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PSYC 332
Richard Koestner

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Note  Set  Syllabus:  PSYC  332     Chapter  6  –  Continuity  and  change  in  traits:  The  rol es  of  genes,   environments  and  time     Introduction     McAdams  thinks  back  to  his  high  school  reunion  and  a  few  people  stood  out  in   particular  whom  he  will  use  as  examples  throughout  the  chapter:   In  High  School  (HS)  -­‐-­‐-­‐>  Today   -­‐ Mary  Anne:  shy,  thin,  poorly  dressed  (loser)  -­‐>  attractive  and  successful   -­‐ Robert:  socially  dominant,  outgoing,  spontaneous,  unconscientious  -­‐>  same   -­‐ Keith:  depressed  -­‐>  same   He  then  asks  the  questions:     • “Do  dispositional  traits  change  over  time?     • Do  traits  remain  stable?   • Where  do  personality  traits  come  from  anyway?   • Is  their  development  driven  by  our  genes?     • By  our  environment?”     The  Continuity  of  Traits     Traits  assume  a  “certain  degree  of  continuity  over  time,”  (p207).  Traits  are  more  or  less   stable  over  time-­‐  maybe  not  forever  but  for  quite  a  while.       On  a  test  of  personality  trait  scales,  there  would  generally  be  a  high  test-­‐retest  reliability   in  the  short  term-­‐  McAdams  asks  how  long  these  will  stable  for.     Two  Kinds  of  Continuity       Absolute  Continuity:   Absolute  continuity  is  “constancy  in  the  quantity  or  amount  of  an  attribute  over  time”   (p207).     Absolute  Continuity  is  generally  not  applied  to  individuals  but  only  to  groups.     -­‐ Ex:  if  we  observed  the  high  school  group  on  social  dominance  in  1972  and  1982-­‐   we’d  likely  find  similar  averages.     This  is  important  to  social  psychologists  when  looking  at  human  development.   -­‐ Ex:  teenagers  as  anxious  and  confused  and  eventually  become  more  adjusted   over  time   -­‐ McAdams  observed:  less  social  anxiety,  more  comfortable,  more  friendliness-­‐  10   yrs  later.     Differential  Continuity:   Differential  continuity  is  “the  consistency  of  individual  differences  within  a  sample  of   individuals  over  time,  to  the  retention  of  an  individual’s  relative  placement  in  a  group,”   (p208).     Differential  Continuity  is  generally  measured  on  where  an  individual’s  traits  lie  relative   to  your  peers.     -­‐ Ex:  Socially  dominant  Robert  is  high  compared  to  his  peers,  and  still  is  10  yrs   later-­‐  relative  to  his  peers.  In  order  for  him  to  hold  this  “high”  position,   everybody  else’s  position  must  remain  relatively  stable.  So  if  Keith  scored  a  2   back  then,  he  would  have  to  stay  in  a  low  range  in  1982  for  Robert  to  still  be  a  10.   • Calculated  with  a  correlation  coefficient   o The  same  individuals’  scores  on  the  same  trait  at  Time  1  and  Time  2   o High  correlation  coefficients  (closest  to  +1.0)  suggest  high  differential   continuity   o Low  differential  continuity  means  that  people’s  trait  dimensions   change  unpredictably  over  time     Note:  Absolute  Continuity  and  Differential  Continuity  are  completely  unrelated  to  each   other.     4  hypothetical  situations  using  HS  reunion  as  examples:   • High  Absolute  Continuity  +  High  Differential  Continuity   o Group  avg  score  on  social  dominance  =  similar  to  that  10  yrs  later   o The  relative  positions  of  individuals  remained  stable  also   • Low  Absolute  Continuity  +  High  Differential  Continuity   o Social  anxiety  decreased  generally  over  time   o But  positions  of  anxiety  improved  but  remained  stable.  Ex:  Anxious   Keith  might  have  been  a  10  in  HS,  but  is  now  a  7.  This  is  better  but  is   still  one  of  the  highest  scoring  of  the  group.   • High  Absolute  Continuity  +  Low  Differential  Continuity  (unlikely  combination)   o The  group  avg  remains  stable   o The  distribution  of  individual  differences  is  unstable   o Ex:  “Warm  feelings  for  your  parents  (in  ’72  vs  ’82)”   o So  the  ppl  with  the  warmest  feelings  for  their  parents  might  have  had   a  falling  out,  and  those  who  didn’t  get  along  might  get  along  really   well  now-­‐     o “People’s  individual  positions  in  the  distribution  have  changed  rather   randomly”  (p210)   • High  Absolute  Continuity  +  High  Differential  Continuity  (also  unlikely)   o Example  not  of  personality,  but  rather  of  personal  income   o “The  entire  distribution  of  scores  shifted  markedly  to  the  higher  end   of  the  income  spectrum  from  1972-­‐82”  and  “individuals  did  not  hold   onto  their  initial  relative  positions  in  the  distribution”   o Ex:  Mary  Anne  didn’t  have  a  job  in  HS  so  she  had  0  income,  and  now   she  has  a  great  paying  job  towards  the  top  end  of  the  group   o Keith  had  a  really  high-­‐paying  part-­‐time  job  in  HS,  so  was  towards  the   top  end  of  the  class,  but  now  remains  in  a  low-­‐paying  job  (towards   the  bottom  end)   *So  remember!  -­‐-­‐-­‐>     Absolute  =  “we’re  absolutely  a  group!”     Differential=  “I’m  different  from  you”       Differential  Continuity  in  the  Adult  Years   Measuring  individual  differences  over  time  to  chart  continuity  and  change  through  the   adult  years.   • “Assessed  by  correlating  trait  scores  at  Time  1  with  Trait  scores  measured  at   time  2  (and  again  at  subsequent  follow  ups)”  (p210).   • Longitudinal  studies  show  remarkably  high  differential  continuity  in   personality  traits  over  the  adult  lifespan.   • Conley  has  performed  longitudinal  studies  over  periods  of  up  to  50  years  of   newlyweds.   • Self-­‐ratings  and  spouse  ratings  generally  agree,  and  showed  consistency  over   time  on  3  levels:   o A)  Self-­‐ratings  over  time   o B)  Spouse  ratings  over  time   o C)  The  ability  of  one  kind  of  rating  to  predict  another  of  the  same  trait   over  time   • Extraversion  (highest)  and  neuroticism  showed  the  strongest  consistency   • All  of  the  big  5  traits  showed  consistency  (average  correlation  +.65)  (Table  on   page  211)   Despite  high  correlations,  there  is  still  room  for  3  factors  for  instability:   • “The  error  of  the  measures  themselves”  (p212)   (2  more  substantial  ones:)   • 1)  The  length  of  time  in  between  testing-­‐  the  longer  the  time  interval  the   lower  the  differential  continuity   • 2)  The  age  of  the  participants   o Children:  +.41   o Young  adults:  +.55   o Age  50-­‐70:  +.70   o As  people  move  into  adulthood,  stability  coefficients  increase  and   distributions  of  trait  scores  show  less  fluctuation     Childhood  Precursors:  From  Temperament  to  Traits   • Nature  vs.  nurture:     • Basic  behavioral  style  differs  from  early  on:  called  temperament   Temperament:   “Temperament  refers  to  the  characteristic  phenomena  of  an  individual’s  nature,   including  his  susceptibility  to  emotional  stimulation,  his  customary  strength  and  speed  of   response,  the  quality  of  his  prevailing  mood,  and  all  the  peculiarities  of  fluctuation  and   intensity  of  mood,  these  being  phenomena  regarded  as  dependent  on  constitutional   makeup,  and  therefor  largely  hereditary  in  origin”  (p214).   • Personality  traits  emerge  out  of  temperament   • 3  types  of  temperament  patterns:   o 1)  Easy  Babies   § Positive  mood   § Low-­‐to-­‐moderate  intensity  of  emotional  reactions   § Regular  sleeping  and  eating  cycles   o 2)  Difficult  Babies   § Consistently  negative  mood   § Intensity  of  emotional  reactions   § Irregular  sleeping  and  eating  cycles   o 3)  Slow-­‐to-­‐warm  up  Babies   § Combination  of  other  2:   § Relatively  negative  mood   § Low  intensity  of  emotional  reactions   § Tendency  to  withdraw  from  new  events  at  first  and  approach   them  later   Behavioral  Inhibition   Kagan:  Inhibited  Children:  Emotionally  subdued  and  shy  children   • About  15%  of  Caucasian  children  by  age  2   o Reluctant  to  play  with  new  toy   o Shy  away  from  new  activities  and  people   o Show  intense  physiological  