Personality Final Exam Review
Chapter 8: Evolution of the Trait Concept (branch of dispositional strategy) (development of
the trait concept)
In their search for the most important traits, personality psychologists have used 3 approaches:
- The lexical approach: based on the assumption that the more important a disposition is, the
more often it will be used in everyday language. E.g. aggression
- The theoretical approach: relies on theory as a guide to suggest which human traits are
- The statistical approach: analyzes very large collections of data about many people to
identify the basic factors that underlie the data set. Factor analysis has been a favorite tool of
researchers who use the statistical approach.
Gordon Allport (“heuristic realism”):
- Generally seen as the founder of modern dispositional strategy
- His philosophy = “heuristic realism” = to discover or find out – meaning that traits actually
exist as part of the person. Every person has general traits and it is our job to discover what
- ALLPORT believed traits are the basic units of personality. He developed 8 assertions
o Traits have more than nominal existence, they are part of the person (they are not just labels)
o Traits are more generalized than habits (brushing teeth = habit –not a trait, underlying trait,
such as cleanliness, causes the habit)
o Traits are dynamic and determine behaviour (they constantly change and direct action)
o Traits may be established empirically (w/evidence)
o Traits are only relatively independent of other traits
o Traits are not synonymous (the same/associated) with moral or social judgments
o Traits may be viewed either in the light of the personality that contains them
(Ideographically) or in the light of their distribution in the population (nomothetically)
o Acts and even habits that are inconsistent with a trait are not proof that the trait is
- Traits differ in the extent that they pervade any given persons personality
- Cardinal dispositions: the most pervasive traits that dominate the individual; cannot stay
hidden, make possessor famous e.g. Mother Teresa
- Central dispositions: small number of traits that are highly characteristic of a person; they
might be thought of as the characteristics we would mention when writing a detailed letter of
recognition; everyone has between 3-10
- Secondary dispositions: characteristics that operate only in limited settings. Preferences for
particular kinds of food, specific attitudes, and other peripheral or situational determined
characteristics are included in this category. - ALLPORT spoke of both common traits and patterned individuality:
- Common traits: have a normal distribution and are dispositions that allow direct trait
comparisons across people (e.g. when choosing a candidate for a job, college’s choose best
= Nomothetic view: traits compared by their distribution in population
- Patterned Individuality: the assumption that each person has a unique inner organization
of motives, traits, and personal style. He also insisted each person displays a unique
patterned individuality that does not lend itself to comparison with others.
= Ideographic view: traits are unique, can’t be compared across people
- Individual traits refer to those important characteristics of the individual that do not lend
themselves to comparison across persons. (Opp. of common traits)
- Attempts made to categorize people according to a small number of “types”, since ancient
- “Type “ = a broad grouping of personality characteristics that tend to co-occur.
- Typologies include: one that divides people by their body shape (Chap 9) and one based on
their behavior pattern – which is linked to high risk of heart attack.
- Type A behaviour pattern: high competitive drive + rush to meet deadlines; predictive of later
- Type B behaviour pattern: easygoing and relaxed manner.
- Raymond CATTELL proposed that 3 broad sources of data are required for an analysis that
aims to uncover all the major dimensions of personality. These are:
o L-data –gathered from a person’s life records (school records, work history, etc.)
o Q-data –gathered from questionnaires and interviews, people answer direct questions about
themselves based on personal observations and introspection. (“Do you have trouble keeping
o T-data –obtained through objective testing situations
- 3 sources must be combined to capture the full, complex human personality
- Traditional research = univariate: researcher changes one variable (independent) and
examines its effects on the other variable (dependent).
- CATTELL believed research should be done using multi-variate approaches: examine many
Advantage: brings out behavior of person in actual real life situation – rather than in a false
situation done by controlling and manipulating in a lab
CATTELL’s factor analysis:
- Factor analysis: a statistical tool that uses a complex mathematical approach for personality
assessment. - Basically, factor analysis mathematically reduces a large number of relationships
(correlations) to a smaller (more manageable) set of relationships, to interpret the pattern
that emerges and search for common elements
Step 1 in factor analysis is data collection
Step 2: produce a correlation matrix: a table that shows the exact relationship between each
measure and every other measure. (Table 8.1 Page 203)
Step 3: extracting factors. The data are reduced to small numbers of relatively homogeneous
dimensions called factors, via complex mathematical formulas. (“Thus, factors are extracted from
Step 4: determining factor loading. The correlation of a measure with a particular factor is called
factor loading; a variable is said to load onto a particular factor to the extent that it is correlated with
Step 5: naming the factors. Inspect the related measures for common qualities and give the factors
“meaningful” names. The naming part of the process is a subjective judgment.
