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Chapter 5

Chapter 5

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PSYC 2740
Stephen Lewis

Chapter 5: Personality Dispositions Over Time: Stability, Coherence, and Change Personality Development – continuities, consistencies and stabilities in people over time and ways people changer over time – stability and change 3 most important forms of stability 1. Rank order stability – maintenance of individual position within group (all people development pretty much the same so should stay in the same rank order even as you all develop) 2. Mean level stability – population that maintains consistent average level of trait or characteristic over time 3. Personality coherence – maintaining rank order in relation to others but changing manifestation of the trait (what the trait looks like as someone develops changes) – continuity in underlying trait but change in outward manifestation of trait Personality change has 2 defining qualities: changes are internal to person (not external surroundings) and changes are relatively enduring over time – if change doesn’t last it is not called a development (ex. when sick body changes) Three Levels of Analysis 1. Population level – changes and constancies that apply more or less to everyone ex. sexual motivation at puberty, describes a general trend that might be part of what it means to be human and go through life 2. Group Differences Level – some changes over time affect different groups of people differently ex. females hit puberty on average 2 years before males, could be cultural or ethical differences 3. Individual Differences Level – individual differences in personality development ex. can we predict who will go through midlife crisis? Stability of Temperament during Infancy  Temperament – individual differences that emerge very early in life, likely to have heritable basis and are often involved with emotionality or arousability  6 levels of temperament – Mary Rothbart 1. Activity level: overall motor activity including leg/arm movement 2. Smiling and laughter – how much does infant smile/laugh? 3. Fear –distress and reluctance to approach novel stimuli 4. Distress to limitations –ex. being refused food, being dressed, being confined etc. 5. Soothability – degree child reduces stress/calms down after being soothed 6. Duration or orienting – degree child sustains attention to objects in absence of sudden changes  Personality traits tend to be more stable at end of infancy (9 to 12 months)as they mature  Stable individual differences seem to appear very early in life  Most temperament variables – are modern levels of stability during first year of life  Stability of temperament tends to be higher over short intervals of time rather than longer Stability during Childhood Longitudinal study – sample of more than 100 children (age 3) from Berkeley-Oakland area of California, since then done at ages: 4, 5, 7, 11 and into adulthood  When kids were 3 and 4 assessed in 2 ways 1. Actometer – recording device attached to wrists over several playing periods, motoric movement turned device on 2. independently teachers rated their behaviors (“is physically active”, “is vital, energetic, active”, “has rapid personal tempo”) done at age 3, 4 and 7  Activity level shows moderate stability during childhood  testing early in life can predict personality later in life but predictability decreases with length of time between original testing and behavior being predicted  individual differences in personality emerge early in life – likely in infancy for some traits, childhood for others (i.e. aggression)  childhood personality at age 3 is good predictor of personality at age 26 Rank Order Stability in Adulthood  across self-report measures of personality (by different investigators, and over differing time intervals of adulthood) the traits: Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness, Agreeableness and Conscientiousness all show moderate to high levels of stability – average correlation is +.65  moderate to high levels of personality stability, in individual differences, sense, are found whether data source is self-report, spouse-report and peer-report  moderate levels of rank order stability of the Big 5 found earlier, are highly replicable across different populations and investigators  personality dispositions whether Big 5 or not, show moderate to considerable rank order stability over time in adulthood  personality consistency tends to increase with increasing age  trait consistency increases in linear fashion from infancy to middle age where it then reaches its peak after age 50 – as people age personality becomes more and more “set” Mean Level Stability in Adulthood  five-factor model of personality – fairly consistent mean level stability over time  small
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