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PSYC 2740
Stephen Lewis

 The willingness to acknowledge that the study of personality is a science is important because many people regard many of the things being studied as “just common sense” and this feeds the notion that personality is not a science  There are several problems with equating much of what is studied in personality as just common sense o First – one key purpose of empirical research is to determine whether common sense beliefs turn out to be correct. It is sometimes the case that accepted common sense beliefs tare false or at least appear to be false o “just common sense” is suggested by the results of a survey conducted by noted Yale University psychologist Robert Sternberg. He found that common sense is surprisingly uncommon by and large and many people overestimate their own degree of common sense. More women than men have exceptional common sense! Personality Must Be Viewed from a Critical Thinking Perspective  The ultimate hope is that research training in personality methods and the other psychological methods will prove to be beneficial in creating increasing numbers of critical thinking who demand to see the data – we need to carefully evaluate theoretical assumptions before accepting claims about the nature of personality  It is better to be a critical thinker who questions and examines information and broad claims rather than simply accepting the proclamations of others  Important to remember that there is good science and bad science, as well as good research and bad research  No study is without limitation and it is important to consider whether the limitations undermine the conclusions reached by investigators  Barnum Effect – refers to the widespread tendency for people to accept personality feedback provided to them as accurate, even though the feedback itself is quite general and vague o Named after P.T. Barnum Personality Development Reflects Multiple Influences  It is generally accepted that personality development reflects factors inside of the individual, as well as external circumstances  Interactionists accept notion that behavior reflects the complex interplay of the person and the situation in an ongoing sequence  Contemporary developmental accounts view personality as due to multiple influences  Remember – other people are part of the environment and the environment changes readily as a function of whom we encounter in our daily lives o Issue here is whether a person’s temperament fits with the environment and there is a match or mismatch  The factors that influence personality development may themselves have multiple determinants Personality Must Be Studied from a Cross-Cultural Perspective  Clyde Kluckhohn – provided an excellent overview of the topic of personality and culture o Argued that there is functional interdependence between culture and personality o Stated that culture should not be equated with personality because culture is only one part of personality  One of the most exciting developments in the personality field is the growth of research on personality from a cross-cultural perspective – much of this has to do with the increasing popularity of models such as the five-factor model, which is based on the assumption that there are universal personality frameworks that can be applied to everyone, no matter their country of origin  Diener and Scollon – reviewed major trends in the personality field and argued that the link between personality predispositions and culture and society is one topic that merits increased attention o Also noted that the personality field has taken on more of an international focus in recent years o Conclusions reached are quite reasonable and it is likely that personality science will become even more international in the future  There has been unprecedented growth of cross-cultural research in personality over the past 5 years  Once it is established that cultural factors are relevant to a particular personality phenomenon, is isn’t enough to stop there, but rather it still has to be determined which aspect of culture is important and why it is important  When acknowledging the role of culture, there is a need for a focus on both description and explanation  According to Heine and Norenzayan, there are at least three different types of explanation for cultural group differences: o (1) Evoked culture – people occupy different ecological niches that evoke different cognitive tendencies in people
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