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Chapter 2

Personality - Chapter 2.doc

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Connie Boudens

Personality Chapter 2: Personality Traits: A Good Theory What Is a Personality Trait ?  Traits: describe a person's typical style of thinking, feeling and acting in diff kinds of sits at diff times - these are not emotions (temp states) attitudes and physical attributes  traits are measured over a continuum – continuous stretch from low to high  traits are hypothetical concepts - traits exist even though we cannot see them - purely descriptive summaries of beh without thinking about where they came from or why person acts that way - other psychos see traits as internal causal properties and a capacity that is present even when trait is not being directly expressed TwoApproaches to the Study of Personality Traits  idiographic approach: goal is to understand the personality of a single person with all of their quirks or idiosyncrasies and characteristics that make them unique - start with asking what they think is imp to know about them – unique traits best beside this person  nomothetic approach: goal is to discover universals – concepts that apply to everyone - identify traits that describe all ppl or that can be applied to any person  these two approaches overlap and both contribute to a complete understanding of human personality  Eysenck – realized that one could study general (nomothetic) and specific (ido) within a single person and develop theory of personality from there - said human personality is organized into a hierarchy – like a pyramid -> most general level at top and specific level at the bottom  at the bottom level = specific beh like responses, acts, cog, or reactions to every day life – if happen more than once over and over again = habit or typical way of responding - if habit over over time and across sit = personality trait - if certain traits tend to occur tgthr in ppl = personality type (super-factor – observed constellation of traits)  Eysenck – lower at the pyramid = more idiosyncratic our reactions are - higher = more similar we become to ppl – similar personality type What Do We KnowAbout Personality From the IdiographicApproach Studying Individual Personalities: The IdeographicApproach  this approach: ask which traits best describe yourself  Allport: 3 diff kinds of traits – central traits, secondary traits, and cardinal traits  central traits: traits that are major importance in understanding a person  secondary traits: traits of lesser importance, less consistently displayed or little displayed or slightly revealed - ex shy with new ppl – leader like at times - only a very close friend might notice  cardinal traits: pervasive and extremely influential that every aspect of their life is touched by this ruling passion or master sentiment Idiographic ApproachApplied: The Case of Jenny  used 198 trait terms  allports clusters of related words: quarrelsome-suspicious, self centred, independent autonomous, dramatic-intense, aesthetic-artistic, aggressive, cynical-morbid, sentimental and 13 remained unclassified What Do We KnowAbout Personality From the NomotheticApproach? Finding Universals: The Nomothetic Approach  3 ways to identify the most meaningful and applicable words to describe personality - usually use combo or theoretical , lexical and measurement approach (questionnaire or assessment tradition) - once basic traits identified by one of the methods – use stat tech like factor analysis to verify and validate that they have found imp traits The Theoretical Approach  theoretical approach: theory or common wisdom about human personality  ex begin with common wisdom = p scale to measure Machiavelianism  used theory – Carl Jung – he hypo that ppl differ in how they evaluate info – either rationally (thinking function) or through emotions - 2 types of personality: feeling types and thinking types - also Freud used theory to identify meaningful traits The Lexical Approach  lexical approach: explores particular lang and identifies the number of synonyms that describe personality  if concept is imp to speakers of a lang then that concept will be encoded in their lang in diff ways  looking for synonyms and commonalities across lang – help identify key terms for describing human personality The Measurement Approach  measurement approach: measure personality  needs taxonomy – systematic method of identifying and classifying trait terms that unified them into a coherent body - one way is to use math and stat tech like factor analysis (to see if diff traits cluster tgthr in some way)  Cattell – started with 4504 traits – then reduced to 160 – to 16 factors Research Methods Illustrated: Factor Analysis  factor analysis: stat tech that mathematically identifies a meaningful underlying structure among a set of variables  look at correlations among all questions in data to see if they go tgthr - correlation: r – strength of a relationship between two variables – either directly related (+) or inversely related (-)  eigenvalue: each factor can explain a certain amount of variation called variance - from this can get factor loading (an estimate of how strongly each question fits into a given factor)  then rotate factors to understand them better  then name factors The Great Nomothetic Search for Universal Principles of Personality  Big five: building on Cattell's 16 Factors - each factor describes personality at a high level of abstraction summarizing a large number of more distinct lower level traits  for personality traits to be universal, they must be rooted in bio or solve evolu problems – which 5 factors appear to do Three Superfactors: Eysenck  Eysneck's general principle: early twin studies support his claim for genetic diff in 3 factors  3 broad dimensions of personality:  Psychoticism (how tough minded or antisocial ppl are) – impulsivity or disinhibition vs constraint or as under controlled vs over controlled - high = selfish and antisocial - aggressive, cold, egocentric, impersonal, impulsive, antisocial, lacking empathy, creative and tough minded = narrow traits - from 5 factors: this is low agreeableness and low conscientiousness  Extraversion: how outgoing ppl are, both social and physical envir - narrow traits: sociable, lively, active, assertive, sensation-seeking, carefree, dominant, surgent and venturesome - experience many + feelings > introverts  Neuroticism: neg emotionality and emotional reactivity - narrow traits: anxious, depressed, guilt feelings, low self-esteem, tense, irrational, shy, moody, emotional - low: even tempered, calm, relaxed, carefree, unworried, somewhat unemotional and recover quickly after an upsetting experience  problem with Eysenck's theory: psycho's feel that imp traits are missing - but he thought that other traits are invalid - talks about factors at the top of the hierarchy (super-factor level) - said from 5 factor – agreeableness and conscientiousness were levels of habits and Openness is more of a cog factor and not dim of personality Five Factor: The Big 5 and the Five Factor Model  N: Neuroticism/Negative Affectivity, Nervousness (Factor IV) E: Extraversion/Energy, Enthusiasm (Factor I) O: Openness/ Originality, Open mindedness (Factor V) A: Agreeableness/Altruism, Affection (Factor II) C: Conscientiousness/Control, Constraint (Factor III)  Neuroticism vs Emotional Stability
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