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Chapter 4

Chapter 4 Notes.pdf

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PSYC 333
Jennifer Bartz

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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 • Many people agree quite well about what personality dimensions and specific traits are most useful in capturing the differences among themselves and among different actors. People also show significant levels of agreement in the traits they assign to particular individuals. There is also considerable stability over time in the assessments people give of both their own personality traits and those of their peers • Trait ratings based on self-reports and peer ratings alike have been shown to predict actual behaviour in everyday life as well as in the laboratory, but the challenge to the shared dispositionist convictions of layperson and professional alike still remains The Scientific Findings and the Debate: • Given the “obviousness” of individual differences in personality and the fear that assessment instruments and formulas exist that permit reasonably precise and accurate predictions about the behaviour of particular actors in particular situations, what more is there to know about an individual’s personality It seems that even with studies, there is no conclusive expectations of such predictions of one’s personality • • The problem has been one of effect size or the discrepancy between observed level of cross-situational consistency and the levels anticipated y our widely shared dispositionist theories • There are no famous studies in which stable personal attributes have proved to be markedly better predictors of behaviour, nor do any studies show that small and subtle individual differences produce large and reliable differences in overt social behaviour The Scientific Findings and the Debate: • Walter Mischel and Donald Peterson pointed out that the predictability of individual responses in specific situations is quite low to call into question the most basic assumptions about behavioural consistency • Average correlation between different behavioral measures specifically designed to tap the same personality trait was low meaning that there is no accuracy of prediction about situation 2 by knowing how someone has behaved in situation 1 • Mischel did not try to explain away the low correlation but rather accept the truth about human behaviour that cross- situational consistencies might be the exception and behavioural specificity the rule • Mischel challenged us to consider what perceptual, cognitive, and motivational factors might lead us to “see” high degrees of behavioural consistency and predictability where little or none exists and to find new ways of understanding the determinants of people’s response to their social environment Empirical Studies of Cross-Situational Consistency: • Newcomb and the Consistency of Extroversion: Newcomb examined the evidence for personal traits or dispositions falling under the general rubric of extroversion • • Tested children at a summer camp; used rubric to categorize a behaviour either as extroverted or introverted behaviour Consistently, subjects’ responses in one situation seemingly well chosen to tap a given personality trait have provided • very little basis for predicting the same subjects’ responses in a second situation designed to tap that same trait Hartshorne and May and the Consistency of Honesty: • • Hartshorne and May examined the honesty of elementary and secondary school children in a wide range of classroom and non-classroom situations • Steal change left on table in empty classroom Lie to avoid getting another child into trouble • • Cheat by adding false scores to a classroom test where detect seemed impossible Still found low cross-situational correlation between two different behaviour types • • Consistency Research 1929-1968: New research dismissed earlier studies on various methodological grounds without attempting to show that different • results could be obtained by remedying the supposed methodological deficiencies New research abandoned behavioural measurement and focusing instead on subjective paper and pencil self-reports • and peer assessments Results correlating items such as odd-numbered and even-numbered test items or between different tests measuring • the same traits showed higher correlation (.5 instead of .1/.2) Claims were made that such correlations when subjected to sophisticated factor-analytic techniques were beginning to • reveal the structur
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