Chapter 4.docx

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17 Mar 2012
Chapter 4 Personality Traits: Fundamental Concepts and Issues
The Idea of Trait
What is a Trait?
- Rooted In common sense and everyday observation
- How do you consider “personality traits”?
Traits are internal dispositions that are relatively stable over time and across situations
Traits are conceived in bipolar terms i.e. friendliness form extreme low to high
Different traits are seen as additive and independent Mix together ingredients/traits to make a personality
Traits refer to broad individual differences in socioemotional functioning
- Personality traits refer to individ. Difference b/w people in characteristic thoughts, feelings and behaviours see
consistencies in behaviour form 1 situation to another
- 1st position is that traits exist in NS 0 “neuropsychic structure”
- 2nd position Keep options open but states that traits exist as disposition that exert a significant impact on
- 3rd and 4th positions argue that traits do not really cause behaviours but are convenient categories for describing
the behaviours that people show
- 3rd - Buss and Craik in act-frequency approach to personality Traits are language categories for organization fo
discrete behavioural acts and don’t influence behaviour
- 4th Traits do not exist in any objective sense they are convenient fictions that people invent in order to
understand social life
- Each position highlights important idea of traits
1. 1st Traits have biological merit
2. 2nd Dispositional nature of traits
3. 3rd Traits connect to functionally similar behaviours
4. 4th Contracts one another in many ways
A Brief History of Traits
- Personality traits found in ancient texts Genesis, Theophratus generates 1st trait taxonomies in Western
civilization, Greek physician Galen and 4 humours (blood, black bile, yellow bile, phlegm, Immaneul Kant, Wilhelm
Eundt, Hans Eysenck, Bodily forms of Galen revived by Ernst Kretchmer and William Sheldon constitutional
psychology (endomorphs, ectomorphs, mesomorphs show certain things)
- 1st scientific study of traits Francis Falton focus on empirical attention on indidivual differences
Gordon Allport
- 1st book Personality: A Psychological Interpretation it’s a legitimate intellectual discipline
- Traits are major structural units of personality and account for consistency and coherence of human behaviour
- Common Trait: Dimensions of human functioning upon which many different people are likely to differ
- Personal disposition: Trait that is especially characteristic of given individual that depicts the person’s
Can be broken down to different varieties:
1. Cardinal Very general and pervasive to give person pretty much makes up the person’s activities +
2. Central Usually 5-10, Wide range of dispositions that are characteristic to given person
3. Secondary More limited in scope, less critical to description of overall personality
- Allport rejected the idea that traits were semantic categories in the minds of observers, as opposed to causal
agents, the cross-consistency of traits, the limitation in descriptive and explanatory power of common trait
profiles (where’s the taxonomy?)
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Raymond B. Cattell
- Advocated bran do psychology on rigorous quantification and statistical analysis in research improve
scientist’s ability to predict behaviour
- Cattell distinguished among 3 different sources of data
1. L-data/life data: Information pertaining a person’s real-life behaviour public records, personal account
2. Q-data/questionnaire data: Self rating/self-scores on personality questionnaires
3. T-data/test data: Observations in well-controlled assessment situation public ratings, self-reports and
test behaviour
- Employed statistical approach of factor analysis derive complex classification scheme for traits
Examine way where responses to different questions and measure cluster together
Enables research to reduce large # small set called “factors”
LARGE # = surface traits elements of behaviour that tended to be clustered
SMALL # - Could be observed to small underlying groups
Temperamental traits/stylistic aspects, dynamic traits/goal-relevant, ability traits/efficacy
TABLE 4.2 115
- Individ. Difference on source traits on Cattell’s 16 Personality Factor Questionnaire – 16 PF: 187 questions
which asks for a choice among alternative
- Proof of trait measure’s value was ability to predict behaviour – combined sources on different traits into
specification equation differentially weighed each traits on relevance for given behaviour situation
Hans Eyseneck
- Employed statistical procedure of factor analysis
- Eyseneck and Guilford believe that resultant trait factors obtained from factor analysis should be statistically
independent of one another factors should be uncorrelated/orthogonal (at right angles) to one another
- Cattell and Eyseneck on different terms Cattell though stat. solution that resulted in correlated factors/oblique
- Made big three supertraits/types are extraversion-introversion, neuroticism, psychoticism (1st 2 deal with
personality characteristics, where psychoticism taps into dimensions of functioning
The Big 5 and Related Models
- Francis Galton proposed lexical hypothesis : Those individual differences that are most salient (observable)
and socially relevant in people’s lives will eventually become encoded into their language; the more
important such a difference, the more likely is it to become expressed as a single word
- Gordon Allport was more systematic - went through dictionary and made 4 columns Potential personality traits,
temporary states and activities, evaluative judgments and personal conduct and reputation, miscellaneous terms
- Cattell reduced Allport’s list of 4,500 to 171 by grouping similar descriptors and eliminating rare usage
- then asked people to rate these terms and made is to 16
- Lewis R. Goldberg - Factor/5 Model or the Big 5: Taxonomy for dispositional traits in personality
psychologists (varies from culture and country)
Costa and McCraw have developed a lengthy questionnaire/NEO-PI-R that assets all 30 facets in Big 5
Criticism is that it doesn’t specify how particular traits reside within each of 5 domains relate to one another
map interrelations of many different traits to arrange description into a circle
- Wiggins analyzed self report data and in circumplex model of traits bisects circular space w/ axes agency
and communion, states it gives definition and articulation to intersection of extraversion and agreeableness
FIGURE 4.3 123
- John Digman offered different take b/w agency and communion 2 general factors were evident: 1st were all
dimensions in Big 5 = socialization; and a second one called growth of the self
Recapture idea that can be found in many different theories try to balance agentic tendencies to self-
fufillment and communal tendencies toward socialization;
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