Chapter 10.docx

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University of Guelph
Family Relations and Human Development
FRHD 3040
Tuuli Kukkonen

ADULT DEVELOPMENT: CHAPTER 10 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; the first level of personality most people think of (e.g. shy, talkative, authoritarian) Personal Concerns: things that are important to people, their goals, and their major concerns in life Life Narrative: aspects of personality that pull everything together, the integrative aspects that give a person an identity or sense of self Dispositional Traits across Adulthood Three assumptions made about traits: 1. Traits are based on comparisons of people because there are no absolute quantitative standards for 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  Trait theories assume that little change in personality occurs across adulthood  One important principle behind most trait theories is the structure of traits; structure is the way in which traits are organized within a person The Case for Stability: The Five-Factor Model (Costa & McCrae)  This model is strongly grounded in cross-sectional, longitudinal, and sequential research  This model consists of five independent dimensions of personality: 1. Neuroticism 2. Extroversion 3. Openness to experience 4. Agreeableness 5. Conscientiousness  Each dimension is represented by six facets that reflect the main characteristics associated with it NEUROTICISM Six Facets: 1. Anxiety 2. Hostility 3. Self-Consciousness 4. Depression 5. Impulsiveness 6. Vulnerability  Anxiety and Hostility form underlying traits for two fundamental emotions: fear and anger; the frequency and intensity with which these emotions are felt vary from one person to another; people who are high in trait anxiety are nervous, high-strung, and worried; hostile people are irritable and hard to get along with  Self-Consciousness and Depression relate to the emotions: shame and sorrow; people who are high in self- consciousness are sensitive to criticism and teasing; depression refers to sadness and hopelessness  Impulsiveness and Vulnerability are most often manifested into behaviours rather than emotions; impulsiveness is the tendency to give into temptation and desires because of a lack of willpower and self-control; vulnerability refers to a lowered ability too deal effectively with stress  Costa and McCrae note that, in general, people who are high in neuroticism tend to be high in each of these traits; high neuroticism typically results in violent and negative emotions EXTROVERSION Six Facets: Interpersonal Traits… 1. Warmth 2. Gregariousness 3. Assertiveness Temperamental Traits… 4. Activity 5. Excitement Seeking 6. Positive Emotions  Warmth and Gregariousness make up what is sometimes called sociability  Temperamentally, extroverts like to keep busy; have endless energy, talk fast, and want to be on the go  Extroversion relates well to occupational interests and values; people high in extroversion tend to have people- oriented jobs, such as social work, business administration and sales; people low in extroversion tend to prefer task- oriented jobs, such as architecture or accounting OPENNESS TO EXPERIENCE Six Facets: 1. Fantasy 2. Aesthetics 3. Action 4. Ideas 5. Values 6. Feelings  Openness to experience is also related to occupational choice; open people are likely to be found in occupations that place a high value on thinking theoretically or philosophically and less emphasis on economic values; intelligent and tend to subject themselves to stressful situations such as psyhcologists or ministers AGREEABLENESS  The easiest way to understand the agreeableness dimension is to consider the traits that characterize antagonism: 1. Skeptical 2. Mistrustful 3. Callous 4. Unsympathetic 5. Stubborn 6. Rude 7. Have a defective sense of attachment  Antagonism may be manifested as hostility, or as skillful manipulators or aggressive go-getters with little patience CONSCIENTIOUSNESS  Scoring high on conscientiousness indicates that one is hardworking, ambitious, energetic, scrupulous, and preserving; have a strong desire to achieve What is the Evidence for Trait Stability?  In early research, Cost and McCrae suggested that personality traits stop changing by age 30 and appear to be “set in plaster”  In a study with 114 men, it was found that even over a 12-year period, the 10 traits measured by the GZTS remained highly stable; the correlations ranged from 0.68 to 0.85  In much of personality research we might expect to find this degree of stability over a week or two, but to see it over 12 years is noteworthy  Underlying personality dispositions hardly change at all through adulthood Critiques of the Five-Factor Model 1. Data indicates that certain personality traits (self-confidence, cognitive commitment, outgoingness, and dependability) show some change over a 30 to 40 year period 2. Alwin points out that the evidence for stability 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 3. Review of literature (Block) presents several critiques based on perceived methodological problems, such as the way the dimensions were identified statistically and the way the questionnaire assessment was developed and used 4. McAdams points out:  Any model of dispositional traits says nothing about the core or essential aspects of human nature  Dispositional traits rarely provide enough information about people so that accurate predictions can be made  The assessment of dispositional traits generally fails to provide compelling explanations of why people behave the way they do  Dispositional traits are seen as independent of the context in which the person operates  The assessment of dispositional traits reduces a person to a set of scores on a series of linear continua  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 Conclusions about Dispositional Traits  The idea that personality traits stop changing at age 30 does not have uniform support  Costa and McCrae argue strongly for the position of traits that require stability; some people may change over time, but most do not  Berkeley Group and Helson created a study that argued for both change and stability; at least some traits change, opening the door to personality development in adulthood  Overwhelming evidence supports the view that personality traits remain stable throughout adulthood when data are averaged across many different kind of people; however, if we ask about specific aspects of personality in very specific kinds of people, we are more likely to find some evidence of both change and stability Personal Concerns and Qualitative Stages in Adulthood  Recent work emphasizes the importance of sociocultural influences on development that shape people’s wants and behaviours  When people talk about themselves they go well beyond speaking in dispositional trait terms; people provide more narrative descriptions that rely heavily on their life circumstances  Personality constructs must be viewed as conscious descriptions of what a person is trying to accomplish during a given period of life and what goals and goal-based concerns the person has Jung’s Theory  One of the very first theorists to believe in personality development in adulthood  Emphasizes that each aspect of a person’s personality must be in balance with all others; each part of the personality is expressed in some way, whether through normal means or through neurotic symptoms or in dreams  The parts of the personality are organized in such a way as
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