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Chapter 2

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Connie Boudens

PSYB30 Chapter 2: Personality Traits—A Good Theory  Behavioural residue: physical traces left behind by everyday actions are hints/cues to someone’s personality o Ex: mementos from a summer vacation (like seashells) in a prominent place may have personal meaning or reinforce their own self-views  Traits: descriptors of personality such as charming, sociable, flirty, outgoing, conservative, daring, conventional, uncreative, disorganized, careless, extraverted, enthusiastic, critical, quarrelsome, anxious, easily upset o 2 approaches to studying traits: the kinds and numbers of traits o Do universal traits exist? What is a Trait?  Traits describe an individual’s typical way of thinking, feeling, acting across varying situations and times  Commonalities and consistencies in actions & reactions  Traits ≠ Temporary states (emotion), attitudes (liberal, conservative), and physical attributes  Assumption 1: traits are purely descriptive summaries of behaviour without thinking about how or why o “Mario is very sociable; just look at how well he’s getting along with everybody.”  Assumption 2: traits are internal, causal properties o “Of course Mario is getting along with everybody; he’s a sociable person.” 2 Approaches to Studying Personality Traits 1. Idiographic Approach - describes a single individual’s personality in great detail using many variables - unique combination of traits, ppl can be similar but cannot be identical in terms of personality - use case studies - 3 different kinds of traits a) Central Traits  Very important in understanding the person  5 to 10 traits that ppl who know you might mention in your reference letter b) Secondary Traits  Less important, may only be slightly revealed so that only a very close friend might notice c) Cardinal Traits  Single trait that completely dominates a personality  Extremely influential that practically every aspect of life is touched by this “master sentiment”  Ex: any of Snow White’s 7 dwarves 2. Nomothetic Approach - Broad categories used to sort individuals - Seek to identify the basic, universal traits that make up human personality (generalizable) - Combination of theoretical approach, lexical approach, measurement approach - Research Methods: Factor Analysis  1 set of questions are related to each other but not to other questions = unique factor in responses  Correlations (r) = strength of relationship b/n 2 variables  variance = each factor can explain a certain amount of variation Combining the 2 approaches:  Synchronizing idiographic & nomothetic approach similar to a way a doctor diagnoses and treats patients.  Hans Eysenck: hierarchical categories from general level (nomothetic) to specific level (idiographic) o Specific behaviours = responses, acts, cognitions, reactions to everyday life o If same reaction occurs many times = habit, typical way of responding o If habits occur over time and across situations = personality trait o If certain traits tend to occur together = personality type, a syndrome, a superfactor or “observed constellation of traits” o Lower = reactions are more idiosyncratic = more similar to ppl w/ similar personality type Universal Principles of Personality 3 Superfactors: Eysenck 1. Psychoticism - Describes how tough-minded or antisocial ppl are (ex: undercontrolled vs. overcontrolled) - Narrow traits: aggressive, cold, egocentric, impersonal, impulsive, antisocial, unempathetic, tough-minded - “may be cruel & inhumane, lacking in feeling & empathy, insensitive; likes odd & unusual things; disregard for danger; likes to make fools of other ppl and upset them” 2. Extraversion - Describes how outgoing ppl are, both to social & physical environments - Narrow traits: sociable, lively, active, assertive, sensation-seeking, carefree, dominant, surgent, venturesome 3. Neuroticism - Refers to negative emotionality & emotional reactivity - Narrow traits: anxious, depressed, guilt feelings, low self-esteem, tense, irrational, shy, moody, emotional  Problem: important traits are missing  Eysenck argued that five-factor model, had overlapping aspects but factors of agreeableness & conscientiousness were at the level of habits; openness is more of a cognitive factor & shouldn’t be considered pers
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