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PSY230H1 (115)


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University of Toronto St. George
Maja Djikic

3/3/12 1 The Trait Approach •  Pg 262- 298 2 • Every man is in certain respects (a) like all other men (b) like some other man (c) like no other man -were all similar in certain ways and diff in certain ways Kluckhohn & Murray (1961, p.53) 3 Trait Approach • Trait • … a dimension of personality used to categorize people according to the degree to which they manifest a particular characteristic. • …a stable way of relating to oneself and others 4 Trait Approach •  Sometimes describes the psychological differences between individuals in terms of special dimensions invented by psychologists •  More often, the trait approach is based on ordinary language •  Ex. How friendly, how nervous etc 5 Trait Approach •  1. Based on empirical research, mostly correlational in nature • Can it be used to predict behavior? •  2. It focuses exclusively on individual differences • No zero point, absolute sense of a trait • Only relative (more or less nervous, etc.) • Always relative to a diff score 6 The Problem of Inconsistency • People are different across situations • (diff qualities in diff situations.. ) • Is personality assessment a waste of time? • Perhaps there is no such thing as a personality, and we change from one situation to another? • Perhaps the presence of individual differences is an individual difference itself? 7 The Person-Situation Debate 1 8 3/3/12 individual difference itself? 7 The Person-Situation Debate • What is more important for determining what people do - person or situation? • (which has greater effect) 8 The Person-Situation Debate •  Two main questions: • Does personality entirely depends on situation? • Are our ordinary intuitions about people fundamentally flawed? 9 Walter Mischel (1968): Personality and Assessment • He argued that behavior is too inconsistent from one situation to the next to allow individual differences to be characterized accurately in terms of broad personality traits. 10 Walter Mischel (1968): Personality and Assessment His argument is tri-partite 1. (a) A thorough review of the personality research literature reveals that there is a limit to how well one can predict what a person will do based upon any measurement of any aspect of that person’s personality; and (b) this upper limit is a small upper limit 11 Walter Mischel (1968): Personality and Assessment 2.  Therefore, situations are more important than personality traits in determining behavior. 3.  Not only is the professional practice of personality assessment a waste of time, but our everyday intuitions about people are fundamentally flawed. (no such thing as personality- we see them n a situation) 12 Walter Mischel (1968): Personality and Assessment •  Predictability •  Mischel argued that correlations between personality and behavior, or between behavior in one situation and behavior in another, seldom exceed .30. •  Nisbett (1980) later revised that estimate upward to .40 •  Many psychologists took this to mean that personality did not exist. (barely exists) 13 Personality researchers fight back •  Response •  .40 limit unfair (biased literature review) 2 3/3/12 13 •  Response •  .40 limit unfair (biased literature review) •  Granting .40 limit, but this a result of poor research methodology •  Research outside of the laboratory •  Moderator variables o  Some people may be more consistent than others (ex. High vs. low self-monitors) o  Some behaviors may be more or less consistent •  Focusing on behavioral trends, instead of actions at particular moments. (can predict behavioral trends) •  Finally, .40 is not small •  Prediction accurate 70% of the time (even if little, can still make reasonable predictions) 14 Can ‘Situationists’ Do Better? •  How does one evaluate the degree to which behavior is affected by a situational variable. •  Common procedure – subtraction? •  (cant predict everything to a situation) •  What can ‘missing’ variable be attributed to? •  Vast literature on social psychology has demonstrated an effect of a situational variable on behavior •  How large are the effects? 15 Can ‘Situationists’ Do Better? •  Festinger and Carlsmith (cognitive dissonance) (1959) .36 (pretend its not boring if make money?) •  Darley & Batson (bystander intervention) (1968) -.38, -.39 •  Milgram (obedience) (1975) .42, .36 16 Conclusions •  Neither personality nor situational variables have effect on behavior… or •  Both do. 17 Conclusions •  Traits •  Situations •  Anything else? Choice! 18 Traits Approach • Traits approach is different from other approaches in that • Does not concern itself with predicting behavior of any 3 17 3/3/12 18 • Traits approach is different from other approaches in that • Does not concern itself with predicting behavior of any single individual It cares about averages • Compared to other approaches, less emphasis on mechanisms underlying behavior- don't care why- categorized and then acted upon (trait psychologists), theres no mechanism behind why you act that why o Which at times leads to circular reasoning- ex. Aggressive behavior bc have aggressive trait, and since you have aggressive trait, you act aggressively • This approach does not have much to say about personality change o Concern with people extreme on certain traits 19 Gordon Allport 20 Gordon Allport- studied traits • Grew up near Cleveland, Ohio • Son of a country doctor – practical but humanitarian home life • Wrote little on his childhood- wasn't interested in it.. • Spent much of his time alone • Went to Harvard – thesis: An experimental study of the traits of personality” – the first American study of personality traits. • Met Freud, but was not impressed • Wanted alternative theory of motivation (that didn’t include necessarily the dark side). • Played catch-up with the older brother • Met freud. Told him story about boy who saw homeless man and he kept moving away from the homeless man... Freud asked if he was the little boy • It came