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Chapter 2

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Kira A Borden

2: Personality Traits: A good theory Behavioural residue: physical traces left behind by everyday actions are hints or cues to the personality of the occupant. What is a personality Trait o Traits describe a person’s typical style of thinking, feeling and acting in different kinds of situations and at different times o Persistent ways of acting and reacting are captured by the concept of traits o Temporary states (emotions), attitudes (liberal or conservatives), and physical attributes (short, muscular) are not considered personality traits o Traits are measured over a continuum  Continuum that is in a continuous stretch, from low to high  EX: if a person who score high on a particular trait say talkativeness, are more likely to strike up a conversation with a stranger than a person who is low on talkativeness o Traits cannot be directly measured in the same way that say height and weight can, psychologist think of traits as hypothetical concepts o Traits exist even thought we cant see them o Psychologist view traits- descriptive summary of behavior without thinking about where they came from or why a person acts that way o Other psychologist view trait as internal causal properties Two Approaches to the study of Personality Traits o Idiographic approach- the goal to understand the personality of a single individual with all of his or her quirks or idiosyncrasies and characteristics that make them unique o Nomothetic Approach- the goal is to discover universals, concepts that can apple to everyone by identifying traits that can describe all people or that can be applied to any person o Allport – started the battle between the idiographic and Nomothetic approach o The idiographic approach uses many variables to describe the personality of a single individual in great detail. o Allport cautioned that individuality cannot be studied by science yet he recognized a place for the study of the individual within psychology o Hans Eysenck took up Allport’s challenge and found a way of reconciling these two seemingly different approaches to the study of human personality  Human personality is organized into a hierarchy which can be think of as a pyramid  Pyramid categories human personality from the most general level at the top to the most specific level at the bottom  Bottom- specific behaviors including responses, acts cognitions, reactions of everyday life  If a reaction occurs again – the response have become a habit or a typical way of responding  If a certain habit occur overtime- the person is exhibiting a personality trait  If a certain trait tend to occur together in people – we have identified a personality type “ observed constellation of traits” (term by EYSECK’S WORD)  The lower we go in pyramid the more idiosyncratic our reactions are What Do we know about Personality from the Idiographic Approach o Studying individual Personalities: The idiographic Approach Allport identified three different kinds of traits: central traits, secondary traits, cardinal traits Central Traits: are traits that are of major importance in understanding the person o Traits that people who know you might mention in your letter of recommendation  Secondary Traits: are traits of lesser importance, less consistently displayed or seldom displaced or only slightly revealed so that only a very close friend might notice them  Cardinal traits: a person may have one and only one trait that describes him or her, traits are so pervasive and extremely influential that practically every aspect of a person’s life is touched by this ruling passion or master sentiment  EX: Don Juan, snow white seven little friends  Occurrence of cardinal trait is unusually, when if it does occur we name the individual a celebrity o The idiographic Approach Applied: The case of Jenny  Allport had the unique opportunity to apply the idiographic approach to a real person Jenny  Jenny Gove Masterson was a pseudonym for a woman who wrote a detailed correspondence to two friends over a period of 10 years  Her husband passed away leaving jenny a single mother to fend for herself and baby Ross far away from her native country  Ross became the center of his mother’s life was an understatement and this led to a tension between the mother and son when Ross was an adult  Jenny wrote letters to Ross girl friend and his friend  Allport used 198 traits terms then arranged clusters of related words: quarrelsome-suspicious, self-centered, independent- autonomous, dramatics-intense, aesthetic-artistic What do we know about Personality from the Nomothetic Approach? o The Nomothetic Approach  The nomothetic approach seek to identify the basic traits that make up the human personality  There are at least three different ways to identify the most meaningful and applicable words to describe personality  Researchers use a combination of the theoretical approach, the lexical approach, and the measurement approach o The Theoretical approach: personality psychologist start with a theory or even common wisdom about human personality. o Carl Jung hypothesized that people differ in how they evaluate information, either rationally what he called the thinking function or through emotions o Jung spoke of at least two types of personality feeling types and thinking types o Oral personality who is overly dependent or anal personality who is incredibly organized and uptight o The Lexical Approach: to personality traits explores a particular language and identifies the number of synonyms that describe personality. o A concept is important to speakers of a language then that concept will be encoded in their language in multiple ways o EX: describing what your loved ones and neighbor are like is very relevant and useful so crucial individuals differences have become encoded in language o The Measurement Approach: important aspects of personality and trying to measure personality called the measurement approach o Focus on developing the best questionaries’ and measurement techniques apart from a theoretical context o One way of doing this is to use mathematical and statistical techniques such as factor analysis to see if the various trait terms cluster together in some way o Raymond Cattell started with 4504 trait terms identified by Allport and Odbert o Theoretical, lexical, measurement = to identify and organize personality traits Research Methods Illustrated: Factor Analysis o Factor Analysis: is a statistical technique that mathematically identifies a meaningful underlying structure among a set of variable o How do we know some questions go together? We look at correlations among all of the questions in our data o Recall that correlations ® represents the strength of a relationship between two variables with larger numbers indicating that two variables are highly related o The sign R tells us that the two variables are either directly related (positive) or inversely related (negative) o Each factor explain a certain amount of variation called variance in answers between participants which is called eigenvalue of the factor o From eigenvalue we calculate factor loading which is an estimated of how strongly each questions fits into a given factor o When we do factor an
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