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Chapter 4

PSYC 333 Chapter Notes - Chapter 4: Nomothetic, Walter Mischel, Donald H. Peterson


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYC 333
Professor
Jennifer Bartz
Chapter
4

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PSYC333 Chapter 4 Notes
The Search For Personal Consistency:
The last three chapters primarily dealt with people overlooking or to make insufficient allowance for situational influences
when being called upon to interpret the events that unfold around them. This tendency is especially likely to mislead people
when they are confronted with behaviour that is surprising or extreme
Behaviour prompts the situationist to search for extreme or extenuating circumstances that might account for such behaviour
A related thesis involves the layperson’s failure to recognize the importance of subjective interpretation; realizing the extent
to which behaviour can be predicted and understood only in light of the actor’s own construal of the situation providing the
context for such behaviour
People attribute the behaviour they observe come from inveterate dispositions. They account for past actions and outcomes,
and make predictions about future actions and outcomes, in terms of the person - more specifically, in terms of presumed
personality traits or other distinctive and enduring personal dispositions
An Overview of Conventional Theories of Personality:
Theories of personality stem from two basic assumptions about human behaviour, both of which are demanded by everyday
social experience
First assumption is that many stimulus situations in the social sphere provoke distinctively different responses from different
people
The second assumption , equally congruent with everyday social experience, is that individuals display a substantial degree
of consistency, and hence a substantial degree of predictability, in responding to different situations
These two assumptions together gives us the core proposition of lay dispositionism which is the variability in responses we
witness when different people react to a given situation is a reflection not of randomness or indeterminacy but of the
distinctive and enduring personal attributes that the various actors bring to that situation
Personalist wanted to identify the major behaviour determining attributes of people in general and finding ways to measure
these attributes in individuals, discovering regularities in the ways in which specific attributes relate to each other in
determining the structure of personality and questions of personality development and change
It seems obvious to any observer, theorist as well as layperson that people differ in their responses and in their underlying
personalities. In addition, people’s behaviour, people’s behaviour across different situations shows the imprint of who they
are and what they are
People seem to differ strikingly from each other in the friendliness, honesty, dependency, impulsivity and so on, that they
manifest over time and across different situations
Experience further suggest regularities in the organization of personality. Attributes seem to form distinctive, organized
clusters so that it is reasonable to talk about extroverts, sociopaths, authoritarians, mama’s boys, and countless other
personality “types’
Experience and intuition encourage us to see a basis for individual differences. We frequently see similarities between
children and their parents that depending on one’s view about “nature vs. Nurture” suggest the influence either of heredity
or of the values that parents express in their words and deeds
We not only see distinct personality traits and types, we often can explain why they exist and even why the individuals in
question could hardly be otherwise
In Western culture at least, both everyday experience and the wisdom of our sages seem to encourage the set of
conventional dispositionist views that shapes the research agendas of personality researchers
Researchers have developed many assessment instruments, ranging from simple self repot and self description
questionnaires dealing with particular traits or behaviour to subtle projective tests and giant omnibus inventories for
analyzing and quantifying personal attributes and higher-order clustering of such attributes
The net results of traditional personologist’s empirical and intellectual labors is a view of individual differences that is entirely
compatible with conventional lay views about the dimensions of personality and social behaviour
At the top level of generality we are likely to see one dimension or factor corresponding to extroversion-introversion, a
second corresponding to agreeableness-disagreeableness, and a third corresponding to emotional stability-instability
At a lower level of generality than the broad factors are found the traditional traits. Thus, under the broad rubric of
extroversion would be found the traits of talkativeness (vs. Silence), sociability (vs. Reclusiveness), adventurousness (vs.
Cautiousness), and frankness (vs. Secretiveness). Under the broad rubric of agreeableness would be found such trait
descriptors as good-natured (vs. Irritable), cooperative (vs. Negativistic), and so on
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