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Ch 4 The Expressions of Dispositions.pdf

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Western University
Psychology 2550A/B
Kelly Olson

TheExpressions of Dispositions September-28-12 4:55 PM TRAITS, SITUATIONS, AND THE PERSONALITY PARADOX - Individual differences in behaviour tendencies - The list of individual differences in behaviour tendencies is long - and for every type of behaviour, one also can think of a corresponding personal quality that makes a person display that behaviour more often or more strongly than other people - Forany given type of behaviour, one can hypothesize a corresponding personal quality that leads people to enact it - The intuitive assumption of consistency - People differ in their personality characteristics, and many if not all of such characteristics do take the form of xxx-ness, where xxx refers to a type of behaviour - If in one situation a person displays more of behaviour X than other people, then we expect her, in other situations as well, to display more of that behaviour than other people - Cross-situationalconsistency -the individual's consistency across different types of situations - Findings: the aggressive child at home may be less aggressive than most when in school; the man exceptionally hostile when rejected in love may be usually tolerant about criticism of his work; the one who melts with anxiety in the doctor's office may be a calm mountain climber; the high risk-taking entrepeneur may take few social risks - The 1968 challenge - Intense reaction when Mischel challenged the field by concluding that although overall cross-situational consistnecy was not zero, it was much less than has been assumed traditionally at the trait level of analysis ○ Most disturbing: he suggested that these findings reflected not just limitations in the methods that have been used but also in the core assumptions about the nature of consistency and coherence in personality - The paradox defined - Mischelbook --> personality paradox ○ Personality paradox- the data from extensive research indicated low cross-situational consistency of behaviour - Along "person vs situation" debate resulted and persisted for many years - The person versus situation debate - Consistedof a prolonged and heated controversy about personality traits, consistency, and the role of the situation that consumed much of the agenda of personality psych - Situationism ○ The emphasis on the power of situational variables, and the belief that personality was less important than the situation ○ This view also proposed that laypeople tend to make erroneous explanations of the causes of other people's behaviour - they neglect the role of the situationand instead invoke personality dispositions as favourite, but incorrect, explanations of social behaviour ○ Fundamentalattribution error - tendency tofocus on dispositions in causal explanations - was seen as a mistake committed by laypersons in everyday life and by psychologists who study them ○ Somecritics argues that personality was mostly a fictitious construction in the mind of the perceiver - Revivalof the traditionalparadigm ○ Founded on an agreement among many researchers to reach a consensus concerning the set of major traits or basic dispositions needed for a comprehensive taxonomy of personality using factor analyses based on trait ratings, in the form of the big five - The role of thesituation ○ Insocial psych, the person became the error variance - the noise - that had to be removed ○ Inpersonality psych, it was believed that one had to remove the effects of situations - and treat them as noise/error - in order to glimpse the true situation-free personality that remained consistent INCORPORATINGSITUATIONS INTO TRAITS - Withinthe patterns of variation shown by an individual, however, there may be a distinctive temporal order, a stable pattern over time that is unique to each person - If...then... Situation-behaviour signatures - The situations in which particular behaviours do and don't occur can be informative - Forex, suppose two professors on the whole display the same average amount of sociability  First one is sociable with students, cold with colleagues  Second is opposite ○ Suchprofiles seem to constitute a sort of signatureof personality that does reflect some of the essence of personality coherence and promises to provide a route toglimpse the underlying system that generates them - The point is that an individual's personality may be seen not only in the overall average frequency of particular types of behaviour shown, but also in when and where that behaviour occurs - Anexpression of personality coherence is eliminated when the situation is removed by aggregating the behaviour across different situations or by ignoring the situation altogether - Afocus on the conditions under which an individual behaves in a particular way can be basic for understanding personal dispositions and give insights about what is underlying the behaviour ○ Even if two individuals display the same overall average level of behaviour, depending on the pattern of where it is displayed, one may reach dramatically different inferences about the individual - Evidence for signatures indicative of personality types - Has clear support - Children tend todisplay stable, distinctive patterns of if...then... Relationships - Forex, some children were consistently more verbally aggressive than others when warned by an adults, but were much less aggressive than most when theirpeers approached them positively ○ Another group displayed opposite if...then... Patterns - results in very different children - Stable if...then... Personality signatures, not just stable levels of average overall behaviour, were found to characterize individuals, and their patterns seem tobe meaningful reflections of the personality system - Individuals differ stably in their distinctive if...then... Strategies and behaviour patterns ○ They will behave in their characteristic ways within a given type of situation, but they will vary their behaviour predictabl y when the "if" changes, thus producing behavioural variability across situations thus producing behavioural variability across situations ○ By aggregating behaviour across situations in their search for broad behavioural dispositions, researchers risk eliminating t he distinctive individuality andstability that they are trying to find - Gary W's behavioural signatures - Gary's behaviour depends on the situation as well as on the type of behaviour involved - If...then... Relationships provide a window for seeing gary's unique but stable patterns, the "signature" of his personality - This perspective emphasizes that both the person and the situation need to be considered when trying topredict and understan d individuals and the important,consistent ways they differ from each other - Two types of consistencies - Consistency can be found in personality and in behaviour in relation to situations - The consistency in personality is found in two different forms or types - must be considered together to see the coherence and stability and for the personality paradox to disappear - Type1: Average overalllevels of behaviour tendencies ○ The first/"classic" form of consistency is seen in the overall average differences in the levels of typical behaviour of different kinds (such as aggressiveness, sociability) that characterize the individual ○ Captures these by aggregating indices of what the individual is like/does across many diff situations - Type2: If...then... Situation-behavioursignatures ○ Seen in patterns of stable links between types of situations and types of characteristic behaviour - Usesof the two type
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