Chapter 10-1.docx

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University of Guelph
Family Relations and Human Development
FRHD 2060
Gillian Joseph

Chapter 10: Personality - Personality: the behaviours, traits, emotions, and ideas about the self that make up each unique individual Levels of Analysis and Personality Research - Dispositional traits: aspects of personality that are consistent across different contexts and can be compared across a group along a continuum - Personal concerns: consist of things that are important to people, their goals, and their major concerns in life - Life narrative: consists of the aspects of personality that pull everything together, the integrative aspects that give a person identity or sense of self - As one moves from dispositional traits to personal concerns to life narrative, the more likely it is that change will be observed Dispositional Traits Across Adulthood Three assumptions are made about traits: 1. Traits are based on comparisons of people because there are no absolute quantitative standards from concepts such as friendliness 2. The qualities or behaviours making up a particular trait must be distinctive enough to avoid confusion 3. The traits attributed to a specific person are assumed to be stable characteristics The Case for Stability: The Five-Factor Model - Five-factor model: consists of 5 independent dimensions of personality: neuroticism, extroversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness Neuroticism - The 6 facets of neuroticism are anxiety, hostility, self-consciousness, depression, impulsiveness, and vulnerability - People who are high in trait anxiety are nervous, high-strung, tense, worried, and pessimistic - Besides being prone to anger, hostile people are irritable and tend to be hard to get along with - The traits of self-consciousness and depression relate to the emotions shame and sorrow - Impulsiveness and vulnerability are most often manifested as behaviours rather than emotions - Impulsiveness is the tendency to give in to temptation and desires because of a lack of willpower and self-control - Vulnerability is a lowered ability to deal effectively with stress - People who are high in neuroticism tend to be high in each of the traits Extroversion Grouped into 3 interpersonal traits (warmth, gregariousness, and assertiveness) and 3 temperamental traits (activity, excitement seeking, and positive emotions) - Warmth: a friendly, compassionate, intimately involved style of interacting with people - Gregarious: thrive on crowds; the more social interaction, the better - Assertive: make natural leaders, take charge easily, make up their own minds, and readily express their thoughts and feelings - Extroverts like to keep busy and are very positive people - They tend to have people-oriented jobs, such as social work, business admin, and sales - They value humanitarian goals and a person-oriented use of power Openness to Experience Six facets of openness: 1. Fantasy: having a vivid imagination and active dream life 2. Aesthetics: the appreciation of art and beauty, sensitivity to pure experience for its own sake 3. Action: a willingness to try something new 4. Ideas: curious and value knowledge for the sake of knowing 5. Values: willingness to think of different possibilities and tendency to empathize with others in different circumstances 6. Feelings: experience their own feelings strongly and see them as a major source of meaning in life - Likely to be found in occupations that place a high value on thinking theoretically or philosophically and less emphasis on economic values Agreeableness - These people may tend to be overly dependent and self-effacing, traits that often prove annoying to others Conscientious - Scoring high in conscientiousness indicates that one is hard working, ambitious, energetic, scrupulous, and persevering - Such people have a strong desire to achieve What is the Evidence for Trait Stability? - In their early work, Costa & McCrae suggest that personality traits stop changing by age 30 - Study found that personality ratings by spouses of each other showed no systematic changes over a 6-year period - In a study of Canadian, German, and Japanese twins, there was considerable support for the heritability of personality traits Critiques of the Five-Factor Model - First, data indicate that certain personality traits show some change over a 30- to 40-year period - Second, Alwin point out that the evidence for stability reported by Costa & McCrae could result from several different statistical functions other than an essentially flat line across adulthood that would allow change in parts of the life span not studied by trait researchers - Third, in a major review of the literature, Block raises several concerns with their approach based on perceived methodological problems, such as the way dimensions were identified statistically and the way the questionnaire assessment was developed and used - McAdams raises additional limitations: first, he points out that any model of dispositional traits says nothing about the core or essential aspects of human nature - Second, dispositional traits rarely provide enough info about people so that accurate predictions can be made - Third, the assessment of dispositional traits