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Chapter 3

PSYC 2740 Chapter Notes - Chapter 3: Lexical Hypothesis, Sociosexual Orientation, Psychophysiology

Course Code
PSYC 2740
Stephen Lewis

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Chapter 3: Traits and Trait Taxonomies
Personality psychologists hypothesize traits (a.k.a. dispositions) reasonably stable over time and at
least somewhat consistent over situations
Central goal = formulate a comprehensive taxonomy of all important traits
Traits as Internal Causal Properties
presumed to be internal in sense that individuals carry desires, wants, needs from one situation
to next
explain the behavior of individuals who possess them (causal)
do not equate traits with external behavior in question
traits can lie dormant capacities remain even when behavior isn’t actually expressed
Traits as Purely Descriptive Summaries
make no assumptions about internality or causality
use traits to describe trend in persons behavior
Act Frequency Approach
starts with traits are categories of acts
3 key elements:
1. Act nomination identifies which acts belong in which trait categories
2. Prototypically judgement identifies which acts are more central to, or prototypical of each
trait category
3. Recording of act performance securing information on the actual performance of
individuals in their daily lives (usually use self-reports, or reports from close family/friends)
Evaluation of Act Frequency Formulation
Doesn’t specify how much context should be included in description of trait-relevant act
What about failure to act and covert acts that aren’t directly observable?
Helpful exploring meaning of traits and identifying behavioral regularities
Helpful identifying cultural similarities and differences in behavioral manifestation of traits
Can predict important outcomes in everyday life ex. salary, job success, rate of promotion
Lexical approach approach to determining fundamental personality traits by analyzing language ex.
trait adjective with more synonyms probably represents more fundamental trait (good starting point)
Lexical hypothesis all important individual differences have become encoded with the natural
People invent words to describe people
Trait terms are extraordinarily important for people in communicating with others
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