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Chapter 4

PSY 321 Chapter 4: Chapter 4

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PSY 321
Erica Nuss

Chapter 4: personality traits, situation and behavior 1. The similarity of personality psychology and everyday human observation: both seek to characterize people using similar kinds of terms, and it is even possible to compare one approach to the other. 2. Two points about trait approach: 1) This approach is based on empirical research that mostly uses correlational designs 2) It focuses exclusively on individual differences 3. Weakness of trait approach: it’s prone to neglect aspects of psychology common to all people while each person is unique. 4. People are inconsistent 1) Older persons are themselves more consistent than younger ones, the stability of the differences between people increases with age 2) More-consistent people appear to be less neurotic, more controlled, more mature, and more positive in their relations with others 5. The person-situation debate 1) What is it about: Which is more important for determining what people do, the person or the situation? a. Does the personality of an individual transcend the immediate situation and provide a consistent guide to her actions, or is what a person does utterly dependent on the situation she is in at the time? b. Are common, ordinary intuitions about people fundamentally flawed, or basically correct? c. Walter Mischel entitled Personality and Assessment (triggered by this) 2) Situationism: situations are more important than personality traits in deter- mining behavior. 6. Predictability 1) The definitive test of the usefulness of a personality trait is whether it can be used to predict behavior. 2) Situationists argue that this predictive capacity is severely limited. There is no trait that you can use to predict someone’s behavior with enough accuracy to be useful. 3) Predictability and consistency are indexed by the correlation coefficient. 4) But if the correlation is near zero, it means the two variables are unrelated 7. Possible research improvement: measure behavior in real life, check for variations in consistency, and seek to predict behavioral trends rather than single acts 8. 9. Interactionism Definition: persons and situations as constantly interacting with each other to pro- duce behavior together 10. “High self-monitors,” quickly change their behavior according to the situation, whereas “low self-monitors” are more likely to express their personality consistently from one situation to the next SUMMARY The Measurement of Individual Differences • The trait approach to personality begins by assuming that individuals differ in their characteristic patterns of thought, feeling, and behavior. These patterns are called personality traits. People Are Inconsistent • Classifying people according to traits raises an important problem, however: People are inconsistent. Indeed, some psychologists have suggested that people are so inconsistent in their behavior from one situation to the next that it is not worthwhile to characterize them in terms of personality traits
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