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Chapter 6

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Chapter 6: Continuity and Change in Traits: The Roles of Genes, Environments, and Time Two Kinds of Continuity  Absolute continuity defines absolute continuity as consistency in the quantity or amount of an attribute over time o Never applied to the single individual, instead it’s usually understood in terms of group averages on a given trait. o Important when considering hypotheses and expectations about human development.  Developmental theories suggest that adolescence is a time of confusion and anxiety for many people, but that things settle down a bit as individuals move into adulthood  Differential continuity refers to the consistency of individual differences within a sample of individuals over time, to the retention of an individual’s relative placement in a group o Always a matter of individuals’ relative standing to one another on a given dimension  Extent of which individuals continue to hold their relative positions on a trait dimension over time is typically calculated with a correlation coefficient o Between the same trait in time 1 and time 2  Low differential continuity suggests that people change relative to one another over time on a given dimension  Both differential and absolute continuity are COMPLETELY UNRELATED to each other Differential Continuity in the Adult Years  Longitudinal studies show remarkably high differential continuity in personality traits over the adult lifespan  Length of the time interval between testing is one factor that influences the strength of differential continuity o The longer the time interval, the lower the differential continuity  E.g. people would show less stability in trait scores over a 20 year period as compared with a 5-year period  age of participants in the study o greater and greater differential continuity in personality traits as people age up through late midlife Childhood Precursors: From Temperament to Traits  Differences in basic behavioral style, often observed early in life and presumed to be under significant and rather direct biological control, are often viewed as indications of temperament o Temperament refers to the characteristic phenomena of an individuals nature, including his susceptibility to emotional stimulation, his customary strength and speed of response, the quality of his prevailing mood, and all the peculiarities of fluctuation and intensity of mood  May represent early in life framework that personality traits eventually emerge from  Thomas, Chess, and Birch developed the simplest and best known method to measure temperament. Discovered 3 types of temperament patterns  Easy babies  Difficult babies  Slow to warm up babies o Easy babies show consistently positive mood, low to moderate intensity of emotional reactions, and regular sleeping and eating cycles o Difficult babies show consistently negative moods, intense emotional reactions, and irregular sleeping and eating cycles o Slow to warm up babies combine the previous two with relatively negative moods, low intensity of emotional reaction, and a tendency to withdraw from new events at first, but then approach them later o Behavioral inhibition is one temperament dimension Jerome Kagan created that received attention  Extremely inhibited children show timid behavior in face of new people and events, and also show greater physiological responses like faster heart rates, dilated pupils o Effort control is another temperament dimension that also has important implications for personality development  Refers to a child’s active and voluntary capacity to withhold a dominant response in order to enact a subordinate response given situational demands  E.g. child tempted to watch tv afterschool instead of homework but resists in order to go to the a
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