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Psychology 2550A/B

Chapter 1: Nonsense Why study personality? - We want to know why people behave the way they do - Everyone has their own slight slant on a topic based on their background Defining personality - Tends to be based on social attractiveness o Inadequacies: limits the number and kinds of behaviour considered as aspects of personality (only looks at the ones that are or are not considered attractive); carries the implication that some people with unique histories and temperaments are devoid of personality. - Personality: the uniqueness of an individual made up of certain biological tendencies, and social and cultural learning experiences. Involves judgements of who the person truly is and how he or she differs from others. - Psychological construct: a complex and abstraction that encompasses a variety of components (intelligence holds reasoning ability, spatial ability, etc) - The primary focus of interest is on the creation of theories that offers explanations for each individuals unique ways of responding to his or her physical, social and cultural environments. - Empirical evidence: observations of phenomena by investigators The scientific study of personality - Personality psychology is scientific in outlook, utilising the scientific approach to study individual differences. However, many insights stemming from the humanities (philosophers, novelists, poets and theologians) have contributed to human self-knowledge. - Hypotheses: tentative theoretical statements about how events are related to one another often a prediction of how one event will affect the other. Derived from propositions - Theory: interrelated conceptual statements created by investigators to account for a phenomenon - Science revolves around the relationship between theory and research. Building scientific theories - Inductive theories: created from solid empirical evidence o Law of effect: behaviours followed by a reward or the reduction of aversive conditions tend to become more probable, whereas behaviours followed by punishers or the removal of positive reinforcers tend to become less probable o Advocates of this approach believe that trying to create and test theories before enough data has been collected leads to useless experimentation and a waste of time. They choose instead to focus on behaviours that can be directly observed, believing they yield substantial knowledge that increases our understanding. o Limitations: intuitive theorising before data collection (tentative hypotheses show researchers when data should/can be collected), no way of knowing when there is enough data. - Deductive theories: specific hypotheses are derived from abstract propositions and then tested by the collection of data o Postulates: core assumptions of a theory. Seen as self-evidently true in order to provide a clear direction, specifying which phenomena will be addressed by the theory. (I.e. that anger is a learned behaviour focus on looking into environmental conditions) o Propositions: general relational statements that may be true or false hypotheses are derived from this. o Conceptual definitions: concepts in the hypotheses must be defined precisely so that accurate measures of the concepts can be devised o Operational definitions: procedures or operations used to define particular constructs. o Replication: duplication of an experiment/study to say whether the results are reliable - Laws: systematic and highly reliable associations between variables Experimental Method - Experimental method: investigators actively manipulate or systematically alters certain variables and checks their effects on other variables. o Independent variables: actively manipulated variable o Dependent variables: variable that changes according to the iv o Experimental group: in which the independent variable is manipulated o Control group: the independent variable is left alone to allow experimenters to assess the difference o Self-affirmation theory: Clause Steele Suggests: each of us has a unique self; our goal is to maintain a view of ourselves as competent, good, coherent, stable and capable of choice and control Propositions: anything that threatens the integrity of the self will motive us to reaffirm the self; motive for self-affirmation can be reduced by behavioural or cognition changes that reduce the threat (or perception of it) Creswell: self-affirmation can buffer individuals against the adverse effects of stress (psychological disorders depression and anxiety; medical disorders heart disease, hypertension, diabetes). Affirmation making people feel more morally adequate should, when they are subjected to stress, enable them to be able to cope better. Study: measure value, ranking on matters of importance. Randomly sorted into groups. Experimental write about an important value. Control write about an unimportant value. All write and present a 5 minute speech, immediately after do a mental math task (counting backwards by 13). Stress was applied (go faster) Results: Both groups were even for stress indicators before the task. The control group (unimportant value) showed significantly higher responses to stress. (Heart, breathing and cortisol levels) (All participants were told they could leave at any time, to keep stress levels even) Cortisol: adrenal-cortex hormone generated by any kind of physical or psychological stress. Higher levels = higher stress Debriefing: informing study participants about the nature and purpose of the study after it is completed - Correlational method: procedure for establishing a relationship between events. Can vary from simple to complex o Correlational coefficient: numerical index of the size and direction of the relationship between two variables Positive: +1 (Up and up) Negative: -1 (Up and down) Zero = 0 (Irrelevant) *Does not tell us anything about which caused which o Self-report: statement given by study particpants concerning their personality characteristics. Advantages: gather data efficiently Disadvantages: may be distorted to impress, may be unwilling to comment o Statistical significance: numerical index of the probability an event occurred by chance o Partial correlation: allows an investigator to assess the relationship between two events by eliminating (or partialing out) the influence of other variables o Multiple correlation: statistical technique by which you can determine the relationship between one variable and a combination of two or more simultaneously Case study method - Case study: intensive study of an individuals life over a long period of time describing the consistencies and inconsistencies of a persons personality. o Advantages: rich view o Disadvantages: data is usually impossible to generalise o Freud: analysed Da Vincis possible homosexuality from a journal passage. It mentioned an old memory of a vulture opening his mouth with his tail and striking him in the lips many times with it. Freud took the tail to mean a males member and the vulture to be his mother (first pleasurable act being breast feeding). This is why Da Vinci took on pretty boys as apprentices - Post hoc explanation: explanation given after the occurrence - A priori predictions: predictions made before data is collected - Longitudinal studies: data is collected about set individuals over a length of time Criteria for Evaluating Scientific Theories - Comprehensiveness: need to encompass and account for a wide variety and range of phenomena - Relational statements: theoretical hypotheses that relate constructs - Precision: need to contain constructs and relational statements that are clearly stated and measured - Testability: hypotheses that can be defined clearly, measure precisely and confirmed or disconfirmed in terms of observable events - Parsimony: as economical as possible while accounting for the phenomena in its domain - Empirical validity: hypotheses tested by the collection of data to determine whether or not they are accurate. - Heuristic value: theory should be challenging stimulate new ideas & research - Applied value: capable of providing creative solutions to problems that are of interest and concern to people
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