to be freud was like the dirty man and allport was the little boy who moved away 21 Gordon Allport • Personality • Dynamic organization within the individual of those psychophysical systems (traits are part of brain) that determine his characteristic behavior and thought • A ‘real’ entity • Trait • Neuropsychic structure 4 22 21 3/3/12 • Trait • Neuropsychic structure • Traits as real structures, rather than labels to describe or classify behavior. • A determining tendency or predisposition to respond to the world in certain ways 22 Gordon Allport • Common trait • A hypothetical construct that permits us to compare individuals within a given culture • traits that belong to all of us- all of us share these traits • Personal disposition • A general determining characteristic which is unique to the individual who has it • You can’t compare across different individuals’ personal dispositions because they are uniquely different 23 Gordon Allport •  If a personal predisposition is so pervasive that almost every behavior appears influenced by it, it’s called a cardinal disposition •  Ex. Mother theresa had characteristic/ trait to do kindness •  Ex. Napolean had cardinal disposition for power 24 Gordon Allport •  Central dispositions – highly characteristic of individuals (5-10) •  Secondary dispositions - more specific, situational tendencies 25 Gordon Allport • Proprium (self) • Central experiences of self awareness that people have as they grow and move forward • Defined in terms of functions (what it does) rather than what it is • Knowing one’s body and its limits • Awareness of inner sameness and continuity • Pride in the ability to do things • Sense of possession and valuing of others • Sense of self as active problem-solving agent • Development of long-term purposes and goals 26 5 3/3/12 • Development of long-term purposes and goals 26 Gordon Allport • Functional Autonomy (of behavior) • The adult motivation is not necessarily tied to the past • 2 types • Persevative functional autonomy (no relation to proprium) - you do thing again and again, but its diff from the past • Propriate functional autonomy (acquired interests, values, attitudes, etc.) ex. You win lottery, but keep working bc of intrinsic value • Not all behaviors are functionally autonomous • Drives, reflexes, primary reinforcements, fixations, etc. 27 Gordon Allport •  6 Criteria of Maturity • Extension of sense of self - start caring for others as you would care for others • Warm relating to self and others • Emotional security (self-acceptance) • Realistic perception, skills, and assignments • Self-objectification (insight and humor without having too much attachment) • Unifying philosophy of life 28 Gordon Allport •  Nomothetic approach • All people can be described along a single dimension • Traits applying to everyone – ‘common traits’ • Studying large groups of individuals to infer traits. • Less expensive-- not really getting to know a person •  Idiographic approach • Identifying a unique combination of traits that best accounts for an individual’s personality – ‘personal dispositions’ • Difficult, time consuming – the study of diaries, autobiographies, letters 29 Henry Murray 30 Henry Murray • Born in New York in well to do family • No Freudian themes 6 31 29 3/3/12 30 • No Freudian themes • Some Adlerian themes- had siblings, felt a little superior • Medical school, biology, biochemistry • After visiting Jung in Zurich, he came back a “reborn man” • From then on, entirely devoted himself to the study of personality. 31 Henry Murray • Blend of psychoanalytic and trait approach • Did not believe personality refers to any real physical substance • Basic unit of individual human lives – proceeding (internal or external), which in succession constitutes a serial. Ex. Proceeding is coming for this lec, serial is that you come every week • A planned series of proceedings is a serial program. 32 Henry Murray • Personology – a study of individual “human lives and the factors that influence their course” • Need – a force in the brain that organizes our perception , understanding, and behavior in such a way as to change an unsatisfying situation and increase our satisfaction 33 Henry Murray • Viscerogenic vs. psychogenic needs • Psychogenic needs … • Dominance, Deference, Abasement, Achievement, Affiliation, Aggression, Autonomy, Sex, Sentience, Exhibition, Play, Rejection, Succorance, Nurturance, Infavoidance, Defendence, Counteraction, Harm avoidance, Order, Understanding (dont have to know list) • Hierarchy of needs 34 Henry Murray • Press • Forces from objects or persons within the environment that help or hinder individuals from reaching goals • Environmental factors 7 35 34 3/3/12 • Environmental factors • Alpha press (actual properties of environment) • Beta press (individual’s subjective perception of the environment) you thinking your parents were x • The beta presses are determinants of behavior 35 Henry Murray • (Co)author of TAT test • A selection of ambiguous pictures • Individuals asked to make up stories for the pictures, telling • What led up to the event? • What is happening? • What the characters are thinking and feeling? • How it will turn out? 36 Thematic Apperception Test 37 Thematic Apperception Test 38 Thematic Apperception Test Its not what you think of every individual pic, but what you think of hte pattern.. 39 Thematic Apperception Test 40 Henry Murray • Projective test • (Imaginative projection) • Individuals project their own attitudes and feelings onto the characters • Project your opinions onto something thats ambiguous 41 BREAK 42 The Lexical Hypothesis • Assumption • Those individual differences that are most salient and socially relevant in people’s lives will eventually become encoded into their language; the more important such a difference, the more likely it is to become expressed as a single word. 43 The Lexical Hypothesis • Limitations 1.  The criteria of importance that have shaped the personality 8 3/3/12 43 1.  The criteria of importance
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