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Chapter 12

PSYA02H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 12: Reaction Formation, Trait Theory, Analytical Psychology

Course Code
Kyle Danielson

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Chapter 12: Personality
12.1: contemporary approaches to personality
personality: characteristic pattern of thinking, feeling, and behaving that is unique to each
individual, and remains relatively consistent over time and situations.
two approaches to understanding personality:
idiographic approach: creating detailed descriptions of a specific person's unique
personality characteristics. focus on individual.
nomothetic approach: examine personality in large groups of people, with the aim of
making generalizations about personality structure. focus on generalized groups. "type"
of people.
personality trait: describes a specific psychological characteristic that makes up a part of a
person's personality; how that person is "most" of the time.
Gordon Allport
: 1930s, first systematic approach to identify all possible Traits, tallied
~18000 words, started the practice of attempting to measure personality traits.
Barnum effect: idea that it's easier to make people believe their personality is being
measured than to actually measure it; people often believe a personality profile describes
them well even when it's false/not grounded in any science
late 1940, psychologist Bertram Forer: gave participants a personality test and
gave Everyone the Same personality description the participants Thought was
based on their individual answers to the test. when asked how well the profile
described them based on a scale of 0-5 the average was 4.26.
the description forer used was based on what is called factor analysis (a
technique used to group items that people respond to similarly), by using traits
that anyone can relate to.
Raymond Cattell
: 1946, narrowed the list of traits to 16
Five Factor Model (FFM): McCrae and Costa, 1987, a trait-based theory of personality
based on the finding that personality can be described five major dimensions
: high in openness = dreamers, creative, open to new things / low in
openness = defenders of the system, conventional, avoid unknown
: high in c = organizers, efficient / low in c = easy-going, fun,
uncomfortable with schedules
: high in e = socializers, sensation seekers, higher risk of dangerous
activities like substance abuse / low in e = quiet, need time to 'recharge their
batteries', overwhelmed by high levels of stimulation

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: high in a = warm and friendly, easy to like, empathetic, strong
value on getting along with people and like to avoid conflict / low in a = put
themselves first, value being authentic
: high in n = difficult to deal with, sensitive, difficulty relaxing and
letting go of negative feelings, most vulnerable to anxiety and depressive
disorders / low in n = secure and confident, excellent at managing their emotions
personality of Evil? why do some people suck?
Authoritarian personality
: concept suggested by Theodore Adorno to describe a key
personality type that may be involved in the terrible things humans do (the Holocaust,
9/11), described as rigid and dogmatic in their thinking, separate the social world into Us
and Them.
HEXACO model of personality: a six-factor theory that generally replicates the five
factors of the FFM and adds one additional factor (honesty-humility), developed by
Michael Ashton
high in hh = sincere, honest, modest / low in hh = deceitful, greedy, pompous
Dark triad: machiavellianism, psychopathy, narcissism, describes a person who is
socially destructive, aggressive, dishonest, and likely to commit harm in general.
machiavellianism: tendency to use people and be manipulative
psychopathy: tendency toward having shallow emotional responses
narcissism: egotistical, excessive sense of self-importance
Right-Wing Authoritarianism (RWA): problematic set of personality characteristics
that also predisposes people to certain types of violent or anti-social tendencies. three key
obeying orders and deferring to the established authorities in a society
supporting aggression against those who dissent or differ from the established
social order
believing strongly in maintaining the existing social order
RWA study: Altemeyer, 1996: selected high and low RWA participants to play out a
role-playing simulation game involving how to govern regions over an in-game 40 year
low RWA group had no wars or military build up, collectively resolved
challenges through international meetings
high RWA group tended to interpret the actions of others as aggressive and
responded aggressively, militaries grew and war ensued leading to a global
nuclear war that wiped out every human on the planet, when given a chance to
redo it they made similar mistakes
simulation suggests that it's important to consider how RWA operates in isolation
in groups

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personality over the lifespan
research has found that infants possess different temperaments from birth,
supporting the view that the basis of personality is present from the start and that
there is an innate biological foundation to personality
study: followed same children from age 3 to adulthood and showed that the
temperament at age 3 was strongly predictive of behavioural tendencies,
personality, and life outcomes many years later
three main temperaments identified from this study:
well-adjusted (capable of self-control)
under-controlled (impulsive) -> led to externalizing behaviours (fighting)
inhibited (socially uncomfortable) -> led to internalizing behaviours
(worrying, crying easily)
personality Can change but the basis tends to remain stable throughout someone's life
states: temporary physical or psychological engagement that influences behaviour
states/variables that influence behaviour:
subjective states
behaviourist perspective of personality
notes identifiable patterns
tries to understand how specific environmental conditions influence behaviour
i.e. B.F. Skinner: believed personality is just a description of the response tendencies that
occur in different situations; influenced by reinforcements in prior experiences
social-cognitive perspective of personality
Albert Bandura
more emphasis on the person as an agent
also about how environment affects behaviour but also about how the person forms
beliefs about their relationship to the environment and their own actions
: the belief that one's attempts to accomplish a specific task will be
successful, people with higher degree of self-efficacy are more likely to take action
reciprocal determinism: based on the idea that the person and the environment co-create
each other and therefore personality is created from the interactions between behaviour,
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