CATELL’S 16-Factor Model:
- Derived 16 personality traits using factor analysis
- Called them source traits: the building blocks of personality
- He concluded 3 important traits of adults = Introversion-Extraversion, Intelligence, and Ego
Strength (emotional stability-instability)
- Source traits can only be discovered through factor analysis.
Hierarchal Organization and Development on Traits:
- Consensus between personality researchers that personality traits follow a hierarchal
- Broad traits domains at the top (these are universal personality characteristics)
- Narrow, specific traits at the bottom
- CATELL’s model criticized for having too many traits, and lacking a hierarchal structure
Hans J. Eysenck’s P-E-N Model:
- Used factor analysis to focused on small number of personality types
- Personality types (Eysenck definition): type is not categories that people can be divided
into; but dimensions on which all persons differ from one another.
- EYESNCKS model of personality is hierarchical; types are at the top of the personality
structure. Types are composed of traits; traits are composed of habitual responses. At the
most specific level, specific responses are the elements from which individuals form habits.
(Figure 8.3 Page 208)
- Also found 3 basic personality factors (types): extraversion (same as introversion-
extraversion) neuroticism (same as Ego Strength: stability-instability), and psychoticism.
- Factors represent a range between polar opposites: each person can be somewhere along the
line of extreme introvert and extreme extravert, perfect emotional stability and complete emotional chaos, etc. Extremes are however, rare. Most people will be somewhere near the
- Psychoticism: a tendency towards psychosis (a mental disorder characterized by poor
contact with reality and inability to perform routine tasks or activities of daily living) and a
degree of sociopathy (characterized by an absence of any loyalty to any person, group, or
ethical or moral code).
- Those high in Psychoticism tend to be impulsive
- Psychoticism = higher in men than women, and prisoners than nonprisoners
- Psychoticism = solitary (alone), troublesome, insensitive, sensation-seeking, and aggressive
- 3 factors are broad dimensions on which “normal” personality varies
- Carl Jung was the first to offer a description of the introversion-extraversion dimension of
personality. He believed extraverts focus their psychic energy outward, toward the world
beyond themselves. Introverts focus their attention and energy inward, toward the self and
internal private events in the forms of thought, feelings, emotions, and fantasy.
- Extraverts = lively, sociable, outgoing, optimistic, and impulsive, exciting, friendly, etc.
Overall, easygoing character.
- Introverts= sober, reserved, passive, thoughtful, and controlled.
- Neuroticism: a measure of emotional stability-instability. High neuroticism = greater
- EYESNCK described the neurotic pole as characterized by anxiety, moodiness, restlessness,
irritability, and aggressiveness. In contrast, emotionally stable = calm, emotional control,
Personality Factors of Adults: Costa and McCrae’s Five-Factor Model:
- Openness: a personality factor including a disposition towards originality, creativity,
independence, and daring.
- The FFM holds that the common variance among almost all personality trait constructs can be
summarized in terms of the 5 recurrent factors of: neuroticism, extraversion, and openness to
experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness.
- Agreeableness (sympathetic, cooperative, trusting); conscientiousness (hardworking,
- Although the names for the factors are not the same (naming of factors a subjective process)
– the same five factors emerge in study after study
- This, these five factors are underlying dimensions by which we can understand individual
differences in adult personality “big five” also appear in children and adolescents
- FFM = dominant model in dispositional trait psychology has held up replications using
other data sets, across other cultures, languages, and countries, etc.
Avoidance of Evaluative Terms in Personality Inventories:
- Personality inventories = self descriptors subjects respond to each question by indicating
the degree to which they agree or disagree with each descriptor statement 2 types of descriptions:
- Evaluative descriptions – matters of approval and disapproval, involve value judgments or
subjective worth. E.g. “I am youthful”
- Substantive descriptions– substantial; can be verified by others in a variety of ways. E.g. “I
am 22 years old”
- COSTA and MCCRAE developed NEO inventories
Recall that according to the FFM there are 5 major domains of personality
NEO inventories developed for the purpose of assessing these factors, and the narrow traits
that encompass them
Dispositional Personality Factors and Mental Disorders:
Can FFM and P-E-N models tell us something about abnormal behaviors/mental disorders?
