Chapter 12 – Reading Notes
Personality: An individual’s characteristic style of behaving, thinking, and feeling.
One develops a personality naturally as we travel through life.
Personality psychologist focus on specific characteristics such as honesty or anxiousness or
Anticipated events: Emphasizes the person’s own perspective and often seems intimate and
personal in its reflection of the person’s inner life – hopes, fears, and aspirations.
Self-report: A series of answers to a questionnaire that asks people to indicate the extent to
which sets statements or adjectives accurately describe their own behaviour or mental state.
Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI-2): A well-researched, clinical
questionnaire used to assess personality and psychological problems.
Projective techniques: A standard series of ambiguous stimuli designed to elicit unique
responses that reveal inner aspects of an individual’s personality.
Rorschach Inkblot Test: A projective personality test in which individual interpretations of the
meaning of a set of unstructured inkblots are analyzed to identify a respondent’s inner feelings
and interpret his or her personality structure.
Thematic Apperception Test (TAT): Is a projective personality test in which respondents reveal
underlying motives, concerns, and the way they see the social world through the stories they
make up about ambiguous pictures of people.
When measured by rigorous scientific criteria, the TAT, the Rorschach and the other projective
tests has not been found to be reliable or valid in predicting behaviour.
Personality psychologists attempt to find the best ways to describe personality, to explain how
personalities come about, and to measure personality.
Two general classes of personality tests are personality inventories such as the MMPI-2, and
projective techniques, such as the Rorschach Inkblot Test and the TAT.
Trait theorists face two significant challenges:
o Narrowing down the almost infinite set of adjectives and answering the more basic
questions of why people have particular traits – whether they arise from biological or
Gordon Allport (1937): The first trait theorists believed people could be described in terms of
traits just as an object could be described in terms of its properties. o Trait: A relatively stable disposition to behave in a particular and consistent way.
o Trait may be pre-existing disposition of the person that causes the person’s behaviour,
or it may be a motivation that guides the person’s behaviour.
o Allport saw traits as pre-existing dispositions causes of behaviour that reliably trigger
Ex: Person’s orderliness is an inner property of the person that will cause person
to straighten things up and be tidy in a wide array of situations.
Henry Murray (originator of the TAT): suggested instead that traits reflect motives.
o Just as a hunger motive might explain someone’s many trips to the snack bar.
o A need for orderliness might explain the neat closets, organized calendar, and familiarity
with the bus schedule.
o Researchers examining traits as causes have used personality inventories to measure
them, whereas those examining traits as motives have more often used projective tests.
Factor analysis: Shorts trait terms or self-descriptions into a small number of underlying
dimensions, or “factors”, based on how people use the traits to rate themselves.
Hans Eysenck (1967) simplified things with a model of personality with only two major traits
(later he expanded that to three):
o Extraverts: People who are sociable and active.
o Introverts: People who are more introspective and quiet.
o Analysis also identified a second dimension ranging from tendency to be very neurotic
or emotionally unstable to tendency to be more emotionally stable.
o Believed that many behavioural tendencies could be understood in terms of their
relation to these core traits.
Today, factor analysis researchers agree that personality is best captured by 5 factors.
The Big Five: The traits of the five-factor model – conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism,
openness to experience, and extraversion. (C.A.N.O.E.)
o This set of five factors strikes the right balance between accounting for as much
variation in personality as possible while avoiding overlapping traits.
o The same five factors have emerged in data of people’s descriptions of their own
personalities, other people’s descriptions of their personalities, interviewer checklists,
and behavioural observation.
o Show up across a wide range of participants including children, adults in other cultures,
and even among those who use other languages, suggesting that the Big Five may be
The more genes you have in common with someone, the more similar your personalities are
likely to be.
Genetics seems to influence most personality traits; the average genetic component of
personality is in the range of .40 to .60.
The remaining of the variability in personality is explained by differences in life experiences and
Studies of twins suggest that the extent to which the Big Five traits derive from genetic
differences ranges from .35 to .49.
Anthropomorphize: To attribute human characteristics to nonhuman animals. Extraverts may need to seek out social interaction, parties, and even mayhem in the attempt to
achieve full mental stimulation.
o Pursue stimulation because of their reticular formation (the part of the brain that
regulates arousal or alertness) is not easily stimulated.
o To achieve greater cortical arousal and feel fully alert, they are drawn to activities such
as listening to loud music and having a lot of social contact.
o Perform well at tasks that are done in a noisy, arousing context (bartending or teaching).
Introverts may avoid these situations because they are so sensitive that such stimulation is
o Prefer reading or quiet activities because their cortex is very easily stimulated to a point
higher than optimal.
o Better at tasks that require concentration in tranquil contexts (librarian or nighttime
Jeffrey Gray (1970): Proposed that the dimensions of extraversion/introversion and neuroticism
reflect two basic brain systems.
o Behavioural activation system (BAS): Essentially a “go” system which activates approach
behaviour in response to the anticipation of reward.
Extravert has highly reactive BAS and will actively engage the environment,
seeking social reinforcement and on the “go”.
o Behavioural inhibition system (BIS): A “stop” system which inhibits behaviour in
response to stimuli signalling punishment.
Emotionally unstable person has highly reactive BIS and will focus on negative
outcomes and be on the lookout for “stop” signs.
o These 2 systems operate independently; it is possible for someone to have both.
Psychoanalysis: Refer to both Freud’s theory of personality and his method of treating patients.
Psychodynamic approach: Personality is formed by needs, strivings, and desires largely
operating outside of awareness – motives that can produce emotional disorders.
Dynamic unconscious: An active system encompassing a lifetime of hidden memories, the
person’s deepest instincts and desires, and the person’s inner struggle to control these forces.
Mind consists of three independent, interacting and often conflicting systems: the id, the ego
and the superego.
Id: The part of the mind containing the drives present at birth; it is the source of our bodily
needs, wants, desires, and impulses, particularly our sexual and aggressive drives.
o Operates according to pleasure principle, psychic force that motives the tendency to