PSYC 2130 Study Guide - Final Guide: Proxemics, Assortative Mating, Stimulus Control
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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
- 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
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. The theoretical approach: relies on theory as a guide to suggest which human traits are most central/important. 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. 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 they are.