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Chapter 6.docx

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Psychology 2550A/B
David Vollick

Chapter 6: Brain, Evolution, and Personality 24/09/2012  Brain-Personality Links o Our species has accumulated genes that have proven useful for individual survival and reproductive successes Darwin’s survival of the fittest o Some genes are so important to an individual’s basic functions that they are believed to be identical for all individuals o For other genes, there are variations (e.g. the genes that influence eye colour, hair colour)  Heritable differences in personality reflect such variations o Physical characteristics affect the way others perceive us and the way we interact with the world thus affecting out personality  An Early Effort: Physique and Personality? o William H. Sheldon’s dimensions of physique that correspond to 3 distinct temperaments (chart in textbook)  Endomorphic- soft round overdeveloped digestive vicesra  viscerodonic  Mesomorphic- muscular rectangular strong  Somatonic  Ecdomophic-long fragial large brain and sensitive nervous system  Cerbotonic  Biological Base of Extraversion-Introversion o Extraverts differ from introverts in their level of arousal(LOA) in the brain (Eysenck) o LOA is influenced by the ascending reticular activation system (ARAS) of the brain o Introverts: even small amounts of stimulation overstimulate the ARAS which leads them to become distressed and withdrawn o Extraverts: large amounts of stimulation needed to activate the ARAS leaving them to seek more engaging activities o Geen found that introverts preferred lower levels of stimulation and performed worse when exposed to higher levels of stimulation as compared to extraverts  Brain Asymmetry and Personality Differences o Brain asymmetry is the difference between the activation levels in the right and left sides of the brain o Calculated by subtracting the activity of the left side from the right side o Positive asymmetry = a higher degree of activity on the right side of the brain o Negative measures = higher activity on the left side of the brain  These are associated with certain personality types o Individual differences in asymmetry in the anterior(frontal) brain regions are fairly stable  The Behavioral Inhibition and Activation Systems o The behavioral inhibition system (BIS) is a neurological system in the brain that causes individuals to withdraw from certain undesirable stimuli  Very sensitive to punishment  High BIS self-reports are correlated with higher activity levels in the right frontal area of the brain and negative feelings to aversive stimuli (threats) o The behavioral activation systems (BAS) directs individuals toward certain desirable goals of incentives  High BAS self-reports are correlated with higher activity levels in the left frontal area and positive response to happy stimuli o Gable et al., found that dispositional BAS sensitivity magnified individuals reactions to positive events and correlated with higher self-reported positive affect  BIS sensitivity magnified individuals reactions to negative events o Greater BAS activity is characteristic of extraverts on the NEO-PI-R o Greater BIS activity is characteristic of introversion and anxiety and attention to negative events o BAS and BIS are functionally independent  Items from the BIS/BAS Scale (1 2 3 4 1 – 1 being strongly agree and 4 being strongly disagree) o BIS  If you think something unpleasant is going to happen I usually get pretty “worked up”  I worry about making mistakes o BAS reward Responsiveness  When I get something I want I feel excited and energized  When I’m doing well at something I love to keep at it o BAS Drive  When I want something I usually go all out to get it  I go out of my way to get the things I want o BAS Fun Seeking  I will often do things for no other reason than that they might be fun  I crave excitement and new sensations  Sensation Seeking o The Sensation Seeking Scale (SSS) – 4 different aspects  Thrill and adventure seeking  Experience seeking  Disinhibition  Boredom susceptibility o The degree in how high you score in each category will give you a level in sensation seeking o Sensation seekers get more restless and upset when there is lack of stimulation o Individuals low on the SSS get more stressed when closely confined with another person o Sensation seeking behavior is correlated with a high optimal level of arousal (OAL)  Characteristics of High Sensation Seekers o Risk-
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