generally fails to provide compelling explanations of why people behave the way they do - Fourth, dispositional traits are seen as independent of the context in which the person operates - Fifth, the assessment of dispositional traits reduces a person to a set of scores on a series of linear continua anchored by terms that are assumed to be both meaningful and opposite - Sixth, the assessment of dispositional traits through questionnaires assumes that the respondent is able to take an objective, evaluative stance about his or her personal characteristics - HLM method (hierarchical linear modeling): creates a growth curve for each individual in a study and pieces the curves together to create an overall age trend Additional Longitudinal Studies of Dispositional Traits The Berkley Studies - Data suggest that lifestyle during young adulthood is the better predictor of life satisfaction in old age for women but that personality is the better predictor for men - Haan and colleagues argue that changes in personality probably stem from life cycle experiences that may force a person to change Women’s Personality Development during Adulthood - Helson and colleagues followed the lives of women who chose a typical feminine social clock (get married, have kids) - This adaptation process typically was accompanied by withdrawal from social life, the suppression of impulse and spontaneity, a negative self-image, and decreased feelings of competence - However, of these women, those who had careers by the age of 28 were less respectful of norms and more rebellious toward what they experienced - Follow-ups showed that these independent women remained so and showed greater confidence, initiative and forcefulness than women who didn’t pursue a career - Overall Helson and her colleagues showed that women’s personality change was systematic in early and middle adulthood, yet changes were evident in the context of specific changes in social roles and transitions in social contexts Conclusions about Dispositional Traits - From both conceptual and empirical perspectives It seems that the idea that personality traits stop changing at 30 doesn’t have uniform support - Costa and McCrae report that some people may change over time, but most do not - The Berkley group and Helson argue that at least some traits change, opening the door to personality development in adulthood Personal Concerns and Qualitative Stages in Adulthood What’s the Difference about Personal Concerns? - Recent work emphasizes the importance of sociocultural influences on development that shape people’s wants and behaviours - Conscious descriptions of what a person is trying to accomplish during a given period of life and what goals and goal-based concerns a person has Jung’s Theory - Emphasizes that each aspect of a person’s personality must be in balance with all others - Jung asserts that the parts of the personality are organized in such a way as to produce 2basic orientations of the ego - One orientation is concerned with the external world; extroversion - The other, toward the inner world of subjective experiences; introversion - To be physiologically healthy, both orientations must be present, and they must be balanced - Jung advocates 2 important age-related trends in personality development: 1. Introversion-extroversion distinction > young adults are more extroverted than older adults, perhaps because of younger people’s need to find a mate, have a career, and so forth. With increasing age, however, the need for balance creates a need to focus inward and explore personal feelings about aging and morality 2. Feminine and masculine aspects of our personalities > each of us has elements of both masculinity and femininity. In young adulthood, however, most of us express only one of them while usually working hard to supress the other. As they grow older, people begin to allow the supressed parts of their personality out. These changes achieve a better balance that allows men and women to deal more effectively with their individual needs rather than being driven by socially defined stereotypes Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development - According to him, personality is determined by the interaction between an inner maturational plan and external societal demands - He proposes that the life cycle comprises 8 stages of development (Table 10.1 pg. 343) - The sequence of stages in Erickson’s theory is based on the epigenetic principle, which means that each psychosocial strength has its own special time of ascendancy, or period of particular importance - It takes a lifetime to acquire all the psychosocial strengths - Erickson argues that present and future behaviour must have its roots in the past because later stages build on the foundation laid in previous ones - Erickson argues that the basic aspect of a healthy personality is a sense of trust towards oneself and others - The second stage, autonomy vs. shame and doubt, reflects children’s budding understanding that they are in charge of their own actions - The third stage of conflict is initiative vs. guilt. Once children realize they can act on the world and are somebody, they begin to discover who they are - The fourth stage is marked by
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