Personality and Its Transformations

University of Toronto St. George

Theory and research in personality structure and dynamics: the interaction of cultural and biological factors in the development and expression of individual differences.

24HR Notes for PSY230H1

Available 24 hours after each lecture

Amanda Sharples

PSY230H1 Syllabus for Amanda Sharples — Fall 2018

PSY 230H1: Personality
PB B250
Friday, 12:00PM-3:00PM
“All I can do is be me, whoever that is” – Bob Dylan
Instructor and Teaching Assistant Information
Amanda Sharples, Ph.D.
Instructor Office hours:
Wednesdays: 3:30pm-4:30pm (Starting Sept 19th)
Location: Sidney Smith 4052 (on the 4th floor)
Teaching Assistants:
Zhijie Liao, Victor Swift, John Tennant
office hours: by appointment
Please send all course emails to (unless these are personal and should
only be viewed by the professor, in that case just send to professor’s email indicated above).
Course Description and Objective
What is personality? What determines the development of one’s personality? Do our personalities
change? In this class, we will examine theory and research in the area of personality psychology that
begins to answer some of these important questions. Over the course of the semester, we will explore
different theories in the area of personality psychology and discuss their strengths and weaknesses.
There will be a focus on the following learning objectives:
Learning Objectives:
1. Knowledge: By the end of this course, you should be able to name and apply theories in the area
of personality psychology. Moreover, you should understand key research methods used in the
study of personality.
2. Application: By the end of this course, you should understand be able to apply findings in
personality psychology to your life and current events.
3. Scientific Thinking: By the end of this course, you should have a better understand of common
research methods used in psychology, and you should be able to think of ways to empirically
examine research questions in the area of personality.
4. Communication: By the end of this course, you should have improved your ability to construct
arguments and to communicate your thoughts verbally and in writing.
5. Professional Development: By the end of this course, you should have improved your time-
management skills and ability to respond appropriately to constructive feedback.
Class Structure: Classes will be comprised of lecture, videos, and short writing activities.
Note about prerequisites: It is your responsibility to ensure that you have met all prerequisites listed in
the Psychology section of the A&S Calendar for this course. If you lack any prerequisites you WILL BE
REMOVED. No waivers will be granted.
Course Resources
Required Readings: Burger, J.M. (2018). Personality. 10th Ed. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning
You may purchase a bundle, which includes a hard copy of the text as well as access to MindTap.
MindTap provides you with an online version of the text and activities to help your learning. You may
also decide to purchase only a hard copy of the text or only access to MindTap (which is cheaper than
the hardcopy). The MindTap assignments are optional. More about MindTap, how to access it and use
it, will be discussed during the first lecture.
Yes, you can purchase the 9th edition (2015) of the text. You should be able to find used copies at a
reasonable price.
This class will have a participation component. There are two ways you may do this:
1. You may use TopHat. This is what I recommend as I will be using to create slides and show
real-time responses. It will probably be the easiest and quickest way to submit responses. The
TopHat subscription for one-semester is $26. If you already have an active TopHat
subscription, there is no need to re-purchase. A single subscription is good for any number of
courses taken at the same time. Moreover, if you have purchased a lifetime subscription, this
will be good for this course.
2. If you do not have a TopHat subscription or are not able to take on this expense, then you then
you have the alternative option of submitting responses through Quercus. After each
lecture, just go to the “participation” assignment on Quercus and submit a word or pdf doc with
your responses.
As an instructor, it is important to me to provide you with different options for purchasing course
materials to accommodate different financial circumstances. If your current financial situation will
prevent you from being able to purchase the required materials, please send me an email, It is very important to me that that no one is placed at a
disadvantage in this course due to financial difficulties.
Quercus: All course materials will be made available on the Quercus website, including lecture slides,
announcements, and supplementary materials. You are advised to regularly check the announcements
section of the Quercus website because you are solely responsible for staying on top of all course
announcements made through Quercus.
Note about course materials: all lecture content, including recordings of the lecture, are the intellectual
property of the professor. Sharing it online without permission is an academic offense.
Ongoing feedback: I've created a survey that students can fill out anonymously after each class to
provide me with feedback on lectures. This gives you the opportunity to let me know if I am going
through the material too quickly, if there is a particular concept you are really struggling with, if there