- The DSM defines personality traits as: patterns of perceiving, relating to, and thinking, about
the environment and oneself, which are displayed in a wide range of important social and
- When personality traits are inflexible and maladaptive and cause functional impairment or
distress (suffering), they create personality disorders (STUDY PAGE 217)
Certain personality configurations go with certain personality disorders:
High (N) + low (E) + low conscientiousness = depression, anxiety, and substance abuse
2 behavior problem syndromes:
- Externalizing problems are behaviour problems involving acting out (aggression, stealing,
= Low agreeableness, low conscientiousness
- Internalizing problems are problems focused inward (include: anxiety, complaints of
physical symptoms with no medical basis, and social withdrawal)
= High (N), low (E)
- From all the forgoing work, six Supertraits emerge – six broad dispositional dimensions.
These include the five factors of the FFM and Intelligence (which showed up in Cattell’s factor
Chapter 9: The Biological Approach (another branch of dispositional strategy)
Species-specific behavior patterns exist in ALL life forms.
Early Speculations About The Relationship Between Body and Mind:
- Much of our personality is biologically influenced through neurochemistry (the chemical
actions in the nervous system), genetics, inheritance, and evolutionary processes
- Personality itself is not inherited; no feature of personality is devoid of hereditary influences,
direct or indirect.
Somatypes and Temperaments: - KRETSCHMER noted a relationship between physique and specific types of mental disorders.
- William Sheldon followed his lead and described 3 basic body types (soma-types):
o Endomorph (plump)
o Mesomorph (muscular)
o Ectomorph (frail)
o Anyone not conforming to these three types = “average” build
- SHELDON described 3 basic temperament types:
o Viscerotonia (typical lazy person characteristics)
o Somatotonia (typical active/athletic person traits)
o Cerebrotonia (typical anxiety/mentally distressed person traits)
(TABLE 9.1 Page 229)
- Endomorph associated with Viscerotonia, Mesomorph associated with Somatotonia, and
Ectomorph associated with Cerebrotonia.
Sheldon concluded physique + temperature represented different “expressions” of some
underlying biological factor or genetic influence
- Concluded that physical characteristics and personality are, IN PART, biologically determined
The Theory of Evolution and Human Behavior:
- Theory of natural selection (DARWIN): Variations (mutations) that provide a selective
advantage for the species to survive in their environment to reproduce will be passed on to
the next generation. Over time, these variations will increasingly characterize the species.
- Not every deviation = a survival advantage. Those that provide a reproductive/survival
advantage are passed on and those that aren’t disappear.
- Stabilizing selection: a species with greater variability have a greater chance of surviving
and reproducing in changing environments, because they have a bigger pool of traits that can
be selected from and passed on. Thus, variability within species is adaptive and may be
favored over uniformity. Stabilizing selection also enhances survival of the species.
What Has Evolved?
- Same forces may have favored some psychological and behavioral characteristics over others.
Human Nervous System:
- The human nervous system regulates all body functions.
- It is where all cognitive activity happens, and is no doubt central to personality.
- The central nervous system (CNS) – brain and spinal cord.
- The peripheral nervous system (PNS) – all other nerves extending throughout the body.
- The autonomic nervous system (ANS): sends and receives information from the heart,
intestines, and other organs. It controls most involuntary behaviours and responses (reflexes
and ongoing metabolic functions).
- The sympathetic nervous system (SNS): activates the body for fight or flight. Increases
heart rate and breathing rate prepares body for action, while it slows down digestive system. - The parasympathetic nervous system (PNS): decreases heart rate, increases digestive rate,
and promotes conservation of energy.
- The somatic nervous system (SNS): conveys information from the sense organs to the brain
and input from the brain down to the muscles and glands of the body. Controls voluntary
Human Nervous system = CNS + PNS PNS = (ANS = SNS & PNS) + SNS
Nervous system has 2 types of cells:
- Gila cells: provide support, structure, and insulation for neurons. (supporting role)
- Neurons: are nerve cells; receive and convey information throughout the system. (lead)
- Neurons don’t physically meet or merge into one another. A small gap called a synapse
separates neurons. Neurons communicate through the release and absorption of chemicals at
- Activity within neuron = electrical, communication between neurons = chemical***
Neurochemistry (the chemical actions in the nervous system):
- All subsystems of the nervous system communicate via neurons
- Axons = long branching arms of neurons.
