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Psychology 2550A/B
James M Olson

Data,Methods,andTools September-04-12 11:48 AM WHY A SCIENCE OF PERSONALITY?: BEYOND HINDSIGHT UNDERSTANDING - "life is lived forwards, but understood backwards" - hindsight is 20/20 - We don't realize how different the other accounts of the same event can be when seen through different eyes - Hindsight can at least help one try to make sense of events that otherwise cannot be understood ○ Very different from scientific inquiry - A science begins by creating a language to describe phenomena in a way that allows a single common understanding to emerge, in order to avoid multiplealternative accounts that vary with each observer - Researchers try to arrange conditions under which they can test hypotheses about the various causal factors that might influence the occurrence of thebehaviour or event of interest ○ Then it may be possible to predict when it will occur again and when it will not ○ This knowledge builds a theory in time - Personality psychologists avoid oversimplifying their subject matter and reducing the complexities of personality into a scientific collection of variables ○ Recognize that "the most distinguishing feature of persons is that they construct meaning by reflecting on themselves, their past, and the future" - INFOCUS 2.1 Gary W., The Text's Case - Gary's Self-description ○ Shows us what Gary answered when asked to describe himself ○ It's all of uncertain value because we know neither their accuracy nor their meaning THE RANGE OF PERSONALITY-RELEVANT MEASURES - The different levels of analyses of personality psychology will each provide data about one aspect of your total functioning personality ○ Ultimatechallenge is putting them all together - A central goal of personality psychology is tofigure out how these diverse aspects about an individual relate to each other and help us to understand what is going on in the individual as a whole - Interviews - Interview - a verbal exchange between the participant and the examiner, favoured particularly by workers at the psychodynamic-motivational level andthose at the phenomenological level - The oldest method for studying personality and it remains the most favoured for psychodynamic research and assessment ○ Its usefulness as an assessment tool depends on many considerations, including how the interview is guided and structured, and how the interviewee's responses are recorded, coded, and interpreted - Unobtrusivevideo and sound recording makes the interview a method more open tomanageable scoring, coding, and data analysis - They tend to be expensive and time consuming to conduct, as well as to code or score because it is not easy to have all interviews with different people conducted the same standard way so that they can be compared easily ○ Therefore many researchers use ratings and self-reports - INFOCUS 2.2 Early Personality Measurement - Woodsworth's PersonalData Sheet (or the Psychoneurotic Inventory) stimulated interest in self-description or self-report as a method of personality assessment ○ Aimedat detecting soldiers likely tobreak down under wartime stress ○ This method was valuable as a simplified and economic alternative to interviewing everyone individually (only those with affirmative responses were interviewed instead) - Not used widely but provided the grounds for newer versions which are stillused - Inaddition to efforts to assess adjustment, attempts to measure individuals on various personality dimensions soon became extremely popular - Tests and Self-Reports - Test - any standardized measure of behaviour, including verbal behaviour - Self-reports - refers toany statements people make about themselves ○ Offer quick ways of getting info the person is willing and able to reveal - Performance measures - some tests involve these - for ex, researchers interested in seeing how personality measures in childhood predict academic performance in later life might use measures like SAT as an outcome assessment - Projective Measures - Projective tests are stillpopular - Assessors present the person with ambiguous stimuli and ask them ambiguous questions tat have no right or wrong answers - Inkblots - Has theoretical importance tomuch of the work at the psychodynamic-motivational level - Naturalistic Observation and Behaviour Sampling - Phenomena such as home environments in which children become delinquent and there are marital conflicts cannot be manipulated or recreated forexperimental purposes ○ But often they can be observed closely and systematically ○ Ethical considerations prevent psychologists from trying to create powerful, lifelike treatments in the lab - Naturalisticobservation is preferred - no manipulated variables - Behavioural coding system ○ The data indicated that in distressed families, the problem children's aversive behaviours continued in "chains" over longer periods of time, withan escalating pattern of hostile interchanges with family members ○ When parents in the problem families reacted with punishment, it tended toprolong the escalation of aggression as the child reacted with defiance or resumed aversive behaviours shortly afterward ○ This led to poor social skills, noncompliance at school, poor school achievement, rejection by peers, and in many cases, antisocial behaviour as anadolescent - Observation is a commonplace method in everyday life; through observation we form impressions and learn about events and people ○ When observers are not visible by the individual being observed, the effect of the observers' own behaviours is minimized Remote Behaviour Sampling: Daily Life Experiences - Remote Behaviour Sampling: Daily Life Experiences - Assessors are frequently interested in unobservable events, such as emotional reactions and thinking patterns, that may shed considerable light on personality functioning - A tiny device carried by respondents pages