PSYB30H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: Hans Eysenck, Raymond Cattell, 16Pf Questionnaire

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1 Mar 2013
Personality - Chapter 2
when people live in an environment they leave behavioral residue behind - such
physical traces left behind by everyday actions are hints or cues to the personality of
the occupant
What is a Personality Trait?
traits - describe a person's typical style of thinking, feeling and acting in different
kinds of situations and at different times
temporary states (such as emotions), attitudes (liberal, conservative), and physical
attributes (short, muscular) are not considered personality traits
traits are measured over a continuum - in a continuous stretch, from low to high - ex:
people who score high on a particular trait, say talkativeness, are more likely to
strike up a conversation
because traits cannot be directly measured, psychologists think of traits as
hypothetical concepts - that is, psychologists assume traits exists even though we
cannot see them
some psychologists view traits as purely descriptive summaries of behavior without
thinking about where they came from or why a person acts that way; ex: Mario is
very sociable; just look at how well he's getting along with everybody
other psychologists see traits as internal, causal properties (ex: Well, of course Mario
is getting along with everybody; he's a sociable person) and view a trait as a capacity
that is present even when the trait is not being directly expressed
two main ways that psychologists have approached the study of traits: through the
detailed study of a single individual and through the combined study of numerous
Two Approaches to the Study of Personality Traits
idiographic approach - goal is to understand the personality of a single
individual with all of his/her quirks or idiosyncrasies and characteristics that make
them unique
by using techniques of good science such as striving for objectivity and minimizing
biases, psychologists are able to use case studies and other idiographic methods to
study individual personalities
nomothetic approach - goal is to discover universals - concepts that can apply to
everyone - by identifying traits that can describe all people or that can be applied to
any person
the idiographic and nomothetic overlap and both contribute to a complete
understanding of human personality
Hans Eysenck found a way of reconciling these two seemingly different approaches
to the study of human psychology
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Personality - Chapter 2
he hypothesized that the human personality is organized into a hierarchy, which we
can think of as a pyramid
this pyramid categorizes human personality from the most general level at the top to
the most specific level at the bottom
general means a trait is universal or applicable to other people, whereas specific
means a trait is more unique to a single individual
at the very bottom level of the pyramid are specific behaviors including responses,
acts, cognitions or reactions to everyday life - because these are only observed once,
they may or may not be related to personality
if certain habits occur over time and across situations, then we might say the person
is exhibiting a personality trait
if certain traits ten to occur together in people then we can say that we've identified a
personality type
the lower we go on the pyramid the more idiosyncratic our reactions are
the higher we go on the pyramid, the more similar we become to people who may be
of a similar personality type
What Do We Know About Personality From The Idiographic Approach?
Studying Individual Personalities: The Idiographic Approach
Allport identified 3 different kinds of traits: central traits, secondary traits and
cardinal traits
central traits: traits that are major importance in understanding the person; they
are the 5 - 10 traits that people who know might mention in your letter of
secondary traits: traits of lesser importance, less consistently displayed or seldom
displayed or only slightly revealed so that only a very close friend might notice them
cardinal traits: single traits that completely dominate a personality ; an unusual
person may have one and only one trait that describes him/her; these traits are so
pervasive and extremely influential that practically every aspect of a person's life is
touched by this "ruling passion"
the occurrence of a cardinal trait is so unusual in the population that when it does
occur we name individual traits after the 'celebrity'
What Do We Know About Personality From the Nomothetic Approach?
Finding Universals: The Nomothetic Approach
there are at least 3 different ways to identify the most meaningful and applicable
words to describe personality
researchers typically use a combination of the theoretical approach, the lexical
approach, and the measurement approach (sometimes called the questionnaire or
assessment tradition)
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Personality - Chapter 2
once the basic traits have been identified by one of these methods, psychologists use
statistical techniques, such as factor analysis to verify and validate that they have
indeed found important traits
The Theoretical Approach
personality psychologists start with a theory or even common wisdom about human
ex: anal personality who is incredibly organized and uptight
The Lexical Approach
explores a particular language and identifies the number of synonyms that describe
personality - reasoning: if a concept is important to speakers of a language, then that
concept will be encoded in their language in multiple ways
if the same personality trait is found across many different languages, such a trait
may qualify as a human universal
in this way of analysis of language, specifically looking for many synonyms and
commonalities across languages, may help personality psychologists identify key
terms for describing human personality
The Measurement Approach
important aspects of personality and trying to measure personality
one way of doing this is to use mathematical and statistical techniques such as factor
analysis to see if the various trait terms cluster together in some way
Raymond Cattell started with the 5, 504 trait terms identified by Allport and Odbert
- he reduced these terms to 160 by eliminating similarities in the list - he used an
early and crude form of factor analysis - and discovered 16 factors that formed the
basis of his questionnaire: The 16 Personality Factors
Research Methods Illustrated: Factor Analysis
factor analysis is a statistical technique that mathematically identifies a
meaningful underlying structure among a set of variables
the pattern of correlations will tell us which variables go together or correlate with
each other and which variables don't seem to fit
then the computer uses complex matrix algebra to try to re-create this pattern of
correlations from a combination of one or more mathematical equations
the result of all this combining and weighting of participants' responses is the
formation of factors
a small number of these factors are usually able to re-create the variation among
responses in our data set almost as well as all of the original answers themselves
each factor can explain a certain amount of variation, called variance, in answers
between participants - this is called eigenvalue of the factor
from the eigenvalues, we calculate factor loadings - which is an estimate of how
strongly each question fits into a given factor
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