is something that could be improved about the structure of each class, etc. The link to this survey is
available on Blackboard. I can't promise that I will be able to touch on every concern expressed in the
feedback surveys. I will be looking for common concerns being expressed by students.
How to get help with the course: The fastest way to get help with the course is to attend one of the
weekly office hours. If you have a short question that can be answered via email, then please email
myself or the TA. Before emailing, however, please check the course syllabus as most of the important
information about the course can be found there. If you have a question that may require a longer
explanation, please come to office hours instead of emailing as it will be much easier for me to explain
this in person and it will give you the opportunity to ask follow-up questions.
Course Evaluation
Paper Draft
November 2nd
Not graded. But if you do not submit this on time
you will not get feedback from your peers.
Feedback to Peers
November 9th
Test 1
October 5th
Test 2
November 16th
Final Paper and Reflection
November 30th
Final Exam
During final exam period
Throughout the semester
Participation: Please see note under course resources about how to receive participation grades. This
is just a small portion of your grade and it is meant to keep you engaged with the course content during
lecture. I understand you may not be able to attend every class - I get it - life can get busy! You may
skip participation for one class without penalty (so full marks for 8 out of 9 lectures - lecture 1 does not
count). After this, I will start to deduct marks, but you will still get some marks even if you are not able
to participate in a few classes.
Final Paper: For this course, you will have to complete a final writing assignment. This will be a
personality assessment that you will do on another individual. This person can be someone you know
well, like a close friend or family member, or they can be a character from the media (e.g., a popular
television show or book series). Please note that if you choose to analyze a friend of family member,
you should give them a fictitious name, and if you choose to analyze a media character you want to
make sure you have enough information about that character to provide comprehensive analysis of their
personality. You will examine on aspect/area of this person’s personality (e.g. social skills, altruism,
aggression, etc.) using two of the approaches discussed in class. You should not just discuss each
approach in isolation but rather, you should make connections across the approaches. Papers should be
written in essay format and should be 3-4 pages long (no more than 1200 words).
Draft: Before submitting the final paper, you will submit a draft. This will allow you to get
feedback from your peers before submitting the final paper.
Peer Feedback: After drafts are submitted, you will be randomly assigned 4 peers and you will
need to read their papers and provide each of them with one piece of constructive feedback to help
improve their final paper. You will be graded on the quality of the feedback you provide. More
information on how to provide constructive feedback will be provided in class.
Final Paper: After receiving feedback from your peers, you will incorporate the feedback that
you feel is useful in the final draft of your paper. You will also submit a brief reflection explaining why
you chose to incorporate each piece of feedback, or chose not to, how you felt about the assignment,
and what you learned from the assignment.
A few important details: For the analysis you submit, you should include citations for at least 2 papers
published in peer-reviewed journals (we will discuss this in class). Moreover, you should do all of
your original work and save that work (including peer assessments and reflection) in a separate
word document, just in case the site goes down while you are working or there is a glitch and
something does not save properly on the site.
More details on these assignments will be provided in class.
Policy on Lateness: For the final paper, 5% will be deducted for each day (including weekends) the
assignment is late, unless you provide valid documentation. If you do not submit the draft on time or
complete the peer feedback on time, you will not receive grades
Test and Exams: There will be two in class tests and a final exam over the course of the semester. The
two in class tests will be held during class time and will be comprised primarily of multiple choice
questions with some written response questions. These will be two-stage tests where you will answer
the questions on your own first (18%) and then answer some of the same questions and some new
questions with peers (2%). Test 1 will cover content from lectures 2 to 4. Test 2 will cover content from
lectures 6-8 (you read this right, lecture 5 will only be covered on the final exam. Test 2 will not have
any questions on the trait approach). The final exam will be held during the final exam period and it
will be cumulative (lectures 2 to 10). It will be comprised primarily of multiple choice, with some
written response questions, but there will be no group work.
Missed Exams. If you miss an in-class test, you must submit valid documentation within one
week of the missed test to the instructor or TAs. Medical documentation must show that the physician
was consulted within one the day of the missed term test. The form to be used for medical