them at random times during the day and they must record their current thoughts, feelings, or behaviours and the situations they are in so that the situation-behaviour interaction can be examined - Can be used over weeks/months to collect a large behaviour sample - Daily reports of everyday reactions to various stressors and hassles can be related to other measures of personality or to other aspects of experience (minorillnesses and psychological well-being) - TABLE 2.2 Illustrative methods for Sampling Daily Life Experiences ○ Preprogrammed time samples ○ Systematicdiaries ○ Samplingemotions, symptoms,and other internal states - Physiological Functioning and Brain Imaging - Polygraph -one of the classic measures of physiological functioning ○ It is an apparatus that records the activities of the autonomic nervous system ○ Contains a series of devices that translate indices of body changes into a visual record by deflecting a pen across a moving paper chart ○ Electrocardiogram (EKG) - as the heart beats, its muscular contractions produce patterns of electrical activity that may be detected by electrodes placed near the heart on the body surface ○ Plethysmograph - records the changes in blood volume ○ Galvanometer - records the galvanic skinresponse (changes in the electrical activity of the skin due tosweating ○ Alsouseful is: changes in blood pressure, and changes in muscular activity - The degree of activation in the cerebral cortex may be inferred from "brain waves" recorded by the electroencephalograph (EEG) - Positron emission tomography scans (PET) - measure the amount of glucose (the brain's main fuel) being used various parts of the brain and provide anindex of activity as the brain performs a particular function - Functionalmagnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) - measures the magnetic fields created by the functioning nerve cells in the brain and with the aid of computers depicts these activities as images ○ Allowa much more precise and detailed analysis of the links between activity in the brain and the mental states we experience while responding to different types of stimuli and generating different thoughts and emotions - Laboratory Methods of Social Cognition - Sequentialpriming-pronunciation task - used to test the hypothesis that certain types of people are more prone to become hostile when they feel rejected ○ Participants were shown target words related to hostility such as "anger," "rage," and "revenge" ○ Askedto read them aloud, one by one, and the elapsed time between the presentation of a target word on the screen and the onset of vocalization was recorded ○ The researchers used priming to assess people's tendency tohave hostile thoughts when they feel rejected - priming refers to presenting a stimulus just prior to another stimulus  Prime - the stimulus presented first  Target - the stimulus presented shortly after the prime ○ Reaction time - the time it takes for people to start the task  Affected by the nature of the prime - Do participants start reading the hostility-related target word more quickly when it was preceded by a rejected-related prime word, compared to non-rejection-related prime words? The answer depends on the participants' level of sensitivity to personal rejection - Test tomeasure their rejection sensitivity taken prior to the computer task- people who score high tend to believe it's a matter of time before other people reject them, and they are highly anxious about the possibility of being rejected ○ During the computer task, rejection-sensitive subjects started saying the hostility-related target words more quickly after they saw the rejection, compared to when the prime words were not related to rejection ○ The opposite happened if a subject was low in rejection-sensitivity - People can process stimulifaster when they are already having thoughts and feelings related to the stimuli - Amongwomen who are especially sensitive torejection, hostility was closely linked to the feeling of rejection and therefore once they saw words related to rejection, they automatically started having hostility-related thoughts - People differ reliably and meaningfully in such automatic reactions - Memory tasks - used to examine the types of mistakes people make in remembering - Study: results showed that participants who read about a person described as an extravert later erroneously remembered the person as having extraverted traits that had not been presented in the story (same thing if described as introverts) ○ Shows that people routinely extract the gist of info about a person they encounter - Memory tasks can be used to assess an individual organizes his or her knowledge about the world, and people may differ importantly in the organizational schema they use to do so CONCEPTUAL AND METHODOLOGICAL TOOLS - Constructs and Operational Definitions - Constructs -words or concepts that refer to classes of behaviours, thoughts, emotions, and situations ○ Each construct represents nonmaterial ideas and may have different meanings for different people - Operationalization -translates these constructs into something observable and measurable ○ It refers to the specific procedures used to produce or measure it in a particular study - Sometimes a construct is operationalized in terms of a condition to which someone is exposed (ex: the number of hours a person is deprived of food) ○ At other times, a construct is operationalized in terms of some behaviour of the participant (people's ratings of how hungry they feel) - An Example: Defining the Construct of Aggression - Defining the construct "aggression" is not easy - bc the term is used in many different ways in our daily discourse, and with different connotations ○ Aggressive competitor vs aggressive schoolyard bully - Early definition of aggression: the delivery of noxious stimulito another organism
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