- Neurotransmitters = chemical messengers.
Electrical impulse goes down neuron’s axon and neurotransmitters are released at the axon end
point into the space (synapse) between the communicating neuron and the receiving neuron.
- Precursor chemicals: substance located in the blood stream, used to synthesize
neurotransmitters. Come from food sources; temporary change in production of
neurotransmitters can be influenced by diet.
- Post-synaptic neuron (messenger recipient) is a nerve cell that receives input via
neurotransmitters from adjacent neuron. Neurotransmitters bind to specific receptors on the
message receiving neuron, and stimulate it (either excite or inhibit it).
- Excitation increases chance of an action potential (the transmission of electrical activity) in
receiving neuron. Inhibition suppresses action potential in in recipient neuron.
- Neurotransmitters separate from receptors and are either metabolized or recycled (through
a process called reuptake) by the pre-synaptic neuron. Reuptake allows the pre-synaptic
neuron to reabsorb and store the neurotransmitter again for future reuse.
- Hormones: A second class of chemical messengers in the nervous system. Hormones are
made by glands and are circulated through the blood supply. The most important is the
pituitary gland (controls secretion of other glands throughout the body).
Steroid Hormones (sex hormones):
- Estrogens (female) activate genes for breast development
- Androgens (male–mostly testosterone) activate genes for body and facial hair
- Neuro-modulators: A third class of chemical messengers in the nervous system that spread
more than neurotransmitters but less globally than hormones. - Influence of biology on personality is focused on the production, operation, and sensitively to
these chemical messengers!
Differences in “normal” personality and psychological disorders can be traced to excess or
deficit in neurotransmitters and neuromodulators.
- Psychopharmacology is the treatment of psychological symptoms through the use of
- Sociobiology is the study of the evolutionary basis of social behaviour.
- Reciprocal altruism: the idea that helping others increases the chance they will help you
when you need help
- Biological evolution proceeds at a much slower pace than cultural evolution
- The idea that people actively choose mates is referred to assortative mating (opp. of
DARWINS random mating). It appears we mate with others who are similar to us.
Many factors hypothesized to influence mate selection:
- According to genetic similarity theory: the purpose of assortative mating is to assure the
survival of our genes, so we mate with others with who are (genetically) similar to us.
- Males and females have different criteria when looking for mates, but criteria is generally the
same across different cultures. Females look for a man with money, high status, and
dominance within society. Men look for a female mate in terms of her reproductive capacity.
E.g., prefer a woman with a small waist and big hips.
- Young male syndrome: human males are most aggressive with one another when they are
competing for mates.
The Quest for Heritable Characteristics:
- Behavioral genetics is the study of genetic bases of behaviour.
- Genes: units that guide inheritance across generations.
- Dominance: refers to the degree to which a particular gene overrides other genes to produce
a given characteristic.
- Recessive genes: will exert their influence only when paired with other recessive genes.
- Phenotype: the observable characteristic that is displayed
- Human genes are located on strands of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) called chromosomes.
- Humans possess 23 pairs of chromosomes; each parent contributes one of each pair. Each
human set of 46 chromosomes contains about 100 000 individual genes.
- Genes appearing on any of the first 22 pairs of chromosomes are called autosomal. The 23rd
pair of chromosomes in humans is the sex chromosomes. The genes on these chromosomes
are called sex-linked. Females carry two X chromosomes; males have a mixed 23rd pair with
one X and one Y chromosome.
How Do We Know? Family Patterns: - Study of family patterns provides information about which characteristics are heritable/
genetic contributions to personality.
Method 1: Pedigree Analysis
- Pedigree analysis tracks the frequency of a characteristic throughout a family line.
- Index case in pedigree analysis, the family member who expresses a particular genetic
characteristic and around that person, the frequency of that characteristic is tracked.
- Genetic markers are particular genetic material or gene sequences that are associated with
the occurrence of a particular characteristic or predisposition.
Pedigree analysis studies contribute to the identification of genetic markers and ultimately the
discovery of specific genes that predispose to the development of disease or dysfunction.
