PSYB30H3 Chapter Notes -Twin Study, Zygote, Absenteeism
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PSYB30 - Personality Psychology: Foundations and Findings, Marianne Miserandino
Summer 2014, Professor Connie Boudens
Chapter 1: Understanding the building blocks of Personality
● Personality Psychology is the scientific study of what makes us who we are.
- By using the scientific method of investigation - it is the study of individual differences: to
identify ways in which people are both similar and different and then explaining how they
became that way.
“An individual’s personality is more than the sum of his or her parts. Not only can the
individual parts vary among people but the way they fit together may vary as well.”
BUILDING BLOCKS OF PERSONALITY
● Traits - A person’s typical way of thinking, feeling and acting, in various situations, at
● Genetics - The study of how genes and environment affect personality and behaviour.
(the possibility of inheriting specific personality characteristics, we also inherit
potentialities that may be expressed in our personalities depending on the environment.)
● Neuroscience - The study of how our brain and nervous system affect personality and
behaviour through the study of bodily responses, brain structure, brain activity and
● Self and Identity - Encompasses our own sense of who we are including our self concept
(a sense of who we are), self-esteem ( opinion of ourselves) and social identity (how we
try to present ourselves in a certain way to others or embrace what others think of us).
● Intrapsychic Foundations of Personality - It is concerned with our own thoughts, feelings
and motives, both conscious and unconscious.
● Regulation & Motivation: Self-Determination Theory - When people feel free to choose,
are competent at what they do and are connected to people around them, they will be
motivated and self-directed for the task at hand. The building block of regulation and
motivation is concerned with how people adjust their response to the environment, both
consciously and unconsciously.
● Cognitive Foundations - Describes how people perceive and think about information
about themselves and the world. (The individual differences of people play a part, which
includes locus of control, learned helplessness, learned hopelessness and optimism-
Integration: Combining the building blocks of personality into a whole person.
How do psychologists study personality?
● Psychological research relies on the scientific method which describes how to make and
test observations about the world in order to draw conclusions while minimizing error
○ it starts with the identification of basic facts about the world, then using the
collection of facts, scientists build theories. Scientists then make predictions and
test predictions based on their theories using controlled methods.
● Observational Study - A type of research design in which scientists observe what people
do and generate a hypothesis to explain their findings.
● Hypothesis - An educated guess about what may be causing an observed or predicted
● Personality Questionnaires - a test in which people answer questions about themselves
and identify certain aspects of their personality or personality functioning.
Correlational and Experimental Designs
● The Correlation Coefficient - indicated by the symbol r. A correlation coefficient
measures the relationship between two variables. It can be positive or negative,
depending on the type of relationship. If two variables increase or decrease at the same
time, then they are positively correlated. (i.e. better batters hit the ball more than weaker
batters.) However, if one variable increases as the other one decreases - or vice versa,
decreasing as the other one increases - then the two variables are negatively correlated.
(i.e. Golf skills and golf scores: Better players have lower scores)
○ Negative and positive correlations -.5 to -.9 and .5 to .9 are considered large,
with .0 to -.3 to .0 to .3 being a small correlation.
● Correlational Studies - Researchers generally don’t manipulate variables but instead
measure two variables to see how they are related. (i.e a personality questionnaire for
extroversion and introversion - then observe how the extroverts and introverts interact
with strangers or differ in physiological arousal or any other measure that can show the
differences in personality.)
● Experimental Condition - Participants experience one treatment that the experimenter is
● Control condition - Group of participants who receive no treatment or a neutral
● Random assignment - What experimenters do to make sure every participant has an
equal chance of being a part of each experimental condition. Along with experimental
control, this allows experimenters to draw conclusions about the cause of their results.
● Experimental Control - This is when all aspects of an experiment are the same except
for the specific variable(s) under study. Along with random assignment, this allows
experimenters to draw conclusions about the cause of their results.
● True Experiment - A design in which participants are randomly assigned to conditions
which are identical except for the variable(s) under study, which allows experimenters to
draw conclusions about the cause of their results.
● Independent Variable - The variable experimenters hypothesize to have an effect on
participants’ responses. This may be manipulated in a true experiment or measured in a
correlation and quasi-experimental studies.
● Neuroticism - A personality trait that describes how anxious and vulnerable to negative
emotions a person is.
● Levels - In an experiment, levels are the number of groups in an independent field.
Types of Data and Personality Assessment
● Self-report Data - Called S data, they include any information people respond to directly
such as objective personality tests, interviews, narratives, life stories and survey
● Observation Data - Called O data, which include information given by friends, family
teachers, trained raters or others based on watching how people behave in the
laboratory or in their daily lives.
● Test Data - Called T data, which includes information about people’s reactions to
structured situation, such as experimental procedures, intelligence tests, performance
tests, and projective tests. They come from experimental procedures or standardized
measures that have objective rules for scoring a person’s performance.