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Chapter 12

PSYC 2740 Chapter Notes - Chapter 12: Field Dependence, Harm Avoidance, Learned Helplessness

Course Code
PSYC 2740
Stephen Lewis

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Chapter 12 - Cognitive Topics in Personality
Differences in how people think are the focus of cognitive approaches to personality
Personalising cognition processing information by relating it to a similar event in your own life, occurs
when people interpret a new event in personally relevant manner
Objectifying cognition processing information by relating it to objective facts
Cognition general term referring to awareness and thinking as well as to specific mental acts such as
perceiving, interpreting, remembering, believing and anticipating
Information processing transformation of sensory input into mental representations and
manipulations of such events
Humans spend great deal of time processing information but are not always accurate or
Differ greatly from each other in how perceive, think about, construe themselves, the world and
other people
Three Levels of Cognition
1. Perception - process of imposing order on the information our sense organs take in
Two people can look at same situation and see very different things
Differences in what people see may be related to their personality
Ex. inkblot tests
2. Interpretation making sense of or explaining various events in the world
Two possible interpretations based on personality blame someone/something else,
blame yourself ex. get in a car accident and say the curve is to sharp vs. you aren’t a very
good driver
3. Conscious Goals the standards that people develop for evaluating themselves and others
People develop specific beliefs about what is important in life and which tasks are
appropriate to pursue may be age, culture specific
Personality Revealed Through Perception
Field Dependence
Personality can be revealed through differences in how people perceive their environment
Rod and Frame Test (RFT) Witkin an apparatus to research the cues that people use in
judging orientation in space. Participant sits in a darkened room and is instructed to watch a
glowing rod surrounded by s glowing square frame. Experimenter can adjust the tilt of the rod,
the frame and the experimenters chair, participants task is to adjust the rod by turning the dial
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so that the rod is perfectly upright, to do accurately participant has to ignore cues in the visual
field in which the rod appears test measure the personality dimension of field dependence-
Field dependent adjusts the rod so that it’s leaning in direction of tilted frame
Field independent people disregard the external cues and use information in their bodies to
adjust the rod upright
Embedded Figures Test (EFT) have to locate simple figures embedded within more complex
surroundings used to measure field dependence
- If can see figures clearly, independent of background are field independent
- Can only see big picture field dependent
Choice of major in college was found to be related to field dependence/independence
- Field dependent favor social sciences and education
- Field independent favor natural sciences, math and engineering
Field independent people predicted to be better at ignoring distracting information and focusing
on important details of event , learn more effectively in hypermedia based instructional
Field dependent people process information in chunks and are good at seeing connections
between categories of information
Pain Tolerance and Sensation Reducing/Augmenting
Commonly known difference in people pain tolerance people react quite differently to pain
induced by same stimulus
Petrie’s Research
- Theory that people with low pain tolerance had a nervous system that amplified, or
augmented the subjective impact of sensory cues
- People with high pain tolerance thought to have a nervous system that dampened or
reduced the effects of sensory stimulation
- Reducer/augmenter theory dimension along which people differ in their reaction to
sensory stimulation, whereas some appear augment to stimulation
- Believe differences in pain tolerance came from nervous system
Personality revealed through Interpretation
Interpretations often concern responsibility or blame, or inquire about expectations for the
Kelly’s Personal Construct Theory
People in general engage in efforts to understand, predict and control the events in their lives
people seek explanations for events in their lives
Construct concept or provable hypothesis that summarizes a set of observations and conveys
the meaning of those observations
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