Method 2: Twin-Study Method
- About one in 80 births produce twins; two-thirds of all twins are fraternal or dizygotic.
- Remaining third are identical, or monozygotic
- Twin study method identifies and measures a characteristic thought to be genetically
- Its degree of concordance (mutual occurrence) in many pairs of twins is determined and
compared. Greater concordance among identical twins is taken to be evidence that the
characteristic has a heritable component (genetically influenced).
Method 3: Adoptee Method
- Only influence adoptive parents can have on adopted children is through the environment
- Only influence biological parents can have is through heredity.
- Beneficial because the two elements are separated and the contribution of each can be
compared more directly
- Comparing the personality traits of adopted children with those of both adoptive and
biological parents allows the effects of direct inheritance to be better assessed
The Heritability Index:
- Goal of this research is to unravel the effects of genetic inheritance from environment
- Heritability: refers to the degree to which a particular trait is affected by genetic influences.
- The heritability index provides a mathematical measure of heritability.
- Heritability scores: the measurement of genetic influence on a characteristic, ranging from 0
(no evidence of an effect of heritability) to 1.0 (the trait is entirely determined by genetic
- Hereditability scores are determined through incidence data - the rate of occurrence of an
event, behaviour, or phenotype in a select group.
Accumulating Evidence for The Heritability of Complex Behavior:
- The Human Genome Project: an attempt to map the entire sequence of genes on the full
complement of human chromosomes.
- Many traits/complex behaviors are polygenic, and many others are multi-factorial - Polygenic: characteristics that are influenced by at least 2 pairs of genes acting in
- Multi-factorial: characteristics that result from the interaction between a specific
combination of genes and environmental factors.
- Focus is to find biological contributions to the development of personality and behavior.
- Psychopathology is the study of deviant behavior. Much of biological personality theories
are based on evidence from psychopathology + psychopharmacology these fields are rich
sources of information relating biological factors to behavior.
Inheritance and Behavior
- Study of adopted children revealed the adopted children had several personality
characteristics like their biological parents (even though they had not had direct contact with
them since birth)
- Also reveal that the adopted children did not resemble their adoptive parents in personality,
even though they lived with them their whole lives!!
Three Distinct Temperament Types
- Temperaments: dimensions of personality present at infancy, stable across time.
- Sociability: a range of styles of dealing with the social environment.
- Extremes: Children withdraw from people and don’t actively interact with others = “difficult”.
Other infants show unusual ease when it comes to interacting with others and are TOO social
= “easy”. Children in the normal range are reluctant to talk to others at first, but slowly adapt
and begin to actively interact = “slow to warm up”
- Emotionality: the tendency to become physiologically aroused in response to environmental
stimuli. (Focus is negative emotions –fear, anger, distress)
- Ease of arousal refers to the degree of stimulation required to elicit signs of arousal.
Intensity of arousal is measured by the strength of the resulting response. Vigor is the
intensity of behaviour.
- Argued that degree to which a person is emotionally reactive is determined at birth, and
children differ on this dimension right from birth. Human beings have well established
behavior patterns by the time they are 2 or 3 months old, and the tendency to be highly
emotionally reactive or less reactive follows them consistently into their adult lives.
- Whether the tendency is to react with positive emotions or negative ones is a unresolved
- The activity level is the amount of response output of an individual. Activity level divided
into vigor (intensity of behavior) and tempo (speed of activities). Individual activity level
differences among infants.
- These 3 broad dimensions serve as the foundation for the development of later adult
personality, including specific dispositions/traits
Biology and Broad Domains or Supertraits:
Look at how main personality characteristics/dimensions mentioned in Chap 8 are biologically
EYSENCK (P-E-N) - (P) Evidence that schizophrenia (a psychoticism disorder) has a biological basis. Thus, can
be argued that (P) is hereditable and biology plays a role in its development and expression.
- (E) Several twin studied have reported heritability estimates for (E) ranging from +0.30 to
+0.60 = evidence for a genetic component in the (E) dimension of personality
- The ascending reticular activation system is part of the brain involved in activating higher
brain centers and contributing to the regulation of states of consciousness. People high in (E)
(extroverts) have less arousable cortexes and higher sensory thresholds than those low in (E)
They must seek stimulation to maintain their brain activity levels and avo