The Biological Approach.docx

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Colleen Loomis

The Biological Approach HANS EYSENCK’S THEORY OF PERSONALITY The Structure of Personality • All traits can be subsumed within three basic personality dimensions: o Extraversion-introversion o Neuroticism o Psychoticism • Levels: o Supertrait (Extraversion) o Trait (sociability, impulsiveness, activity, liveliness, excitability) o Habitual response o Specific response Physiological Differences: Stimulation Sensitivity and Behavioural Systems • Reinforcement sensitivity theory o Each human brain has a:  Behavioral approach system (BAS) → People with a highly active BAS are intensely motivated to seek out and achieve pleasurable goals, → Get more pleasure out of rewards and more enjoyment out of anticipating rewards → People with an active BAS also experience more anger and frustration when they fall short of reaching their anticipated pleasure  Behavioral inhibition system (BIS) → People with a highly active BIS tend to be more apprehensive → Approach new situations warily, are on the constant look out for signs of danger, and are quick to retreat from potentially problematic situations → Highly active in this dimension more likely to experience anxiety A Biological Basis for Personality • Three arguments that individual differences in personality are based in biology 1. The consistency of extraversion-introversion over time 2. The results of cross-cultural research have all found the same three dimensions 3. The results of several studies indicating that genetics plays an important role in determining a person’s level on each of the dimensions • Eysenck asserted that about 2/3 of the variance in personality development can be traced to biological factors TEMPERAMENT • General patterns of behaviour and mood that can be expressed in many different ways and that, depending on one’s experiences, develop into different personality traits Temperament and Personality • Three temperament dimensions: o Emotionality  The intensity of emotional reactions  High – cry frequently, easily frightened, often express anger  As adults, they are easily upset and may have a “quick temper” o Activity  A person’s general level of energy  High – move around a lot, prefer running and jumping games, fidget when forced to sit still for long time  As adults, they are always on the go, and prefer activities like playing sports and dancing in their free time o Sociability  A general tendency to affiliate and interact with others  Adults high in this temperament have a lot of friends and enjoy social gatherings • Gender differences o Girls  More likely to exhibit an effortful control temperament, which includes the ability to focus attention and exercise control over impulsive urges o Boys  More likely to be identified with a surgency temperament  Includes high levels of activity and sociability o Differences can be seen in children as young as 3 months of age • Mix of both environment and genetics Inhibited and Uninhibited Children • Inhibited children o Approx. 10% of children o Controlled and gentle o Cling to their parents when entering a new playroom or meeting new children o Slow to explore new toys and may go several minutes without speaking o Vulnerable to anxiety to novelty o More likely to have blue eyes, show signs of irritability, sleep disturbances, and chronic constipation during the first few months of life o Respond to unfamiliar stimuli with increased heart rate and pupil dilation (and abnormally high amygdala response) o Significantly more likely to become shy teenagers o Risk factor for social phobia • Uninhibited children o Approx. 25% o Jump right into new environment o Start talking soon after entering o More likely to exhibit disruptive behaviour such as aggression and attention problems EVOLUTIONARY PERSONALITY PSYCHOLOGY Natural Selection and Psychological Mechanisms • Based on the theory of evolution • Psychological mechanisms are characteristically human functions that allow us to deal effectively with common human problems or needs o Ex, innate fear of strangers, anger, need to belong Anxiety and Social Exclusion • Primary cause of anxiety is social exclusion • Goes along with need to belong – further evolution APPLICATION: CHILDREN’S TEMPERAMENT AND SCHOOL • Thomas and Chess’
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