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Chapter 4

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PSYC 2740
Stephen Lewis

Chapter 4: Theoretical and Measurement Issues in Trait Psychology Theoretical Issues  Important assumptions about personality traits: 1. Meaningful individual differences 2. Stability or consistency over time 3. Consistency across situations Meaningful Differences between Individuals  Differential psychology - The study of other forms of individual differences in addition to personality traits  The trait approach is the most mathematically and statistically oriented: emphasis on amount - Every personality is the product of a particular combination of a few basic and primary traits Consistency Over Time  Personality traits with a biological basis are very constant  Attitudes, interests and opinions change over time  The way a consistent trait manifests itself may change substantially  Rank order - Change in a trait at the same rate - Same level relative to others Consistency Across Situations  Some consistency across situations  Low correlations between personality scores obtained in different situations  Situationism - Studying changes in situations instead of personality differences  Person-situation interaction and the practice of aggregation, or averaging, as a tool for assessing personality traits Person-Situation Interaction  Explanations for behaviour: - Behaviour as a function of personality traits - Behaviour as a function of situational forces  Both personality and situation interact to produce behaviour  Situational specificity - A person acts in a specific way under particular circumstances  Some trait-situation interactions are because the kinds of situations that elicit behaviour related to those traits are themselves rare  Debbie Moskowitz’s study - Who a person is interacting with will influence the expression of the personality traits of dominance and friendliness, and the expression may or may not differ for men and women depending on the social setting  Strong situation: situations in which nearly all people react in similar ways Situational Selection  Form of interactionism; the tendency to choose the situations in which one finds oneself - Study the choices people make in life Evocation  Certain personality traits may evoke specific responses from the environment - People may create their own environments by eliciting certain responses from others  Transference Manipulation  The various means by which people influence the behaviour of others  Entails altering those environments already inhabited Aggregation  Process of adding up, or averaging, several single observations, resulting in a better measure of personality trait than a single observation of behaviour  Longer tests are more reliable than shorter ones: better measure of traits  Implies traits
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