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Chapter 2

Chapter 2 - Personality Traits - A Good Theory.doc

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Marc A Fournier

Chapter 2: Personality Traits: A Good Theory Gosling, Jo, Mannarelli, and Morris : when people live in an environment they leave Behavioural Residue – physical traces in living spaces left behind by the everyday actions of people that are hits or cues to the personality of the occupant. • Eg. surfboard, mementos, tidy rooms • Study for dorm rooms & office spaces  people agreed on the personality ← What Is A Personality Trait? ← Traits – describe a person’s typical style of thinking, feeling and acting in different kinds of situations and at different times • Contrast: Temporary states (such as emotion), attitudes (liberal, conservative) and physical attributes are NOT considered personality traits • Traits are measured over a Continuum – a continuous stretch, from low to high + normal curve o Eg. High talkative compatible with strangers more than low talkativeness • Traits are hypothetical concepts NOT seen BUT described o Eg. Mario is sociable, look at how he gets along with everyone • Some psychologists see traits as internal, causal properties and view a trait as a capacity that is present even when the trait is not being directly expressed o Eg. Mario is getting along with everyone; he’s sociable ← Two Approaches to the Study of Personality Traits ← Idiographic Approach – the goal is to understand the personality of a single individual with all of his/her quirks or idiosyncrasies and characteristics that make them unique • best objective description of traits ← Nomothetic Approach – the goal is to discover Universals – concepts that can apply to everyone – by identifying traits that can describe all people or that can be applied to any person • The Great Nomothetic Search for Human Universals  number of traits? 6.7 billion? o Allport : nomothetic and idiographic overlap, the first giving a basis for “diagnosis” and the second giving specifics to the person to “treat.” He believed individuality cannot be studied by science. o Eysenck : believed that human personality is organized into a hierarchy; general at the top, and individual specifics at the top. Behaviour  + many times = habit  + habits over time and situations = trait  + traits in people = personality type (syndrome/superfactor/observed-constellation-of-traits) ← What Do We Know About Personality From the Idiographic Approach? ← Studying Individual Personalities: The Idiographic Approach ← Eg. asking people to describe their traits helps understand a person and what’s important to them ← Allport : 3 types of traits: 1. Central Traits – traits that are of major importance in understanding the person 2. Secondary Traits – traits of lesser importance, less consistently displayed or seldom displayed or only slightly revealed so that a very close friend might notice 3. Cardinal Traits – highly unusual person that has one trait that is completely dominating in a personality, They are so pervasive and extremely influential that practically every aspect of a person’s life is touched by this “ruling passion” or “master ← The Idiographic Approach Applied: The Case of Jenny ← Allport : idiographic approach to “Jenny” who wrote letters to friends over 10 years, after focusing on her son as a single parent. She displayed suspicion, drama, self-centered, etc. in her letters, as examined by psychologists. She wrote the letters to Allport and his wife. ← What Do We Know About Personality From Nomothetic Approach? ← Finding Universals: The Nomothetic Approach ← The Theoretical Approach – Using theory to identify the most important traits for understanding personality • Eg. Machiavellianism scale drawn from Machiavelli’s letter to Prince of Florence ← The Lexical Approach – Using synonyms within or commonalities across languages to identify the most important traits for understanding personality  universals in personality ← The Measurement Approach –Using questionnaires and statistics to identify the most important traits for understanding personality • At first they lacked validity with so many personality tests, and only had reliability  • Factor Analysis – sees if the various trait terms cluster together in some way • Cattell : using Allport & Odbert’s 4504 traits, reduced them with other researchers’ traits and created the 16 Personality Factors, missing the 5 basic factors we have today. ← Research Methods Illustrated: Factor Analysis ← Eg. Questionnaire on likeability of different genres of music  people are expected to have consistent answers  do music genres have underlying structures that distinguish them from one another? ← Factor Analysis – a statistical technique that mathematically identifies a meaningful underlying structure among a set of variable. • Correlations (r) identify which questions go together (positively or negatively) = factors, or which questions don't (no correlation) • Eigenvalue – in factor analysis, the amount of variation among participants’ answers that a factor account for. • Factor Loadings – from eigenvalue , it’s an estimate of how strongly each questions fits into a given factor in an factor analysis. o Higher number = strong correlation with positive/negative relationships o Each factor is defined by the questions with the highest factor loadings  researchers try to identify the underlying factor • First factor has the greatest variation in the data, but there may not be a factor that makes sense since this one is mathematically derived, rather than from questions  Rotating The Factors – researchers move around the factors (combining and weighting) to find which questions go together  number of factors only include interpretable ones  name the factors • Factor analysis is limited to the researcher who makes all decisions ← The Great Nomothetic Search for Universal Principles of Personality ← Big Five – a five-factor model of personality based on the lexical approach: Surgency (Extraversion), Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Emotional Stability and Culture • Shown in all personality tests • Universal  rooted in biology or solve evolutionary problems ← Five Factor Model – a five-factor model of personality based on the measurement approach: Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness, Agreeableness and Conscientiousness. ← Three Superfactors: Eysenck ← Eysenck : • Personality types in terms of biological differences between people (twin study supports it). • Three broad dimensions of personality: Psychoticism, Extraversion and Neuroticism. • Narrow Traits – the subtraits that make up each of the three factors of Eysenck’s PEN theory • Psychoticism – a personality trait that describes how tough- minded, selfish and antisocial a person is. People who are low in Psychoticism are high in Agreeableness and Conscientiousness. o NT: aggressive, cold, egocentric, impersonal, impulsive, antisocial, unempathetic, creative, tough-minded • Extraversion – a personality trait that describes how much people energetically seek out interactions with others and experience positive emotions in both social and physical environments. People who are low in Extraversion are described as introverted and tend to be reserved, quiet and shy. o NT: sociable, lively, active, assertive, sensation-seeking, carefree, dominant, surgent, venturesome • Neuroticism – a personality trait that describes how anxious and vulnerable to negative emotions and reactivity a person is. People who are low in Neuroticism are described as emotionally stable and tend to be calm, relaxed and able to handle stress well. o NT: anxious, depressed, guilt feelings, low self-esteem, tense, irrational, shy, moody, emotional • Problem with theory: He believed his was right, because other theories included his traits in the hierarchy. He disregarded traits of openness (he believed it was cognitive), agreeableness and conscientiousness (he believed it was habits/responses, NOT part of hierarchy). ← Five Factors: The Big Five and the Five-Factor Model ← Five Factors: Ne
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