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Chapter 14-18

Chapter 14-18 Chapter Notes

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CHAPTER 14- Personality Personalitya particular pattern of behaviour and thinking that prevails across time and situations and differentiates one person from another. Psychologists do not draw inferences about personality from casual observations of peoples behaviour but from results of special tests designed to identify particular personality characteristics. The ultimate goal of psychologists is to discover the causes of individual differences in behaviour. What types of research efforts are necessary to study personality? Research on human personality requires two kinds of effort: identifying personality characteristics and determining the variables that produce and control them. TRAIT THEORIES OF PERSONALITY Trait theorist use the term in the sense that it is a set of personal characteristics that determines the different ways we act and react in a variety of situations. Personality Types and Traits Humoural theory: proposed by Hippocrates in 4 B.C.E. is the earliest known explanation for individual differences in personality; based on medical beliefs. The body was thought to contain four humours (fluids): yellow bile, black bile, phlegm and blood. People were classified according to disposition. Choleric people (excess yellow bile) were bad tempered and irritable Melancholic people (excess black bile) were gloomy and pessimistic Phlegmatic people (excess phlegm) were sluggish, calm and unexcitable Sanguine people (excess blood) were cheerful and passionate The above theory was discredited and the notion of different personality types different categories into which personality characteristics can be assigned based on given factorsstood (e.g. Freuds theory of psychosexual stages, horny bastard). Personality types are useful in formulating hypotheses. After identifying and defining personality types, one can determine whether these types actually exist and whether it can lead to valid predictions about ones behaviour in different situations. Today, individual differences in personality are determined in degree, not kind. www.notesolution.com Toby and Cosmides (1990) argue that sex produces a reshuffling of genes in each generation, making it highly unlikely that a single, unified set of genes related to personality type would be passed from one generation to the next. Many prefer to measure the degree to which an individual expresses a personality traitan enduring personal characteristic that reveals itself in a particular pattern of behaviour in different situations. Personality traits are not simply patterns of behaviour: they are factors that underlie these patterns and are responsible for them. Once our personality traits are developed, they reside in our brains but can be changed. Thus, we carry our personality traits around with us in our brains. Identification of Personality Traits Ultimate goal of the personality psychologists is to explain what determines peoples behaviour. Allports Search for Traits Gordon Allport was one of the first psychologists to search systematically for a basic core of personality traits; began by identifying all words that described aspects of personality, analyzed and identified those words that describe only stable personality characteristics. Why? He believed that extent to which trait labels appear in English attests to the importance of traits in how people think about themselves and others. He also believed that people with a particular trait react similarly across situations because they experience a unique sense of similarity across those situations that guide their feelings, thoughts and behaviour. According to Allport, not all traits have equal influences. The most powerful are cardinal traits which characterize a strong unifying influence on a persons behaviour (rare) and these kinds of people stood out in a crowd. Central traits are less singular in influence but capture important characteristics in an individual (e.g. saying someone is warm and honest in order to distinguish them from others). Secondary traits include characteristics that have minor influence on the consistency of behaviour (e.g. a persons tendency to frequently change jobs). Cattell: Sixteen Personality Factors Raymond Cattell used Allports list of trait words for this theory of central traits and shortened the list down to 171 adjectives he believed made up a relatively complete set of distinct surface traits (observable behaviours). He used factor analysis to identify clusters that he believed represented underlying traits and eventually identified 16 personality factors and referred to them as source traits since they were the foundations on which personality developed (Fig. 14.3). www.notesolution.com Eysenck: Three Factors Hans Eysenck used factor analysis to devise a theory of personality and identified three important factors: extroversion, neuroticism, and psychoticism (bipolar dimensions). Extroversion refers to outgoing nature and a high level of activity. Extroverts generally like people and socializing, are spontaneous and take risks. Introversion is the opposite and introverts are usually shy, reserved and careful. People who are at the high end of neuroticism are fraught with worry and guild, and are moody and unstable. The opposite is emotional stability and these people are even-tempered. Psychotism reference to an aggressive, egocentric and antisocial nature whereas self control refers to a kind and considerate nature, obedient of rules and laws. Take a look at Table 14.1. Eysenck argued that the most important aspects of a persons temperament are determined by the combination of the three dimensions of extroversion, neuroticism, and psychoticism (like colours), see Fig 14.4. He also emphasized the biological nature of personality and believes that the functioning of a neural system located in the brain stem produces different levels of arousal of the cerebral cortex. Consider introverts and extroverts. Introverts have relatively high levels of cortical excitation while extroverts dont. Thus, in order to maintain the optimum arousal level, extroverts seek stimulation from external sources by socializing with others. The Five-Factor Model This model proposes that personality is composed of five primary dimensions: neuroticism, extroversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness which are measured by the Neuroticism, Extraversion, and Openness Personality Inventory, or NEO-PI-R. It consists of 240 items that can potentially be used to describe the person being evaluated and test items can be answered by the participant or people they know well. Is there a biological basic for these five factors? A rapidly accumulating body of evidence points to a very strong degree of heritability. Do the five factors predict anything of importance? DeNeve and Cooper (1998) has shown that the five factors can be used to predict subjective well-being. PSYCHOBIOLOGICAL APPROACHES Heritability of Personality Traits www.notesolution.com Cattell and Eysenck have asserted that a persons genetic history has a strong influence on his or her personality. The heritability of a trait can be assessed by twin- studies and adoptive studies. Many studies show that identical twins are more similar to each other than are fraternal twins on a variety of personality measures, indicating these characteristics are heritable. In fact, Bouchard (1997) found that identical twins personality traits generally correlated nearly double that of fraternal twins. Results of such studies suggest that heredity is responsible for between 50 and 70 percent of the variability in personality traits, thus the remaining 30 to 50 percent of the variability would be caused by differences in environment. If family environments have significant effects on personality characteristics, then twins raised together should be more similar than those raised apart. But they were not. A study by Zuckerman (1991) suggested that the family environment seem to account for none of the variability of personality traits in the twins tested. Heredity and environment can interact and the major source of interaction seems to be the effect that peoples heredity has on their family environments. In a study where participants rate their households based on give factors, the identical twins agreed on their ratings much more than the fraternal twins did. There are two possible explanations for this: the family environments could have been more similar for identical twins than for fraternal twins, or the family environments could have really been the same in all cases but were simply perceived as different by the fraternal twins. The first possibility is correct. Read following paragraphs on page 458. Brain Mechanism in Personality Zuckerman (1991) suggested that personality dimensions of extroversion, neuroticism, and psychoticism are determined by the neural systems responsible for reinforcement, punishment, and arousal (e.g. extroverts are highly sensitive to reinforcement). People who are neurotic are anxious and fearful and if they are psychotic at the same time, they can be hostile as well. These retards are particularly sensitive to the punishing effects of aversive stimulus and thus Zuckerman suggests the personality dimension of neuroticism is controlled by the sensitivity of the neural system responsible for punishment (involves the amygdala). People who are psychotic have difficulty learning when not to do something. They have a low sensitivity to punishment a
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