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PSYC 332 (129)
Chapter 4

Chapter 4 Notes.pdf

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Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYC 332
Professor
Richard Koestner

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PSYC332 - Chapter 4 Notes Sketching the Outline: Dispositional Traits and the Prediction of Behaviour • Personality generalizations may be true or useful in a relative sense, but they do not apply to every instance of a person’s behaviour • Trait attributions are relative, approximate, and very general • Nobody, no matter how strong a given trait, is perfectly consistent; no single trait can characterize any person; life offers too many different situations for people to do the same thing in each one • Despite its important limitations, trait talk is a useful and natural way to account for human individuality • Traits can become “labels” or “stereotypes” that objectify people • A trait description can oversimplify and gloss over many important details of a personality Stereotyping of strangers and out-groups is one of those pervasive human tendencies that has contributed as much as any • other to human suffering and can be used to fuel hatred and justify discrimination, warfare, slavery, and even genocide The Idea of Trait: What is a Trait? Personality psychologists consider a number of aspects of personality traits such as “friendliness.” First, they generally conceive • of traits as internal dispositions that are relatively stable over time and across situations • Secondly, traits are typically conceived in bipolar terms (friendliness vs unfriendliness, extraversion vs introversion) • Third, different traits are generally seen as additive and independent to each other Finally, personality traits usually refer to broad individuals difference in socioemotional functioning • • Personality traits may be distinguished from other variables that appear to be less socioemotional and more cognitive in nature, such a values, attitudes, worldviews and schemas • Overall then, personality traits refer to individual differences between people in characteristic thoughts, feelings, and behaviours and are used to account for consistencies in behaviour from one situation to the next • Most contemporary personality psychologists seem to view traits as dispositions (second position) that have some causal influence on behaviours, though the influences are complex and exist in interaction with situational factors. They tend to see traits as more than mere descriptive summaries of act categories, but they acknowledge that traits line up with certain predictable behavioural acts (third position) • Other personality psychologists believe that dispositional traits reflect complex differences in brain structure and function (first position) but at the same time, they also think that the fact that dispositions are language categories with socially determined meanings (fourth position) The meaning of a trait is partially determined by its cultural context Table 4.1: Four Positions of The Nature of Traits Traits Are Description Theorists Neurophysiological Traits are biological patternings in the CNS that cause behaviour to occur and Allport substrates account for the consistencies in socioemotional functioning from one situation to Eysenck the next and over time Gray Cloninger Zuckerman Behavioural Traits are tendencies to act, think, or feel in consistent ways that interact with Cattell dispositions external influences, such as cultural norms and situational variables, to influence a Wiggins person’s functioning. Trait attributions can be used both to describe behaviour Hogan summaries and to suggest causal or generative mechanisms for behaviour McCrae & Costa Act frequencies Traits are descriptive summary categories for behavioural acts. Acts that have the Buss & Craik same functional properties may be grouped together into families, with some acts being more prototypical or representative of the general family features than others Linguistic Traits are convenient fictions devised by people to categorize and make sense of Mischel categories the diversity of human behaviour and experience. Traits do not exist outside the Shweder mind of the observer, and therefore they can have no causal influence. Through Hampson social interaction and discourse, people construct meanings for trait terms Harre & Gillett A Brief History of Traits: Theophrastus devised a series of semi-humorous character sketches depicting different types of people that one might • encounter in Athenian social life • Galen developed the theory of the four humors in the human body (humor being bodily fluid associated with a particular behavioural trait): • Blood - associated with sanguine personality (bold, confident and robust in temperament) • Black bile - associated with melancholic type (depressed and anxious person, pessimistic and brooding) • Yellow bile - associated with choleric person (restless, irritable and want to explode in anger) • Phlegm - associated with phlegmatic person (aloof, apathetic, cold, and sluggish) Sheldon conducted study on men’s body types: • • Round and soft body with an overdevelopment of fat and underdevelopment of muscle and bone: endomorph (easygoing, affable, very desiring of social approval, and oriented toward relaxation and comfort) • Thin and body body with an underdevelopment of fat and muscle: ectomorph (restraint, privacy, introversion, and self- consciousness) • Muscular body that’s neither thin nor round and suggestive of physical vigor and stamina: mesomorph (aggressive, dominant, adventurous, courageous, callous towards the feelings of others) Gordon Allport: • Allport defined a trait as “a neuropsychic structure having the capacity to render many stimuli functionally equivalent and to initiate and guide equivalent (meaningfully consistent) forms of adaptive and expressive behaviour” • Trait labels were more than mere semantic conveniences; real unobservable neuropsychic structures. They are important causal factors in human behaviour which we may infer the existence of traits from observing behaviour • Second, by rendering different stimuli “functionally equivalent,” traits account for consistency in human behaviour - pretty predicable because of the action of traits • The existence of a particular trait in a person’s life may be ascertained from at least three evidence: frequency, range of situations, and intensity • Common traits are dimensions of human functioning upon which many different people are likely to differ; compare many different people on common traits like friendliness • If using a nomothetic inquiry - comparing lots of people to one person Personal disposition is a trait that is especially characteristic of a given individual and is therefore instrumental for depicting • that individual person’s uniqueness (can be confusing because friendliness can be a common or a personal trait) • If using an idiographic approach which examines a single person in detail • Personal disposition can be broken down different varieties: Cardinal disposition is a very general and pervasive trait for a given person, so general that is seems directly or • indirectly involved in a wide range of the person’s