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psyb30 ch2.odt

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Connie Boudens

Chapter 2: Personality Traits:AGood Theory What is a Personality Trait? -trait: describes a person's typical style of thinking, feeling, and acting different kinds of situations and at different times -->if someone were to follow you around for a while to witness your bhevaiour in many situations and at different times in your life he or she would see some commonalities and consistencies in your reactions -temporary states (emotions), attitudes (liberal, conservative) and physical attributes (short, muscular) are not considered personality traits -psychologists think of traits as hypothetical concepts – they assume traits exist even when we cant see them • some psychologists view traits as purely descriptive summaries of behaviour w/o thinking about where they came from or why a person acts that way (Mario is very sociable; just look at how well he's getting along with everybody). On the other hand, other psychologists see traits as internal, causal properties (Well, ofcourse Mario is getting along with everybody; hes a sociable person) and view it a trait as a capacity that is present even when the trait is not being directly expressed TwoApproaches to the Study of Personality Traits -idiographic approach: understand the personality of a single individual with all of his or her quirks or idiosyncrasies and characteristics that make them unique -nomothetic approach: the goal is to discover universals—concepts that can apply to everyone—by identifying traits that can describe all ppl or that can be applied to any person • both approaches overlap and contribute to a complete understanding of human personality -Hans Eysenck took upAllport's challenge and found a way of reconciling these two seemingly different approaches—he realized that one could study both the general (nomothetic) and the specific (idiographic) within a single person and develop a theory of personality from there—he hypothesized that the human personality is organized into a hierarchy, which we can think of as a pyramid • human personalities are categorized from the most general level at the top to the most specific level at the bottom • Eysenck claims that the lower we go on the pyramid, the more idosyncratic our reactions are; the higher we go on the pyramid, the more similar we become to ppl who may be of a similar personality type What Do We KnowAbout Personality From the IdiographicApproach? Studying Individual Personalities: The IdiographicApproach -GordonAllport identified three different kinds of traits: (1) central traits: are traits that are of major importance in understanding the person—they are the 5 to 10 traits that ppl who know you might mention in your letter of recommendation or to someone who doesn't know you when describing you (2) secondary traits: are traits of lesser importance, less consistently displayed or seldom displayed or only slightly revealed so that only a very close friend might notice them (e.g., shy with new ppl) (3) cardinal traits: an unusual person have one and only one traits that describes him or her— completely dominates a personality -case of Jenny—Allport used the idiographic method, and analyzed the letters of “Jenny” and identified sentimental, suspicious, and quarrelsome, among her central traits What Do We KnowAbout Personality from the NomotheticApproach? Finding Universals: The NomotheticApproach -psychologists who follow 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 typically use a combination of the theoretical, lexical, & the measurement appraoch The TheoreticalApproach -sometimes personality psychologists start with a theory or even common wisdom about human personality -other times, they start with a theory -Carl Jung hypothesized ppl differ in how they evaluate information: either rationally or through emotions (he spoke of two dif. personalities: feeling types and thinking types) -this is an example of how psychologists use theories to identify meaningful traits The LexicalApproach -the lexical approach to personality traits explores a particular language and identifies the number of synonyms that describe personality -if the same personality trait is found across many different languages, such a trait may qualify as a human universal The MeasurementApproach -for the last 60 years or so personality psychologists have been working separately on discovering important aspects of personality and trying to measure personality (called the measurement approach) -one of doing this is to use mathematical or statistical techniques such as factor analysis to see if the various traits terms cluster together in some way Research Methods Illustrated: Factor Analysis -factor analysis: is a statistical technique that mathematically identifies a meaningful underlying structure among a set of variables The Great Nomothetic Search for Universal Principles of Personality -the remarkable convergence of theory, research, and measurement makes this a particularly exciting time for personality psychologists as the evidence for a five-factor model of personality mounts Three Superfactors: Eysenck -Hans Eysenck -
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