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Lecture

PSYC 2210 Lecture Notes - Gordon Allport, Lexical Hypothesis, Mother Teresa


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYC 2210
Professor
d

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-1Lecture #13
Personality (part I)
ŸPersonality is the basis of various psychologies, many ways of defining what personality is
ŸCharacteristic pattern of thinking, feeling and behaviour that distinguish one individual from another
ŸOne of the key concepts of personality theories, and oldest concepts is the idea of a trait, most widely
researched and theorized
ŸTwo definitions of trait, in one sense it is an attribute that describes a person or anything, another way
in which researches use the word which is more subtle, refers to the dimension or continuum relating
to the extent to which you have a particular attribute (intelligent, people can be described either more
or less intelligent)
ŸDimension that describes and dimensionalizes that trait
ŸField of personality was found in 1937, publication of the first text book on personality b y Gordon
Allport, founder and father of the fiend
ŸHe had a very specific definition of personality, represents the dynamic organization within the
individual of those psychophysical systems that determine his/her unique adjustments to the
environment
ŸFive important ideas conveyed in this definition, the first idea is the concept of dynamic organization,
connotation of coherences, all the attributes within a person cohere and hang together, unified whole
ŸThe second is with reference to the phrase within the individual, all of our theories are hypothetical,
but Allport believed personality IS real and isn’t just a hypothetical concept, its real in so far that its
substantiated in the brain and neural system (psychophysical systems) it has a biological basis,
physical and chemical processes of the brain
ŸIn reference to the word determined, personality causes things, causality, it has explanatory value,
when you ask why someone does something, you can explain it in reference to their personality, what
makes us how we are causes us to do the things we do
ŸThe fifth quality is the unique adjustments to the environment, personality helps regulate how we adapt
to the environment, it helps us behave properly, adjustment quality that is part of personality
Ÿ25 years later he published the first text book and had a revised definition altering the last phrase, the
revision was intended to address that he found a mistake, he came to realize in the subsequent years
that personality is more than reacting and adapting to our environment, but we reflect upon it, were
also capable of growth and show development, so he introduced a broader definition
ŸAllport thought the corner stone, the piece that completes the puzzle is the concept of a trait, most
important personality variable,
Ÿa functional equivalence=trait, a trait attribute makes the person look at the world and see different
situations in the same way (e.g to an extrovert, a business conference and a party are both different
events, but to the extrovert its an opportunity to get attention and recognition)
ŸIt guides the way we look at situations for what they afford us, even thought the superficial features are
different, for a person, it displays the same opportunities (functionally the same)
ŸAllport had all different notions for traits, many different forms, common traits and individual traits
ŸSome traits that lots of people have=common traits (idea of extroversion, consciousness)
ŸAllport also recognized that some instances that one person has, and no one else has, which are
individual traits or personal dispositions, help render you entirely unique
ŸAllport made another distinction between cardinal, central and secondary traits
ŸSecondary trait for Allport is the most useless of trait ideas, attribute that explains very specific areas
of a persons functioning, e.g. punctuality, being punctual describes a very limited scope of limitations
ŸCentral traits are attributes that explain significant areas of functioning, e.g. consciousness, how you go
about your daily life in work, level of responsibility, how you behave in a range of situations, approx.
5-10 central traits
ŸAllport also reserved the right to say that some traits are so consuming, that virtually every aspect of
the persons behaviour that every aspect of a persons behaviour can be attributed to it, called cardinal
trait, so encompassing explains everything a person does, most of us don’t have cardinal traits, but
when we look through history, we can see who did, Mother Teresa and her compassion, everything she
did can be related to her compassion for the world and to help
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