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Chapter 4

Chapter 4

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Marc A Fournier

Chapter 4: Personality Research Methods and Assessment Issues The ultimate goal of personality research should be to yield info that allows us to describe and understand personality constructs Quality of knowledge obtained is influenced by quality of methods and assessment It could be possible to pinpoint personality vulnerability factors associated with development of depression, identify vulnerable people, and then provide preventive interventions However, conceptual and practical advances will emerge only if researchers adopt a more sophisticated and refined approach to use of methods and creation of personality assessment measures Experimental Research Independent versus Dependent Variables Personality research sometimes takes the form of an experiment where the independent variables are evaluated by their influence on a dependent variable Independent variable is one that is manipulated in an experiment. It is regarded as the causal variable as it is the one that causes change Dependent variable is the outcome variable that is measured in an experiment The dependent variable represents the effect in a cause-effect relationship, and it responses to changes in the independent variable Personality researchers study two types of independent variables Most experimental studies include an independent variable that is a manipulated variable where one level or form of the variable is applied by experiment to a subset of the experiment participants, but a diff level or form of the IV is applied to another subset Random assignment is a the participants being allocated randomly to one group or the other any additional variables that might influence behaviour will be spread out The independent variable always has at least two different condition, some studies include independent variables with three or more conditions For Banduras bobo doll study, the three conditions were watching live adult, watching filmed adult, or watching a cartoon character apply aggression www.notesolution.com When one level of an independent variable is applied to some study participants but not others, it is a between-subjects variable Other studies involve a manipulation of a within-subject variable, also known as a repeated measures design person is measured each time after being exposed to two or more levels of independent variable One benefit of a repeated measures study is that the participant is the same each time One potential drawback is that the investigator may create an order effect, when same person is used in diff experimental conditions, the order that the conditions are experienced may create a source of bias Thus, researchers present various experimental conditions in random order Personality research of an experimental nature is diff from most experimental research in psychology because we can also study independent variables in terms of subject variables classification variables that are not manipulated Subject variables can involve comparing people who differ in demographic characteristics (e.g. males vs. females, old vs. young), but they can also involve comparing people who differ in personality features (i.e. procrastinators vs. non-procrastinators) Dependent variable is the measured outcome variable, and is assumed that the value of the DV will depend or co-vary as a function of differences in the independent variable Eysenck was one of the leading advocates of using experiment procedures to test hypotheses involving personality traits He wanted to test predictions involving traits in his model, such as introversion-extroversion, but he also wanted to establish that experimental manipulation would not have the same effect on all people, depending on the individuals personality The theory of action decrement is based on the notion that heightened arousal during initial learning of material facilitates recall of material in the long run, but instantaneous memory performance will be low b/c cognitive attention if focuses on developing it If introverts are more arousable, they should show poorer memory at first, relative to extroverts, but better memory over time Howard and Eysencks experiment showed that over a 24-hour period, introverts displayed substantially better memory than extroverts DV was recall score The two independent variables were introversion-extroversion and length of the recall interval (ranging from one to five minutes) www.notesolution.com Moderator and Mediator Effects Interaction effect (also called a moderator effect) means that the effect of an IV is moderated or influenced by the level of another IV That is, the DV is influenced by the combination of particular levels of IVs in a way that leads to a qualitative change in the DV Mediator effects occur when the link between a variable and another variable exists primarily because of their mutual link with another intervening variable that influences both of these variables Coping variables are often assessed as potential mediators of the link between personality and psychological distress Personality is linked with psychological distress because personality variable is associated with maladaptive, self-defeating coping styles, which in turn are associated with psychological distress Baron and Kennys criteria for mediation three general conditions must be present: o (1) a significant association between the predicator variable (e.g. personality trait) and the criterion variable (e.g. distress) o (2) a significant association between the predictor variable (e.g. personality trait) and the mediating variable (e.g. coping style) o (3) mediator (e.g. coping) must be a significant predictor of the criterion variable (e.g. distress) Mediation would be suggested if the initial link between predictor and criterion variable is significantly reduced after statistical tests are done that take into account the link that the mediator variable has with both the predictor and criterion variable Personality variables can be mediate by the influence of other variables, but sometimes personality variables themselves may serve as mediators For example, changes in self-criticism mediated the extent to which group cognitive behaviour therapy resulted in lower depression Therapy reduced self-criticism, which in turn led to reduced depression Example of a meditational model: personality coping maladjustment. Personality does not have a direct link with maladjustment, it has indirect link via coping Moderator model personality and coping combine and interact, and it is the combination of these variables that predicts maladjustment www.notesolution.com Additive model both factors are significant but contribute independently to the dependent variable An additive model is also known as a main effects model, as both factors make independent contributions to the prediction of the outcome variable (i.e. maladjustment) Benefits and Limitations of Experimental Research Chief advantage of experimental research is that it may enable the research to draw some conclusions about cause and effect relationships With cause-effect relationships, it is easier to suggest that a manipulated independent variable is a causal factor than it is to suggest that a subject variable is a causal variable Even when a subject variable is associated with a significant difference in the measured variable (i.e. dependent variable), other factors that are linked with the subject variable may be the actual cause (such as biological differences, or due to socialization) Another benefit to experimental research is that it offers a degree of control, and thus reduces ambiguity One significant problem of experiments is the issue of demand characteristics clues in the experiment that enable the participant to figure out the hypothesis and act in a manner to support the hypothesis Orne found that participants in hypnosis experiments act in a manner consistent with their preconceived notions about effects of hypnosis on people Whereas Orne argued that research participants value and identify with the goals of scientific research, Berkowitz and Donnerstein pointed to the participants evaluative apprehension and fear of negative evaluation participants are trying to impress the experimenter by appearing smart or sophisticated The greatest limitation of experimental research is that it is low in external validity, lab setting is quite artificial and not reflect what happens in real-world settings If external validity is a problem, then experiment is low in generalizaiblity Linear versus Non-linear Effects Other issues are specific to the use of subject variables as independent variables in personality experiments Researchers usually categorize people into groups based on some personality characteristic and then evaluate them to see if significant group difference exist www.notesolution.c
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