responses  when  in  stressful  social   situation   § More  dilated  pupils   § Higher  heart  rates   § Higher  levels  of  morning  cortisol  in  the  blood   o “Shy  +  sociable  children  constitute  2  separable  genetic  types   whose  striking  behavioral  differences  are  partly  a  function  of   different  thresholds  of  reactivity  in  the  brains  limbic  system”   o “More  easily  aroused  in  social  situations  and  respond  by   withdrawing”  (p214)   o Show  neural  activation  of  the  right  frontal  lobe     § Linked  to  negative  affectivity:  (fear  and  depression)   o Uninhibited  children  show  activation  of  the  left  frontal  lobe   § Linked  to  positive  affectivity:  (joy  +  happiness)   • Kagan  believes  there’s  a  link  between  inhibition  +  introversion  and   neuroticism  (not  proven)   o Kagan:  From  birth:  20/100  babies  will  show  irritability  +   excitability     o By  age  2:  15  of  them  will  be  shy,  timid  and  fearful  when  meeting   new  people/  new  situations   o By  adolescence:  10  will  still  be  really  shy   o Adulthood:  6  or  7  are  still  introverted   o Other  2/3  “grew  out  it”  through  environmental  experiences   Effortful  Control:   “The  child’s  active  and  voluntary  capacity  to  withhold  a  dominant  response  in  order  to   enact  a  subordinate  response  given  situational  demands”.  (Delaying  immediate   gratification  or  focus)   • High  levels  of  effortful  control  show:   o “Successful  interpersonal  functioning  in  childhood”   o Better  grades   o Fewer  behavioral  problems   o Important  in  moral  development   o The  consolidation  of  conscience   o Paves  the  way  for  rule  compliance   o Ability  to  interact  w/  others  in  a  respectful  +  cooperative  manner   o Girls  show  higher  levels   o Linked  to  social  class   o Improve  over  time  (esp.  btw  2-­‐4  bday  +  16  months  later)   o On  study  of  Latino  and  African  American  babies  correlation  of   +.40  stability  over  a  16  month  period   o Few  longitudinal  studies  held   o   Trait  researchers  have  been  trying  to  link  temperament  of  babies  with  personality  traits   in  adults,  one  study  by  Caspi  sheds  light  on  this  relationship  (p216):   • 1000  individuals   • Longitudinal  study:  3,5,7,9,11,13,15,18,21,26  yrs  old   • 22  behavioral  characteristics   • Grouped  to  produce  5  different  temperament  types:   o Well-­‐adjusted  (n=405):     § Good  levels  of  self-­‐control   § Adequate  self  confidence   § Ok  with  new  situations  (not  upset)   o Undercontrolled  (n=106):   § Impulsive,  restless,  negativistic,  distractible   § Volatile  emotions   o Confident  (n=281)   § Friendly,  impulsive,  enthusiastic   o Inhibited  (n=80):   § Fearful,  easily  upset   o Reserved  (n=151):   § Timid,  uncomfortable   § Showed  less  shyness  and  caution  as  the  inhibited  children   • 23  yrs  later:   o In  general  the  results  showed  only  modest  continuity     o Undercontrolled  and  inhibited  types  showed  most  continuity  in  certain   personality  dimensions:   § Highest  on  negative  emotionality     • Self-­‐reports:   o Easily  upset   o Likely  to  overreact   o Feel  mistreated,  deceived,  betrayed  by  others   • Reports  by  others:   o Antagonistic   o Unreliable   o Tense   o Narrow-­‐minded   • Undercontrolled  children:     o Closest  predictor  of  neuroticism   o Lowest  in  conscientiousness  +  agreeableness   • Inhibited   o Low  extraversion  (high  introversion)   • 3  others:   o No  specific  corresponding  of  the  big  5  personality  traits   o Some  continuity:     § Confident  -­‐>  extraverted   § Reserved  -­‐>  introversion  +  low  openness  to  experience     Developmental  Elaboration:   “Developmental  elaboration  is  a  complex  interplay  through  which  inborn  tendencies   shapes  and  are  shaped  by  environmental  inputs  over  a  long  period  of  time,”  (p  217).   • 6  mechanisms  of  developmental  elaboration:  Inborn  temperament  differences   influence  (TABLE  ON  PAGE  217):   o Learning  processes:  How  children  learn   o Environmental  elicitation:  How  they  construe  their  environments   o Environmental  construal:  how  other  people  in  the  environment  respond   to  them   o Social  and  temporal  comparisons:  how  they  compare  themselves  to  other   children   o Environmental  Selection:  what  kinds  of  environments  they  choose   o Environmental  manipulation  how  they  manipulate  their  environments   once  they  choose  them   • Over  time  temperament  dispositions  will  get  strengthened  and  become  full   fledged  personality  traits  (p218)       The  Origins  of  Traits:  Genes  and  Environments     (MZ)  Monozygotic:  Genetically  identical  twins  (same  zygote)   (DZ)  Dizygotic:  Fraternal  twins  (half  their  genes  in  common)   (MZA):  Monozygotic  twins  who  have  been  raised  apart  (adoption,  other  family  members   etc.)   • MZ  +  even  MZA  have  similar  interests,  tastes,  styles  +  behavior  patterns   • (Bunch  of  trivial  anecdotes)   •     The  Logic  of  Twin  and  Adoption  Studies     How  much  do  genes  influence  us?   • Ex:  people  of  different  heights  in  USA:  90%  is  genetic,  10%  associated  with   nutritional  levels  and  social  class:   o He  suggests  to  think  about  personalities  this  way-­‐  we  don’t  question  why   twins  look  alike  or  that  height  is  genetic   Heritability  quotient:   “A  heritability  quotient  estimates  the  proportion  of  variability  in  a  given  characteristic   that  can  be  attributed  to  genetic  differences  between  people.”   • “Genes  are  segments  of  DNA.  The  genetic  code  is  made  up  of  4  biochemical   bases  of  thymine,  adenine,  cytosine  and  guanine,  with  different  combinations  of   3  “letters”  in  sequence  coding  for  each  of  the  22  amino  acids  that  make  up  the   building  blocks  of  proteins.  Genes  are  directly  implicated,  then,  in  the  making  of   proteins  and  other  basic  biochemical  events.”  (p219).   o “An  individual’s  personality  traits  are  a  complex  product  of  genes   interacting  with  environments  BUT  we  can  consider  the  extent  to  which   genetic  differences  and  environmental  differences  account  for  variability   in  traits  across  many  people,”  (p220).   o Human  genes  are  about  90%  identical,  only  10%  varies.   • MZ  and  DZ  adopted  twins  compared  to  compute  magnitude  of  correlations   obtained:   o  Researchers  have  developed  a  formula  for  estimating  heritability  in  twin   studies:   § Subtract  DZ  correlation  from  MZ  correlation  and  multiply  by  2:   • h =2  (rmz  r dz     o h heritability  quotient   o r mz  :  relation  of  respective  trait  scores  for  MZ   twins   o r dz  :      of  respective  trait  scores  for  DZ   twins    (Example  of  this  formula  on  page  221)   • Biological  siblings,  like  DZ  twins  share  about  50%  of  genes   • “Heritability  can  be  obtained  when  correlations  between  trait  scores  of   biologically  related  siblings  far  exceed  correlations  between  traits  scores  of   nonbiologically  related  siblings,”  (p222).     Behavior  Genetics:   A  scientific  discipline  with  roots  in  psychology,  genetic,  biology  and  related  fields  that   explores  empirical  evidence  concerning  the  relative  influences  of  genetic  and   environmental  factors  in  accounting  for  variability  in  human  behavior”  (p222)     Heritability  Estimates  of  Traits     “The  research  shows  that  virtually  all  personality  traits  that  can  be  reliably  measures  are   at  least  moderately  heritable”    (p  222)   • Study  of  13  000  adult  twins  in  Sweden:   o Heritability  estimates  over  50%  for  extraversion  and  neuroticism   • Other  studies  showed  between  .30-­‐.60  for  a  range  of  other  personality  traits   o More  than  40%  on  leadership/  mastery,  traditionalism  (follow  rules),   stress  reaction,  absorption,  alienation,  well-­‐being,  avoidance  of  harm,   aggressiveness   • Study  done  in  the  1990s  looked  at  big  5  (see  table  6.3  on  p  223)   o Strongest  heritability  shown  for  Open  to  Experience  (.58),  in  MZ   o All  of  the  Big  5,  in  40-­‐50%  range,  in  MZ   o Big  5  btw  18-­‐27%,  in  DZ   o Some  studies  show  higher  correlations   Some  problems:   • “Some  studies  show  MZ  correlations  that  are  more  than  twice  as  high  as  DZ   correlations.”  (For  openness,  extraversion  and  neuroticism)  this  is   problematic  because  MZ  twins  share  100%  common  genes,  and  DZ  50%-­‐  so   it  SHOULDN’T  be  twice  as  similar-­‐  it  should  be  “additive”  (p  224).   • Adopted  biological  siblings  show  significantly  lower  heritability  estimates   Why?   • Nonadditive  gene  variance:     Genes  might  not  influence  traits  in  a  linear  (additive)  way,  but  rather  combine   and  interact  in  a  “configural”  pattern  in  which  all  components  are  essential   and  “the  absence  or  change  in  any  gene  can  produce  qualitative  or  a  large   quantitative  change  in  the  result.”  (p224)     o What  this  means  is  that  if  you  share  50%  of  your  genes  with   someone  else-­‐  you  basically  have  a  50-­‐50  chance  which  could  just  as   easily  be  0   o Non  additive  genetic  effects  is  an  example  of  emergenesis   • Emergenesis:   Emergenesis  is  “an  emergent  property  of  a  configuration  of  genes  or  perhaps  a   configuration  of  more  basic  traits  that  are  themselves  genetic  in  origin”.  In   other  words:  certain  patterns  of  genes  may  give  rise  to  particular  behavioral   tendencies  that  would  not  themselves  be  produced,  even  in  a  weaker  or  more   attenuated  form  by  the  pieces  that  make  up  the  pattern.   o He  gives  the  example  of  a  poker  game,  your  mom  contributes  her   cards,  your  dad  his  to  make  a  new  hand,  but  genes  are  a  deck  of   millions  of  cards  with  infinite  possibilities     Shared  Environment     University  of  Minnesota  study  looked  at  MZ  twins  reared  together  and  apart  (Table   6.2,  p  225)  Growing  up  in  the  same  family  seems  to  have  little  impact  on  personality   traits.  (p226)   • 217  MZ  twin  pairs  raised  together,    44  MZ  twins  raised  apart  (all  adopted)   • “Social  potency”  and  “stress  reaction”  MZ  together,  very  similar  (+.65,  +.52)   • Together:  correlations  from  +.41  -­‐  +.65  for  all  11  traits     o Mean  correlation  +.52   • Apart:  correlations  from  +.36  -­‐  +  .61   o Mean  correlation  +.49   • Shouldn’t  MZ  twins  reared  together  be  even  more  similar?     • Some  influences  of  family  environment:   o Social  closeness  (intimacy  and  love)  .57  in  together  vs  .29  in  apart   seems  to  be  the  only  trait  to  show  slightly  larger  environment  effects   o Loneliness=  no  effects   o Religiousness  =  effects   o Juvenile  delinquency  =  effects     o In  turn:  Adult  criminality  =  no  effects     Point:  research  has  repeatedly  failed  to  show  measurable  effects  of  family   environments  on  personality  traits.   If  it’s  not  the  family  environment  and  genetics  what  accounts  for  this  variation?   1) Trait  measures  contain  error,  which  adds  unexplainable  variation   (testing  methods).   2) 2  kinds  of  environmental  effects.  We  looked  at  shared   environments  effects.     Shared  environment  effects  are  environmental  influences  that   operate  to  make  family  members  alike.   • This  includes:   o Family  conflict   o Warmth     o Discipline   o Social  class   o Parents  education   o Other  social  structural  variables  that  impact  the   family  as  a  whole   Nonshared  environment  effects  are  environmental  influences  that   operate  to  make  family  members  unalike.   Nonshared  Environment     • “Just  because  people  grow  up  in  the  same  family  does  not  mean  they   experience  it  in  the  same  way”  (p227).   • Look  at  first  born  and  later  born  in  families,  this  might  have  some  effect   • Feature  6.A:   o Birth  Order:  A  Nonshared  Environmental  Effect:   o Looking  at  book  called:  Born  to  Rebel:  Birth  Order,  Family  Dynamics   and  Creative  Lives  by  Frank  Sulloway,  basically:   o First  Borns  (likely  to):   § Identify  more  strongly  with  parents  
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