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PSYB30 ch 2.odt

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Connie Boudens

CHAPTER 2: PERSONALITYTRAITS:AGOOD THEORY -Gosling, Ko, Mannarelli, and Morris reasoned that when ppl live in an environment they leave behavioural residue behind 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 -temporary states (ie emotions), attitudes (liberal, conservative) and physicaly attributes (short) are not considered personality traits -traits are thought of as hypothetical concepts—psychologists assume traits exist even tho we cant see them TwoApproaches to the Study of Personality Traits -in the idiographic approach, the goal is to understand the personality of a single individual w/ all of his or her idiosyncrasies and characteristics that make them unique -in the 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 both contribute to a complete understanding of human personality -Hans Eysenck realized that one could study both the general (nomothetic) and the specific (idiographic) w/in a single person and develop a theory of personality from there >hypothesized that human personality is organized into a hierarchy, thought of as a pyramid >pyramic categorizes human personality from the most general level at the top to the most specific level at the bottom (general=universal or applicable to other ppl; specific=trait more unique to a single ind) >at the v/ bottom level of the pyramid are specific behaviours including responses, acts, cognitions, or reactions to everyday life. Because these reactions are observed only once, they may or may not be related to one's personality. However, if the same reaction occurs many times then we might say that the response has become a habit or a typical way of responding. Further, if certain habits occur over time and across situations, then we might say the person is exhibiting a personality trait -->if we notice that certain traits tend to occur together in ppl then we can say that we've identified a personality type, a syndrome, a superfactor, or an “observed constellation of traits” -according to Eysenck, the lower we go on the pyramid the more idiosyncratic our reactions are; similarly, 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 -where the psychologist focuses on understanding a specific person and where that person chooses which traits are imp to him or her, is an example of the idiographic approach to personality >using this approach, Gordon Allport identified three different kinds of traits (1) central traits: are traits that are of major importance in understanding the person—they are the 5 or 10 traits that ppl who know you might mention in your letter of recommendation or to someone who doesnt know you when describing you (2) secondary traits: 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, leader like at time) (3) cardinal traits: a single trait that completely dominate a personality What Do We KnowAbout Personality from the NomotheticApproach? Finding Universals: The NomotheticApproach -there are at least three different ways to identify the most meaningful and applicable words to describe personality -once the basic traits have been identified by one of these methods, psychologists use statistical techniques such as factor analysis to verify and validate that they have indeed found important traits The TheoreticalApproach -in this approach, personality psychologists start w/ a theory or even common wisdom about human personality -example of theory: Carl Jung hypothesized that ppl differ in how they evaluate information: either rationally (he called thinking function) or through emotions—he spoke of at least two types of personality, feeling types and thinking types The LexicalApproach -this approach explores a particular language and identifies the number of synonyms that describe personality—reasoning: if a concept is imp to speakers of a language, then that concept will be encoded in their language in multiple ways -if the same personality trait is found across many diff language, such a trait may qualify as a human universal The MeasurementApproach -some psychologists have focuses on developing the best questionnaires and measurement techniques apart from a theoretical context (called the measurement approach) -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 Research Methods Illustrated: Factor Analysis -factor analysis: a statistical technique that mathematically identifies a meaningful structure among a set of variables >suppose some q's are related to each other—but not to other questions; then we can say that we have identified a unique factor in participants' responses to these questions -how do we know that some q's go together? We look at the correlations among all of the questions in our data -the result of all this combining and weighting of participants' responses is the formation of factors The Great Nomothetic Search for Universal Principles of Personality -Allport and Odbert conducted a lexical analysis and uncovered 4,504 trait terms—from this list of traits, Cattell (using factor analysis) identified 16 factors >others, building on Cattell's statistical work, identified a solution of 5 similar factors known as the Big Five-- each of the Big Five factors describes personality at a high level of abstraction (rmbr Eysenck's pyramid) summarizing a large number of more distinct lower level traits -others have theorized that for personality traits to be universal, they must be rooted in biology or solve evolutionary problems (which these factors appear to do) Three Superfactors: Hans Eysenck -Eysenck spent his whole life trying to identify and describe key differences bw ppl—so convinced was he that there were fundamental constitutional differences bw ppl that he first described these personality types in terms of physiological or biological differences bw ppl >more recent research has proved that Eysenck has the general principle right: his early twin studies support his claim for genetic differences in the three factors, even as the exact physiological mechanisms were unknown to scientists at the time -identified three broad dimensions of personality with narrow traits assoc'd w each of these factors -psychoticism: describes how tough-minded, antisocial ppl are >narrow traits: aggresive, cold, egocentric, impersonal, impulsive, antisocial, unempathetic, creative, tough-minded -extraversion: describes how outgoing ppl are, both to the social and the physical environment >narrow traits: sociable, lively, active, assertive, sensation-seeking, carefree, dominant, surgent, and venturesome -neuroticism: refers to negative emotionality and emotional reactivity >narrow traits: anxious, depressed, guilt feelings, low self-esteem, tense, irrational, shy, moody, and emotional -one problem with his theory is that many researchers believe imp traits are missing -indeed, altho Eysenck acknowledged that aspects of the five-factor model overlapped w his theory, he countered that the factors of Agreeableness and Conscientiousness were at the level of habits and therefore not comparable -he also believed openness is more of a cognitive factor and should not be considered a dimension of personality Five Factors: The Big Five and the Five-Factor Model -the five factors that appear to be universal traits are Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness -neuroticism refers to emotionality, psychological distress, and reactivity >one of the best indicators for Neuroticism is agreement with the item, “I often feel tense and jittery” from the NEO Personality Inv
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