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Chapter 12

PSYC 2740 Chapter Notes - Chapter 12: Personal Construct Theory, Major Depressive Disorder, Learned Helplessness

6 pages84 viewsWinter 2013

Course Code
PSYC 2740
Stephen Lewis

of 6
Chapter 12: Cognitive Topics in Personality
Personality Psychology
February 28th, 2012
- Cognition: is a general term referring to awareness and thinking, as well as
to specific, mental acts such as perceiving, attending to, interpreting,
remembering, believing, judging, deciding and anticipating.
o Personalizing Cognition: they relate more to personal experiences.
View things through their own views.
o Objectifying Cognition: tell it like it is. They do not think through
personal thoughts.
- Information Processing: the transformation of sensory input into mental
representations and the manipulation of such representations.
- There are 3 levels of cognition:
1. Perception:
- The process of imposing order on the information our sense organs take in.
- I.e. Two people can look at the same situation and actually see different
2. Interpretation:
- The making sense of, or explaining, various events in the world.
- Concerns giving meaning to events.
- I.e. You hit a hit a curb and accidently scratch up your car. Someone asks you
a few days later, what happened? You quickly give your interpretation of the
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.
- Different goals relate to how much confidence we have… and so on.
Personality Revealed Through Perception
- Field Dependent: people who are influenced by environmental cues.
- Field Independent: people who are influenced by self (inner) cues.
- Rod and Frame Test:
o Participant sits in a darkened room and is instructed to watch a
glowing rod surrounded by a square frame, which is also glowing.
o The experimenter can adjust the tilt of the rod, the frame and the
participants chair.
o The participants task is to adjust the tilt of the rod by turning a dial,
so that the rod is perfectly upright.
o To do this they must ignore the misguiding tilts of the frame and their
o Results:
If the participant adjusts the rod so that it is leaning in the
direction of the tilted frame, then that person is dependent on
the visual field.
If the person places the rod upright ignoring the visual field,
and listen to their bodies, they are said to be independent of
the field.
o Field Dependent People:
Favour social sciences, education, attentive to social cues,
oriented toward others.
More interested in what others have to say.
o Field Independent People:
Favour natural sciences, math, and engineering.
More interpersonally detached.
Better able to screen out distracting information and focus on a
Application police officers who are high in field
independence tend to do better in shooting scenarios and car
- Pain Tolerance: people undergo the same physical stimulus but react quite
differently from each other in terms of the pain they report experiencing.
o Low Pain Tolerance: augmented pain they have a more amplified
nervous system; bright lights and loud noises
o High Pain Tolerance: reduced pain; much more dimmed down
nervous system.
o Reducer/Augmenter Theory: this term refers to the dimension
along which people differ in their reaction to sensory stimulation;
some appear to reduce sensory stimulation, whereas some appear to
augment stimulation.
o Clinical Example:
Method: Compared patients with Borderline Personality
Disorder to those with no diagnosis. Examined pain tolerance
when participants were calm & then when stressed
Main Finding: Patients with Borderline Personality Disorder
(BPD) reported less physical pain when calm AND when in
higher distress compared to those without BPD
Implication: May help to explain why some with BPD injure
more often when in distress.
Personality Revealed Through Interpretation
- Kelly’s Contributions
o Saw humans as scientists. People engage in efforts to understand,
predict and control the events in their lives.
o Scientists employ constructs to interpret observations.
Construct: is a word that summarizes a set of observations
and conveys the meaning of those observations. (i.e. Gravity)
o Personal Constructs: constructs that a person routinely uses to
interpret and predict events.
No two people have the same personal construct system, and
so have their own unique interpretation of the world.
I.e. when meeting a person for the first time what do you notice
about them? Athletic or nonathletic / smart or not smart.
o Postmodernism: is an intellectual position grounded in the notion
that reality is constructed, that every person and certainly every
culture has a version of reality that is unique and that no single
version of reality is any more privileged than the other.
- Locus of Control
o Locus of control is a concept that describes a person’s perception of
responsibility for the events in his or her life.
o Generalized Expectancies: a person’s expectations for
reinforcement held across a variety of situations.
I.e. A young man generally believes that he can do very little to
influence events, then in a new situation, such as entering
college, he would have the same generalized expectancy that
things are outside of his control. (Assume his grades are due to
luck or chance)
o External Locus of Control:
Don’t take control in lives, don’t really believe they have and
say, the belief is a major factor.
o Internal Locus of Control:
Think they have more say in their life, don’t believe in fate.
One is responsible for the major events in their life.
o Specific Expectancies: the emphasis is on locus of control in discrete
areas of life.
Internal in one area and external in another.
- Learned Helplessness
o When subjected to an unpleasant & inescapable (& continued)
experience, one becomes passive, accepting & helpless in that
o I.e. a woman tries everything she knows to get her husband to stop
abusing her. She may develop learned helplessness and give up even
trying to solve the problem.
o To overcome learned helplessness one must get another person’s
perspective by asking for help.

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