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PSYB30H3 (478)
Chapter 6

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Marc A Fournier

Chapter 6 Continuity of Change in Traits The Role of Genes Enviornments and TimePsychologist expect personality trait scales to show high testretest reliability in the short runTraits are not suppose to change dramatically from one day to the nextA scale that that shows trait changes from day today lacks testretest reliabilityTwo Kinds of Continuity in personality traits1 Absolute continuity its the constancy in the quality or amount of an attribute over timeIts like in the textbook example how much social dominancedid Robert have in 1972 and in 1982If he scores the same on a trait in those to years then hes showing absolute continuity in the traitBUT absolute continuity is never applied to a single individual its understood in terms of group averages on a given traitIssues of absolute continuity come into play when psychologists consider certain hypothesis and expectations about human development exsome developmental psych say that adolescents is a time of confusion and anxiety for many people but things settle down a bit moving through to adulthood22 Differential continuity is the consistency of individual differences within a sample of individuals over time to the retention of an individuals relative placement in a groupits relative to the group ex peers in the textbookits always a matter of individual relative standing to one another on a given dimensioneverybody elses placement on the trait dimension matters toFor theyre to be high levels of differential continuity of the trait the individual who scored high on that certain traitsocial dominanceneed to continue to score toward the top of the distribution over timeOther people would need to hold their relative position on the trait over timeThe extent to which individuals continue to hold their relative positions on a trait dimension over time is typically calculated with a correlation coefficientThe correlation is calculated between the same individual in time 1 and then at time 2High correlations suggest high differential continuityLow differential continuity means that peoples relative position on the dimension changed unpredictably over time this makes it hard to predict the persons trait from lets say 18 years to 28 yearsIt doesnt tell us in which direction the change wentIt just says that the scores are likely to fluctuate unpredictablyAbsolute continuityconsistency of an average on a score on a given trait over timeand Differential continuitystability of individual differences over timeare completely unrelated to each other Differential Continuity in the adult yearsThere have been many longitudinal studies to see whether individual differences are consistent over timeIn a longitudinal study the researchers follow the same group of individuals over time to chart continuity and change in psychological variablesDifferential continuity is assessed by correlating trait scores at one time with trait scores at a second time etcLongitudinal studies show remarkably high differential continuity in personality traits over the adult lifespanSpouse ratings agreed with self ratings on many personality traitsRating that make up the Big five dimensions ofExtraversion and Neurotism showed strong longitudinal consistencyFurther support for differential continuity was evidenced by the fact that selfratings on a given trait at time 1 tended to predict spouse ratings of a given trait at time 2 etcCosta McCrae and Arenberg assessed a number of different traits at two different times for 460 male volunteers in the Baltimore longitudinal studyThere was substantial differential continuityPersonality traits arent perfectly reliable measures65 correlation coefficient is impressiveThe answer is no for whether there is evidence for differential continuity in personality traits so strong as to suggest that they are set in stone by the time we reach our adult yearsTrait scores are not perfectly reliable and a reason for the instability is the error in the measurement themselvesDifferential continuity issubstantial but not at all powerfulPersonality traits scores at Time 1 in adulthood are good but not perfect predictors of scores on those same traits at time 2One of the factors that influence the strength of differential continuity is the length of the time intervalThe longer the time interval the lower the differential continuity Researcher found that Extraversion tends to show slightly higher differential continuity than the trait of Neuroticism and higher continuity than the overall average of other traits as wellThe age of the participants also influences the differential continuity
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