documentation may be found at the following web site: If your request is approved, your grade will re-
weighted to compensate for the missed test. There are no make-up tests for the in-class tests.
Ensuring Fairness in Marking: Two steps will be taken to ensure fairness in the marking of your
exams and assignments:
1. For the exams, quantitative methods will be used to evaluate the pedagogical quality of the multiple
choice questions. Students will be given marks back for a question that is quantitatively proven to be
substandard. That is, any question that students perform worse than chance at (in a question with five
options, less than 20% of students getting the answer correct would be less than chance), will be
considered of poor quality and students will be given marks for this question if they answered it
incorrectly. Questions that are not multiple choice will be carefully examined both before and after the
exam to ensure fairness.
2. Your final paper will be marked by the TAs. Marking these types of assignments can be very
challenging and somewhat subjective (Each TA’s perception of a good paper may differ). In order to
make this process as fair as possible, I will be creating a detailed rubric for the TAs to use when
grading these assignments. I will provide you with a copy of these rubrics at least one week before the
assignment is due. This should provide you with a clear understanding of how you will be graded
before you submit your assignment.
Contesting your grade: Please think carefully before contesting your grade for an assignment or
exam. Your course instructors and TAs work very hard to mark course assignments and exams as fairly
as possible. If you have concerns about how an assignment was graded, you need to submit an official
re-grade request form explaining why you think your assignment should be re-graded. This can be
found on Blackboard under “course materials.You must send this to the person that graded your
assignment within 1 week of receiving your grade. If you have concerns about how a question on one
of the in class tests was graded, you need to attend a review session and write a statement explaining
why you think a question (or questions) were not marked correctly. You should put this written
statement in your test and return the exam to the TA. We will examine these later and contact you with
our decision.
If there has been a calculation error, please just let myself or the TA know and we will re-
calculate your grade immediately.
Academic Resources
Accessibility Needs: Students with diverse learning styles and needs are welcome in this course, and
we will do everything in our power to ensure that all students have equal opportunities to succeed in the
course. If you have a disability/health consideration that may require accommodations, please feel free
to approach me and/or Accessibility Services at (416) 978 8060;
Writing: As a student here at the University of Toronto, you are expected to write well. The university
provides its students with a number of resources to help them achieve this. For more information on
campus writing centres and writing courses, please visit More info on
writing resources available at U of T will be posted on Quercus. I highly recommend that you make use
of these. Moreover, I’m more than happy to give you feedback on your writing during my office hours,
so feel free to stop by.
Academic Integrity and Plagiarism: Academic misconduct will be taken very seriously in this class.
Cheating and plagiarism will not be tolerated and will be reported through the official university
channels. Please refer to the University of Toronto's Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters for more
information about what constitutes academic misconduct and how academic misconduct will be dealt
Resources for Distressed Students: As a student, you may experience challenges that can interfere
with learning, such as strained relationships, increased anxiety, substance use, feeling down, difficulty
concentrating and/or lack of motivation, financial concerns, family worries and so forth. These factors
may affect your academic performance and/or reduce your ability to participate fully in daily activities.
All of us benefit from support and guidance during times of struggle; there is no shame in needing help
or in asking for help. There are many helpful resources available through your college Registrar or
through Student Life ( and An
important part of the University experience is learning how and when to ask for help. Please take the
time to inform yourself of available resources and do not hesitate to seek assistance from your
Teaching Assistant or from me to help learn what supports are available.
Lecture Schedule and Assigned Readings
I will try my best to stick to this outline, but changes may be made. Changes will be announced on
Sept 7
Introduction to the Course
Chap 1
Sept 14
The Psychoanalytic Approach Part 1
Chaps 3 & 4
Sept 21
The Psychoanalytic Approach Part 2
Chaps 5 & 6
Sept 28
The Trait Approach Part 1
Chap 7
Oct 5
Test 1
Oct 12
The Trait Approach Part 2
Chap 8
Oct 19
Biological and Evolutionary
Chaps 9 &10
Oct 26
The Humanistic Approach and Positive
Chaps 11 & 12
Nov 2
Behavioural and Social Learning
Chaps 13 & 14
Draft of paper
due Nov 2 at
Nov 9
Reading Week – No Class
Feedback to
Peers due Nov 9th
at 11:59pm
Nov 16
Test 2
Nov 23
Cognitive Approaches
Chaps 15 & 16
Nov 30
Personality and Culture
A Review
Markus & Kitayama
Final paper due
Nov 30th at

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