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Chapter

Notes 14-18.pdf


Department
Sociology
Course Code
SOCC31H3
Professor
Chris Bovaird

Page:
of 74
Chapter 14: Personality
Personality is a particular pattern of behaviour and thinking that prevails across time and
situations and differentiates one person from another.
Trait Theories of Personality
Personality Types and Traits:
Earliest known theory was proposed by Hippocrates, Greek physician, in fourth century
BCE, and refined by Galen in second century CE
Body was thought to contain four humours, or fluids: yellow bile (made people
choleric, or bad-tempered and irritable), black bile (melancholic), phlegm
(phlegmatic, or sluggish, calm and unexcitable), and blood (sanguine, or cheerful
and passionate)
Humours were discredited, but the idea that people could be divided into different
personality types lived on
Many investigators today reject the idea that people can be assigned to discrete categories
(individual differences are different in degree, not kind), and prefer to measure the
degree to which an individual expresses a particular personality trait
Identification of Personality Traits:
Gordon Allport (1897-1967) was one of first to search for basic core of personality traits;
began his work by identifying all words in an English dictionary that described aspects of
personality and found 18 000 entries
According to Allport, not all traits have equal influence on their possessors; the
most powerful traits were called cardinal traits; characterize a strong unifying
influence on a person’s behaviour (rare), such as Hitler’s evil, Nelson Mandela’s
commitment to justice, Mother Teresa’s altruism
Central traits capture important characteristics of an individual, but are less
singular in their influence (e.g. being honest or warm)
Secondary traits have minor influence on consistency of behaviour (e.g. tendency
to frequently change jobs)
Raymond Cattell (1905-1998) used Allport’s 18 000-word list as a starting point;
winnowed it down to 171 adjectives that he believed made up a complete set of distinct
surface traits (referring to observable behaviours), then used factor analysis to identify
clusters of traits he believed represented underlying traits
Eventually identified 16 personality factors
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Hans Eysenck (1916-1997) identified three important factors: extroversion (opposite
introversion), neuroticism (opposite emotional stability), and psychoticism (aggressive,
egocentric, anti-social behaviour; opposite self-control)
The five-factor model by Tupes and Christal (1961) proposes that personality is
composed of five primary dimensions: neuroticism, extroversion, openness,
agreeableness, and conscientiousness, measured by the Neuroticism, Extraversion,
and Openness Personality Inventory (Neo-PI-R)
NEO-PI-R consists of 240 items that can be used to describe the personality
being evaluated; test items (e.g. “I really like most people I meet”; “I have a very
active imagination”)are rated on a scale of 1-5; the sum of the answers to different
sets of items become scores on each of the five factors
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Eysenck’s theory illustrated for two factors. According to Eysenck, the
two dimensions of neuroticism (stable vs. unstable) and introversion-
extroversion combine to form a variety of personality characteristics. The
four personality types based on the Greek theory of humours are shown
in the centre
Five factors can be used to predict subjective well-being and job performance
(extroversion=success in jobs that require leadership or improvisation;
conscientiousness=success across all job classifications)
Data suggests factors are very heritable; environmental factors pale beside
genetic factors
The Dark Triad (traits that underlie socially offensive personalities) are made up of
machiavellianism (skill at manipulation), psychopathy (lack of empathy and high
degree of impulsivity) and narcissism (grandiosity and feelings of superiority)
Males tend to score higher on Dark Triad tests
Considerable genetic influence on these traits
Traits across cultures:
The five factors can be replicated in all cultures (no cultural bias)
However, cultures geographically close appear to share similar personality traits;
greatest similarities are between European and American cultures, and between
Asian and African cultures; Europeans and Americans significantly more
extroverted and open to experience, but less agreeable than other cultures
The more individualistic the culture, the greater the culture’s belief that traits
rather than situations determine behaviour
Psychobiological Approaches
Heritability of Personality Traits:
According to Zuckerman (1991), the best estimates of heritability among Eysenck’s factors
are extroversion, 70 percent; psychoticism, 59 percent; and neuroticism, 48 percent:
therefore heritability is responsible for 50-70 percent of these traits, and the remaining
30-50 percent of variability is caused by differences in environment
However, research indicates that identical twins have no difference in personalities
whether they’re raised separately or in the same environment, so it’s not so simple
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