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Psychology 2550A/B Chapter Notes -Coronary Artery Disease, Gordon Allport, Hans Eysenck


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYCH 2550A/B
Professor
Kelly Olson

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Many psychologists working at this level of analysis try to label, measure, and classify people, often but not always using t he trait terms of
everyday language (e.g. Friendly, aggressive) in order to describe and compare their attributes and make sense of them
The trait approach - the effort to categorize in psychology -- it is the oldest and most enduring approach to individuality
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TYPES AND TRAITS
Analyses at this level have been guided by the assumption that behaviour is primarily determined by stable generalized traits (basic qualities of the
person that express themselves in many contexts)
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So, the focus in the study of individuality becomes to identify the person's basic stable and consistent traits or characteri stics
A belief that positions on these dimensions tend to be stable across situations and over time
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Choleric (irritable) - caused by an excess of yellow bile
Melancholic (depressed) - excess of black bile
Sanguine (optimistic) - too much blood
Phlegmatic (calm, listless) - too much phlegm
Hippocrates assigned persons to one of four types and associated them with one of the bodily humors:
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Fat people are "jolly" and "lazy"; thin people are "morose" and "sensitive"
Associations bw physique and indices of temperament have popular appeal, as seen in the many stereotypes linking the body to the psyche:
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Withdraws into herself, especially when encountering stressful emotional conflict
Prefers to be alone
Tends to avoid others
Shy
Introvert
Reacts to stress by trying to lose himself among people and social activity
Drawn to an occupation that allows him to deal directly with many people, such as sales
Conventional, sociable, and outgoing
Extravert
Most important typologies is grouping people into introverts or extraverts
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Still useful, though
But because each person's behaviours and psychological qualities are complex and variable, it is difficult to assign an indiv idual to a single slot
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IN FOCUS 3.1 An Example: Type A Personality
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Involved in multiple activities
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Numerous community and social commitments
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Participate in competitive athletics
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Competitive achievement striving
Impatient and irritation at delay
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Exaggerated sense of time urgency
May not be generally more aggressive than other people, but they become more aggressive under circumstances that threaten their sense
of task mastery (when under criticism or high time pressure)
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Aggressiveness and hostility
Type A
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Those opposite to type A
Patterns of relaxation, serenity, and lack of time urgency
Type B
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These two types also differ in their family environments
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Type A's may have at least twice the likelihood of coronary heart disease as type B people
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Type A's also smoke more and have higher levels of cholesterol in their blood
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Type A people also tend to describe themselves as more impulsive, self -confident, and higher in achievement and aggression
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Results in their failure to rest or to seek medical care in the early phases of heart disease and may be one reason why these people push
themselves into greater risk of premature death from coronary heart disease
The correlation may be weaker - may just be due to their anger and hostility
Both type A men and women fail to report physical symptoms and fatique
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In sum, it now seems that specific behaviours, rather than the more global typology, are linked to a higher risk of coronary disease
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Traits: Individual Differences on Dimensions
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Traits defined
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Discontinuous categories (
While typologies assume discontinuous categories (ex. Male or female), most traits are measured on continuous dimensions like "friendliness" -- in
terms of the degree of the quality the person has
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Most people show intermediate amounts, and only a few are at each extreme
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Traits are assumed to be quantifiable and scalable
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Thus, a trait may be simply defined as "any distinguishable, relatively enduring way in which one individual varies from anot her"
Trait - refers to consistent differences between the behaviour or characteristics or two or more people
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When different people are confronted with the same event, each individual tends to react in a somewhat different way
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Describing and explaining
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Thus, the trait becomes a construct to explain behaviour
Some theorists see traits as explanations: in their view, the trait is the property within the person that accounts for his o r her unique but relatively
stable reactions to stimuli
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Trait Attributions
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When people describe each other in daily life, they spontaneously with trait terms (friendly, aggressive, dependent, etc)
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In everyday practice, traits may be used first simply as adjectives describing behaviour, but the description is soon general ized from the behaviour to
the person ("he behaves in a lazy way" to "he is lazy")
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The utility of trait terms depends on their ability to make predictions about people's behaviours in a new situation based on their behaviours
observed in the past in a different situation
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Types and Traits
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observed in the past in a different situation
TRAIT THEORISTS
Three of the most influential: allport, cattell, eysenck
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Gordon Allport
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His book "personality: a psychological interpretation" in 1937 launched the psychology of personality as a field and discipli ne
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His view of personality was broad and integrative
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To understand the differences between people in personality
1.
