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PSYCH 2B03 (108)
Chapter 1-3


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Jennifer Ostovich

CHAPTER ONE: The STUDY OF THE PERSON - psychological triad: how people think, feel, and behave - conflicts and inconsistencies - obligations to understand whole persons/individuals - draws and contributes to social, cognitive, developmental, clinical and biological psychology The goals of personality psychology - assemble and integrated view of whole, functioning individuals in their daily environments - personality: an individual’s characteristic patterns of thought, emotion and behaviour, together with psychological mechanisms behind those patterns Mission impossible - basic approach: systematic, self-imposed limitation (there’s too much it’s almost impossible to look at the “whole” at once, therefore need to limit to certain kinds of patterns/observations) o trait approach: how people differ psychologically, howdifferences may be conceptualized/measured (e.g. boss considering who to hire) o biological approach: others look at the physiology and their relevance to personality o psychoanalytic approach: concerned with the unconscious mind and the nature and resolution of internal mental conflict (Freud) (e.g. trying to understand the motivations of a televangelist arrested for soliciting prostitutes, dreams) o phenomenological approach: focus on people’s conscious experience of the world o humanistic (e.g. considering meaning of life)  cultural: variations of psychology and experience of reality across cultures  humanistic: how conscious awareness can produce such uniquely human attributes as existential anxiety, creativity and free will, and tries to understand the meaning of basis of happiness o learning approach: concentrate on the ways people change their behavior as results of rewards, punishments and other life experiences  social learning theory: draw inferences about the ways that mental processes such as observation and self evaluation determine how behaviours are learned and performed  behaviourism: overt behaviour and ways it can be affected by rewards/punishements (Skinner) (e.g. teach dog tricks)  cognitive process: applying insights, methods derived from the study of perception, memory and thought Competitors or complements? - different approaches complement each other as they address different sets of questions about human psychology Distinct approaches vs. the one big theory - theory that explains everything will not be able to provide best explanation for any one thing - different issues need to be viewed from different perspectives Advantages as disadstntages and vice versa - Funder’s 1 : great strengths are usually great weaknesses - advantage: personality psych accounts for whole persona & real life concerns  also the problem: overinconclusive/unfocused research - each approach often ignores topics that it’s not good at explaining - personality is coherent, each part stems from and depends on another Summary - address the psychological triad and try to explain the psychological functioning of whole individuals  different approaches that emphasize different topics - trait, biological, psychoanalytical, phenomenological, learning, cognitive processes - pigeon hole humans: tends to emphasize on how individuals are different CHAPTER 2: ndUES TO PERSONALITY- THE BASIC SOURCES OF DATA Funder’s 2 : there are no perfect indicators of personality; there are only clues, and clues are always ambiguous Data are clues - because you can’t see personality directly, must infer it’s existence and nature based on indications that can be observed (what the person says, how they perform in daily life etc) - piece clues to form a portrait (note: need to maintain a healthy scepticism in the process) - funder’s 3 : something beats nothing Four kinds of clues (SILB) 1. Self reports: Ask person for her own evaluation of personality 2. Informant’s report: Ask her acquaintances 3. Life outcomes: See hot they are faring in life 4. Behavioural observations: watch what the person actually does S: Self reports - principle behind: self is the best expert about own personality - face validity: intended to measure what they seem to measure (or questions can be more open-ended like list their personal strivings instead of rate your friendliness) - most common - Advantages o Large amount of information: acquaintances can only see you at certain occasions (limited)  S reports more complex aspects of the self o Access to thoughts, feelings and intentions: you know your own fantasies, dreams, fears, intentions (private yet important) – psychological meaning of behaviour lies in what it was intended to accomplish (people can only infer) o Definitional truth: they have to be right (e.g. if someone rates himself for high self esteem, then they do because these aspects of personality are self views) o Causal force: your view of yourself doesn’t just reflect what you think about yourself, it may be among the causes of what you do (self verification) – your view of the kind of person you are has important effects on the goals you set o Simple and easy - Disadvantage: o Maybe they won’t tell you: don’t tell real intentions, unwilling to admit or brag, ashamed, false claims (researchers won’t even know in most cases) o Maybe they can’t tell you:  distorted memory (painful to remember/repression), certain peculiar experiences may stand out (doesn’t capture the truth), fish and water effect (common failing of self judgement, so used to the way they act that they don’t think it’s anything special  can happen for + or – traits. Happens with customary behaviours of cultures), lack of insight (lack ability to see all aspects of their own personality though it may be obvious to others  narcissist: exaggerated idea of his own abilities and accomplishments  concealment, failure of memory, active repression, lack of insight o Too simple and too easy: overused to the extent that other methods are forgotten of I: Ask somebody who knows - judgements by knowledgeable informants about general attributes of the individual’s personality (e.g. traits) - need to know person well - psychological training only more relevant when judgements are of technical nature - data is judgemental, subjective and irreducibly human (derive from somebody observing somebody else in a particular context  generate general opinion - e.g. letter of recommendation - Advanages: o Large amount of information: close acquaintances have access to hundreds of behaviours in a variety of situations o Real world basis: derived from observation in real world (therefore more relevant) o Common sense: I data is distillations of behavioural observations that are filtered through the informant’s common sense (context and intentions taken account of) often:  Immediate situation  They know other behaviours, interpretation based on other knowledge of the person o Definitional truth: you can’t rate your self on certain aspects, which makes an informant very important (e.g. humor, likeability, attractiveness) o Causal force: I data is a person’s reputation- opinions that others have of your personality greatly affect both your opportunities and expectancies. In addition, people become what others expect them to be  expectancy effect/behavioural confirmation - Disadvantages: o Limited behavioural information: informant has not been with person all the time  you may be a different person in different environments (compartmentalization of lives) o Lack of access to private experience: there’s always something private o Error: judgements may be mistaken- can’t remember all that has been done, overlook etc.  stuff that stick is usually extreme/emotionally arousing, and forget the behaviors that are consistent (which are actually the most important about personality) – events failed to be noticed, misperceived or are forgotten o Bias: (systematic) seeing someone in a more positive/negative term than they deserve [unfair vs. mistaken in error], they may have special relationships/racial problems getting two informant’s helps reduce the likelihood of bias L: Life outcomes - verifiable, concrete, real life outcomes that may hold psychological significance (education, criminal record, zip code, room condition etc) - ask directly (faulty memories, distort information) or obtained from files (ethical issues)  therefore not prone to any bias - residues/result of personality rather than a reflection of personality - Advantages: o Objective and verifiable: this precision is rare in psychology o Intrinsic importance: the data justifies whether an positive effect has been done by the psychologist o Psychological relevance: strongly affected by and uniquely informative about psychological variables (e.g. not being married by 40 is a reliable marker of psychopathology)  but also need to keep in mind the other factors that may be in play (e.g. guests that make the room messy, therefore not a reflection of personality) - Disadvantages: o Multidetermination: difficult to establish direct connections between specific attributes of personality and life outcomes (marriage, employment etc) because there may be many causes (# times someone has been arrested  may be accounted for by many traits or may not even be accounted for by personality- consider other factors such as social class, childhood circumstances)- you do not know the degree to which a certain outcome is affected by an individual’s personality B: Behavioural observations - observe in real life or lab setting or from personality tests - derived from researcher’s direct observation and recording of what the participant has done - natural vs. contrived - Natural: o Careful and systematically record from direct observation o Diary and experience sampling method: participants fill diary (~self reports b
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