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Lecture 15

46-330 Lecture Notes - Lecture 15: Nomothetic, Gordon Allport, Depth Psychology

Course Code
PSYC 3300
Ken Cramer

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Trait/Biology Personality Psychology
Previous theories have used the word “type” to describe stable distinctions (one is a slob
or not a slob)
There are problems with typologies (even giraffes have highly specific dots): individuals
each fit in one type only, everyone in a given type is alike, people in one type is unlike
people in another type. In actuality, there are degrees of specific traits.
Traits drive behavior and make them consistent (Lions eat meat because they are wired
to). The trait theory suggests that people can change, but they typically do not.
Most traits operate in accordance to normal distribution frequency charts.
Advantages of the trait model
- Less concerned with the single individual. More concerned with pockets of people
(group that scores high on loneliness)
- Less emphasis on mechanisms that underlie behavior. More emphasis on genetics.
- Comparisons are made across people
- The key contribution is questionnaires, which provide numerical data
Comparing trait and psychoanalytical approaches:
- Psychoanalytic approach says one must be analyzed by a therapist who has been
analyzed. Uses a projective test. Source of behaviour is irrational, instinctive, and
unconscious. There is no explanation for stability and consistency: believed that
everyone has churning conflicts.
- Trait approach says one must be interpreted by a psychometrician (uses statistics).
Questionnaires are used. Behaviour is rational and goal-directed, according to trait
approach. Traits render you stable and consistent.
Gordon Allport
- An idiographic psychologist
- He met and visited with Freud
- Freud could not see normality in everyday situations based on a story Allport told him
- Depth psychology: surface behavior is different from what is occurring underneath
- Allport believed you could predict behavior by following conscious motives
- Allport received his PhD and was able to speak to Titchener about trait research, who
dismissed trait psychology entirely
- Allport decided to challenge orthodoxy at the time
- He is the father of humanism
- Our traits choose situations
- He thought biology impacted situations.
- He was very vague on his stance on free will
Allport, father of humanism
- Redefines personality as dynamic organization within individual of psychophysical
systems that determine unique adjustments to the environment
- He later changes unique and environment to characteristic behavior and thought,
because use of unique and environment looked like adaptation
- Believed we constantly rearrange ourselves depending on what are important.
Criteria for an adequate theory of personality
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