Chapter 4 Review

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2 Mar 2011

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Chapter 4 Personality Traits:
Fundamental Concepts and Issues
Personality generalizations doesnt really apply to every single person
Trait talk can be used for good and bad
Traits can come with labels or “stereotypes that can objectify people labels that turn
people into objects in the minds of others
Can use trait talk to size up people quickly without actually knowing them
Most troubling is the use of trait attributions in the service of oppression and prejudice
Stereotyping of strangers and out-groups
Stereotypes out-groups and strangers can lead to a lot of hatred and justify discrimination,
warfare, slavery, and even genocide
First and most general level of individual differences between people: the level of dispositional
Rooted in common sense and everyday observation
We notice consistencies within a given person and differences between different people
First they will consider traits as internal dispositions that are relatively stable over time and
across situations
Second, traits are typically conceived in bipolar terms
oTraits are considered language of opposites: friendliness vs. unfriendliness,
extraversion vs. introversion, dominance vs. submissive
oPeople are situated within these in a normal distribution but usually residing toward
the middle of it such as moderately friendly or moderately unfriendly
Third, different traits are generally seen as additive and independent
Finally, personality traits usually refer to broad individual differences in socioemotional
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Personality traits refer to individual differences between people in characteristic thoughts,
feelings, and behaviours
Psychologists use trait concept to account for consistencies in behaviour from one situation to
the next
There are dynamics of traits that add up to a trait profile
Four positions on traits
oTraits exist in the central nervous system (what Allport thinks) neuropsychic
oPsychophysiological substrata but maintains, nonetheless, that traits exist as
dispositions that exert a significant impact on behaviour
oSo traits can be considered either neurpsychic structures or behavioural dispositions
oThe third and fourth positions argue that the traits do not really cause behaviour but
exist instead as convenient categories for describing the behaviours that people show
oThe third position by Buss and Craik in their act-frequency approach to personality
oAct-frequency: traits are merely language categories for the organization of discrete
behavioural acts
oTraits are the behaviour, not that they influence behaviour
oActs grouped together in trait families
oFourth position is that traits do not exist in any objective sense, even in the sense of act
oIn sum, first position says that traits have a biological reality; the second points to the
dispositional nature of traits; the third suggests that traits connect to functionally
similar behaviours; and the fourth points out that trait labels are useful in everyday
social cognition
Most contemporary psychologists today seem to view traits as dispositions (second position)
that have some causal influence on behaviour
The meaning of a trait is partially determined by its cultural context
In the book of Genesis theres Esau and Jacob and Esau is hairy and active and adventurous
while Jacob is the mothers favourite and is timid and quiet and lives a domestic life and is
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considered to have a smooth look. Jacob turns out to be cunning and tricks his father into
blessing him than Esau
Theophrastus makes sketches of traits and described the one we know today as The
Penurious Man"
Greek physician Galen comes up with the theory of the four humours being a bodily fluid
associated with a particular behavioural traits
oBlood sanguine personality
Bold, confident and robust in temperature
oBlack bile melancholic type
Too much produced a depressed and anxious person, pessimistic and brooding
oYellow bile choleric person
Restless, irritable, and want to explore in anger
oPhlegm phlegmatic person
Aloof, apathetic, cold and sluggish and probably more fun to be around than a
melancholic person
oMiddle ages, they rejected this idea
oImmanuel kant to recast the four temperament types along the dimensions of activity
and feelings
Cholerics had strong activity and phlegmatics weak activity
Sanguine had strong feelings and melancholics weak feelings
oWundt said that they were from emotional strength and emotional variability
oEysenck recast the four types along the lines of two super ordinate traits: extraversion
and neuroticism
Looked at brain structures and functioning rather than bodily humours
Krestchmer and Sheldon developed a theory of constitutional psychology
oBody’s constitution
oFat person is endomorph- easy going, affable, very desiring of social approval, and
oriented toward relaxation and comfort
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