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Chapter 2

PSYB30 - Chapter 2.docx

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Connie Boudens

PSYB30 – Chapter 2 – Personality Traits: A good theory  Behavioural residue – when people live in an environment, they leave physical trances of their everyday actions as hints or cues to their personality o College dorm test – some truth to it What is a personality trait?  Trait – describe a person’s typical style of thinking, feeling and acting in different kinds of situations and at different times o Commonalities and consistencies over time  Temporary states (such as emotions), attitudes (liberal or conservative), and physical attributes (short, muscular) are not part of personality traits  Traits can be seen as descriptive summaries (without thinking where they come from or why a person is the way he is  Maarij is sociable, just look at how he’s getting along with everyone) OR internal, causal properties (view a trait as a capacity that is present even when the trait is not being expressed  2 approaches to the study of personality traits  idiographic (specific) and nomothetic (general) o A doctor assesses each patient using an idiographic measure but the doctors standards of treatment as based on nomothetic sciences of biochemistry and bacteriology o This is how we should approach personality trait research and study  Idiographic – to understand the personality of a single individual with all of his or her characteristics that make them unique  Nomothetic approach – to discover universals by identifying traits that can describe all people or that can be applied to any person What do we know about personality from the idiographic approach?  According to this approach, Gordon Allport identifies 3 kinds of traits: o Central traits – traits that of major importance in understand the person (5-10 traits that people who know you will mention) o Secondary traits – traits of lesser importance, less consistently displays or seldom displays or only slightly revealed so that only a very close friend might notice o Cardinal trait – one trait that describes him or her (very rare to have) What do we know about personality from the nomothetic approach?  3 different approaches have been used with studying personality traits from the nomothetic approach – depending on the purpose of your research  The theoretical approach – starts with a theory or even common wisdom about human personality and expand from there o Using the book The Prince by Machiavelli to measure manipulativeness o Carl Jung’s theory of feeling types and thinking types o Freud’s theory of psychosexuality  The lexical approach – explores a particular language and identifies the number of synonyms that describe personality o Tackles the cultural issues of personality  The measurement approach – using questionnaires or self-report indexes to “measure” personality using quantifiable variables o Factor analysis – statistical technique that mathematically identifies a meaningful underlying structure among a set of variables  Eigenvalue – the amount of variance each factor can explain, for this we calculate the factor loadings – an estimate of how strongly each question fits into a given factor o Raymond Cattell and his 4504 trait, and then reduced down to 160, and further down to 16 The great nomothetic search for universal principles of personality  Five factor model (FFM) – the last reduced number of traits derived from the original 4, 504 traits (reduced to 16 as well)  OCEAN (openness, conscientiousness, extrovertedness, agreeableness, neuroticism) o These 5 traits also are rooted in biology and solve evolutionary problems o Can be measured o Neuroticism – how well a person adjusts to the “slings and arrows of daily life”, emotionality, psychological distress, and reactivity (do you worry what people think about you? Do you keep your feelings under control?)  related to anxiety and depression (high neuroticism – anxiety, low neuroticism – depression generally is the rule)
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