activities. Many people have no cardinal dispositions at all (i.e. Generosity for Mother Teresa). It is a defining feature of a person’s personality profile • Central dispositions which refer to a wide range of dispositions that may be characteristic for a given person and called into play on a relatively regular basis. People typically have between 5 to 10 central dispositions • Secondary dispositions are more limited in scope and less critical to the description of overall personality. People are likely to have many different secondary dispositions. They are different from cardinal and central dispositions in that they are narrower, more contingent on particular situational cues, and less central to defining the overall character of a person’s individuality • Allport acknowledged that people’s behaviour is highly variable from one situation to the next and that traits must be understood against the backdrop of this variability. One can still observe relative consistencies in responding indicative of traits if one examines a person’s trait-related behaviour in a wide variety of situations and over time He further insisted that unless one examines personal dispositions, one will never get a sense of what makes a particular • person especially unique Raymond B. Cattell: Advocated a brand of trait psychology that emphasized rigorous quantification and statistical analysis in research • • Cattell defined personality in terms of behavioural prediction. He defined personality as “that which permits a prediction of what a person will do in a given situation.” • Cattell acknowledged that traits might be unique to certain individuals (Allport called personal dispositions, Cattell labeled as unique traits) Type of Data Description Examples L-data (life) Information derived from observers’ ratings and Teacher ratings of children in nursery school; evaluation of individuals leading more or less natural lives parent ratings of children’s temperament; and evaluation of individuals in natural settings peer ratings of personality; psychologists’ ratings of family interactions Q-data Information derived from self-observations and evaluation Various self-report scales and standard (questionnaire) of one’s own behaviour, feelings, and personality personality inventories, trait measures of characteristics OCEAN T-data (test) Information derived from observations of behaviour under Experiments in which observations are made structured and controlled conditions, as in the laboratory of aggressive, altruistic, or conforming behaviour under a variety of controlled conditions • By combining data from all three sources, the researcher can get a more accurate reading on personality traits and enhance behavioural prediction • Cattell employed factor analysis to derive a complex classification scheme for traits. It helped reduce a large number of items or variables to a smaller set of underlying dimensions, called “factors.” • Cattell produced a lot of surface traits which were related elements of behaviour that, when empirically measured and intercorrelated, tended to cluster together which were observable behaviours (which can be reduced to a smaller number of underlying source traits • Example, friendliness, outgoingness, spontaneity, and cheerfulness stem from underlying source trait of sociability • Cattell formulated first hierarchical models for trait organization: Dynamic traits - set the individual into action to accomplish a goal • • Ability traits - concern the effectiveness with which the individual reaches a goal • Temperament traits - concern such stylistic aspects of response as speed, energy, and emotional reactivity • Cattell devised his own source traits questionnaire called Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire or 16PF To enhance behavioural prediction, Cattell combined scores on different traits into a specification equation which differentially • weighted each trait according to its relevance for a given behavioural situation • Therefore to predict behaviour with any degree of precision, the personality psychologist should obtain precise measures on a host of internal and external variables: personality traits, temporary stats and roles, and situational factors Hans Eysenck: • Eysenck along with Guilford believed that the resultant trait factors obtained from factor analysis should be statistically independent of one another; factors should be arranged (rotated) so that they are uncorrelated or orthogonal (at right angles) to one another • For Eysenck, it boiled down to three basic ‘supertraits’ traits • Extraversion-introversion (deals with personality characteristics within a relatively normal range of functioning) • Neuroticism Psychoticism (taps into dimensions of functioning that are typically associated with psychotic and psychopathic • behaviour such as delusional thinking, excessive cruelty, and antisocial behaviour) • Similar to four types of humor in the body • Eysenck theorized that individual differences in extraversion-introversion are linked to the activity of the brain’s reticular activating system, which itself is implicated in the modulation of arousal. He proposed further that individual differences in neuroticism might arise from differences in the workings of the brain’s limbic system, which has been hypothesized to be implicated in emotionality The Big Five and Related Models: • Galton proposed the lexical hypothesis which meant finding traits using a dictionary • Allport and Odbert came up with 18,000 words which referred to psychological states, traits, and evaluations. Of these, 4,500 reflected relatively stable and enduring personality traits Cattell reduced it to 171 trait-like terms using factor analysis and finally, Donald Fiske concluded that give basic traits • accounted for most of the intercorrelations • In the first decade of the 21st century, the BIg Five has established itself as a dominant taxonomy for dispositional traits in personality psychology Within the Big Five, Extraversion (E), Neuroticism (N), Openness to Experience (O), Agreeableness (A), and Conscientiousness • (C), each of the areas can be further subdivided into six facets, or subordinate traits • One of the criticism of the Big Five taxonomy is that it does not specify how particular traits that reside within each of the five domains relate to one another In his circumplex model of traits, Wiggins bisects the circular space with the independent axes of agency and communion, • which roughly correspond to power/dominance and warmth/love, respectively • Wiggins and Trapnell suggests that the traits of Neuroticism, Conscientiousness, and Openness to Experience may each contain within them agentic and communal elements. Digman factor analysis first studied the principle of socialization: agreeableness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism. Problems • in those three aspects results in problems in communion • Digman found that extraversion and openness to experience comprised a second super factor, which concerns more with growth of the self. Problems in growth of the self factors results in problems in agency Feature 4.A: What Is Your Type? The Scientific Status of the Myers_Briggs Type Indica
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