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Chapter 1

PSYB30H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Sigmund Freud, Personality Psychology, Statistical Hypothesis Testing

Course Code
Marc A Fournier

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Chapter 1 Studying the Person
Personality Psychology: is the scientific study of the whole person. It often studies the individual
differences in people by developing ways to classify, categorize and organize the diversity of
psychological individuality and they look for the biological and environmental forces and factors that
explain those differences
The three levels of personality
Personality Traits(outline sketching)
Adaptations(filling in the details)
Identity as a life story(constructing a life story)
Sketching the outline
Where do people usually start in guessing a person’s personality?
People usually start with dispositional traits
Personality Traits: are those general, internal, and comparative dispositions that we attribute to people
in our initial efforts to sort individuals into meaningful behavioural categories and to account for
consistencies we perceive or expect in behaviour from one situation to the next over time.
How do personality psychologists quantify individual differences in dispositional traits?
Self report questionnaires
The big five traits (OCEAN): provide a comprehensive description of basic dimensions of variability in
human psychological qualities that are implicated in consequential social behaviour , in other words a
vast ocean of concepts for describing general psychological differences between persons
Filling in the details
Characteristic adaptations: are contextualized facets of psychological individuality that speak to
motivational, cognitive, and developmental concerns in personality in time, place, situation or social role
The three major theories regarding characteristics adaptations:
1. Theories of human motivation: what people want and desire in life,
e.g Sigmund Freud suggested that humans are motivated by deep urges regarding sexuality and
aggression, while Carl Rogers placed prime importance on needs for self-actualization . Henry
Murray and McClelland suggested the needs for achievement, power and intimacy
2. Theories of cognition and personality: which underscore the rule of cognitive factors-values,
beliefs, schemas- in human individuality
3. Theories of development: focusing on the evolution of the self and its relationships with others
from birth to old age
e.g Erikson’s theory of development and loevinger’s theory of ego development
*note: refer to table 1.3 page 9 of the textbook and table 1.4 page 11
Constructing a story
Life story: is an internalized and evolving narrative of the self that integrates the reconstructed past,
perceived present and anticipated future in order to provide a life with a sense of unity and purpose
Science and the person
What is the aim of personality psychologists?
To study the persons in a scientific way, which involves : unsystematic observation, building theories,
and evaluating propositions
Unsystematic observation
It is an active attempt to discern and then describe organization, pattern, design, or structure in
a phenomenon that initially seems to be unorganized and without design
Scientists operate in the context of discovery: seeks to discover new ways of seeing reality,
formulating in a highly subjective manner new categories and terminologies and new
distinctions to describe the careful observation that he/she undertakes.
Induction: is the process by which the scientist move from concrete and particular events to the
more abstract and general representation of these events
Case study: is an in depth investigation of a single individual, conducted over a substantial
period of time
Building theories
A theory: is a set of interrelated statements proposed to explain certain observations of reality
A theory is always tentative, and is a speculative abstraction
A theory is subject to change
It provides 4 tools:
1. An abstract model=a bigger picture of reality
2. A conceptual terminology=naming of the major components
3. A set of correspondence rules=specific relationships among the components
4. Hypotheses or testable predictions
The seven standards by which a scientific theory may be judged:
1. Comprehensiveness-a theory that explains more is much preferred over one that explains less
2. Parsimony-a simpler and more straightforward explanation is generally preferred to a more
complex one
3. Coherence-the various statements that make up the theory should hang up together in a
sensible manner
4. Testability-can be tested through empirical design
5. Empirical validity-the results of hypothesis-testing research should be in accord with what the
theory says
6. Usefulness- a theory that seems to solve a human problem is much preferred over one that is
less relevant
7. Generativity- a good theory should genet=rate new research and new theorizing
Evaluating prepositions
Context of justification: in which the scientist attempts to evaluate or justify the truth of a given
statement proposed by a given theory objectively
Popper suggested that a theory must be stated in a way as to render its propositions falsifiable
Setting up an empirical study
To test the hypothesis empirically, we first need to go back and look at empirical literature to
A. How the ideas you are looking for are examined empirically by others
B. What empirical findings or results have been obtained
Next, we sample from the population (problem is that all samples are biased in some way)
*Note that no single study, no matter how representative or large the sample, establishes once
and for all the truth value of a scientific proposition
Operationalize the variables-to decide how to measure the variables under question (to quantify
the data
A variable: is any quality that can assume two or more values and each value can assume one or
more levels
Hypothesis testing includes correlational and experimental design
Correlational Design: is an empirical study that assess the extent to which two different variables
relate to each other
Positive correlation- as x increase, y increases (e.g relationship between height and weight)
Negative correlation-as x increases, y decreases and vice versa (e.g relationship between age and
thumb sucking)
No relation- e.g the relationship between weight and intelligence
Statistical significance: is a measure of the extent to which a given result can be attributed to
chance, it is determined by the absolute value of the correlation coefficient and number of
participants from which the correlation was obtained. e.g saying a finding is “significant at .05 level”
meaning that we are 95% sure that the finding is not due to chance