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Chapter 6

Chapter 6 pp210-225.docx

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PSYC 332
Richard Koestner

Chapter 6 – pp. 210-225 Differential Continuity in the Adult Years  In a longitudinal study, the researchers follow the same group of individuals over time to chart continuity and change in psychological variables o Differential continuity in personality traits is typically assessed by correlating trait scores at Time 1 with trait scores obtained later in Time 2 (and again at subsequent follow-ups) o Requires a great deal of time to complete  Longitudinal studies show remarkably high differential continuity in personality traits over the adult lifespan o Conley (1985a) analyzed data from a 50-year longitudinal study of newlyweds on a series of personality trait dimensions in 1935-1938, 1954-1955 and 1980-1981  Participants rated themselves and were rated by their spouses  Conley found that spouse ratings tended to agree with self-ratings on many personality traits. E.g., a husband who saw himself as highly conscientious was likely to be viewed as conscientious by his wife as well  Extraversion and Neuroticism showed particularly strong longitudinal consistency  Differential continuity in trait ratings was displayed when examining (a) self-ratings over time (b) spouse ratings over time (c) the ability of one kind of rating to predict another kind of rating of the same trait over time  Costa, McCrae, and Arenberg (1980) assessed 460 male volunteers in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging on a number of different traits at two different times. o First time, (participants: aged from 17-85-years) correlations between Extraversion scores at Time 1 and Time 2, separated by a 6- to 12-year period, were generally above +.70 o High stability for the trait of Neuroticism o In general, substantial differential continuity has been shown for all five of these large trait (OCEAN) clusters across interval of time ranging from 3 to 30 years (around +.65, which is very high correlation)  Despite the evidence for impressive stability over time, trait scores are not perfectly stable  One of the factors that influences the strength of differential continuity is the length of the time interval between testing o The longer the time interval, the lower the differential continuity o Extraversion tends to show slightly higher differential continuity than the trait of Neuroticism and higher continuity than the overall average of other traits as well  Another factor that influences differential continuity is the age of the participants in the study o Roberts and DelVecchio (2000) found that stability coefficients were lowest in studies of children’s traits (~+.41), rose to higher levels among young adults (~+.55), and then reached a plateau for adults between the ages of 50-70 (~+.70) o We should expect greater and greater differential continuity in personality traits as people age up through late midlife Childhood Precursors: from Temperament to Traits 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 make-up, and therefore largely hereditary in origin Easy babies show consistently positive mood, low-to-moderate intensity of emotional reactions, and regular sleeping and eating cycles Difficult babies show consistently negative moods, intense emotional reactions, and irregular sleeping and eating cycles Slow-to-warm-up babies reveal a combination of the previous two forms, with relatively negative moods, low intensity of emotional reactions, and the tendency to withdraw from new events at first but then approach them later Behavioral inhibition extremely inhibited young children show great timidity in the face of new events and people  Inhibited children show higher levels of morning cortisol in the blood (indicating heightened arousal) compared with uninhibited children, a difference that is also apparent when comparing shy, inhibited rhesus monkeys with their more social peers  Behaviorally inhibited children are more likely to show neural activation of the right frontal lobe while uninhibited children are more likely to show activation of the brain’s left frontal lobe  The two-thirds (out of 100 Caucasian newborns) who lost their excessive shyness by adulthood may have been strongly influenced by environmental experiences encouraging them to be more outgoing Effortful control refers to the “child’s active and voluntary capacity to withhold a dominant response in order to enact a subordinate response given situational demands”  Children with a strong capacity for effortful control are able to delay immediate gratification in order to focus their attention on longer-term goals o High levels of effortful control are predictive of successful interpersonal functioning in childhood, better school grades,
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