To see how the different characteristics and processes (like learning, memory, and biological processes) that exist within an individual interact
and function together
2.
He wanted the field to pursue two goals:
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His conception of traits continues to guide much of the work at the trait -dispositional level of analysis
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He favoured a biophysical conception that there are nonetheless bonafide mental structures in each personality that account f or the consistency of
its behaviour
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i.e. A trait is a generalized and focalized neuropsychic system with the capacity to initiate and guide consistent forms of a daptive and expressive
behaviour -- they also unite many responses to diverse stimuli, producing broad consistencies in behaviour
According to allport, traits are determining tendences or predispositions to respond
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Cardinal traits - highly generalized dispositions that influence most aspects of some people's behaviours
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Central traits - less pervasive, but still quite generalized dispositions; many people are broadly influenced by them
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Secondary dispositions - more specific, narrow traits (aka attitudes)
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Emphasis on structure, rather than environment/stimulus conditions is shown here: "the same fire that melts the butter harden s the egg"
Each person's behaviour is determines by a particular trait structure
He believed that one's pattern of dispositions or "personality structure" determines one's behaviour
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He emphasizes individuality and uniqueness of each personality
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He urged the study of individuals through intensive and long -term case studies
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Also did pioneering work at the phenomenological-humanistic level of analysis
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Still agreed that bc of shared experiences/common cultural influences, most people tend to develop some roughly similar kinds of traits
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Raymond B. Cattell
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For cattell, the trait is also the basic unit of study; it is a "mental structure," inferred from behaviour, and a fundamenta l construct that accounts for
behavioural regularity/consistency
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Common traits - possessed by many people in different degrees
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Unique traits - occur only in a particular person and cannot be found in another in exactly the same form
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Surface traits - clusters of overt or manifest trait elements (responses) that seem to go together
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Can only be found by factor analysis
Source traits - the underlying variables that are the causal entities determining the surface manifestations
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Environmental-mold traits - those that reflect environmental conditions
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Constitutional traits - those that reflect constitutional factors
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These source traits are divided into:
He thinks the basic aim in research/assessment should be identification of source traits
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General - those affecting behaviour in many different situations
Specific - operate in one situation only -- cattell pays little attention to these
Source traits may be:
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Life records in which everyday behaviour situations are observed and rated
1.
Self-ratings
2.
Objective tests in which the person is observed in situations that are specifically designed to elicit responses from which b ehaviour in other
situations can be predicted
3.
Cattell used three kinds of data to discover general source traits
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Dynamic traits - those traits that are relevant to the individual's being set into action with respect to some goal
Ability traits - those concerned with effectiveness in gaining the goal
Temperament traits - traits concerned with energy or emotional reactivity
Traits may also be grouped into classes on the basis of how they are expressed
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Hans Eysenck
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Extended the search for personality dimensions to the area of abnormal behaviour, studying such traits as neuroticism -emotional stability
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He emphasized that his dimensions of introversion -extraversion is based entirely on research and "must stand and fall by empirical confirmation"
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Introverts = reliable, somewhat pessimistic and places great value on ethical standards
Overall, extroverts = feelings are not kept under a tight control, and he is not always a reliable person
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Most people are mixtures of introverts/extraverts and fall in the middle of the spectrum rather than at the extremes of the d imensions
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This dimensions describes at one end people who tend to be moody, touchy, anxious, restless, and so one
At the other extreme are people characterized by such terms as stable, calm, carefree, even-tempered, and reliable
Emotional stability - the second major dimension of personality (aka neuroticism)
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Extraverts generally reported earlier, more frequent, and more varied sexual experiences
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COMMON FEATURES OF TRAIT THEORIES
Generality and stability of traits
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They all use the trait to account for consistencies in an individual's behaviour and explain why persons respond in different ways to the same
stimulus
Trait theorists' general conceptions are similar
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Traits and states distinguished
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Both traits and states are terms that refer to the perceived attributes of people
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Both refer to categories that have fuzzy boundaries and both are based on prototypes or ideal exemplars
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Prototypic traits are seen as enduring, stable qualities of the person over long time periods and internally caused
Prototypic states refer to qualities that are only brief in duration and attributable to external causes
The difference between them is that:
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Traits examples: gentle, domineering, and timid
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States examples: infatuated, uninterested, and displeased
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Search for basic traits
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