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Chapter 2

Chapter 2

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Elizabeth Page- Gould

Chapter 2: Personality Traits: A Good Theory (22-43)  behavioural residue: physical traces left behind by everyday actions that are hints or cues to the personality of the occupant 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; measured over a continuum  temporary states, attitudes, and physical attributes not considered personality traits  traits can’t be measured directly, so psychologists think of them as hypothetical concepts  other psychologists see traits as internal, cal properties and view a trait as a capacity that’s present even when trait’s not being directly expressed TWO APPROACHES TO THE STUDY OF PERSONALITY TRAITS  ideographic approach: goal is to understand personality of a single individual with all of their quirks or idiosyncrasies and characteristics that make them unique  psychologist stats with what a single individual thinks is important to know about them and seeks to answer what unique combo of traits best describes this person  nomothetic approach: goal to discover universals- concepts that can apply to everyone- by identifying traits that can describe all people or can be applied to any person  Eysenck realized one could study both general (nomothetic) and specific (ideographic) within a single person and develop theory of personality from there  hypothesized human personality organized in hierarchy categorizing human personality from most general at top to most specific level at bottom  general means trait universal, specific means trait more unique to single individual  at very bottom level of pyramid are specific behaviours including responses, acts, cognitions, or reactions to everyday life  if specific level response occurs many time, can say it’s a habit or typical way of responding  if certain habits occur over time and across situation, can say person’s exhibiting personality trait  if certain traits tend to occur together in people then can say we’ve identified a personality type  type level > trait level > habitual response level > specific response level WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT PERSONALITY FROM THE IDEOGRAPHIC APPROACH STUDYING INDIVIDUAL PERSONALITIES: THE IDIOGRAPHIC APPROACH  Allport identified 3 different kinds of traits  central traits: traits that are of major importance in understanding the person  secondary traits: traits of lesser importance, less consistently displayed or seldom displayed  cardinal traits: single traits that completely dominate a personality; uncommon THE IDEOGRAPHIC APPROACH APPLIED: THE CASE OF JENNY  Jenny Gove Masterson was pseudonym for woman who wrote detailed letters to 2 friends over 10 years  Allport edited and published these letters with psychological commentary  Jenny born in Ireland in 1868, as young woman moved to US with husband; husband died soon after they had a baby (Ross)  Ross became centre of Jenny’s world, caused tension between them when Ross was an adult  Jenny wrote to Ross’ college roommate and his wife some 10 years after Ross’ college years, about time when their relation was most strained  Allport enlisted aid of 36 people who read letters and described Jenny’s traits; used 198 trait terms, which Allport then arranged in clusters of related words  Allport and others have gone on to analyze Jenny by applying various personality theories  turned out Jenny was actually writing letters to Allport and his wife Ada WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT PERSONALITY FROM THE NOMOTHETIC APPROACH? FINDING UNIVERSALS: THE NOMOTHETIC APPROACH  researchers typically use combination of theoretical approach, lexical approach, and measurement approach to identify most meaningful and applicable words to describe personality THEORETICAL APPROACH  theoretical approach: theory or common wisdom about human personality THE LEXICAL APPROACH  lexical approach: explores a particular language and indentifies number of synonyms that describe personality  if a concept is important to speakers of a language, it will be encoded in their language in multiple ways  if same personality trait found across many different languages, it may qualify as a human universal THE MEASUREMENT APPROACH  measurement approach: discovering important aspects of personality and trying to measure personality  mathematical and statistical techniques used to see if various trait terms cluster together in some way RESEARCH METHODS ILLUSTRATED: FACTOR ANALYSIS  factor analysis: statistical technique that mathematically identifies a meaningful underlying structure among a set of variables  patterns of correlations say which variables go together; then computer uses complex matrix algebra to try to recreate pattern of correlations form combination of one or more mathematical equations  combining and weighting of participants’ responses is formation of factors  small number of these factors usually able to recreate variation among responses in data set almost as well as all of original answers  eigenvalue: each factor can explain certain amount of variation in answers between participants  factor loadings: calculated from eigenvalues; estimate of how strongly each question fits into a given factor  higher numbers indicate stronger correlation between item and factor, positive or negative sign indicating direction of relationship  when doing factor analysis, first factor that emerges generally accounts for greatest amount of variation in data; no guarantee that factor makes any sense  rotating factors: moving around factors to find which questions go together the best; doesn’t change number of factors or relationship among factors, does change which questions cluster together  combining and weighting of questions that make up that factor shift slightly so researcher can better see what underlying factor is  once right numbers identified, researcher must name factors by looking at items that fall together on each factor and see what concept they all appear to be getting at THE GREAT NOMOTHETIC SEARCH FOR UNIVERSAL PRINCIPLES OF PERSONALITY  Big Five: built on Cattell’s statistical work identified solution of 5 very broad, similar factors  five-factor model: model of personality based on measurement approach; neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness THREE SUPERFACTORS: EYSENCK  first described personality types in terms of physiological or biological differences between people  his early twin studies support claim for genetic differences in 3 factors  superfactors: 3 broad dimensions of personality  psychoticism: how touch-minded or antisocial people are; low agreeableness and conscientiousness  extraversion: how outgoing people are, both to social and physical environments  neuroticism: negative emonality and emotional reactivity  narrow traits: more specific traits associated with each of the superfactors  Eysenck’s PEN Model: Factors and Narrow Traits Factors Narrow Traits aggressive cold egocentric impersonal psychoticism impulsive antisocia
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