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Personality (Psych 2740) Chapter Summaries.docx

Course Code
PSYC 2740
Stephen Lewis

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Personality Chapter Summaries
Chapter 1: Introduction to Personality Psychology
Features of personality make people different from one another, and these features
usually take the form of adjectives
Trait-descriptive adjectives: adjectives that can be used to describe characteristics of
Personality Defined
Personality: is the set of psychological traits and mechanisms within the individual that
are organized and relatively enduring and that influence his or her interactions with, and
adaptations to, the intrapsychic, physical and social environments
Let‟s examine the elements of this definition more closely
Personality is the set of Psychological Traits…
Psychological traits: are characteristics that describe ways which people are different
from each other
Traits also define ways people are similar
Traits describe the average tendencies of a person
o Average tendencies: tendencies to display a certain psychological trait with
Research on personality traits asks 4 kinds of questions:
o How many traits are there?
Are there dozens or hundreds of traits, or merely a few?
o How are the traits organized?
This question pertains to the organization or structure of traits
o What are the origins of traits?
This question pertains to the origin of traitswhere they come from and
how they develop
o What are the correlations and consequences of traits?
This question pertains to the correlations and consequences of traits in
terms of experience, behaviour and life outcomes
Psychological traits are useful for 3 reasons
o They help describe people and help us understand the dimensions of difference
between people
o They help explains behaviourthe reason people act may be partly a function of
their personality traits
o They can help predict future behaviour
Personality is useful in describing, explaining, and predicting differences between
And Mechanisms…
Psychological mechanisms: are like traits, except that the term mechanism refers more
to the processes of personality

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Most psychological mechanisms have 3 essential ingredients:
o Inputs
People‟s sensitivity to certain kinds of information from the environment
o Decisions rules
People‟s likelihood to think about specific options concerning that
o Outputs
People‟s behaviour toward certain categories of action
Traits and psychological mechanisms are not activated at all times, only a few are
o Consider the trait of courageousness, this trait is activated only under particular
conditions, such as when people face serious dangers and threats to their lives
Within the Individual
Within the individual means that personality is something a person carries with them over
time and from one situation to the next
That are Organized and Relatively Enduring
Organized means that the psychological traits and mechanism, for a given person, are not
simply a random collection of elements
o They are linked to one another in a coherent fashion
o Our personalities are organized in the sense that they contain decision rules that
govern which needs are activated, depending on the circumstances
Psychological traits are also relatively enduring over time, particularly in adulthood, and
are somewhat consistent over situations
o There may be some occasions when this generalization about the consistency of
personality traits from situation to situation does not hold
o Some situations may be overpowering and supress the expression of
psychological traits
Ex. People who are generally talkative, may remain quiet during a lecture,
at the movies or in an elevator
And That Influence…
Influential forces of personality means that personality traits and mechanisms can have an
effect on people‟s lives
Personality influences how we act, how we view ourselves, how we think about the
world, how we interact with others, how we feel, how we select our environments, what
goals and desires we pursue in life and how we react to our circumstances
His or Her Interactions with…
Person-environment interaction: are interactions with situations include perceptions,
selections, evocations, and manipulations
o Perception refers to how we „see‟ or interpret an environment
Two people may be exposed to the same objective event, yet what they
pay attention to and how they interpret the event may be very different
o Selection describes the manner in which we choose situations to enterhow we
choose our friends, hobbies etc.

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How we go about making these selections is a reflection of our
o Evocations are the reactions we produce in others, often quite unintentionally
To some extent, we create the social environment that we inhabit
o Manipulations are the ways in which we intentionally attempt to influence others
And Adaptations to…
Adaptations conveys the notion that a central feature of personality concerns adaptive
functioningaccomplishing goals, coping, adjusting and dealing with the challenges
and problems we face as we go through life
The Environment
The physical environment often poses challenges for people
Some of these are direct threats to survival
o Ex. food shortages, extreme temperatures etc.
o At a psychological level, our fears of heights, snakes, spiders and strangersthe
most common human fearshelps us avoid or safely interact with these
environmental threats to our survival
Our social environment also poses adaptive challenges
o We may desire the prestige of a good job, but there are many others competing
for the same positions
Intrapsychic means „within the mind‟
o In this environment we have our memories, dreams, desires, fantasies and a
collection of private experiences that we live with each day
Three Levels of Personality Analysis
The 3 levels of personality analysis made by Kluckhohn and Murray are:
o Human nature level
Like all others
The ways in which we are all alike
o Individual and group differences level
Like some others
The ways in which we are like some people but unlike others
o The individual uniqueness level
Like no others
The ways in which we are unlike any other person
Table: Three Levels of personality analysis
Level of Analysis
Human Nature
Need to belong
Capacity for love
Individual and Group differences
Variation in need to belong (individual differences)
Men are more physically aggressive than women
(group differences)
Individual Uniqueness
Latisha‟s unique way of expressing her love
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