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Chapter 2

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Connie Boudens

Personality Psychology – Foundations and Findings Chapter 2 – Personality Traits: A Good Theory - Gosling, Ko, Mannarelli, Morris, 2002 – when people live in an environment they leave behind behavioural residue, which provides hints to the personality of the occupant - Gosling, 2008 – study where 1-6 untrained observers visited rooms of college students and rated the rooms on a 7-point scale, found a great amount of consensus, observers were often accurate in guess occupants’ personalities What Is A Personality Trait - Traits describe a person’s typical style of thinking, feeling and acting in different situations and at different times - Although we act differently in some situations, there are commonalities and consistencies in our reactions, which are captured by the concept of traits - Temporary states, attitudes, and physical attributes are not traits - Traits are measured on a continuum (high-low) - Traits are hypothetical concepts because they cannot be directly measured - Psychologists view traits as summaries of behaviour or as internal, causal properties - Two Approaches to the Study of Personality Traits o Idiographic approach – understand an individual’s personality with all of their idiosyncrasies and characteristics that make them unique o Nomothetic approach – discover universals by identifying traits that can describe all people or can be applied to any person o Allport - The idiographic and nomothetic overlap and both contribute to a complete understanding of human personality o Hans Eysenck – human personality is organized into a hierarchy which has the most general level at the top to the most specific level at the bottom  Bottom level – specific behaviours  If certain habits occur over time and situations, the person may be exhibiting a personality trait  If certain traits occur together in people, we can identify a personality type; an observed constellation of traits  The lower on the pyramid we go, the most idiosyncratic our reactions are, the higher we go, the more similar we become to people of a similar personality What Do We Know About Personality From the Idiographic Approach? - Studying Individual Personalities: The Idiographic Approach o Allport – 3 types of traits  Central traits – traits that are important to the understanding of the person (5-10 traits in a person)  Secondary traits – traits that are of lesser importance, less consistently displayed  Cardinal traits – single trait that completely dominates a personality; every aspect of the person’s life is touched by this trait; one-trait personality occurs very rarely What Do We Know About Personality From the Nomothetic Approach? - Finding Universals: The Nomothetic Approach o Nomothetic approach psychologists seek to identify basic traits that make up the human personality o Theoretical Approach – starts with a theory or common wisdom about human personality o Lexical Approach – explores a particular language and identifies the synonyms that describe personality  If a concept is important to speakers of a language, that concept will be encoded in multiple ways  If the same trait is found across many different languages, it may qualify as a human universal o Measurement Approach – uses questionnaires and measurement techniques to measure traits  Factor analysis – technique used to see if various traits cluster together  Cattell factor analyzed the 4505 traits identified by Allport and Odbert – he found 16 factors and then formed his questionnaire, the 16 Personality Factors Research Methods Illustrated: Factor Analysis - Statistical technique that mathematically identifies a meaningful underlying structure among a set of variables - Eigenvalue – amount of variation, the variance, each factor can explain - Factor loadings – how strongly each question fits into a given factor - First factor that emerges from factor analysis generally accounts for the greatest amount of variation in the data - Researcher decides on the right number of factors and then has to name the factors (done by looking at the items within each factor and seeing what concept they are trying to get at) - Useful, but limited method, only as good as the researcher behind it The Great Nomothetic Search For Universal Principles of Personality - Big Five – each of the five factors describes personality at a high level of abstraction summarizing a large number of more distinct lower level traits - Some theorize that for traits to be universal, they have to be rooted in biology or solve evolutionary problems, which these 5 factors appear to do - Three Superfactors: Eysenck o Eysenck was interested in differences between people o First described personality types in terms of physiological or biological differences between people o Identified 3 dimensions of personality: psychoticism, extraversion, neuroticism (PEN Model) o Identified more specific traits, narrow traits, associated with each factor o Psychoticism – how tough-minded or antisocial people are  Impulsivity vs. constraint  Undercontrolled vs. overcontrolled  High in psychoticism – selfish, antisocial  Narrow traits: aggressive, cold, egocentric, impersonal, impulsive, antisocial, lacking empathy, creative, tough-minded o Extraversion – how outgoing people are to social and physical environments  Narrow traits: sociable, lively, active, assertive, sensation-seeking, carefree, dominant, surgent, venturesome, outgoing, experience positive feelings o Neuroticism – negative emotionality and emotional reactivity  Narrow traits: anxious, depressed, guilt feelings, low self-esteem, tense, irrational, shy, moody, emotional  High in neuroticism – easily upset and vulnerable to negative emotions  Low in neuroticism – even-tempered, calm, relaxed, carefree, unworried, somewhat unemotional o Many feel that Eysenck’s model is missing important traits o In comparison to the five-factor model (FFM), Eysenck said Agreeableness and Conscientiousness were at the level of habits, and Openness is a cognitive factor and should not be a dimension of p
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