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24 Mar 2011
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Chapter 10
Personality
What is Personality?
-Personality: refers to a persons distinctive patterns of behavior, thought, and emotion.
-Sometimes the personality is used to refer to a persons most unique characteristics
-Researchers and theorists often differ substantially in their views about how personality
develops.
-Freud suggested that unconscious motives outside the adults awareness influenced
personality development
-In contrast, Skinner stressed the importance of learning and reinforced experiences
in understanding how personality develops
-Skinner suggested that the things a person does (overt behaviors, not unconscious
wishes) compose personality
-Current approaches emphasize gene-environment interactions
-One way to measure personality is to ask a person about his or her personality. Another
way is to observe behavior in everyday life. Other ways to assess personality involve
administering tests, surveys, or questionnaires.
-Personality can be studies at the level of dispositions or traits, at the level of characteristic
ways of adapting to situations, and at the level of live narratives.
-The levels of personality
-Dispositions and traits: Traits refer to general dispositions that are relatively
stable or consistent across situations. Measures of the traits provide a description of
stability and change in personality dispositions during the adult years
-Characteristic strategies for adapting to life events: Characteristic
adaptations refer to the particular ways that particular individuals use to try to reach goals
or adapt to changing situations
-Life stories and life narratives: Life stories refer to internalized reconstructions
of the past and of the future. Measures of life stories and self narratives provide
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information about the persons goals and longings and how they change.
The Trait Approach to Adult Personality
Characteristics of Traits
-Principles underlying the trait approach
1. Traits are general dispositions or thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that endure
over substantial periods of time
2. Traits have relatively little to do with the determination of single, specific
behaviors. Specific behaviors are usually controlled by situational influences. Traits do,
however, show an appreciable influence over behaviors that are averaged over long periods
of time and over a range of diverse situations
3. Traits, by their inherent nature, are highly interactive (example trait anxiety is
the tendency to experience fear when threatened, sociability involves the tendency to act
friendly when in the presence of other people, and so forth). Thus, trait theory recognizes
the importance of person-situation interactions
4. Traits are not merely reactive. Traits possess dynamic, motivating tendencies that
seek out or produce situations that allow for the expression of certain behaviors. For
example, a person who is open to experience may react with interest when presented with a
new idea and may actively seek out new situations (by attending lectures, reading books, or
changing an occupation) that lead to new experiences.
5. The enduring quality of general traits may manifest itself through the emergence
of seemingly different types of behaviors that occur at different times in the adult life span.
For example, an anxious person may be afraid of rejection in high school, economic
recession in adulthood, and illness and death in old age
6. Traits need not to be purely inherited or biologically based. The origin of
personality traits can and should remain in open question
7. Traits are most useful in describing and predicting psychologically important
global characteristics in individuals. Because traits are sensitive to generalities in behavior,
trait theory is especially useful in giving a holistic picture of the person. This feature of
trait theory makes it the ideal basis for the study of personality and aging. If one adopted
an interactionist or contextual model of personality, one would never attempt to address
such global matter as how personality changes with age.
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8. The aims of trait theory are compatible with the aims of longitudinal and
sequential research. If traits are assumed to endure over time, they must be measured over
time. And the influence of cohort and time of measurement on trait assessment must be
differentiated from the influence of age and true developmental relationships
Patterns of Continuity and Change Across the Adult Life Span
-“What changes as you go through life are your roles and the issues that matter most to you.
People may think that their personality has changed as they age, but it is their habits that
change, their vigor, their health, their responsibilities and circumstances. Not their basic
personality
-There is no evidence for any universal age-related crises; those people who have a crisis at
one point or another in life tend to be those who are more emotional
Factor NameDescriptio
nFacetsExamples-
LowExamples-
High General
Age
Trends
NeuroticismTends to
experience
psychological
distress.
Tends
toward being
over-reactive
-Anxiety
-Angry
hostility
-Depression
-Self-
Consciousnes
s
-
Impulsivenes
s
-Vulnerability
-Calm
-Even-
tempered
-
Unemotiona
l
-Worrying
-Hot
tempered
-Emotional
Slight
decline,
especially
for women
Extraversion Prefers lively
social
interaction
-Warmth
-
Gregariousne
ss
-
Assertiveness
-Activity
-Excitement
seeking
-Positive
emotion
-Loner
-Passive
-Reserved
-Joiner
- Active
-Affectionate
Slight
decline
Openness to Tends -Fantasy -Down-to- -CuriousSlight
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Document Summary

Personality: refers to a person"s distinctive patterns of behavior, thought, and emotion. Sometimes the personality is used to refer to a persons" most unique characteristics. Researchers and theorists often differ substantially in their views about how personality develops. Freud suggested that unconscious motives outside the adult"s awareness influenced personality development. In contrast, skinner stressed the importance of learning and reinforced experiences in understanding how personality develops. Skinner suggested that the things a person does (overt behaviors, not unconscious wishes) compose personality. One way to measure personality is to ask a person about his or her personality. Another way is to observe behavior in everyday life. Other ways to assess personality involve administering tests, surveys, or questionnaires. Personality can be studies at the level of dispositions or traits, at the level of characteristic ways of adapting to situations, and at the level of live narratives. Dispositions and traits: traits refer to general dispositions that are relatively stable or consistent across situations.

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