gratification, whatever form it may take -ex. if you’re hungry, id compels you to eat… if you’re angry, id compels you to strike 2) ego – the thinking/planning/protective self; controls/integrates behaviour… general manager of personality -mediator: compromises among pressures of id, counterpressures of superego & demands of reality -mediator function is performed via perception/cognition/memory -some functions of the ego are unconscious -reality principle – tendency to satisfy id’s demands realistically; involves compromising demands of id & superego (involves delaying gratification) 3) superego – repository of one’s moral values, divided into… a) conscience - internalization of a society’s rules; determines which behav
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