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Chapter 3

Chapter 3 - Traits & Trait Taxonomies.docx

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PSYC 2330
Stephen Lewis

Chapter 3: Traits & Trait Taxonomies Personality Psychology January 19 2012 What is a Trait? Two Basic Formulations: 1. Internal Causal Properties - Traits are internal in the sense that individuals carry their desires, needs, and wants from one situation to the next. - These desires and needs are presumed to be causal in the sense that they explain the behaviour of the individuals who possess them. - These traits may lie dormant, meaning a person will not display this trait in every setting of their life. 2. Descriptive Summaries - Define traits simply as descriptive summaries of attributes of persons; they make no assumptions about internality or causality. - They summarize behaviour trends. The Act Frequency Formulation of Traits - Begins with the notion that traits are categories of acts. - i.e. The category dominance might include specific acts such as: He issued orders that got the group organized. He assigned roles and got the game going. Act Frequency Program 1. Act Nomination: is a procedure designed to identify which acts belong in which trait categories. 2. Prototypicality Judgment: identifying which acts are most central to, or prototypical of each trait category. (Identifying better examples, more central to what most people hold the meaning of) 3. Recording of Act Performance: the third and final step in the research program consists of securing information on the actual performance of individuals in their daily lives. Pros: - Identifies acts relating to most traits - Identifies behavioral regularities - Helps study the meaning of hard to study traits Cons: - No account for amount of context - Applies only to overt acts - May prove difficult with complex traits - Atheoretical How to identify Traits 1. Lexical Approach: - All traits listed and defined in the dictionary form the basis of the natural way - Thus the logical starting point for the lexical strategy is the natural language. - Lexical Hypothesis: All key individual differences are encoded within our language over time. Criteria for Identifying Traits: Synonym Frequency: multiple words to relate to that trait Cross-cultural Universality: should have a replacement of a word in different languages Pros: - Helps initially to identify key differences - Considers culture Cons: - Some traits are ambiguous - May not capture various types of speech 2. Statistical Approach - This approach uses factor analysis, or similar statistical procedures, to identify major personality traits. - After collecting a pool of adjectives, items and sentences the statistical approach is applied. - Consists of having a large number of people rate themselves on the items, then using a statistical procedure to identify the major dimensions, or coordinates of the personality map. Factor Analysis: identifies groups of items that go together and co relate i.e. outgoing and talkative, organized and dependable. - They reduce traits into groups  major dimensions of personality Factor Loading – show the degree of which this factors relate to one another 3.Theoretical Approach - A theory determines the important individual differences (traits) - Pros/cons coincide with the theory’s strengths/weaknesses In Practice all three of these approaches can be used together. Taxonomies of Personality Eysenck’s
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